“China has brought electricity to 700 million people in the last 15 years,” Peter Schwartz, chairman of Global Business Network, said in Washington this month. “During that time, India ended with up with 200 million more people without electricity.”
The Enemy Within
So are such glowing prophecies about India’s economic growth nothing but wishful thinking? They might turn out to be if India fails to deal with the powerful enemy within: A prodigal government that takes a third of the citizen’s incomes as taxes, then crushes consumption by making them pay import tariffs that are among the world’s highest. Since all that revenue isn’t enough to service the existing public debt, the government cuts corners on the most basic services.
Then it goes and borrows still more.
According to official figures released Friday, in the first 10 months of 2003, the federal government’s fiscal deficit — what it borrows to meet its spending needs — rose 19 percent from a year ago to 1444 billion rupees ($31.6 billion). An unaffordable profligacy for a government that’s among the most indebted in the world.
This all goes to support my contention that India has been saddled with an extractive and exploitative government. Until we change the basic nature of our government, all this futzing around in the margins is not going to amount to a hill of beans. All the talk about India becoming an IT superpower or a BPO superpower is not going to materialize. We need to wake up to that fact and figure out how we can change the nature of the government.