In June while the beehive was abuzz closing the last issue of Fundamatics, the Rupee hit a new low. The growth rate was plummeting and foreign investment fled the Indian shores in speeds which can only be termed as the great escape.
Like the mainstream media which has been busy echoing and outdoing each other in gloom and doom predictions, we too decided to have Indian economy as the theme for this issue. But instead of focusing on the immediate and the urgent (the threat of a looming fiscal and currency crisis) Fundamatics decided to do a ‘Sancho Panza’ and tip at the proverbial windmills by telescoping into the future.
We asked two of our resident experts, Ajit Ranade and Ashish Chauhan to give us their views on India at 2061. While Ajit takes a larger macroeconomic view on the Indian Economy in 2061, Ashish’s gaze is more firmly fixed on capital markets.
While it is true that our fiscal and current account deficit is large due to which the threat of a fiscal and currency crisis cannot be ruled out but it is equally true that India still continues to perform better in terms of macro financial stability when compared to many other parts of the world. Our banks are stable and the stock market – the riskiest of places- have been stable from the point of view of systemic risks. We also strongly feel that a discussion of Indian economy in terms of a narrow focus on growth rates and GDP misses out key issues like how environmental degradations and income inequality are key deterrents to inclusive growth.
While populist policies in an election year like the Food Security bill brings up the ire of people like ‘The Capitalist Pig’ whose ‘Ranticle’ is featured in this issue we want to put the matter in perspective by pointing out that in the past 20-25 years; India’s hand has been continually forced by the ever looming Foreign Exchange crisis and the need to continuously design policies and the need to attract funds from abroad to tackle its external debt. It has led us to a situation today where, as per RBI data India will have to fork out $170 billion (10% of our GDP) in debt servicing between now and March 2014. Compare this for a moment with the Food Security bill which will cost about 1.5 percent of our GDP. Rest assured the resident Socialist bee is sharpening her quill to give a fitting rejoinder to Capitalist Pig.
Our focus has not just been on the India of the future but also the India of here and now. So Apart from discussions on the economy and the Food Security Bill, scattered across the pages of this issue are articles that are both topical and of the moment. Look out for Ali Baba’s take on the Asaram Bapu case and the murder of Narendra Dabholkar in the context of Scientific temper, Grumble Bee’s latest rantings about MGPL – Madam G’s Private Limited (no points for guessing which political party is the focus of his ire) and Shailesh Gandhi’s investigative journalism on the revenue loss being incurred in the state of Maharashtra.
What is perhaps the overarching factor in all these issues is a feeling that somewhere all our debates on Indian Economy, Polity and Development have started bordering on the clichéd; where all theorizing is done in terms of binaries with the state and the private sector seen as the only two agents of change/development. It fails to account for a crucial third front- the people themselves — not seen as beneficiaries of state initiatives or as mere consumers of privatized services but as drivers of their own destiny empowered to self provision and govern from below.
To us, one of India’s greatest achievements in the past decade has been from the people, through the consistent unleashing of an entrepreneurial movement like never before. Colleges and campuses across India are abuzz with this entrepreneurial spirit and many including IIT Bombay have their own incubators, Entrepreneurship cell and business plan competitions. This is a gigantic socio-cultural change that bodes well for our country. IITBAA too is doing its own bit by launching its own initiative I-ASCEND to support the nascent spirit of entrepreneurship within the IITB Community. This issue onwards we have therefore added a special section on I-ASCEND where we plan to feature inspiring, interesting case studies of IIT Bombay alumni entrepreneurs and their initiatives.
We do not believe that the great Indian Economic Story is over. And we wish to focus on this crucial third front by choosing to select “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” as the theme for the next issue of Fundamatics.
We choose to cast our lot with the people who have decided to ignore the lure of cushy jobs with fat salaries and decided to dream of building something of their own. In the coming years, may be only a small percentage of them will attract VC capital but many will build value, create jobs and most importantly, sustain hope.
If you agree with us and have inspiring stories of entrepreneurial ventures or collective wisdom to share, send in your articles to us at the earliest. We publish the next issue by December 29th and need your article latest by Nov end.
We do not know if the Indian Elephant will dance but this is our attempt to make it do so. Young India can surely lead and build the new India.