The distributed growth model . A keynote delivered on the invite of the World Bank in Algeria in June 2018
The distributed growth model . A keynote delivered on the invite of the World Bank in Algeria in June 2018
“Distributed Growth model” is the need of the hour. Growth alone will not suffice.
India’s budget preparation is in the final leg and it will be unveiled soon. Last two budgets have put the focus correctly; by giving thrust to rural development, agriculture and infrastructure, but the bureaucratic red-tape has been an impediment. We have a long way to go and we need to evolve a new model – the ‘Distributed growth model’. All these decades, we have chased the ever-elusive “double digit” growth, but we are not going to achieve that with the current approach.
“Too many economists spoil the budget”. We had a world-class economist running the country for a decade, we had the best economists running the RBI and the erstwhile Planning Commission, and we still could not achieve double digit growth, and floundered. So, it’s time to have a fresh look at our economic approach. A mere change in the interest rates have not done anything, and will not. Economy is not about tax collections, interest rates or money supply alone, it is much more. ‘Text book economists’ do not understand the country’s complexities, and neither they do good to the economy, or to economics. Also, the general perception is, that only 3 % pay taxes. Yes, 3 percent may be paying direct taxes but every citizen of India pays taxes indirectly when s/he purchases a product from the market. With GST implemented, all the more! So, to use this reason of low tax payer’s base is wrongfully placed.
It is time we considered a model that leads to growth which percolates downwards and spreads wide, that what I call as, ‘Distributed Growth model”. How do we make it happen?
Let’s look at the following data;
Health & Education
Recent study had revealed that 50 million go below poverty line due to healthcare costs. Also, it is a known fact that most of the ‘educated’ are not ‘skilled enough’ to do the jobs that the country needs as its economy evolves. Hence, education and health needs investment. If the workforce is not healthy and competent, how can the economy be strong? In fact, anecdotally (since I am not an economist by training), I would take the liberty of stating that GDP growth would be equal to the GDP spends on education, and health! Our healthcare system and education system is in shambles and it needs massive investment. For achieving ‘distributed growth model’, investment in health and education are a precondition.
Strongest thing about India’s economy is ‘1.34 billion consumers’, who run the consumption story (growth engine) for the country, and we add about 18 million new consumers every year. With more opportunities for consumers from Agriculture, MSME and Tourism; and assuring them with quality health and education; we will fire the economy to grow 10 percent a year, and that too, sustainably.
I see foreign trained economist keep warning India about the Fiscal discipline. If the investments are going in areas outlined above and not in opex, we must not worry. Even if the fiscal deficit reaches 5 percent, investments in these sectors will payback, and our economy will be amongst the 3rd largest in a decade. USA is a case in point. It is too big an economy and though its fiscal arithmetic is baffling, does it worry about its ratings or deficit!!?
In oil rich Gulf countries, GDP and GDP per capita appears fantastic as statistics, but since the oil fields are in the hands of a few royal families, the wealth gets concentrated in a few hands. Recently, the annual Oxfam survey has found that the wealthiest 1 % Indians garnered 73 % of the wealth created in 2017. This is due to the ‘Concentrated Growth model’. So growth alone with not suffice , and we need ‘distributed growth’. In the “Distributed Growth” model lies the answer. India should move to this model before the gap between ‘have’s’ and ‘have nots’ increases more!
What the policy makers must aim is on enhancing the income and money in the hands of consumers by creating more avenues to work, earn and spend. This will happen if we invest in agriculture and value addition in allied agro based industries, MSME, tourism, infra, health & education.
Lastly, let us not forget, electorate will evaluate Modi government’s performance on health, education, employment, electricity and inflation. These hold the key to a massive win in 2019.
Good economics is long term politics!
Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a leading public policy expert. Views are personal
Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi,
Your time is very valuable and hence instead of seeking a personal appointment, I am writing this letter to you.
Peter Huntsman, CEO, Huntsman Corporation, US, said at the recently concluded ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, which was inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi, that “Mr. PM, you visited our country in June and there are many of us who wished you would have stayed and taken over leadership of our country”.
This is the first time in history that any head of state would have received such a compliment and it is not easy to come by, and that too, for a developing country! This speaks volumes of how much the world believes in your exemplary leadership and seeks your guidance as a Vishwa Guru! I have always said that you have brought a lot of trust and respect to our country in the short span that you have been at the helm, and I am sure, what we have seen till now, is just 10 per cent of what you can do, and that you will totally transform the country over the next 10 years.
