THE NO.1 CHALLENGE IN INDIA
WHAT CAN YOU, I
& GOVERNMENT DO ABOUT IT?
& GOVERNMENT DO ABOUT IT?
For the last one decade and more, Indian Markets at many places are flooded with Chinese Products. These products are cheaper compared to Indian Products – but not very great in quality. Some electrical and electronic products are certainly more innovative than Indian products.
And, many of these products are replacing traditional Indian products – because, Indians, as a rule, seem, not to want to buy any products MADE IN INDIA – if some thing made out of India (any where outside) is available in the market. Correct me, if you are an exception.
But, I am not amused. Being not in active politics – these problems attract my curiosity and attention. I find, Chinese products, more than any other country’s products, are replacing INDIAN JOBS – and Indian incomes.
Compare it with the US. USA has been fighting a 9% unemployment Rate as its most important national problem – as though life depended on that. Not a day passes without President Obama urging his country men and the US Congress to approve his Job creation Plans. And, I think, President Obama is right. From 7.5% in July 2009, it has climbed to 9.1% now. The average rate of unemployment in US from 1948 to 2010 was 5.7%, climbing to a high of 10.8% in 1982 and a Low of 2.5% in 1953.
In India, our stock markets respond to any change in the US Job Market – in a very big way. This, in my view, is foolish – as US unemployment rate has no great impact on our companies’ or economic performance. It never had. When, US was reeling under Bank closures, closures of its major companies and a huge housing market downturn – India did remain healthy.
But, that is not the real point to look at now.
What is the unemployment Rate in India? Do we have any idea? No one even tries to measure this statistic in India. For Government and even Opposition Politicians, this seems to be the most unimportant thing.
For US, it has always been the most important statistic. People must be employed. That is the TOP priority. Next comes Growth. Next comes inflation. Next comes budget deficits and so on.
For a while, let us also think, as US thinks, of our unemployment problem a little more seriously. Is it close to 50%? May be. How much is it in your family? In your neighbour’s family? Since, there are no reliable official statistics, this is a good way to measure unemployment in India. Even if it is 50%, I won’t be surprised. Unemployment and Underemployment are the bane of India. So – how do you respond to that? How does Indian Government, Indian politicians and you and I, the members of the Indian public respond to it? Philosophically. It is Karma.
It isn’t Karma of the past births. It is our present Karma. When you and I buy a Chinese product, in preference to an available Indian product, you and I are supporting employment in China and unemployment in India.
How can we talk like that in these days of Globalization? There is no Globalization in regard to China. You won’t find much of Indian products on Chinese Roads, but there is a huge quantum of Chinese products on Indian Roads and shops. And, many of us buy them in preference to Indian products. Not only Chinese products. We prefer any foreign products to any Indian products.
And, consequently, there is huge unemployment in India. Many Indian-made products are disappearing from Indian markets – and nobody is making even a survey of this phenomenon. This is not Globalization. Globalization must work both ways. It is not so now. Despite a 9% unemployment in US, US companies are providing huge employment to Indians. Indians are reciprocating to US also in many ways. That’s globalization.
But, in respect of Chinese products, there is no such globalization. It seems to be their way – all the way (or most of the way). I am not talking of the reasons for this imbalance. I am talking of the Net Effect on India because of this imbalance.
How do we respond to unemployment problem? We don’t respond at all. But, we respond to a political problem - of COMPARATIVE UNEMPLOYMENT. It is some times called the ancient Indian crab mindset. Or, the divide and rule problem, inherited from British rule.
The Indian crab is supposed to pull down any other Indian crab climbing out of the container. It won’t allow others any thing better than itself. This explanation is for those who do not know the Indian crab. I haven’t seen the crab doing it. But, I am seeing people doing it daily.
Divide and rule is of course world famous. Today, no one represents India as a whole. Some one represents this caste, some one represents that caste, some body else represents this group, some body else represents that group, some body else represents this religion, or that and so on.
The last time I heard some one saying “I am Indian First” and paying for it – was Tendulkar, a cricketer. Recently, Mr.Narendra Modi said that slightly differently – Guajarati first, but Indian Next – or, some thing like that. He also said, I don’t plan for Minority. And, I don’t plan for Majority. I plan for 6 crore people of Gujarat. I thought I should be glad to hear that – so long after hearing Tendulkar. But, some people are protesting. They represent not all Gujaratis. But, some groups. They stand for the divide and rule philosophy.
So how do we divide and rule? Especially, in regard to employment.
If there are 100 jobs and 300 unemployed people, we make reservations on who should get these 100 jobs out of the 300 people. 20 % for this group, 25 % for that group, 30% for another and balance – for others. There is a huge political capital to be made out of these reservations. Never mind that – 200 Indians out of 300 will remain jobless – anyway. India, Indian systems and Indian psyche are built around these systems and schemes. Governments are not bothered about creating jobs. But, If a job somehow comes up - like a bolt from the blue – who should be given it? This is our problem.
So, how serious is the unemployment and underemployment problem in India. Count the number of beggars outside our temples, mosques, churches and Gurdwaras etc. They will protest – No, we are employed and this is our employment. We are earning – more than what the planning commission says is BPL.
