Indian economy is not dependent on the state
The greatest strength of Indian economy is her self-dependent approach. The economies in different parts of the world, including the developed and the richer countries, largely depend on the state and state mechanisms. But the Indian economy is different.
Indian culture teaches people to stand on one’s own legs and not depend on others, however close they may be. As a result the Indian society imbibed the values of self-dependence in the lives of its people and saw to it that they practiced them.
People have been taught to choose and engage in one or the other productive activities. Dedication to one’s own work is considered a higher quality. Hence people take up work as their basic duty and privilege.
Family is the foundation of life in India. It is mandated that the sacred duty of the householders is to take care of the dependents in the family. Hence they engage in different activities to earn an income and protect the well-being of their family members. They also take up new initiatives so that they could earn more for their families. As a result different economic activities are continued and new ventures get started without waiting for others from outside.
Simple living and saving for the future are two important characteristics of the Indian life. Indian life discourages wasteful expenditures. Hence people save money even when their incomes are less. Such habits enable the society to mobilize funds for purposeful initiatives.
Indian families are closely knit and society oriented. The parents help their children in all possible ways. They bequeath their assets, pass on their savings and make their services available to the next generation. As a result it becomes easier for the younger members to grow, as their basic facilities are already fulfilled and resources are available for further growth.
Since families lead community oriented lives, they take it as their duty to help their near and dear ones. As a result of the network of relationships, promotion of new ventures and economic development becomes easier and faster. Prevalence of social capital in the country makes it possible for the people to live in a peaceful atmosphere and it helps people to concentrate on the developmental activities.
All these features of Indian lives with the age-old culture and tradition as the foundation, makes the economy move on without much expectations from the state. People take to activities on their own as they consider it their duty to engage in useful activities, earn resources, nurture their families, lead useful lives and achieve success in their fields.
It is true that in the ancient periods the rulers were advised to frame suitable policies and provide the required facilities for the proper functioning of the economy. Studies on the economic history of India show that the states and their agencies facilitated the economic activities very actively by making policies for different segments at different levels, establishing the necessary facilities, providing the required support and encouraging people to involve in different kinds of work. The states were also engaged in a few of the activities considered significant.
Systems were established in such a manner that even during the times of war the economic activities continued without any interruption. This is the reason why India remained a prosperous nation for many centuries with achievements in different sectors, till the Europeans interfered with the native systems.
The alien domination resulted in the state playing a totally negative role. With the societies losing their control and people getting disturbed, the native arrangements were destroyed. As a result people could not do much and the economy had to suffer seriously.
The independence gave the people a feeling of security and confidence. They felt immediately that they could pursue economic activities without the fear of an oppressive alien power. Studies show that without waiting for the state, they started working on their own. The seeds for development were sown in the 1950s, without even the state fully realizing it and it continues to go on. Since then irrespective of the ideologies of the state, the economy has been growing as the people remain pushing it.
It is unfortunate that the ruling classes of independent India have failed to evolve a suitable policy framework for the all-round development of her people and provide the necessary support, though the people are willing to work hard and undertake the required steps to make the country progress in the right direction. It is in this context that we have to appreciate the Indian people, who continue to toil and do whatever is possible for development.
In this connection it may be worth remembering the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, himself a noted economist and, the ambassador of the US to India in the 1960s. He made these comments when he visited India in 2001. To quote: “ I wanted to emphasize the point, which would be widely accepted, that the success of India did not depend on the government. It depended on the energy, ingenuity and other qualifications of the Indian people. And the Indian quality to put ideas into practice. I was urging an obvious point that the progress of India did not depend on the government, as important as it might be, but was enormously dependent on the initiative, individual and group, of the Indian people. I feel the same way now (as i did some forty years ago) but i would even emphasize it more. We’ve seen many years of Indian progress, and that it is attributable to the energy and genius of the Indian people and the Indian culture.”
Many times the state does not have a correct view of the functioning economic systems. It results in slowing down and even hindering progress. But people through their will power and persistence, continue to work and achieve success. Writing in the context of the entrepreneurial qualities of the Gounder community who dominate the western part of Tamil Nadu, Sharad Chari writes: “ To paraphrase S.Neelakantan, an economist from western Tamil Nadu, familiar with these environs, Gounders have succeeded despite the state and it is this success under inhospitable conditions that highlights the central role of the entrepreneur.”
Studies in different economic and business centres across the country indicate that people take up economic activities on their own and have achieved success even when the attitude of the state is not favorable. Reports and surveys continuously point out that the entrepreneurial activities at different levels are promoted by people with most of the funds mobilized through their own efforts, even when the support from the institutions are very less.
The Indian economy remains self-dependent to a large extent in spite of the lack of proper understanding from the policy makers and disturbances to her native ways of functioning. It is this quality that has enabled India to move forward even when the rest of the world has been facing serious difficulties with their states groping for solutions to get out of the crisis.
1. John Kenneth Galbraith, Interview, Outlook, August 20, 2001
2. Sharad Chari, Fraternal Capital, Permanent Black, Delhi, 2004
(Published in Yuva Bharati, Vol.39 No.5, Dec.2011)