The earlier governments kept singing the slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’ for decades, but, actually, they neither had the will nor the vision to do so. You have clearly shown that your focus is clear and you have clearly articulated the path to Garibi Hatao by your vision to provide water, electricity, house (with toilet) and access to every Indian by 2022. Moreover, the last budget set the direction for empowered citizens and developed India by focusing on rural development, agriculture and infrastructure. Rather than promising to people, you have decided to work hard and deliver, and this had been missing in the country and because of which, the people have lost confidence in politics and politicians both. You have a big responsibility of not just running the country as our most revered Prime Minister but a bigger goal to bring back the trust in politics and politicians
We have recently seen that you stand for your principles. Demonetization and the surgical strikes have proven that you will not hesitate to take tough decisions in the interest of the poor and to safeguard the nation. A few in the opposition have talked against demonetization. Post demonetization, we are clear about where the money is! Else, the so called world class economists talked about double digit growth and fooled us for years without even knowing how much money was in the system and where! Now other countries are considering to implement demonetization.
While you have initiated some big changes and more are likely to follow post the budget and the assembly elections, it would be pertinent here to state that the biggest drag on Rajiv Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh Government was the same bureaucracy that we have inherited and which failed them, and it will fail this government as well if we don’t get rid of this imperial legacy – bureaucracy. We are beholden to bureaucracy as if, without them, the government cannot function, but the history proves that bureaucracy has ensured a status quo for this nation and worked on the principle of ‘I, me and myself’. Actually, the current bureaucratic set up is a bottleneck for fostering innovation and enterprise.
Let me quote;
“Rajiv wanted to revolutionize the bureaucracy and make things more efficient”. –Mark Tully in an interview
“You have sought a change in the manner in which this country is run and reform of administration to improve the quality of services will be our immediate priority”. Dr. Manmohan Singh, June 2004
Some of these leaders identified the real problem in India for implementing reforms as the failure of the bureaucracy to implement, and which let them down. I have written about the need and the path to transform the bureaucracy.
Also, am submitting the following for your kind consideration;
* ACR system be changed to CPR (Comprehensive Performance Review, wherein, 50 % of the appraisal depends on the individual performance, 25 % on the department’s / Ministry’s performance and 25% on the overall government’s performance).
* All posts, starting with the Joint Secretary, to be on a 5-year contract, based on annual comprehensive performance review, linked to implementation of the budget announcements and yearly plans. No bureaucrat be appointed as Secretary who has less than a year to retire & a bureaucrat at the level of Secretary have a fixed tenure based on yearly comprehensive assessment
* Start the lateral entry and compare the performance of career bureaucrats and professionals inducted in the government
* Sack the non-performing secretaries to send a strong message.
* This reform cannot be left to bureaucrats, as they will never let it happen. Also, if this is not done, it will be the biggest setback to the Modi Administration and will cost dearly.
In the USA, key officials come with the incoming President and are aligned to his vision. Also, the USA, U.K. and New Zealand governments have transformed bureaucracy to make their nations innovative and growth oriented.
Jairam Ramesh was bang on when he said, ‘the responsibility for bringing in reforms and change cannot be outsourced to bureaucrats and technocrats, as reforms, in essence, is a political enterprise”.
In the past, the political leadership could never deliver on getting rid of bureaucracy, despite the identification of the problem and only made statements from time to time to reform the bureaucracy. We are hopeful that, with a leader like Modi at the helm, we can now see this major reform becoming a reality, which will unlock the true potential of every Indian, and if this happens, in 2019, you can plan the mission of 400 plus for Lok Sabha.
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Disclaimer: The views expressed are based on facts and experience and personal
Kill bureaucracy to convert Red tape toRed Carpet
On May 28th, I wrote the article in the ET; ‘Bureaucrat Mukt Bharat (http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/steel-frame-of-bureaucracy-is-an-obstacle-to-development-its-time-to-rehaul-it/).
On Independence day, we heard the Hon’ble PM saying that his Government’s motto is to reform, perform and transform. Also, on 01st September, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote, “India’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, but the country’s bureaucratic quality is widely perceived to be either stagnant or in decline”. A former PM had once said about the Indian Civil Service (ICS) , the earlier avatar of IAS; “as neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service.”
