Sunday, 27 March 2016

Book Review : India 2020 - A Vision For The New Millennium



Image result for india 2020 book

This is perhaps one of the best known books penned on India’s Growth Imperatives in its search for developed country status, penned by one of India’s favourite sons-  our beloved Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President, Nuclear Scientist – and, as it turns out, thinker extraordinaire with a tremendous passion for India and all things Indian.  It has been co-authored with Dr Y S Rajan, who used to be the Scientific Secretary to the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. He was also associated with ISRO and the Department of Space

This book, as it turns out, is far more than a mere problems/challenges-and-solutions stuff... it is the dream of a great Indian, a man who had given his entire life in the service of the nation. It is in every way a vision, a passionate dream; but one that is well presented, sorted out, supported with extensive research, facts & data – and does justice to most of the problems and challenges our nation faces in its quest for developed nation status. It justifies its title in letter and spirit : A Vision For The New Millennium.


Before delving into the specifics of the challenges, the book looks at the need of a national vision. The best part about this section, covered in 3 engaging chapters, is the usage of real world examples of visions – both from India as well as from the rest of the world. The Indian vision : The Struggle For Freedom... this drives home the point of how, when the majority of the people come to dream one single dream – the impossible becomes suddenly within reach and feasible.

The book then moves onto real world examples of how a vision document was created in other countries, and how it was implemented, giving a more practical, deeper insight into the concept of a vision and its applicability in the Modern World. The best part – appealing to both the emotional, historical and practical aspects of the first challenge, that of selling the concept of a vision is remarkable, and indicative of a person of high intellect as well as emotional maturity, which is of course well known to all of us!


This isn’t a coffee table analysis, done on the basis of experience – this is the result of hard, painstaking research, with solid data, field work and a series of discussions with Government, Quasi Government  and private professionals from various fields, with an effort to understand as well as analyse each  and every aspect of the presented points. This is a veritable treasure of data, and not just an ideation session that seeks to implant ideas in your mind. This is a seriously put together document that needs attention and repeated referencing for it to be properly assimilated and understood by the serious reader.

The first task taken was then to identify the specific areas or industries where we can develop a competitive advantage, and go onto build world class infrastructure, institutions and companies in these areas. And this is where the book really hits home, and hard : as opposed to the current penchant of grand projects,  high tech fields, bullet trains, and smart cities that we currently dream of – the book takes off an entirely different tangent... and succeeds in developing a workable vision for all of us. Question is : are we working on it?

That is where the concept of a Vision comes in. The authors have identified all key variables that impact and influence the current status : population distribution and dependency, GDP factors, social variables, income distribution etc in a short but deeply incisive chapter that sets your grey cells on overdrive. From that exercise, the strategy to be adopted flows effortlessly, giving a complete picture of each  sector, with a chapter devoted to each :

*   Food, Agriculture & Processing
*   Materials and the Future
*   Chemical Industries and our Biological Wealth
*   Manufacturing for the Future
*   Services as People’s Wealth
*   Strategic Industries
*   Health Care For All
*   The Enabling Infrastructure

Note the selected points and areas : no mention of Power, Education, Infrastructure, Roads, Internet Connectivity, and other terms we are so used to hearing. Think for a moment about that : why should it be so? That is the leap of thought, the leap of insight we as a people urgently require. All the ones we eulogise about are in reality the  enablers, not the end-objective. We don’t need power for power itself, it is a means to production. Similar is the case with the other points mentioned.

By focusing on the means and only the means, we are leaving the what-to-so-with-these unplanned, and at the vagaries of the market; there is no conscious plan, no strategy industry wise, where we deal with the hindrances & the available opportunities to us as a people.  This reduces the efficacy, as market forces alone will never ensure competitive strength; it requires a series of inputs and plans to ensure a competitive strength in a defined area.

