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If only people had acted on time!


For those who think why India lags, here is an example of how bureaucracy stifles implementation of critical projects and programs which can take India decades ahead in terms of being an innovator. Moreover, if India implemented at the pace of ideation, we would have been much better prepared for #COVID-19 #Coronavirus. Read this terse email I wrote to the Babus in North Block for sitting on the file for months. Also, despite follow up from the PMO, this project was never implemented. The total cost was Rs. 340 crore spread over three years. It was about setting up a 1500 seater doctor call center in 16- 22 languages across four zones. Imagine, had this been implemented along with NIN ( National Identification Number ) for all healthcare providers? India would have not only reduced people’s anxiety in times of #COVID but also provided timely interventions and advice, saving lives. Time to reform bureaucracy if we have to make India a world leader. I normally don’t share such communications in the public domain, but this was needed to expose who let India down. When India has all the capabilities, bureaucracy stifled it. Now we are grappling with the problem looking helter-skelter. Those who worked with me would know well that I give enough freedom and also support people who wish to deliver. But, those who find reasons for their laggardness, I am known to be blunt and ruthless to them. Such laggards let our Hon’ble Prime Minister down and kept India behind in terms of preparedness and growth. India does not have a dearth of money or ideas; it is the speed-breaker ( bureaucracy) that is taller than the Great Wall of China, stalling India’s march for development. Rest for you to decide.
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From: “Rajendra P. Gupta (Advisor to Union Health Minister )” <advisor.healthminister@gov.in>
Subject: Meeting on 3rd May, on the ‘Doctor on Call’ project. 
Date: 15 June 2017 at 10:24:45 AM IST
To: daves@, adcost@
Dear Mr.Dave & Mr.Wadhawan,
Good morning !
I read this news ( pic attached ) yesterday, and remembered our meeting at your office on 3rd May wherein we had discussed the proposal of the ‘Doctor on Call’ project ( D/o Expenditure’s OM No. 18(21)/PF.II/2016 dated 18th November, 2016 regarding thedraft SFC Memo for Doctor on Call (D.O.C) circulated by MoHFW vide OM of even number dated 04.10.2016) .  I wanted to write you in detail immediately after the meeting , but somehow , due to meetings and travels , i could not .The news and Pic in Hindustan Times yesterday re-kindled in me the need to write you.  But as they say, “its better late than never”. 
So firstly, i thank you both for giving us time to meet up with your good selves,  and to have a first hand experience of how things are handled in the Department of Expenditure  !  Here is what i have to express ( i am just putting our conversations on record without any addition ) ;
Mr. Rajiv Wadhawan mentioned that he had held the file for four months as he did not feel it appropriate for action . I think, it was no short of a criminal act to withhold the file for four months, and also Rajiv had the audacity to say this in the meeting .  May be, if our service was launched as per plan in Oct/ Nov 2016, the girl in the pic could have been saved ! 
What was discussed on 3rd May could have been done four months earlier !  I guess , you all acted after four months , and that too , as probably , the PMO pulled up information on the project ( if i am correct ,  this project was presented to the group of Secretaries and also to the Hon’ble PM by the new IAS trainee , who had worked on this project , and i was guiding this project all throughout within the Ministry ) . 
Now , coming to your queries Mr. Dave and my responses in the meeting :
Your First query : Health is a state subject , and so , you expressed, that we must leave it to the states to do it :
Let me tell you Mr. Dave,  that about 65+ percent of our 125 crore people stay in rural India and they have challenges in accessing quality healthcare . Also,  if my ministry keeps waiting for states to do it , it might happen in the next decade or may be not.  But , the poor people will die of the treatable illness like diarrhea , fever etc. like the one you see in the pic attached . With ‘Doctor on call’ project , we could have addressed many such cases if you had approved the file with the speed with which my ministry worked.  In three weeks from the ideation of the project, the file was with the Hon’ble Minister who approved it within minutes !!  I give the entire credit to the Hon’ble Health Minister & the team led by an extra-ordinary bureaucrat , Mr. K.B. Agarwal , Additional Secretary , MOHFW. 
