Wednesday, February 03, 2016

પ્રગતિની ગતિ : વડાપ્રધાન, તમારા મૂળ કામે પાછા ફરો

સમાજવાદીઓ સોવિયેટ સંઘની સફળતાથી એટલા પ્રભાવિત થયા હતા કે તેમણે પૂર્વ તરફ જોયું જ નહીં

વડાપ્રધાન મોદી માટે આ વર્ષ ‘કરો યા મરો’ જેવું છે. આ વર્ષે જો આર્થિક વિકાસ ઝડપી નહીં બને અને જથ્થાબંધ નોકરીઓનું સર્જન નહીં થા તો પછી આપણે ‘અચ્છે દિન’ના સપના જોવાનું માંડી વાળવું પડશે. ઝડપી વિકાસદર ધરાવતા અર્થતંત્રમાં જ નોકરીઓ પેદા થાય છે. રોજગાર પેદા કરવાની અને ગરીબ દેશને ધનિક બનાવવાની ચાવી શ્રમકેન્દ્રિત અને ઓછામાં ઓછી ટેકનોલોજી દ્વારા જથ્થાબંધ ઉત્પાદન કરીને થતી નિકાસમાં છે. આ જ કારણોસર પૂર્વ એશિયા, ચીન અને દક્ષિણ-પૂર્વ એશિયાના દેશોમાં મધ્યમ વર્ગના પરિવારોની સિકલ બદલાઈ હતી. છેલ્લા 50 વર્ષથી ભારત મેન્યુફેક્ચરિંગ (ઉત્પાદન)ની બસ ચૂકતું આવ્યું છે. આજે વૈશ્વિક વ્યક્તિદીઠ આવકની દૃષ્ટિએ ભારત અત્યંત ગરીબ અર્થતંત્ર છે. ટીએન નિનાને તેમના પુસ્તક ‘ધ ટર્ન ઑફ ધ ટૉરટૉઇઝ’માં જણાવ્યા મુજબ માથાદીઠ આવકની દૃષ્ટિએ ભારતનો લાઓસ, ઝામ્બિયા અને સુદાન કરતાં પણ ઉતરતો છે.

1960ના પ્રારંભમાં જગતને ખ્યાલ આવ્યો કે જાપાન રમકડા, પગરખા તથા રોજબરોજના વપરાશની ચીજવસ્તુઓના મોટા પાયે ઉત્પાદન થકી નોકરીઓ પેદા કરી રહ્યું છે. કોરિયા, તાઇવાન, સિંગાપોર અને હોંગકોંગે જાપાનની સફળતા જોઈ અને તરત એને અપનાવી લીધી તથા આકાશમાં ઉડતાં પક્ષીઓની જેમ ‘V’ આકારમાં પોતાના નેતાઓની પાછળ દોડવા લાગ્યંા. આ તમામ દેશો ઉંચો વૃદ્ધિદર બનાવતા અર્થતંત્રો બની ગયા અને ગરીબીનો ખાત્મો કરીને તેઓ પ્રથમ વિશ્વના દેશો બની ગયા. દક્ષિણ-પૂર્વ એશિયાના દેશોને સિત્તેરના દસકામાં આ વાતનો ખ્યાલ આવ્યો. તેમણે જાપાનની નકલ કરી અને મધ્યમ આવક ધરાવતા અર્થતંત્રોના સન્માનિત દેશ બન્યા. ચીન આ મોડેલની સફળતાની તાજી ગાથા છે. ચીન તો એટલું સફળ થઈ ગયું છે કે આજે તે જગતની ફેક્ટરી બની ગયું છે.