The chosen sectors are broad enough to ensure flexibility, and yet have, with sufficient details inside each section, core areas of concentration identified. That brings me to my second observation – if a Nuclear Scientist can understand, given the income distribution, people dependency on and status of Agriculture – that it has to be the thrust of any developmental effort that dreams to make India a developed nation, then why cant we? Food for thought. High time we, the people of India, started giving Agriculture the attention and respect it so richly deserves!

The book was authored in 1998, and 18 years have passed since then. We are very near the target date taken for the national vision: 2020. It would be pertinent to look at how far we have progressed on the dream of a developed India as put forth in the book. That, however, is a herculean task, given the vast number of data points given, industries covered, sectors analysed with solid data – and cannot be the subject of a single article; this will require subject matter expertise, and research on each topic... I do hope some people do this exercise. On my part, I will attempt an analysis of the area of my speciality in this : the field of my graduation – Agriculture. I hope to present it someday...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Hinduism... And Sanaatan Dharm

There is a rather disturbing trend, currently at very minute levels, of identifying  the rise of a doctrinaire tenet in what we like to call Hinduism. I find this observation surprising at worst, and a sweeping generalisation at best. First of all, The word "Hinduism" has no historical or religious basis. Our religion has no name; Hinduism is name coined by our Colonial Rulers, to the best of my knowledge. I have not found this term beyond the colonial era; be that as it may – most of us accept it as the name for our religion. So be it.

There is no mention of any name anywhere in all our religious texts. None whatsoever; the closest one comes to a name is the repeated reference to the term "Sanaatan". Thus, over time, it came to be called Sanaatan Dharm - closest translation : "The Eternal Path" . The religious connotation of the term Hindu is of colonial origin; the earlier term refered to a people from a particular geographical tract, south-east of the river Sindhu, wrongly known as Indus.

It is a non-proselytising faith; the books are explicit : this is not to be revealed to anyone UNLESS asked, and that too by a true devotee, or learner, to a true Guru or Guide. Further, the description of the term devotee or learner is also explicit - and contains references to a lifestyle, path, deeds, duties, ethics, truth, etc. That is why I find the entire concept of Hindu Fundementalism laughable, current events notwithstanding. It wont happen, our path does not allow for it - explicitly so

It is becoming a fashionable statement to look at current events and proscribe Sanaatan Dharm as a doctrinaire faith – or rather, to be specific – identify a rise of doctrinaire trends; I don’t deny the recent events and the upsurge along a particular tangent; but, seen in the light of a full analysis, there is no cause to label an entire faith as doctrinaire, as some people are beginning to call it.

These people are, I respectfuly submit, seeing only one side of the coin. I think I can see another side, and prefer to dwell on it. Even within these so-called doctrinaire times, I can spot a revival of the Old, the Sanaatani path, as the Sanaatani throws off the colonial yoke and revives what was once a golden path. This is a strong backlash that is rising fast, with the spread of education and awareness.

Second, there a strong trend of basics in terms of Sanaatani thoughts that identify them as one of the Eternal Path, Sanaatan Dharmis. Note that ours is a broad faith, to each his own almost.  The fringe may be there -doctrinaire, hardline. But that hardline is a very very soft hardline as compared to other religions, which pretty much finishes that argument. Add to that the real fact of targeting of the "Hindu" identity, ridicuing etc, and you get the current status!

I have previously stated above that the term Hinduism is of relatively recent origin, and was a term that evolved out of interaction with external forces and stimuli. These stimuli also set in motion other changes, which is also quite relevant – like the hardline niche segment, or the doctrinaire aspects that some people see. This distinction is rather important, for anything that occurs as a result of external forces is by definition ephemeral by nature. It may be a transient phase in our way; unless it causes a fundamental change in the roots of our faith, it is not likely to last very long.

And the roots are still where they were : the Eternal Path, as told in the scriptures. The recent media focus on The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta {for example} is bound to create a list of people who will actually read it; and anyone who reads it by his own volition, is highly unlikely to stray from the Eternal Path for a very long time indeed. The rising interest in Sanskrut, though politicised, in bound to create some people who will truly read and understand the vast body of knowledge that it contains, and reach the same conclusions others have.

