How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Name:
Location: India

Saturday, October 01, 2005

We can shape our destiny

As I have said earlier, one of the topics in our Business Environment course is to trace the influence of deeper determinants of economic growth of a country. These have been put into three broad categories: institutions, integration into world trade, and geography. By institutions is meant not only the legal and government policy infrastructure, but also social peculiarities. Two authors, Gregory Clark and Susan Wolcott did a country study of India to find out why India did not show spectacular growth (until change arrived starting from the early '80s).

Their finding is striking. They say that India did not lack in diffusion of technology, but in efficient employment of technology, i.e. the same technology as that in developed countries has been employed much less profitably in India. They blame this largely on the Indian attitude of only putting in as much effort at work as justified by financial incentives or supervision. This is unlike most developed countries, where workers put in much more effort at work. In telling jargon, they say: 'India is characterized by a mutual-shirking equilibrium rather than a mutual gift-giving equilibrium. In this view, India's poverty is largely unconnected to government policy or public institutions.' Pretty damning.

Thus, one way out for India could be skill development, so that we can make more efficient use of our infrastructure and equipment. However, a change in the noted 'crab mentality' of Indians - the tendency to pull each other down - might be something that would have greater impact than skills upgradation. This is where the Japanese have been so good. In the words of Sam Pitroda: 'One Indian is equivalent to ten Japanese. But, ten Indians are equivalent to only one Japanese'. We do hold the key to our own future as a country.

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