The Indian Economy Blog

October 27, 2005

Still A Long Way To Go

Filed under: Regulatory reforms — Amit Varma @ 8:09 am

Pranab Bardhan writes in YaleGlobal:

What about the hordes of Indian software engineers, call-center operators, and back-room programmers supposedly hollowing out white-collar jobs in rich countries? The total number of workers in all possible forms of IT-related jobs in India comes to less than a million workers – one-quarter of one percent of the Indian labor force. For all its Nobel Prizes and brilliant scholars and professionals, India is the largest single-country contributor to the pool of illiterate people in the world. Lifting them out of poverty and dead-end menial jobs will remain a Herculean task for decades to come.

Yes. But “[l]ifting them out of poverty and dead-end menial jobs” is bad phrasing, in my view. They will lift themselves out of poverty and blah-blah if we enable them to do so, and stop condescending to them. We can begin doing that by abolishing the license raj, reforming labour laws, and removing all other barriers to business (and, thus, employment), as I’ve mentioned here and here. For the sake of the millions still in poverty, we need to liberalise more, more, more, and faster, faster, faster.

(Link via email from Nandini Ramnath via Arts and Letters Daily.)

12 Comments »

  1. I totally agree with Amit..

    As far as the “lifting goes”… how about basics such as primary education and healthcare…

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — October 27, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  2. Amit,

    “We can begin doing that by abolishing the license raj, reforming labour laws, and removing all other barriers to business…. For the sake of the millions still in poverty, we need to liberalise more, more, more, and faster, faster, faster.”

    What you have stated is what PRanab terms as a “herculean task”.

    Yes, primary education and healthcare are good terms on paper, but where are the funds. Already we are running huge budget deficits…

    Comment by Navin — October 27, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

  3. Navin says Yes, primary education and healthcare are good terms on paper, but where are the funds. Already we are running huge budget deficits…

    This is not something that can be answered completely in a short comment..

    a soundbite… how about rechanneling government money away from higher education (open it up to private sector) and using that money for primary education?

    Comment by Prashant Kothari — October 27, 2005 @ 1:01 pm

  4. Prashant,

    “how about rechanneling government money away from higher education (open it up to private sector) and using that money for primary education? ”

    I doubt if this will bring the desired results. This might create deeper “economic divide”. We are already seeing few of them in the engineering colleges etc.

    An Example is here

    http://www.deeshaa.org/2005/10/26/433/

    I may sound like a loony socialist, but I am only concerned about the situation worsening than the present. Are there any cases in education where privatisation helped in alleviating what Pranab calls the “herculean task” ??

    PS : I whole heartedly agree to privatisation in few other sectors at a measured pace….but will that be enough ?

    Comment by Navin — October 27, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

  5. I am not convinced that more funds means better education. Bihar and U.P are the two problem states. These states are like blackholes. You can pour a trillion dollars but it’s not going to achieve anything other than fattening the politicians and bureaucrats there.

    Comment by sv — October 27, 2005 @ 2:34 pm

  6. I doubt if this will bring the desired results. This might create deeper “economic divide”. We are already seeing few of them in the engineering colleges etc.

    An Example is here

    http://www.deeshaa.org/2005/10/26/433/

    How will that deepen the divide? We subsidize IITs REC, AIMS, yet most kids who are accepted there come from a family that can afford it(or they can take a loan, which they can easily payback once they have a professional degree). Merc-Benz school(no clue why they chose that silly name) etc will always be there for those who can spend a lot of money on education. The government is not subsidizing it. But the government is subsidizing higher learning. The ground reality is that a significant %age of indians havent had the access to education for the last few generations. Its shameful for the worlds ancient and continious civilization that we have a dismal literacy rate. Look at it we weant from having nalanda to nothing.
    I would even ignore healthcare in the short run, Screw the basic 100 days employment gaurentee.
    Continued

    Comment by Guru Gulab Khatri — October 27, 2005 @ 4:56 pm

  7. Continued….
    I have another proposal. It requires a lot more discipline.
    The government sets up an organization called ‘vidya sena’.
    Inorder to graduate from highschool(ie metric/ 12th grade)
    every one has to go spend 9 months minimum to teach kinder garden-5th grade to a class of 30.(or they can pay Rs2 lakh to pay for teacher salary, and have a family member work for 12 months either as a teacher or in a supervisory role)
    Only then they will be given their high school diploma and allowed to go to college.

    To avoid the korea conscript scenario, the goverment should make it difficult for those between 15-20yrs of age to posses a passport.

    Its going to be tough for a generation but either we spend the capital or use our human capital.

    Comment by Guru Gulab Khatri — October 27, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  8. For all its Nobel Prizes and brilliant scholars and professionals

    In a country of a billion people, I count 2 nobel prizes. OK – Sen makes it 3. Chandra and Naipaul are not Indian by their own admission. In fact I remember an interview in which Chandra was asked “it must be an incredible feeling to be the only second Indian to win a Physics Nobel blah blah ” or something like that. He stopped the host and said “Excuse me, am an American”.

    Veru very funny and worth pointing out especially when people seem to think India produces greats.

    Comment by Nilu — October 27, 2005 @ 5:46 pm

  9. Nilu,

    What about Sen ? :-) He also had spoke that Cambridge is dear to his heart ;-) (and mostly lives out of there)

    Guru Gulab Khatri ,
    “We subsidize IITs REC, AIMS, yet most kids who are accepted there come from a family that can afford it(or they can take a loan, which they can easily payback once they have a professional degree). ”

    Then why is Prashant rooting for privatisation ? All seems to be going well ?

    Comment by Navin — October 28, 2005 @ 4:28 am

  10. Navin — am not sure if I get your logic.

    Your posts, # 2 and # 9, with the references to Atanu’s essay and Guru’s comments, respectively, actually bolster my point… ie, about the woeful state of primary education in India, and how the government’s expenditure on the IITs/ other higher-ed outfits in India is sub-optimal.

    Comment by Prashant — October 28, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  11. Prashant,

    I agree with you on shaddy state of Indian prim education and the need for change. Also on more investments on that space.

    I am not too sure on Privatising the same . (we might only see MB schools if we privatise ?)

    Comment by Navin — October 28, 2005 @ 12:33 pm

  12. My comment was ” how about rechanneling government money away from higher education (open it up to private sector) and using that money for primary education? ”

    Who said anything about privatizing primary education?

    Comment by Prashant — October 28, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  13. Apologies…..misread your comment. Thanks for pointing out.

    Cheers

    Comment by Navin — October 28, 2005 @ 4:21 pm

  14. Well, as far as I see, what can be wrong with private primary education?

    After all, as a contrast between US and India, public education is screwed up (grad level in India, and high school in US), and private (vice versa) is doing good.

    Of course we have exceptions (IITs etc) but they’re too expensive to the country by all standards. As an ex-IITian myself, I can safely say, privatization will in fact HELP the IITs get much better brand value.

    Comment by Abhi — October 30, 2005 @ 12:41 am

  15. Current deadlock is over seat-sharing and fee structure

    Sometimes the government wants a large chunk of the cake.

    Private Colleges find themselves in an admission muddle. I think this problem will worsen all over India with privitization…do we really know the meaning of the word…

    http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2117/stories/20040827002504300.htm

    Comment by Mani Pulimood — October 30, 2005 @ 8:57 am

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