I agree that the present has some tenets of doctrinaire faiths in a small niche, but I respectfully submit that is only skin deep. If you scratch away the surface, it reveals a rock-hard foundation of the tenets of The Eternal Path, Sanaatan Dharm. The basics of our faith - they are all there is body and spirit; and I not talking of externalities, but rather of deep seated beliefs, upto and including rebirth.

I refer to the adherance to the basics of Sanaatan Dharm which enables people to see it as the same as so-called Hinduism. Belief in Karm / Dharm, focus on family, adherance to the mantras and methods of prayer etc. They may not know the reason for these; for that you have to perforce study the scriptures.

Our scriptures are worded so beautifully and in such a sublime fashion, that no one will understand unless he or she has a basic desire to understand. Further, the faith does not allow for preaching in any form - which is why you can see that while the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta is sold in book form, but rarely does it feature as a holy play or as a Leela. The reason, imho, is that it is impossible to portray the complete wisdom of that blueprint of life in any form except the written word.

But, coming back to the point, the doctrinaire aspects : are they really doctrinaire? We dont have a central body accepted by all, or even by a siziable number; we are not required, by social force or religious dictat, to pray or even to visit a temple; we do not have any acceptance of a body representing our faith. These are classic Sanaatani traits which is very open and permissive by nature

The focus is still on the individual and not on the community as a whole; that is precisely what Sanaatan Dharm is. In fact, it is the founding stone of Sanaatan Dharm - the hunt for self, which continues till you find yourself, understand yourself. That is something modern day Hinduism will instantly recognise. There is no community level activism on a religious scale whatsoever, and a continued tradition of individuality continues as a strong foundation stone. The Sanaatan Dharm follower is still indivualistic and self-oriented, focussed on the self. There is no presence of a community force, totally unlike the Abrahamic Religions, which are by definition doctrinaire.

Externalities have changed; but then there is a reason. The era has changed; the scriptures are handed down from Parmatma; and are the word of God. That means - Satyug. This is Kalyug, and in between the oldest scriptures and now, the Parmatma has had to come at least in 18 differnt avatars, to give us light and direction.

Two forces are important : first, these were avatars who came to help us, and two - the lack of, or the erosion of the reading of our scriptures. These two taken together meant a change in the visible externalities of The Eternal Path, which was branded as Hinduism by the White Man.

But at its core- the basic tenets were retained. There is still no universally accepted central body, or sectwise bodies that differentiate people, again unlike the Abrahaminic faiths. You can pray to Lord Ganesh, Sai Baba, or to The Lord Shiv, or to Lord Vishnu, or Shri Ram, or Shri Krishna - you are still a Hindu, or as the real name goes - Sanaatan Dharmi. Most of us {all of us?} pray to many avatars, without differentiation and as per the occasion.

Documents, studies and treatises of the various Maths {for example} are read by all; they are the Gurus; the scriptures clearly lay out the need for an enlightened Guru unequivocally. The more knowledgeable among them have written lengthy anaylses that still hold relevance. Shankaracharya comes to mind immediately.

Thus, we can see that while externalities have altered, the basics of Sanaatan Dharm are present. The rest is part politics, part historical misunderstanding, and part inferiority complex present in some among us who like to ape The West...

I don’t understand why we should call ourselves “Hindus”. Fine, it is an accepted name – I have no issues with it, and we can continue to do so. It is a legal requirement to name your religion in the modern day, and we need a name to give to the documents. But why cant we call ourselves by the original name, or rather the closest to a name the scriptures state : Sanaatan {Sanaatan Dharm}? 

For the first time this month, I wrote Sanaatan Dharm as my religion while checking into the hotel. It felt more natural to do so... 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Flock Of Birds...


