Events transpiring in the world’s largest democracy south of the 40th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere, India, were reported by TIME Magazine in an excellent Special Issue and subsequent articles.
“In our own way, each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs” said Mr Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister, in his 60th anniversary address to the people’s house, Lok Sabha, given the rising frustration among Indians, in a country which is the more challenging counterpart of America’s e pluribus unum, in South Asia.
Sharing blame and, therefore, responsibility together with credit for outcomes appreciated by the people with whom and when it is due is a sign of leadership, whether the system of government be parliamentary – where Mr Singh is also the leader of his party, the Congress, albeit in concert with Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi – or the American and French form of governance where the unitary executive reigns supreme but balanced constitutionally by the people’s representatives in checks and balances and in separation of powers.
India’s members of parliament (MPs) have their jobs to do.
Having spent some time in India in 2011 with a Member of Lok Sabha and a minister in Mr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet in his constituency and in my state of birth Andhra Pradesh on business, doing sustainability work as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), it is clear why the MPs are spending less time legislating: they are working more with their constituents in their home states together with the state governments in a country where planning devolves from New Delhi to the state capitals.
Rising inflation – not the rupee relative to the US dollar, and most certainly not the democratic political system governing about 1.2 billion people with a median age of 26.2 years – is India’s principal policy problem: the young want a better life and there is nothing wrong with this aspiration in a democracy doing far better than either America or Europe.
Wage price spiral is the easy way out in economic policy as India’s policymakers, including the prime minister, well know.
India’s parliament and its Planning Commission must spend time legislating parsimoniously, not on missiles and indigenous fighter jets but on matters that matter most: how to put the countless young to work in creating the better life they want in their country, sooner than later, to still build the superhighway but without the auto boom. This is the renewal India’s prime minister was talking about in his speech analogizing the 60th anniversary of the Lok Sabha to the new long Kondratieff cycle in many of India’s new year calendars.
$1 trillion equivalent expected spending on infrastructure in Indian rupees by India without having to expend its foreign reserves is 1/4 of the current size of the Indian economy at the current 12.5% inflation.
Inflation does not matter in the long run. Ain’t a dead economist named Milton Friedman correct? Perhaps Edmund Phelps can vouch for India becoming the world’s largest democratic open economy on a per capita purchasing power parity (PPP) basis in Indian rupees by 2050.
India is ready to freely float the rupee.