Friday, October 7, 2011

The Illusionist - Race of Elephant and the Dragon

'The Illusionist' is an American drama film by Neil Burger, in which the hero - Eisenheim, son of a cabinet maker - fell in love with Duchess Sophie. After meeting a travelling magician Eisenheim became obsessed with magic and start learning the tricks. The relation with aristocrat Sophie didn't go down well with Sophie's family, later he was forced to run away. After travelling around the world for years he became a master illusionist and came back to Vienna. During one of his performance in the city he met with his childhood lover Sophie and learned that she was expected to marry crown price Leopold.

Everyday, various newspapers and channels are feeding us the news about India's growth, capabilities and how we are moving forward in various fields. Its not only limited to newspapers, even in the vocabulary of politicians and journalists there is no shortage of such energetic words.

To some extend it is true, we are clocking more than 5% growth for the past decade. From Goldman Sach's emerging market we travelled to Obama's already emerged market. From the days of PL480 to a situation where we are dumping the rotten food grains in Bay of Bengal - although reports says that number of poor people are more in India than in any other country and in some parts, living condition is worse than that of many Sub-Saharan African states. These flashy descriptions are not limited to politicians or journalists alone. This trend is common among people also - just go through comment section of various Indian online newspapers. All lead us to an illusionary world, were Indian economy is very much strong and don't face any external or internal problems.

But how far it is true? Now we are comparing ourselves with China and US. From a South Asian environment we are trying to pull ourselves to a global environment. Administrators are travelling across the world and signing various treaties for expanding the trade basket and reducing the tax barriers.

But we forget or want to forget the fact that, even now wealth is coming to Indian economy through the production or consumption of primary resources - if we leave the service industry aside. In many places of the country, growth is limited to Mining, Real Estate sector. There too we are struggling to move up in the value chain. The cheap labour tag will not remain with us for long. As the time passes the wages will increase and it will not take much time for foreign companies to switch their manufacturing base.

Apart form the mind blowing claims on educational fields we are yet to see an Indian or foreigner getting Nobel Prize in Science for a work which he started and completed in an Indian University. The number of papers coming out of Indian universities are no where comparable to those of Chinese. A small city state - like Singapore - with an area close to or less than the size of NCT Delhi acquires more FDI than entire India.

Administrative apparatus, the front runners of 1991 reforms are tied down to various accusations and counter-accusations. Anybody imagines that the problems related to 2G spectrum allocation will be over even after 2G [two generations]? There are many verdicts coming out of Indian judicial system, where either the accused or victim or both didn't live enough time to hear the verdict. Manmohan government still have half of the term left in office, will this issue freeze all other actions?

Chasing the Dragon

Two recent articles, one on 'The Economist' (Chasing the dragon) and the other from 'Forbes' sheds some light on the status of our claims.

According to 'The Economist' report, we lags China by many years in some of the important indicators. For example, we lags by a whopping 36 years in the case of life expectancy at birth, 33 years in the case of child mortality rate, 25 years in the case of adult literacy rate, 9 years in the case of income per head, in terms of higher education we still lags behind by 5 years.

Interesting or horrific statistics? Ok. let me point out one more thing, this will remain the same if we grow at the rate of China, but will we really able to grow at that amazing numbers? Especially at this time of stagnating political environment and economic reforms safely sitting in the back burner? Chinese economy is not showing any sign of tiredness (at least not more than that of us) so we have to work extra hard even to come close to Chinese. Indigestible but hard facts!!!

Forbes (India Compares Best to Indonesia) went one more step forward and took the name China out of the comparison and bring Indonesia in.

World economic crisis showed us the strength and weakness of global economy. Should we dedicate this moment for various never ending issues and losing our already endangered position or to take brave steps and put ourselves in the new shoes and rising ahead? There is no doubt that the new economic treaties with various countries like Korea, Japan etc will really help us to expand our trade relationships with outside world. Without an equally strong political will and efficient basic service structure at home the plans may not take off at all.

Consider the case of Telengana movement, even after years of talks and negotiation we are yet to find a way out. Now its not only affecting the industrial environment of Andra but slowly expands to Karnataka as well - in the form of power shortages. 2G spectrum issue is yet to reach any solutions, nobody knows what to do with Air India and probably BSNL and Indian railways are moving ahead in that way, Naxal issue is yet to be solved, so as the case with many other problems.

The situation demands the government to move ahead with further reforms both in administrative as well as at the economical level. Reforms started in 1991 gave a new life for the dying industry, it helped them to came out of the chains and vigorously push forward. This made our industry more attractive and competitive. Reforms are not the last option or shock treatment, its a continuous process. 1991 round left many things behind, to make the economy strong and competitive we need to make ourselves transformed to suit the new challenges.

We have to sit down and think what we really needed. Second fastest growing emergent market is not a tag which will remain with us forever, its better to have no such illusions. There is no free lunch everything comes at a price, we really need to work hard to retain the position and to become the first one. It requires reforms and strong political will to enforce the same. If we are not able to move forward with reforms even after the government having a comfortable working majority in Parliament, then when we are going to do?

There are some hope too, North East is slowly becoming normal and getting more and more integrated with the mainland through land and sea, Kashmir is coming to normal, even if facing many problems central government is more stable in Parliament, food harvest and buffer stocks are at record level, foreign reserve is also in a healthy condition etc.

In the end of the movie, Eisenheim and Sophie finds out that if they tried to flee from the empire both of them will be followed and killed. So Eisenheom faked Sophie's death using his magic and framed Leopold for the murder, along with this he also exposes Prince's plan for coup d'etat to usurp the crown of Austria from his aging father. Finally the prince shot himself and Einsehim met sophie in a country house.


No comments:

Post a Comment