I think it is time to re-look at overhauling the bureaucracy, if we wish to realize the vision of Modi’s idea of India
We need speed, we need efficiency and we need effectiveness in our entire chain of command. This is the pre-requisite in realizing the vision of the greatest statesman – Modi.
We have had a mixed bag of experience with the bureaucracy in implementing some of the key announcements from the Hon’ble Prime Minister, and the commitment on budget announcements and schemes. I have the following suggestions;
The reason our bureaucracy fails is because of the following;
So, the time has come when we think out of the box and overhaul this system. Else, in 2019, our biggest failure will be because of the inefficient and unaccountable bureaucracy who will fail to implement Government’s key schemes.
We need to focus on the team approach; ‘One India, One team, one Goal’, that touches and transforms life till the last man standing in the line.
Re-defining the Appraisal System: As of now, we have an appraisal system that looks at ACRs, which only counts for an individual’s performance. If the performance and payment of the bureaucrat was based besides his individual performance (50% weightage) , the performance of his department / ministry (25%weightage) and the overall performance of the Government (25% weightage) , then the bureaucrats would work as a team and give up the siloed approach . So the first change is;
Move from ACR to CPR (Comprehensive Performance Review), which includes
Weightage for each level of review for the Comprehensive Performance Review (CPR) :
Increments, variable pay/ incentives and promotions of officials should be based on CPR
Implementation: Can be in a phased manner ;
Parameters for IPR could be picked up from what is already defined under ACR, but it must be more specific like;
For any of the misses, the weightage be objectively apportioned.
Department’s Performance Review (DPR)
For any of the misses, the weightage be objectively apportioned.
Government Performance Review (GPR)
A part for the GPR be based on actual data / facts, and must be done by an independent government agency (40 percent weightage) and the rest must be based on public perception (60%) ; or it can be made (50 %) of actual assessment by an independent agency and (50 %) by public voting ;
The government works for the citizens, and finally it is the citizens who are the best judge of its performance. Parameters 1-6 above can be objectively judged with data / facts, and others can be subjectively judged by the citizens under Jan Bhagidhari Assessment (JBA) through online voting.
At the end, it is the Government ‘for the people’, so the people must rate the Government on overall performance through public voting, after Government presents its self- appraisals on the points mentioned from 1-6 above.
The voting should be open for 30 days for the public to vote by a missed call from their registered mobile number on a toll free number; (60 % weightage should be assigned to public perception / judgment on performance) and 40 % on self appraisal / independent assessment by the Government.
Major change in bureaucracy is about making it a ‘performance based contractual service’: Also, one reaches the rank of Joint Secretary after a minimum service of 17 years. Joint Secretary is the actual ‘official’ who runs the show for the Government on a day-to-day basis, but if one sees the performance of the Joint Secretary, in a real sense, s/he does not feel accountable to anyone. The reality is, that now they are more driven by authority and administration and less by duty and development.
The biggest bane of bureaucracy is their job security and on one can demote them or remove them. When politicians have to go every five years for their performance review and renewing their term before the electorate, why should the top officials not undergo a review and renew based on their performance? Let us give them job security, but for performers. The Government is serious about a ‘Big Change’, and has to go and seek appraisal from the voters in 2019, but most of the bureaucrats are not as serious. They have been used to seeing government after government for decades. For them, this is all routine office work but for the Government, it is an implementation emergency. This is the only way to bridge the divide and bring about a cultural change for performance, accountability and rewards. Today, only the politicians are accountable but not bureaucrats! And it is time to change and fix the accountability based transparent review process / system.
All officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above must be put on a 5-year contract, based on their performance review, with a performance based financial incentive for their outstanding work. So, the salary structure should have a fixed pay and a variable component . If they fail to live up to the performance standards (IPR) below 80 % for three years (out of five year term), they must be relieved. Let us not forget that the ‘Best are first to be hired and last to be fired’. So no worry for the best performers, rest should worry about themselves.
Even, Nirmal Kumar Mukarji, the last serving Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer in India who retired as Cabinet Secretary in 1980, as chief guest at the Indian Administrative Service’s 50th Anniversary celebrations 1997, had called for an end to the all-India tenured services.