Also, in this fight for centre and state subject , we forget that the money belongs to Indian government and is to be used to serve the people of India, whether we pay through centre or the states , it is the money of the Indian Government collected as taxes from the people of this country . Why should poor die because there are insensitive people like Mr. Wadhawan & superiors like your self ,  who have not bothered to check the status of pending files with your team mates ?  It is time we shed our inhibitions and do what is needed for this country as priority, and ‘health and well being’ is a high priority . Also , let us not forget ,today you are in the north block , if by chance you were staying in rural India and your child was suffering from diarrhea and with no medical advice available ! then , you would have realized the importance of this project, and your perspective would have changed and you would not have held the file for four months !!! 
Your second query ; People can die of the medicines prescribed on phone or advice given :
I must state that, this project has a pre-condition to deal with voice calls based on well defined standard treatment guidelines and protocols. Also, we are going to prescribe only OTC ( over the counter) medicines for common ailments , and no one dies of taking an OTC medicines ! Also, for serious cases , the helpline would refer the patient to the appropriate health facility 
Your third query : People in rural India are used to taking an injection for relief and visit quacks as they trust them 
I must say Mr.Dave , that you were bang on this one ! This is absolutely  correct . But do you know that this is a result of the decades of deficiency in our system ? Trust is built on a repetitive behavior based on practice and availability . So far, rural folks have had no access to qualified professionals and they got into the trap of quacks and it became a practice . If this ‘doctor on call’ can give them advice which provides relief , the word will spread based on positive experience , and we will be able to change the practices and behavior when we provide right guidance and relief to people .. So , whereas your statement is correct , but the statement if used as a justification for not approving the project , then it is terribly wrongly placed .
Also, studies have proven that 65-80 % of the time , people do not need to see a doctor face to face . But in absence of right information and preventive / primary care, people in rural and semi-urban areas rush to the district hospital . This not only leads to economic loss but also , floods the district hospitals and eat into the precious time of doctors, when actually people don’t need to see a doctor in most of the cases . It can be handled with such a service like ‘ Doctor on call’. When almost every family has an access to a cell phone and that was the precise reason why i initiated this project 
Please go through the pic i have attached here . It came in yesterday’s Hindustan Times . It pains to see a person is carrying the dead body of his niece who died of diarrhea ( which is a treatable illness, and this is the example i had given coincidently in our meeting ). I feel sorry for this family and for this little girl , who could have grown up and contributed to her family, country and this society, but sadly , she is no more ! 
I have heard umpteen times, that people sitting in the North Block are arrogant to the core and deal high handedly , as if other ministries are coming with a  begging bowl ! Yes, we do , but our intent is to make the lives of people better,  and we intend to use our positions to drive those changes that makes people of this nation  safer , healthier and productive . This is what our Hon’ble PM envisions .  But bureaucrats like you act as speed-breakers who hold files for months without any accountability . 
It is sad, that i had to invest my time in summing up our discussions but if i did not express my anguish, it would have remained pricking me for ever,   .. Apologies in advance if it was inappropriate . Lastly,  It is not an individual issue , it is a systemic problem. 
With best wishes
Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Continue reading “If only people had acted on time!”

