India has and will continue to have for a considerable period of time the largest pool of young people on the planet. Like most other things, this could either be a blessing or a problem. The young need to be schooled and thereafter made to work, and the infrastructure needed to ensure such a development will be massive. Entire curricula will need to be revamped so that they become relevant to the present, and hopefully the future. Too much of what is learnt even in vocational courses in our educational institutions relates to technologies and systems that are on the way out. A single designer has the capacity to create an app that has the capacity to make him or her a billionaire. In the internet age, it is ideas that are the most valuable resource, much more so than even gold. Thirty years ago, John Ward Anderson wrote on the front page of the Washington Post that a city in South India that few had paid much attention till then was developing as the knowledge capital of India. He spoke of the information technology startups that had begun blanketing the city, and of the eager minds he saw at work there. That report in one of the world’s top newspapers lifted the lid off the intellectual treasures of Bangalore, and the city has never looked back since then. Many of the small startups that Anderson mentioned grew to the size of global giants that today employ hundreds of thousands across the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands the power and potential of innovation, which is why there is hope that he will ensure that bureaucratic excess does not any more smother tens of thousands of startups, and that those who created such growth blockers as an “Angel Investor Tax” or a GST system that in the beginning was complex to the point of despair so far as many businesses were concerned. Fortunately, simplifications have come about since the GST rollout, but these ought to have been thought of first, before this very necessary reform was introduced. Under Modi, there is a need to make India a country that has a governance system that is friendly to enterprise and to innovation, especially those concerning the varied strands of the knowledge economy. The Ministry of Finance as well as sister ministries such as Law, Industry and Commerce have a major role in ensuring that the same dynamism gets imparted to the economy as was witnessed in the case of the BJP during the just concluded Lok Sabha polls.
Youth backed Prime Minister Modi in 2019 in far greater numbers than they did any of his rivals. This was because of the expectation that Modi would the leader best suited towards ensuring a stable double digit growth trajectory for India. A country that three decades ago was just the same size as ours in economic terms has now become nearly five times larger, thanks to being able to maintain double digit growth over a generation. That pulled 600 million people out of poverty, just as a similar long-term increase in growth in the Indian economy will ensure that the 300 million citizens of India who still live in dire poverty will get a better life, as desired by the Prime Minister so movingly in his numerous speeches. Team Modi needs to understand that the people of India have placed a heavy responsibility on them, and this is nothing less than safeguarding the future. The next five years are critical for india to escape the Middle Income Trap about which the government’s own economists are warning about. Those policies that are a brake on growth need to be consigned to the wastebasket. Prime Minister Modi has steadily been eliminating a number of laws that have (sometimes for over a century) outlived their utility. India’s laws make it easy for the government to take away the liberty and the assets of the citizen. There are certainly instances where such a punishment is desirable, but all too often, draconian laws are used by corrupt bureaucrats to extort huge bribes from those caught in the toils of a complex regulatory system. Rather than having to find the way forward through a jungle of regulations, citizens need to experience a smooth highway of laws and procedures that are easily understood, clearly appreciated, and honestly enforced. Condign punishment needs to be focussed on those in the governance system who loot the citizenry through corruption on a massive scale. Behind every Vijay Mallya or a Nirav Modi, there are several politicians and bureaucrats who have ensured that the misdeeds of such individuals be permitted to continue without pause. Such politicians and officials need to be brought to account, and ensuring that the worst offenders within the system face punishment is important in the creation of the clean and transparent governance mechanism that the people of India long for. The tally of 303 Lok Sabha seats won by the BJP represents a major volume of trust in the party and in its acknowledged leader, Narendra Modi. Those who have been given high responsibilities by the Prime Minister need to live up to his expectation, so that he can fulfill the pledges that have been made to the 1.3 billion citizens of the world’s most populous democracy.