Raghuram Rajan, during the AIPC conclave, spoke about the importance of strengthening liberal democracy and its institutions to encourage the growth of the nation.
Raghuram Rajan, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said on Saturday that strengthening India’s liberal democracy and its institutions is crucial to achieving economic growth.
Sri Lankan majoritarianism
He warned against majoritarianism and cited Sri Lanka as an illustration of what happens when a country’s politicians try to distract from the failure to create jobs by tackling a minority. He claimed that it had no positive effect.
Speaking at the 5th Conclave of the All India Professionals Congress, a wing of the Congress party, he opposed majority authoritarianism, saying any effort to turn a sizable minority into second-class citizens would lead to the division of the country and cause internal resentment. Rajan noted that it would also leave the nation open to interference from abroad.
Why liberal democracy is essential for India’s economic progress was the subject of Rajan’s speech. Rajan highlighted the status of liberal democracy in India, saying it needs to be strengthened. He said there is a perception among some quarters in India today that democracy is holding the country back; that India needs strong, even authoritarian leadership with few checks and balances to develop, and we seem to be drifting in that direction.
The former IMF chief economist disagreed with this argument, saying it is based on an outdated development model that emphasizes goods and capital, not people and people. ideas. He added that the lack of economic growth in the country seems to indicate that the road we are on needs to be rethought.
According to the former RBI Governor, our future lies in strengthening our liberal democracy and its institutions, not undermining them, and this is in fact important for our progress. He asserted that liberalism was not a complete religion and that liberal democracy shared many characteristics with major religions in their quest for the good in everyone.
Rajan said the COVID-19 pandemic was not the only cause of India’s weak growth and the country’s poor performance was long-standing. He added that we have not been doing as well as we should for a decade, certainly since the onset of the global financial crisis. The main indicator of this underperformance is the failure to produce the quality jobs that our young people need.
Rajan cited the firm opposition to the Center’s Agniveer military recruitment program as evidence of youth desperation for jobs. He noted that some time ago there were 12.5 million applicants for 35,000 railway jobs. This is of particular concern as India lacks jobs, even though so many women do not work outside the home. Female labor force participation in India is among the lowest in the G-20, at 20.3% in 2019.
Autonomy as a vision of progress
Rajan said the term “atmanirbhar”, or self-reliance, is key to the “vision of progress” of the current government, led by Prime Minister Modi. In some respects, he continued, the concept of atmanirbhar appears to be a continuation of the past decades of reform in the sense that it prioritizes better connectivity, better logistics, better roads and engages more people in them. money, which is good.
However, according to Rajan, looking at what “atmanirbhar” is trying to accomplish in many ways takes us back to an earlier, unsuccessful era when the emphasis was on physical capital rather than human capital, on protection and subsidies rather than liberalization, and picking the favorites to win instead of letting the most qualified succeed.
Rajan claimed that the country is underfunding education due to a misguided sense of priorities, which is having catastrophic effects. He pointed out that many children who have missed two years of school drop out. We underestimate their human capital, which will be both their most valuable asset and ours in the years to come. By not allocating sufficient funds to remedial education, we are failing them.