Brimming with ideas, India can play major global role: Raghuram Rajan

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“A self-assured India, brimming with ideas and energy, can play an enormously positive role in the world,” said Raghuram G. Rajan, chief economic advisor, Union Department of Economic Affairs.

Delivering the IIM-Bangalore’s 38th annual convocation address, Rajan said, “We can offer an alternative view of development, one combining growth with democracy, brining together cutting-edge innovative companies with bottom-of-the-pyramid services.”

“We could teach both the West and rest of the world, even while learning from them, as we did in the historic past when we were global brokers of ideas,” he explained.

Advice to students

“We could be voice for good in the global arena. You have the capacity to make all this possible and I am sure you will,” he advised the students passing out of IIM-B.

Rajan said, “I want to leave you with a message that India is changing, and probably for the better. You will be able to help shape the world and your place in it.”

“By all means, set yourself ambitious goals. But remember that, as both ancient Indian philosophers and modern-day behavioural psychologists say, the achievement of narrow personal goals – greater wealth, rapid promotion, or increasing renown – rarely brings you anything other than brief pleasure,” he said.

“I don’t claim to know the secret of happiness, but this seems obvious – if you like the journey, if you get pleasure from the work you do, it matters far less when, or indeed whether, you reach your destination.”

Raising the issue of democracy and entrepreneurial economy, Rajan said, “We need consensus on a number of issues. We ought to agree that: a good job is the best form of inclusion. Rather than assuming the poor need an increasing array of handouts, they should be empowered to equip themselves and their children to become effective contributors to the economy.

“Secondly, to raise resources for such spending, the rich must play their part. The government must broaden the tax base, both by finding and penalising the value and status associated with legitimacy.

“Finally, the government has to become more transparent and responsive to the people. Fortunately information technology can help tremendously, by giving people more of a sense of what their due is, and making clear which part of the government is proving wasteful, corrupt or a bottleneck.”

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 2, 2013)
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