It was an urgent tour; being a Sunday, reservation in an  AC Compartment was out of the question even in Premium Tatlkal – not for Mumbai. And thus it was that I was sitting in a lovely window seat of a three-tier reserved coach, on my way on my official business, drinking in the lovely sights for a change; and with my ever-present book by my side... this time, it was “Storm The Norm : The Stories of 20 Brands That Did It by Anisha Motwani”. My mind was steeped at that moment in business jargon, when it happened... when the surreal sight assaulted my senses...

A flock of birds, flying some 3 or 4 feet above the ground at best. Pristine and the purest of white, against a solid backdrop of lovely, beautiful green, with not a brown splotch for miles; and outlined perfectly against this poetic green was a flock of white birds skimming the ground, almost... just a few feet off the ground...

I was transfixed by the sight; I literally forgot everything, and just watched those birds, for what seemed like hours but was in reality only a few minutes. The sheer grace and the transcendental beauty of those birds was hard to top in my memory at least; I completely forgot that I was a modern gentleman with something called an Android phone in my pocket which had top quality Video recording facility... and just watched. It is a sight that will remain with me all my life.

The beauty was not just in the sight of the white birds on a lovely solid green background; a photographers delight if you will; it was in something else. The way those birds were flying, their sheer grace and the superb teamwork they displayed, as they negotiated the bushes and other obstacles that cropped up – they were flying at ground level, almost – without breaking “stride” or rather formation, in superbly coordinated and executed perfection.

Yes – it did make for lovely viewing, as the entire flock rose and fell, undulated in waves and flowed like water over obstacles. It was transcendental beauty, a sight that was unforgettable in its sheer magic. More than that, credit to the business book I was then reading, what transfixed me was the effortless execution, internal communication, teamwork and tackling of the task as one unit, with no leader and no follower noticeable from afar... in reality, there is one or at times more leaders in a flock.  But seen from afar, it was impossible to tell.

That flock of birds taught me a lot about the science and the art of true leadership, and many other parameters than I care to count – all in those few minutes. Flying close to the ground has its share of risks and challenges, much  like the business world; the way you negotiate obstacles is vital in such  a scenario. And maintaining formation while doing it calls for a very high degree of internal trust in team members, understanding, role clarity, coordination and execution standards.  It also highlighted the need of sticking to the plan even in the face of problems, and not breaking formation!

In business terms, maintaining formation while flying means keeping team intact, not losing momentum, keeping direction along the planned path; flying close to the ground indicates tough, fast changing environments. I saw in those birds that in order to do both, you have to have trust, communication, training, role clarity, skills, and a buy-in to the overall plan from the entire team. Without this buy-in, trust doesn’t happen fully; neither does role clarity. Role clarity can only happen when you are aware of your contribution in the overall plan; as well as clear communication of the desired deliverables.

Training is also something that is apparent; the clear realisation and expertise of each member in his or her role and being abreast of current developments; without which formations can easily crumble at tough obstacles. That brings us to trust and communication; two of the softest among the soft skills management gurus are so keen on talking about.

Think of those birds again; when the leader/s spot an oncoming obstacle, they alter flight path – and the entire set of followers execute in perfection, ensuring that  the formation and the speed is intact. This also makes for a stunning visual impact – giving us another deep learning : a team performing as a team, in perfect union, has a much higher impact and effectiveness value.

To pull this off – the basic requirement is a very, very high degree of mutual trust among the entire set of team-members, as well as superb communication; there has to be both. You need trust to listen to and follow team members facing the obstacle, and listen to their suggestions and follow their actions. You also need quality communication so that time is not wasted in explanations and needless reactions. But most of all -  it is the complete surrender to the group cause, total alignment of group and individual objectives – and the absence of egos and special agenda that is the key.

And that, in my opinion, is why Human Endeavours rarely perform at such levels of performance and beauty. And when they do – legends are created, and stories are minted of their performance – as we have seen both in business and in sports. The key is the crafting of a team that executes as one, faces problems as one solid unit, flies as one and lands as one. And the key reason for non-performance at comparable levels : ego, internal disputes / disagreements on strategy, and vested interests / placing self goals above team goals.

