Atanu Dey On India's Development

Nehru rate of Growth was due to Lack of Will and Vision

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For anyone to do anything great requires will and vision. True for an individual, true for a nation. India is stuck not because it does not have the resources but because it does not have the will and the vision to succeed. To be more accurate, India has not had leaders who have the required will and vision to make use of India’s resources, such as they are. The so-called “Nehru rate of growth” was the consequence of having leaders with little will and even less understanding — starting of course with Nehru.

Starting with Nehru and continuing with his descendants — Indira, Rajiv, Rajiv’s wife, Rajiv’s children, his children’s children’s children. The sad myopic vision-less leadership continues.

From Feb 2009, I offer this.

India has to invest in developing technology for using solar power. It will not be easy or cheap, as it could easily cost something of the order of $100 billion spent over five years or so to achieve the breakthroughs required to make solar energy competitive with other sources. Though expensive and hard, some entity somewhere someday will develop that technology. They do solve hard problems, don’t they? Recall the Manhattan Project, or the Apollo Project. The Americans have a way of defining a goal and then achieving it by sheer will and determination.

If India has any hopes of being a super power, it has to work on solving one hard problem by itself. Develop technology for solar power or else be forever relegated to being a second rate state at best. But second rate is what one hopes to be when one is firmly in the “third world” set. Hard though it is to admit, it is pitiable to see India on its knees groveling before the US and the nuclear suppliers group begging for nuclear technology. I don’t want to see India doing the same, begging for solar technology about 20 years from now. Which is what it would be forced to do because it will need to use that technology. So the choice is clear: either India develops it and not only gains from domestic use, but gains more from selling it to the rest of the world; or it just waits for others to develop it and then goes begging to be given the technology.

In the panel discussion I came across a familiar objection which goes thus: solar energy is not viable as it is too inefficient (and therefore costly) compared to the alternative sources such as nuclear, coal, oil, bio-mass, etc. But of course! Isn’t that the whole point of investing in R&D? To develop the technology to make solar energy viable? Which part of the “we need to invest in R&D” is hard to understand?

Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but I have to say this. All progress is fueled by will and vision. India’s development challenge is that it does not what it takes to outline a vision and then gather the national will to achieve it. How can it?

Blue turbans aren’t seen on people with vision and intelligence. That’s India’s tragedy.

  • Sabarish Sasidharan

    As you have already pointed out, this again points back to the general public. If being a visionary leader is not the criteria for success in elections, there is no real initiative for the leaders in it. A majority of the general public have to be reasonable for a visionary leader to succeed.

    Its easy for a contender to either sensationalise a trivial issue or simply give freebies at the time of elections and all that the visionary did would be forgotten.

    I can think of Kamaraj who was a congress chief minister in Tamil Nadu. He did so much for education, schools popped up everywhere, only to be trounced in the elections. His opponents succeeded largely by using cheap means a) Anti-hindi agitation b) promise of rice for a cheap price. And the junta was stupid.