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Encourage Competition

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It is extraordinary that those who complain about government intrusiveness when the economy is doing well, begin seeking interventions when it tanks. If the study of economics teaches anything, the state of the nation’s economy depends on a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the ability of any government or group of people to influence. It is important to know what these factors are so that they can be utilised for the general well- being of people. Most importantly, it is dangerous to try and impose dogma of any kind – be it Marxism, Maoism, religion, etc. – on human behaviour. There are stages in every economy that can be recognised and built upon, or clear shortcomings that can be corrected. Often, though, with the passage of time and changing circumstances, it is difficult to replicate past correctives, particularly in the present day and age when technology is proving a huge disruptor. This is the case in India, where lamentations are loud about a perceived decline. The latest has been a diatribe by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose economics can be described best as ‘do nothing’. It is from this belief, obviously, that he has criticised the ‘faulty’ implementation of GST and the concept of demonetisation. It is this tendency to ‘discuss’ the suitability of policies but, in the end, leave the conclusions hanging that made the Indian economy the anarchy it has been for so long. Actually doing something was avoided no matter how convinced one was, because it could go wrong. Better that things went wrong by themselves! If there has been any lesson learned over the past seventy plus years, it has been that much depends in India on the quality of its human resources. It is not just about the demographic dividend; it is that the diversity of ethnicities and cultures give an edge to Indians in every sphere of activity. Individual skills and initiative are not lacking, it is just the obstacles to organised activity that need to be removed. While emphasis has been given to equality of opportunity, not enough encouragement has been given to merit. In the field of commerce, the market has to be allowed to play its role – unfortunately despite all the talk, economists in particular are afraid to see the process through. A little dip here, a setback there, instills panic and rollbacks are demanded in policies and practices. Unless there is competition, how can the meritorious take the lead? Thankfully, the present government has some inkling of this process. It is not just action oriented in the political field, it expects Indians to get on with the fundamental job of making money the best they can and make sure they pay their taxes. It is as simple as that!