In the fast changing patterns and the fluid transformation of the flock from one pattern to the other is another story – that of plan flexibility and short-term fluidity in execution so long as the overall strategic goal is not compromised. But let us leave that thought here; that takes us far afield. Business is a bottomless pit, and let us not stray too far from the individual and group aspect of the learnings to take from this.

Is it really feasible to ensure total buy-in from all team members? To be a bit more practical, why cant we ensure at least basic understanding and buy-in of plans from our teams? Is it really all that hard to subjugate our individualistic instinct during the job,and focus on group tasks? It is reaaly that hard to align your teams and their goals to yours? Isnt that a key aspect of managing teams? Ego, internal disputes and vested interests will happen; we need to learn to negotiate them as managers.

But most critically, what hit me the hardest was that these seemingly simple things are the hardest to do in teams comprising humans – as Human Ego, individuality and desires intervene. The very qualities that set us apart as Humans can also be our biggest weakness! Given the numerous attractions that come in, the various temptations that hinder, keeping flying along tough paths without breaking formation is a test that can break the best of teams. But those that do manage to cross that rubicon... become the stuff of legends that are talked about for years afterwards. Just think of those flock of birds... and visualise them if you have ever been lucky enough to have seen them in a similar situation!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Comprehensive Development : Hindrances and Possible Solutions

This is the 3rd and concluding part of my ongoing conversation into the Budget and The Indian Economy with Mr Amitabh D Sinha, carried on from :

This discussion started with my contention that the recent budget is now on the right path, having focussed on Rural India; and that Rural economy should get preference over the Urban. The contention of Mr Sinha, an expert in Service Culture, Business strategy and the Director of Finance and Investment for the SME Chamber of India – is that we can do both; that the path of growth will be smoother and faster if we think out of the box and attempt the seemingly impossible

In the story so far, the two {or three-four} of us had got to the point of systemic competence in the Indian Economy to gear up to meet the new paradigm facing India, Inc; and the preferabality of a model that focussed on both Urban as well as Rural segments of the economy. This goes against the common grind, that we cannot do both. The contention introduced by Mr Sinha was that this is doable, which is as far as we had reached in the first two parts of this discussion

Moving on :

Me : Coming to the core question of comprehensive model, I have no doubts as to its inherent superiority; that is a no-brainer. If you can develop several strains and solve several problems by parallel processing, you get faster development. {Thing of processer cores, and how parallel computing improved things}

That models assumes enough system maturity to ensure seamless integration at the conclusion point; in the field of economics, it also assumes transparency and building trust - as you rightly pointed out above. Do have the requisite level of systemic competencies in our internal mechanisms to deliver on such a tough task? Agreed on the take on Credit policies, and the commitment to the Basle Framework; beyond argument, pretty much. Rationalizing, Assessment, Disbursement etc are also all very valid points raised by you; the problem is again in the ground realities and the doability

My contention is the same as before : I fully realise the inherent power of the model being proposed by you; that is transparently obvious. If we can develop Education, Rural / Agriculture alongside employment generation activities like industry on a small scale {given our structure}, the benefits are obvious. Further, given the existing entrepreneurial spirit and structure, the ease of promoting MSMEs also is far easier. Add to the the focus on big industry - and you have a mighty plan at hand. That I readily grant.

As another contributor in this thread pointed out, as well as myself in an earlier article, to create educated manpower without jobs is a recipe for certain disaster.

The issue is two-fold :

1) How do we implement the aspects pointed out above, in a scenario of multiple holdings by same promoter, lack of full penetration of accepted accounting standards, lack of transparency in documents, and so on and so forth? These will put the system at risk; the main difficulty in credit worthiness assessment comes from such factors.

