By Gaurav Tyagi
August 12, 2017: India would be celebrating 70 years of independence from the British rule on 15th August. The current state of affairs, in the country despite tall claims by Indian establishment is bleak. There are enormous challenges that face the Modi government in India before the 2019 elections.
‘Make in India’ scheme was launched with much fanfare in September 2014 to overhaul the out-dated policies and processes thereby, making India a global manufacturing hub.
An NDTV report reveals the ground realities.
An entrepreneur, Saurabh Ahuja tried to import a $ 600 3D printer for manufacturing drones at his workshop in Delhi. He had to shell out another extra $900 in taxes and bribes for the customs department to release his consignment and that too after a period of three months.
The aforementioned case of Mr. Ahuja discloses that ‘red tapism’ is still highly prevalent in India. Big companies donate large funds to all major political parties therefore, they have easy access to the ‘corridors of power’ but a small budding entrepreneur is made to ‘run from pillar to post’ for getting various permissions from several government departments.
India’s bureaucracy is based on the British colonial model. British officers used to be in charge of administrative affairs when India was a British Colony. To ease their workload, they used to hire Indians at the clerical level. These Indians who served the British Empire thought very highly of themselves and regarded their fellow Indians with contempt.
Indian bureaucracy thus inherited a pretentious, rigid hierarchical functioning style from its colonial masters. These bureaucrats don’t have much accountability and continue in their plum posts till retirement. Their attitude towards ruling party politicians is servile while with general public they are disdainful.
They remain contented in their comfort zone of out-dated ideas and models.
Dealing with Indian authorities is a nightmare for every common citizen. These officials create hurdles and blocks at each step and expect gratification in form of bribes.
The situation is best summarized by Rajiv Bajaj, head of Bajaj Auto, a big industrial house of India. This is what he said in a recent speech this year, “If your innovation in the country depends on government approval or the judicial process, it will not be a case of ‘made in India’ but ‘mad’ in India.”
World Bank’s recent rankings for countries regarding ‘ease of doing business’ ranks India as 130th out of 190 nations.
Jobs in the Indian Information technology (IT) sector were highly sought after. The rapid strides made by automation coupled with a strict visa regime in the United States have now turned Indian IT upside down.
There are estimates of heavy retrenchments in the IT field.
Kris Lakshmikanth, the Chairman and CEO of ‘The Head Hunters India’ say that the year 2017-18 will serve as a ‘wakeup’ year for the IT/BPO industry. He states that there would be a ‘Tsunami’ of IT layoffs in India with approximately 200,000 IT/BPO personnel losing their jobs per year during the next 3-4 years.
Therefore, Indian Prime Minister; Modi’s recent statement, wherein he said that Information Technology plus Indian Talent=India Tomorrow (IT+IT=India Tomorrow) is way ‘off the mark’.
India is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2024 according to a UN report.
Modi can talk all he wants and come up with fancy slogans but the harsh truth is that a corrupt, lethargic bureaucracy, swift population growth and cutting down of jobs in the IT sector are immense challenges and cannot be tackled by mere ‘catchy phrases’.
Lack of jobs to absorb a large number of fresh graduates passing out from Indian universities every year. The predatory attitude of bureaucracy, which discourages entrepreneurship in the country, sharply point towards looming mass unemployment in India.
This would turn India’s so called demographic dividend into a huge demographic liability in the very near future. Modi needs to come up with an efficacious plan to tackle this fast approaching apocalypse.
The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.