Date: 15th January, 2013
Swaniti Initiative, in collaboration with US India Business Council and The Economics Club of IIT-D, hosted “India at Crossroads: Changing Face of Democracy” on the 15th of January, 2013 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The guests were Jay Panda (MP, Kendrapara), Ron Somers (President, USIBC) and John Flannery (CEO, GE India). The event was attended by policy researchers, diplomats, students and working professionals interested in the domain of polity and governance.
Mr. Ron Somers, the moderator of the discussion, opened the session by providing an overview on the current policy scenarios existing in the country. Highlighting issues such as the urgent need for efficient infrastructure, the reluctance of foreign investors to participate due to regressive policies, and increasing fiscal deficit, he noted that in spite of the numerous challenging obstacles, India still has the capability to assert itself in the global economy. He added that India’s biggest strength is the young workforce which will not stay patient if the governance remains sterile and growth rates decelerate.
Mr. Jay Panda, commenting on the democratic environment of the country, spoke about the demographic diversity of India. Quoting Rajiv Gandhi, he said, “For every rupee spent by the government, only 15 paise reaches its intended recipients.” Noting that the amount has now risen to 27 paise, he reflected upon the inefficiencies of governance structures and the resulting consequences. Touching upon the root cause of this breakdown, he suggested that the solution could potentially be traced to the empowerment of the girl child through holistic education.
Mr. John Flannery, reflecting on his experiences in the Indian economy, highlighted the immense potential for businesses to plug institutional voids exiting in the country. With growing optimism in the wake of liberal economic reforms, Mr. Flannery spoke of how dynamism in the functioning of the government is the need of the hour.
An interactive Q&A session followed the moderated discussion where questions on sustainable development, law and order legislations and dynastic politics were fielded by the panel. The dialogue concluded with a networking session where the members of the panel interacted one-on-one with members from the audience.