2) Monitoring, early warning etc requires free, relatively full and fair information; that is absent by and large - although this being a major focus area, things are getting better with increasing penetration of proper accounts, systemic requirements like PAN, broadening of Direct Tax Net. Thus again, we are back to my original contention - that this might be premature.

As to the rest, spot-on accurate: the single biggest hurdle actually is what you state basis my 17 years work experience - lack of fund flow is the way I would like to put it, which results in companies running dry of working capital leading to shut downs. The receivable cycle has increased almost precisely as per your contention in my experience as well.  Further, the raised point of incentivising is indeed thought-provoking, it would, if added with penalisation, create a suitable environment. That might just be what is needed!

But again, wont the TReDS help in a major way in sorting out the mess in liqiudity? Am not too much into that, but am to speed on its basics. Next, extending credit is also the flavour of the season, but as I seem to recall it is limited to the priority sector. I do not recall much in this budget on easing norms for the MSME sector, correct me if I am wrong. I recall only point 66, 92 and 172 in my notes on the budget speech...

Amitabh Sinha|Expert - Service Culture, Business Strategy  : Vishal, chaos engineering has its challenges, no doubt, but the upside is palpably higher. As far as the playing field and the environment is concerned, recently at a budget review, I heard a question that is hard to invalidate given what we know of on ground systems - how much of the allocated funds will reach the point of action and how much will dissipate?

We know there will be diversion and dissipation, but we have to go ahead and do it anyway, while working in parallel on plugging leaks and ensuring smooth efficient flow to the point of action right? So no the model does not assume system maturity, it factors system immaturity, but not as an insurmountable hurdle.

The paradigm will never be perfect, but nor do we have the luxury of waiting. Malthus is not going to wait for Keynes :-)

Vishal, I had missed your critical point on system transparency and information availability, especially people gaming the system through multiple entities, different accounting practices etc.

Part of the problem is being addressed through the information networks and their linking which is already in progress. Mr. Modi's insistence on 'Digital India' might be questioned by many, but will form the main bulwark for creating greater system transparency. Banks are already starting to share client data, next will be to share decision data. UPA II dropped the ball on UID but that's back in play too.

The next will be to force standardization of accounting practice, which is where the PM's thrust on bringing in foreign investments will be a huge tool, because international money will demand internationally acceptable practice, which in turn will start to put pressure on local operations that deal with bigger entities to 'comply or die'. Tough? Yes. Required? Hell yes.

Me : Amitji,

I see that you are in effect advocating a PPP type model for development to circumvent the resource crunch problem I was talking about. That is indeed out of the box thinking; appreciated. Unless I miss the point, you are specifically talking about going even further, and reducing the role of Government as far as possible, along the capitalistic model.

That is certainly doable, and is eventually the way forward. While this could not have been tried hitherto, due to lack of depth in the internal business and wealth scenario, but in the changed paradigm that now is the case in India - this is worth a look at.

As a matter of fact, there are a couple of case studies in the real world in India : where industries have become world leaders through private enterprise, aided by friendly and enabling policies.

I respectfully submit that this model can work out very well indeed in select areas : Manufacturing, Service areas in totality. In Infrastructure and Agriculture, this can certainly be tried in product areas : Fertilizers, Seeds, Implementation of Projects etc are areas that come to mind. But for the overall execution, I do not think the Government can step out due to the humongous nature of the funds required.

The single biggest problem is choosing where to invest the surplus we have. We have a budget {any budget since 1947!} where non-plan expenditure takes the bulk of the funds; this leaves the plan expenditure, with a series of demands on it. You have to choose between one of the two, eventually; therein lies the rub.

You have requirements for huge funds for Roads, MNREGS, Irrigation Projects, Power Sector, Smart Cities, Digital India, Armed Forces, Education, Health and so on and so forth. You do not have the requisite funds to invest in all. Further, given the scale of poverty, you cannot ignore the demands of what is euphemistically {and inaccurately} called Social Spending; as the past year's experience shows,

That is why, considering the priority of the demands, we have no choice but to ignore the cities of India and put our funds into the rural sector - namely, rural roads, and Agriculture Sector. I accept the advantages of digitisation as outlined by yourself; being a hardcore techie- that is plainly obvious to me. My daily bread is from a hard core technology industry; my survival and growth is a direct function of technology. How can we do both?