India needs to define its long-term strategy & pursue it


 

  • Despite the best efforts and pressures, USA has not been able to force or impress China to open its virtual world where America wants to dominate

  • On top of it, China’s US dollar reserves are nearing $3.5 trillion and its e-commerce market is now reaching $5 trillion

  • The US needs China to accept some of its terms to keep its head inside China, and China will do all in its ambit to avoid it

India walked out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and is exploring a deal with the USA. Let’s go a little back in time. Over the past few months, we have seen bullying and strong posturing from the US about showing China the door, and China has retaliated back equally, giving the world an impression that both are equal for now and there is no fun in trying to bully each other.

For the world, we are made to believe, that the two nations are breaking their trade and going their own way. The arrest of Huawei executive, barring of Chinese companies from the US market, tariffs on Chinese goods—all point to the same direction. However, we need to see the facts underlying the tough posturing of China and the US. When we dig the facts, China seems to have an upper hand and appears a more matured nation with a stronger plan, built over half a century, whereas, USA has been issuing circumstantial threats with knee-jerk reactions.

 US-China trade deal will go through; sandwiched between super powers, India must learn to plan, invest to protect its sovereignty

Let us see who depends on whom? Today, the world and the wars, both are driven by wealth (trade). We can see that from the history of wars in the past two decades. The nature and definition of war, warfare, and wealth are changing. Earlier, the wars happened for capturing geography, now it is for capturing and controlling the economy. Earlier, it used to be the land for which people fought, then it was oil, and now it is for the virtual world and its ecosystem (data is the new oil); and finally, we will fight for clean air, water and space.

The definition of wealth is also changing. Look at the BRF (belt and road initiative from China). It is not about controlling trade, it is about controlling trade routes and a new form of building another East India company!

So, why can’t US just rub off China and show it the door? The reasons are not just the current trade dependence, but also the future market for US products and services in China. US still does not have much to do in China’s virtual world, and it desperately needs access to grow the US economy which is floundering. Google, Facebook and Twitter don’t work in China. The Chinese tech gadget market is stronger than the US. Major US brands have been brought by China. Alibaba is another success story for US to worry.

Despite the best efforts and pressures, USA has not been able to force or impress China to open its virtual world, where America wants to dominate and make its next big bang and also to control the world virtually for trade and security reasons. At the top of it all, China’s US dollar reserve are nearing $3.5 trillion and its e-commerce market is now reaching $5 trillion. Besides, China has entered into a ‘controlled slow-down’ to boost its dependence on domestic consumption, and not be overly dependent on exports. This means China is well on its course, and this is a big worry for the USA. It needs to ‘force’ China to accept some of its terms to keep its head inside China, and China will do all in its ambit to avoid it. Despite hectic lobbying and other trade tactics, USA continues to fail in securing its foot in China’s web economy.

China, which used to be an imitator is now an innovator. This has been a big fundamental shift. Be it research or patents, China has left America behind and this is the real cause of worry. China has not only questioned America’s supremacy but also shown it the thumb, and it’s for real for those who have looked at the achievements in education, research and patents in China.

In 2000, the US President, Bill Clinton said, ‘In the new century, liberty will be spread by cellphone and the cable modem’. He was trying to influence and impress China to open its internet market to the USA. But all successive US Presidents have failed to achieve that goal. China has its own, and perhaps better versions of Google, Facebook and Twitter, which are homegrown giants. 5G tech is more advanced in China. All these give reasons to worry for the Global Big Brother, whose supremacy had been unquestioned after the collapse of the USSR. In fact, going by the pace of developments in China, I am of the opinion that we will move towards a new Cold War era between China and the USA, and China will emerge as a new leader post-that second Cold War.

India has lessons to learn, and we are in quite an opportune position. We are sandwiched between two superpowers and India has the wherewithal and the time during this Cold War period to emerge as the winner. But today, America has our ‘controls’. Today, it can shut our payment gateways, social media, tech transfer and we, as a nation, will come to a grinding halt! We know how independent India is after more than seven decades of getting freedom. China can cut off Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) supplies and the death rate due to lack of essential medicines will go up multiple times. India has failed to invest in critical areas and become independent. India should develop its own ecosystem than falling back on shortcuts through international agreements, which puts the future of 1.3 billion at the mercy of two foreign expansionist powers which masquerade as Indian allies.

Given the compulsions with the US, the US-China trade deal will happen, and it has important lessons for India. India achieved freedom in 1947 but not independence! We have a long way to go, and we need to plan and invest for protecting our sovereignty

 

Prof.Rajendra Pratap Gupta @rajendragupta

Link to the original article

https://www.firstpost.com/business/us-china-trade-deal-will-go-through-sandwiched-between-super-powers-india-must-learn-to-plan-invest-to-protect-its-sovereignty-7656381.html

#China #uschinatariffs #tradewar #rcep #uschinatradewar #usa #trump #us #india #USINDIA

Your two minutes can make a big difference to education


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Economic Slowdown- A terrific opportunity for a radical change


Over the last few weeks, we have been reading about the economy slowing down with companies cutting production and piling up inventory and jobs being lost. Former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan called it a cyclical slowdown and said that it may take 1-2 years to get back to normal.

