The Future of India: Politics, Economics and Governance is different in tone and content from my previous books. My earlier books dealt primarily, though not exclusively, with economic policy issues. There was a recognition of the political process and its impact on the evolution of economic policy over time. However, the primary focus was on economics. This book is much broader in content. It attempts to give equal, if not more, weight to politics and governance aspects in addition to economics, in determining the shape of India's economic policy and its social fabric. It is the interplay of these three forces - politics, economics and governance - which will jointly determine the future of India.
In my earlier books, while personal reflection could not be avoided altogether, to a large extent, I had tried to be as analytical and 'objective' as possible. This book is much more introspective, with a fair degree of personal reflection and impressions. On issues of public importance, I have taken the liberty of saying what I believe even though on several of them the historical evidence may be mixed or the theoretical basis may be inconclusive.
Fortunately, there is now considerable interest among specialists and observers belonging to different disciplines in Indian economic, social and political developments. The idea of writing this book evolved gradually as a result of reading the books of a number of eminent writers - economists, political scientists and philosophers - on a variety of subjects, including India's past and its future. A striking feature of most of the recent writings, cutting across different disciplines, is the universal admiration for India's democracy combined with dissatisfaction with its actual functioning and its failure to deliver sufficient benefits to the people. Another common theme is the recognition of its vast economic potential along with frustration with the slow pace of reforms in the governance and administrative structure. This book is an attempt to explore some of the issues that have been discussed in the recent literature on India from a somewhat different perspective - of someone who had the opportunity to observe at close quarters the interplay of economics, politics and governance in determining policy outcomes and their impact on the country's economy.
Flap of the cover
As recently as a decade ago, the prospect of India becoming a developed country any time soon seemed a distant possibility. Since then, however, there has been a sea change in our own and the world's perception about our future. What explains this rising tide of optimism? And how far is it justified?
In The Future of India: Politics, Economics and Governance, Bimal Jalan, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, takes up the formidable challenge of examining the nuts and bolts of this proposition. In his thought-provoking, clear-sighted and analysis, he argues that the key factors to success are three: politics, economics and governance. It is the interface between these, and their combined effect on the functioning of our democracy, which will largely determine India's future. An understanding of this interface will help explain the swings in India's political and economic fortunes over the past decades, and why the promise has been belied.
In the light of experience, argues Jalan, there is no certainty that the present euphoria will last unless there is the political will to seize the new opportunities that are available. He proceeds to suggest steps that can be taken to smoothen our path to progress: ways to strengthen Parliament and the judiciary; a series of political reforms that would, among other things, see greater accountability among ministers: and effective ways to curb corruption and enhance fiscal viability. In all these there is an emphasis on the pragmatic, born of Jalan's experience as an administrator, economist and member of Parliament.
Contemporary and topical, The Future of India, perhaps more than any other book on the subject, shows just how a future close enough to be seen need not forever remain elusive to the grasp.