India: towards new awakening

Tags: Opinion
Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present, said Rudy Giuliani.When the finance minister stood up to present the budget, I was very excited. One th­ought raced through my mi­nd: What if he was laying do­wn a budget plan for the next 3-5 years. We would have bro­ught about a stable policy, which could help corporate India plan their business and way forward. But this did not happen, what we got was bud­get proposals for the year. Ti­mes like this call for radical thinking and breaking free from conventional protocols that we have wra­pped ourselves in. It is time India demanded its place on the world stage.

When a country is poised the way we are, when the world around us has given us the opportunity to take centre stage, are we going to take our place on the global stage or will history say that this was a country that was poised to be a global leader?

We are fortunate to have a stable government and a great team of ministers and some highly dedicated senior bureaucrats under the very able leadership of our prime minister. Never in the history of India has the country been endowed with such a luminary list of ministers, both experienced and young. When we make the next budget, we should talk to the new generation and understand what the new India needs.

Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi and prime minister Manmohan Singh have their own style and personalities and are dedicated to the cause of making India a great nation. However, what this country needs is a set of politicians who have a high level of commitment. We need to rise over personal needs and give back to this country as any good citizen would. Most companies have values, a set of corporate governance code. It’s time such values are laid down for the government to follow. All ministers should imbibe these values and ensure that these are followed across ministries th­ey oversee.

All should imbibe a spirit of stewardship. One needs to run this country as if it has been given in trust. One gets it in some shape and one needs to make it better when we ha­nd the same over to the ne­xt generation.

Benchmarks need to be set and all ministries need to be measured against them. We have great talent in this country but we use the corporate talent very sparingly in the positions they occupy within government. There needs to be greater mobility between business and the government for the greater good of the country.We have been highly successful in the telecom and IT/ ITeS sectors. It is time that someone did an honest and detailed analysis of what ma­de us successful in these sectors. Can these be replicated across other industries and sectors? Can this be done ac­ross the agriculture sector and other areas like power?

If we are going to make this dream a reality we need to be more open and transparent about the process. Can the echo system evolve such that no one gets an unfair advantage. We cannot make the transformational change by doing it the same way. What we will get is incremental growth and what we need is transformational growth by doing things differently, replicating success and learning from the past. We have the success story of Maruti in front of us. Why can this not to be replicated? It will be interesting to understand how a PSU could become a world-beater. These reasons will he­lp in converting some fine PSUs into world-class firms.

We need to have a detailed gap analysis of our strengths, opportunities, threats and we­aknesses. Can we fill that gap by making acquisitions of wh­at we lack in other countries like Africa? Can we identify the next India? As we emerge and have opportunities to gr­ow into a mature eco­nomy we should not fall into the trap of the more mature econo­mies. Can this economic success be made to last longer?

It is time we took a serious note of hindrances to our growth. We need to root out corruption in all forms. Can we set examples? How can a country that had selfless souls like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa and business magnates like the Tatas, be at the mercy of corrupt and po­wer brokers? All these people are from different walks of life and yet each rose and made a major impact on society. They are all recognised and respected across the glo­be.

What works in today’s world is affirmative action. We should look at affirmative action for policies we want to adopt. We need to provide the right environment to encourage research and developme­nt and build infrastructure th­rough allowing the large infrastructure projects being implemented.

Richard P Feynman has said: We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.

The writer is deputy CEO and head, advisory

services of KPMG, India

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