A few days ago, industry leaders called for Rs one lakh crore stimulus to revive the investment cycle. A few industrialists want an immediate GST cut to revive the auto sector demand while others want it to be implemented later, when BS VI fuel norms kick in.

Several economic indicators point towards a long-term slowdown, which is a result of the policies of the past decades. Finance Minister met the industry during the drafting of the BJP manifesto earlier this year, then again during the vote on account, then before the budget, and now again recently. Despite the unprecedented four meetings in the past six months, the result is the same – the slowdown is aggravating.

Also, we must realise that the sectoral stimulus is not going to solve the issue of the slowdown. It can be at best temporary, though I doubt, that easy money will help much. Our economic problem is akin to stiffness in the joints and economists and industrialists are suggesting giving it a pair of good sneakers to make it run. Well, we need to address the real issue.

Last year, I looked at various data sets. I realised that India was passing through a tough time due to poor policies of the past and so, the issues were basically structural. Now, cyclical issues have added to the problem. With our integration with the global trade, the global trade wars and protectionist policies as well as the impact of climate change have had their influence on the Indian economy. The enforcement agencies going overboard in India too has a dampening effect.

In my book, ‘Your Vote is not Enough’, I looked at all the options to revive the economy with a long-term perspective and the truth is that we don’t have many options on our table. Those who are asking for one lakh crore stimulus are just concerned about one or two sectors, but the money will go waste, if the issue is not addressed holistically and the root cause of the problem not addressed.

For sure it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s problem, but not his fault. The person who received the Bharat Ratna recently knows well that wrong and lopsided policies for decades created wealth, but only in a few hands, leading to growth sans jobs. The growth during the past regimes was ‘cyclical’, and so, the current economic slow-down is ‘structural’.

According to my multiple factor analysis, about 15 crores of the total 130+ crore population are middle class with discretionary spending capacity, and these numbers cannot boost demand that the country needs, no matter if we cut the repo rate or give a one lakh crore stimulus.

Also, if we don’t address the structural and cyclical issues soon in a comprehensive manner, ‘reality’ (of a slowdown) and ‘perception’ (things not going to improve), will lead to a ‘negative sentiment’ (people will post-pone investment/ spending decisions). This may happen by Diwali and the numbers will come down further. This does not bode well for the India story as investors will then move in the reverse gear. Right now they have only halted.

So, what do we need to do? According to my analysis, with the critical opportunity being missed in the 2019 budget, we would need Rs 4 lakh crore investments annually till 2022 to re-start the economy and propel it to a high double-digit growth. In fact, massive investment in just the infra-sector would not yield the desired outcome

Most important is, how and where this investment goes. It certainly cannot be in the form of tax cuts. I have delved in my book on how money goes into district-level investments across sectors and if done in a planned manner, this can take our growth to above 12 per cent in the medium term (3-5 years) and also address the issue of creating 1.2 crore jobs a year.

In fact, this slowdown is a fantastic opportunity to re-look at the theoretical economic policies and create a new model of structural (not just cyclical) growth. India has the potential to grow between 12-16 per cent per year reviving critical sectors for a structural growth.

Also, by next year, we will have at least two manufacturing giants relocating their production base to India from China. India will get the much-needed boost in FDI investment. But the lethargic bureaucracy still remains a speed-breaker to leverage the massive opportunity emerging out of the trade war between the United States and China.

With Modi as Prime Minister, India has an able leader at the helm, who is both the face and force for India. I am quite optimistic that the slowdown will serve as an opportunity to not only jump start the economy, but also propel it to the next level of double-digit growth and turn India into a developed economy in the next two decades. The truth is, that It’s a 1991 moment for India, and, it cannot be business as usual. Can we change the reality, perception and the resultant sentiment? What we do in the next 60 days will tell.

(Prof. Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a leading public policy expert and author of the book ‘Your Vote is not Enough’ which focuses on economic revival and job creation. Views expressed are personal.) Follow on Twitter @rajendragupta 

Originally published in Outlook India https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/business-news-economic-slowdown-is-an-opportunity-for-radical-change/338523

#India #economicslowdown #GDP #Autosales #autosector #recession #Indianeconomy #Globalslowdown #GDPgrowth

 

Your vote is not enough


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