Every idle man in India claims to be employed in some way – and earning his living. The Naxalite is employed as naxalite. The ULFA members are employed as ULFA members. Many, many people are employed in many such ways. Some times – you will find, some goons are making collections from every shop in the market. They are employed that way.
This is the problem. For some unearthly reason – we say, that our MPs and MLAs and other leaders should not be employed in any profession. I am, unsure what the rule actually is. But, it is some thing like this. It is of course their privilege and I am nobody to question it.
But, it seems, most of the unemployed people are turning towards politics – to make it their profession.
We certainly must find all the reasons for - who are all unemployed and why? In India, there is some hidden attraction for remaining unemployed. This attraction must disappear first.
I mentioned Chinese products by way of example. There are many other products of many other countries - in the Indian markets which have replaced Indian products.
Look at your TV – is it Indian? Look at all the other products in your homes. Your car? Your refrigerator? Your stove? Your air conditioner? The tube lights in your house? See, how many of them are Indian. You will find, 50% of the products you use today are not Indian.
And yet, not long ago – there were so many Indian TV companies. Where are they today? Almost all are closed. And why? Because, you and I don’t buy. That’s why.
If your son and daughter are unemployed, it is because I don’t buy Indian made products. If my son and daughter are unemployed – it is because you don’t buy Indian products.
Now – a little justification for why you and I don’t buy Indian products. Always, as you know, there is the other side of the coin.
Our psyche is peculiarly anti – our self.
There is an ancient Indian story of the days of King Krishna Deva Raya of Vijaya Nagar. He and his court poet, Tenali Rama once planned a feast for all the people in the capital town of Vijaya Nagar. This feast was to honour the people for their honesty. The king’s godown has all other ingredients required for the feast except Milk. So, they announced that – next morning, all people in the town – will come and pour one litre of milk into a huge vessel kept at the 4-road crossing before the king’s palace.
Next morning, all people came and poured 1 litre of milk into the huge vessel. When evening came, the king along with Tenali Rama came and looked inside the vessel. The vessel was FULL – but not with Milk. It was full of water. So much for honesty. This was several centuries ago, when our honesty levels were perhaps much higher. Adulteration is a wide stretching phenomenon in India. So, we distrust Indian Products. Not all. But, many.
If today, we are fighting against corruption, let us not fool ourselves saying it is in high places only. The Buck stops at our own door step. The traffic constable is doing it in broad day light – and nobody is questioning him. The RTO office, the panchayat office – and you name it – everywhere you find it. I am not saying, we cannot be reformed. We can reform. We haven’t done that – yet. That is all.
With this mindset, we adulterate rice, wheat, pulses, cereals, mangoes, apples, milk, drugs, water and what not. There is in fact a saying that – you should not sell without adulterating. So shortsighted and foolish is our psyche. Many of us must change our mindsets drastically.
In unemployment also, it is the same problem. I am buying foreign products, not because I am against you. It is just because I am so short sighted. So are you. Your son and my son are both unemployed because you and I are both short sighted.
So, what should we do? Isn’t it very simple? Be Indian. Buy Indian. Not Bye Indian! Even two Decade ago – some body in the Government used to promote that concept. Now, it is not considered fashionable to talk of it. Now, Government is full of Stephanians. Oxfordians. Harvardians and so on. Apart from a few Hansraj collegians etc.
But, Jawahar Lal Nehru was also an Oxfordian. He always wanted to - Be Indian and Buy Indian. So, I am hoping that our Government will listen – as, despite all criticism, I feel, MMS is still one our outstanding PMs.
So – what can Governments at Centre and states do?
Train all unemployed / underemployed Indians in making all Indian products, household products, ornamental products, electrical products, electronic products, plastic utensils etc – with high innovation and excellent quality.
Don’t advertise and train only volunteers. Pull up every unemployed person – and train compulsorily. They will like it later. Train all men and women and children. Do not settle for mediocrity. Demand excellence. Demand innovation. Some of them will pick up this first. Others will catch up later. India needed this yesterday. Today is not too late.
Give all possible assistance to the people trained - to make Great, Innovative products. Then, subsidize what products they make – so that they can sell them – much below the price of Chinese products. With one rupee subsidy – the government can generate Rs.5 worth of jobs. Isn’t it worth it?
It is better than NREGS – where you can’t show any assets, or skills or any sort of productivity – for the huge money distributed every year. NREGS funds can be diverted to this purpose easily – without changing the name of the scheme. You pay the people the same money – to learn new skills, make new products and sell them at a discount to Chinese products.
Pay for Innovation. Pay for learning skills. Pay for Productivity. Pay for creation of Jobs. That’s what president Obama trying to do in USA. His every alternate talk is about Job creation.
I wish to see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh doing an Obama in India. He can succeed better than Obama. US Congress is not (yet) fully in tune with Obama. But, Indian congress is in tune with MMS.
We can do it. India can do it. By 2014 – you can ensure several crores of Indians to be more skilled, more employed and more industrious and hardworking than many others in the world. Isn’t it worth it?
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