Also, PS to the Minister is considered an important bureaucrat but he is a junior IAS. (below the rank of Joint Secretary), and hence s/he plays safe dealing with his seniors, as one day he might have to work under them, and the loser in this case always is the Minister. So, we need to consider that the PS to the Minister be a Special Secretary rank .
eOffice & eFile – Files are taking months to move from one table to another . e-Office / eFile concept must be implemented. No file should take more than three weeks and pass more than three levels. If there is a delay of more than a week, the note should be made on the file justifying the reasons for delay
Modi has the intent, the will and the vision and he is working really hard. Will his administrative system be able to catch up? There is a big difference in how the minister and the common man are handled by the bureaucrats. So the first impression here, should not be the last impression! Bureaucracy is slowly putting red tape to the red carpet !
Modi rightly said recently, “We cannot march through the twenty first century with the administrative systems of the nineteenth century”. If we see, we still have ‘Collectors’ in post British India, and this itself shows that the bureaucracy is still in 19th Century! A senior IAS wrote to me, ‘Modi is ahead of time’ and I said ‘ Yes, Modi is definitely ahead of time but unfortunately, the bureaucracy is still in the 19th century’. When Modi was thinking of Planning Commission, he made a profound statement, “Sometime it is better to build a new house than to repair the old one”. May be the same approach is needed for the ‘institution’ called bureaucracy. Do we repair the old house or / and build another one. The transition is critical and we have no time to lose. It needs to start soon and there should be a time bound plan to implement it
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Time to change ?
Last year at the Economic Times Global Business Summit, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that “the creeping acquisition of Rajya Sabha is on”. The thumping victory in Assam and an increased vote share across states show that the BJP government at the Centre is marching towards its goal. Also, the party seems closer to the goal of ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’ after the latest assembly polls.
However, these results need introspection from all political parties. While the results have led to comments from party veterans like Digvijaya Singh’s observation that Congress needs “a major surgery” and Satyavrat Chaturvedi’s similar prognosis involving “a cardiac surgery”, the Narendra Modi government needs to conduct an open heart surgery for a ‘Bureaucrat-Mukt Bharat’. In 2014, India had voted in Modi to spearhead radical change, end corruption, execute citizen-friendly policies and administration, provide development with jobs, and lower prices.
The prime minister started well by meeting the secretaries and not his ministers. But somehow, the bureaucracy, after a while, started ignoring the ministers, as they had direct access to the PMO. I know of a minister who lost his portfolio because the secretary of the department made repeated complaints against this honest man who took a tough stand on irregularities happening in the ministry. Finally, the bureaucrat succeeded in ousting the minister.
I had a meeting with an additional secretary in the presence of a Cabinet minister. We discussed a few programmes that could be implemented on a priority basis. The additional secretary had a problem for every solution we proposed. He provided reasons as to why a major programme could not be implemented. And when we provided a workable solution for each one of his ‘problems’, he finally agreed on a timeline — without ever delivering. During the meeting, he kept flaunting that he had just returned from a meeting at the PMO.
Dragging the Nation Down
Then there was a senior technocrat in a ministry whom I met last month. He immediately told me to send him an email and promised that he would get the job done. The email was forwarded to his junior for action only after nine days! And this, despite clear instructions from the Cabinet minister a few days before. Most bureaucrats don’t seem to be bothered with the job at hand.
When people single out politicians for corruption and non-performance, I beg to differ. The bureaucracy runs the government. If the bureaucrats did their jobs well without fear or favour, we would not have straggled so far behind China. We have been terribly let down by the bureaucracy. There are always exceptions, of course. But they are far and few between.
Bureaucracy has still not got out of the officer culture that they have been used to for about 60 years of Congress rule. The role and orientation of the civil services has to change. Bureaucrats need to give up their role of ‘administrators’ and work on becoming ‘developers’.
I keep hearing that bureaucrats are afraid of taking decisions due to the fear of being hauled up by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Central Bureau of Investigation. But aren’t these institutions also in the hands of their fellow officers? Why on earth are bureaucrats afraid of bureaucrats?
It is time for the officer to learn a few lessons from the armed forces. Soldiers join the army knowing well that while working for the country, they can lose their lives. The working conditions for soldiers are not as comfortable as that of bureaucrats and neither do most of their pay scales match those of bureaucrats. And, bureaucrats are also soldiers for development and they should not worry about action against if they discharge their duty impartially and without fear or favour.
If people don’t have the passion and commitment for the country, or if they join the civil services for a job that gives them only authority as an administrator — or only for a safe job with a good retirement plan — don’t join the administrative services. Modi has a grand vision and is a man of action. So, either the bureaucrats rally behind the prime minister’s vision and implement his government’s idea of India by focusing on development with passion. Or we get rid of them.
