Since 1991, when India kickstarted reforms, its parameters for judging progress have been narrow. Growth rate, investment, expenditure and deficits are the terms frequently used in discussions on ‘development’.
But an economy is more than just that. It has as its constituents issues that are serious, but ignored.
For instance, did you know that sports are vital to the economy? Normally, the discussion centres on sport icons or the number of medals won. But, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals view sports as an economic engine. Sports create employment opportunities and the demand for sports goods and services contributes to the economy. An inclusive national sports programme could provide opportunities and social upliftment for marginalised sections, such as women and the physically challenged.
The internal security situation – precarious across much of central India – also has a profound impact on society. Naxalism, a Communist insurgency, alone affects 60,000 sq km of central and eastern India, depriving these areas of the benefits of reforms. This isolation has kept farmers backward and made the establishment of industries virtually impossible. The delivery of government services is another casualty of this internal war.
Yet, the link between such insurgencies and their economic impact rarely finds a mention during debates on the Budget.
MSLGROUP India, through its report ‘13 Economic Priorities for FY13’, aims to bring into focus precisely such linkages between issues and the Indian economy, the opportunities missed and the ones within reach. We have focused on subjects rarely mentioned in the same breath as the economy, but there are also those more familiar to the economic debate – taxing the super-rich and the Goods and Services Tax are but two examples.
Our choice of the 13 issues is certainly subjective. However, the aim is not to preach but to foster an understanding of the issues and to suggest recommendations for the way forward.