Digitisation - rightly pointed by you as both an effective enabler as well as leveler - will require funds. Huge amounts. Where will they come from? Being from Telecom, I am only too well aware of the impact of corporate valuations, cost of funds and the investments, and their impact on the ground scenario.

The current level of infrastructure in India in terms of data - will it sustain the demands of a national digitisation mission? I fear not. 3G is a case in point; the speeds as well as connectivity we enjoy are abysmal by any standards, not due to telco faults, but because the demands on the network are tremendous by any standards, and the additional factor of cost the telcos incur in setting up networks in terms of both capital and revenue expenses. Having finite resources, the telcos have no real option but to put their money where revenue will be maximised; that is the only strategy that makes business sense.

Thus, the PPP model will not really impact rural connectivity except over the long run, given the cost profile of setting up networks across the hinterland. Further, digitisation and seamless connectivity across 545 districts, and thousands of tehsils, talukas and villages is a daunting task. This task is admittedly underway, and we have achieved wonders in this. Accepted.

My point is straightforward : given the paucity of resources at our command, we have no choice but to let the digitisation proceed as its current pace {for example}- and put our money into priority sectors. I accept the points made by you - some were real value additions to me, and made for great learning. But my core question remains unanswered.

The scene in Rural India is worrisome, as pointed out by me with proof in my three recent articles - and such a situation demands we forget all else, and focus on bringing things back on keel once again.

That said, we do need to focus one hell of a lot more on the MSME sector, and I do not spot much in my reading of this current budget {have yet to go through fine print, am on tour}. Credit, the single biggest problem for MSMEs, in addition to gargantuan rules, offers no details as to the Government thinking - correct me if I am wrong. Time will tell - let us see.

As a matter of fact, if we look at Annexure Section of the Budget Speech, specifically Annexure III-A page 36, one can see that while MSME ministry gets an allocation for 3645 Cr, The Ministry of Urban Development gets 24523 Crores.  MSME+Unorganised sector taken together is the largest segment of the economy... Are we paying due attention to this sector?  This is a genuine question in my mind... would love your expert comments, since this is a core part of your daily bread

Amitabh D Sinha : Vishal, for years people have delighted in presenting either-or choices to us as a nation, deftly hiding the fact that either-or always leads to greater rifts and addresses nothing.

The point that I have been trying to make is that we have no choice but to push for what you're calling PPP and what I call as the only rational model for comprehensive speedy development. What we have inculcated over decades is an efficiency crisis and we always try and present that as a debility. Simple participative accountability and making people do what will benefit them and yield incidental benefits to the country will work, will be faster and will be effective. As Mr. Shetye is saying, build the small outcomes, the large ones will take care of themselves.

Me : That bit hit home, and hard : efficiency crisis, meaning both corruption and productivity issues. I see the point both of you have been trying to make; I am also aware that real life requires hard choices. While we do need to set our priorities straight, as I alluded to earlier - the point above that the resource crunch may not be as big as assumed is well taken – of which there is plenty of evidence; meaning that there is a lot we can do internally.

But what it boils down to, critically, is that we need to tackle corruption as well as enhance efficiency {Both, corruption as well as inefficiency are what lead to leakages} on a war footing : if we can save that money, and tap into internal resources more effectively, we may have a good thing going... we are going to save money to do both – we need to root out both from our internal systems... the question then arises, how can we do that? And is that really doable for us as a people? But that, I am afraid, is the subject matter of an entirely different discussion to be taken up and examined later... Till then, till we can, as a people, solve this riddle, we may have no choice but to focus on one area... that is what worries me!

Thanks for an enlightening discussion - one of the best on Th!nking Indian so far....

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