Goodbye to Bureaucrats
Union road transportation minister Nitin Gadkari has got rid of bureaucrats in his ministry in key positions while having achieved a lot in a ministry considered tough to handle. Could Gadkari’s prowess as a minister have anything to do with the fact that his private secretary and key members of staff are from outside the Indian Administrative Service (IAS)?
So, we need to get rid of the British Raj-era kind of bureaucracy and its officer culture. Otherwise, the bureaucracy will be the biggest bottleneck for implementing the vision of the Modi government with the country paying a price it cannot afford. Fortunately, the prime minister has three years left in his current tenure. So, the next goal for the government should be a ‘Bureaucrat-Mukt Bharat’.
The writer is a public policy expert
India is a foodie nation, and with the rising middle class, our eating habits are changing. There is an increasing tendency to eat food outside, and India, predominantly being a middle class nation, our preference is for road side eateries and small or mid size restaurants. But what goes unnoticed is; the newspapers used in packing food items, or the printed material on tea bags, and the potential dangers associated with them.
It is a fact, that the newspapers are printed with ink that is dissolved on it with the help of chemical solvents. Studies have shown that printing ink from newspapers can easily gets into foods wrapped or served in them and this is dangerous for health. The solvents used in ink are potentially carcinogenic.
Also, newspapers and cardboard boxes used for packaged foods are made of recycled paper, which may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like di-isobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate that can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.
It is a fact that the recycled paper used has printing ink residues. These un-cleaned residues have found to contain hormone disruptors like benzophenones and mineral oils which can interfere with reproductive cycle of women.
Through the print based packaging, there is an exposure to organic chemicals called aryl amines, such as benzidine, Naphthylamine and 4-Aminobiphenyl, which are associated with high risks of bladder and lung cancer. Apart from these, printing inks also contain colorants, pigments, binders, additives and photo-initiators, which have harmful effects.
It is also believed, that the mineral oil-based printing inks for newspapers contain mineral oils, which consists of various types of hydrocarbon molecules that can exist as Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons (MOSH) and Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH). These hydrocarbons usually convert into gases by evaporation that eventually penetrates food items.
Newspapers are usually produced by a system called offset-web printing, which requires a certain consistency of the ink (it needs to be very thick) and a particular means of drying. For the former, mineral oils (petroleum-based) and solvents such as methanol, benzene and toluene are used; and for the latter, heavy metal (Cobalt)-based drying agents are used. None of these should be used in food packaging, as they are also classified as harmful and can be dangerous for health if consumed.
According to the FAO / WHO, Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, the safe upper limit for the MOSH in foodstuffs is 0.6mg/kg. Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune system are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications.
Another problem lies in the plastic bags used in takeaways. These bags are made of polyethylene (polythene) and the principal potential ‘migrant’ agent is ethylene. There are a number of potential additives to polythene, such as anti-static agents, ultra-violet protection and flame-retardants. These additives can be very dangerous if they find way into the takeaway food, which usually happens.
According to an article in the British Medical Journal, ‘Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge? J. Epidemiol’ by Muncke J, et al. (Feb 2014), scientists say that most food contact materials (FCMs) are not inert. Chemicals contained in the FCM, such as monomers, additives, processing aids or reaction by-products, can diffuse into foods and this chemical diffusion is accelerated by warm temperature, and in India, the temperatures can touch as high as 45 degrees Celsius.
The scientists believe that FCMs are a significant source of chemical food contamination. As a result, humans consuming packaged or processed foods are chronically exposed to synthetic chemicals throughout their lives.
Formaldehyde, another known carcinogen, is widely present at low levels in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate. Other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production and used in food and drink packaging include; Bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan and phthalates.
There is an increase in the use of tea bags, and while using teabags, sometimes people squeeze the teabag using the label at the end of the loop. This can leak the ink from the label. I would recommend that the guidelines be framed and implemented to warn people of the same and prevent this practice
I also suggest that based on the facts available, it might be worthwhile banning the use of plastics, recycled materials and newspapers for food packing.
The FSSAI must act immediately and frame guidelines to control wrapping of fried foods in newspapers, banning the use of plastic bags for takeaways, and other practices that are harmful.
Further, it must mandate the use of ‘food packaging grade’ butter paper or aluminum foil for packaging food. We need to act on this without losing any further time
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com do not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.