Even though governance failure continues to pervade public life yet prosperity is spreading across the country and hence the need of the hour is a strong liberal state, says author and commentator Gurucharan Das in his new book.
India Grows at Night published by Penguin Books explores the cause of hardships that effect India after 20 years of liberalisation and suggests what ordinary citizens can do to make things better.
‘India has always been a strong society but weak state. Hence the title India Grows at Night while the full expression is ‘India grows at night...when the government sleeps,’ says Gurucharan who was the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble India.
Das says he believes that when despite being governed by a weak and ineffective state India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies, it is time for India to grow during the day as well.
‘To deal with the policy paralysis prevailing in the country we need a strong liberal state. India will also be able to grow during the day if public policy is supported by private enterprise,’ he says.
To explain the model of ‘liberal state’, Das has cited the examples of growth stories of two cities in Delhi NCR-Faridabad and Gurgaon, which he believes triggered the title and his thought process for the book.
‘In early 80s experts had estimated Faridabad to be symbol of India’ success and hence spent capital and time in its growth. To every body’s surprise Gurgaon proved to symbol of rising India three decades later while Faridabad continues to be an impoverished city,’ says Das.
According to Das, Gurgaon’s disadvantage of having no municipal government turned out to be its advantage as people there didn’t have to face any interference in their process of development.
Chapters of the book titled Middle-class Dignity and Politics of Aspiration talk about the prevalent situation of politics and governance in the country. Another chapter, Confronting the corruption also takes into account Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption.
However, Das believes there is a need for institutional reforms prior to any political reforms.
‘To prevent corruption we should reform the institutions of governance, eradicate the ‘ license raj’ and stop the populist policies that create opportunities fro corruption,’ he says adding, ‘So, good old-fashioned reforms of the 1991 variety would do far more than sending the hounds of Lokpal after every official who yielded to temptation.’
Defining the ‘Liberal state’ that Das suggests as the solution of the hour, he says , ‘We need a ‘decisive liberal state’, which has three basic qualities, which include a government, which is bound by the rule of law, an executive that can act quickly, and civil servants who are accountable to the people.’
Comparing the situations between India and China in the same context Das says, ‘While China has to fix its politics, India has to fix its governance. Whoever will do so first, will win the race.’
‘In order to win the race another revolution which is needed is Industrial revolution. Lets aim at a manufacturing society too rather than just aiming at institutional and political reforms,’ he says.