આપણે મોદીને ચૂંટી કાઢ્યા હતા કારણ કે તેમણે મેન્યુફેક્ચરિંગની બસ આ વખતે નહીં ચૂકીએ એવો વાયદો આપ્યો હતો. પણ હજુ સુધી નોકરીઓના કોઈ અણસાર મળતા નથી. જ્યારે તેઓ મે 2014માં ચૂંટાઈ આવ્યા ત્યારે અપેક્ષાઓ એટલી તો ઉંચી હતી કે અર્થશાસ્ત્રીઓએ તેમને ચેતવ્યા હતા કે જે અર્થતંત્ર તેમને વારસામાં મળ્યું છે તેની હાલત એટલી તો ખરાબ છે કે તેને સુધારતા સમય લાગશે. તેમણે જણાવ્યું કે એક રોકાણનું એક કુદરતી ચક્ર હોય છે અને ઉંચા આર્થિક વિકાસદર પર પહોંચતાં બે વર્ષનો સમય લાગશે. મોદીએ તેમની વાત સાંભળી નહીં અને અપેક્ષાઓ પૂરી કરવામાં નિષ્ફળ રહ્યા.

હા, બે વર્ષ પહેલાના સ્તર કરતા અર્થતંત્રમાં થોડું ઉપર આવ્યું છે પણ ગ્રાહકોની માગ હજુ નબળી છે. કંપનીઓ પર ઉંચા દરે લીધેલા ધિરાણનો બોજો છે અને તેઓ ખરાબ પરિણામો આપી રહ્યા છે. તેના કારણે કંપનીઓ નથી રોકાણ કરતી કે નથી નવા કર્મચારીઓને નોકરીએ રાખતી. આ જ કારણોસર માગ નબળી પડી છે. બેન્કો સંકટમાં છે કારણ કે તેમની પાસેથી લોન લેનારી કંપનીઓ ચૂકવણી કરતી નથી. મોદીના હાથમાંથી સમય ઝડપથી નીકળી રહ્યો છે. થોડા મહિનાઓમાં જ સરકાર બે વર્ષ પૂરા કરશે. એ પછી અર્થતંત્રમાં દર ત્રીજા માસિક ગાળામાં તેજી દર્શાવવી પડશે.

હંસોના V આકારના ઝૂંડમાં ભારત કેમ સામેલ થઈ શક્યો નથી? આ માટે મુખ્યત્વે નેહરુનું સમાજવાદી મૉડેલ જવાબદાર છે, પણ તેના માટે નેહરુને વ્યક્તિગત રીતે જવાબદાર ઠેરવી શકાય નહીં. ઘણેઅંશે તે સમાજવાદી યુગની દેન હતી અને સમાજવાદીઓ સોવિયેટ સંઘની સફળતાથી એટલા તો પ્રભાવિત હતા કે તેમણે પૂર્વ કે જાપાન તરફ જોવાની તસ્દી લીધી નહીં. ઈંન્દિરા ગાંધીએ વિશ્વબેન્કનું એ સૂચન નકારી દીધું હતું કે ભારતે ‘એશિયન ટાઇગરો’ પાસેથી શીખવું જોઈએ. સૂચન સ્વીકારવાના બદલે તેમણે બેન્કોનું રાષ્ટ્રીયકરણ કરી દીધું અને હતાશા પ્રેરે એવા અન્ય પગલાંઓ પણ ભર્યા.તેના કારણે ભારતને એક આખી પેઢી પાછળ પડી ગઈ.

વર્ષ 1991માં આર્થિક સુધારકોએ એશિયન મોડેલને અપનાવવાના ગંભીર પ્રયાસો કર્યા પણ સમાજવાદી માહોલની બાબુશાહી, માળખાકીય સુવિધાઓનું નબળું માળખું અને અડિયલ વલણ આડે આવી ગયા. ઉદાહરણ તરીકે લઘુ ઉદ્યોગ ક્ષેત્રના 800 ઉદ્યોગોને અનામત રાખવાના પગલાંને લીધે નિકાસને જબ્બર ફટકો પડ્યો. કારણ કે હરિફ દેશોએ મોટા પાયે ઉત્પાદન કરતી નિકાસ કંપનીઓ ઉભી કરી. રેડીમેડ વસ્ત્રોની નિકાસમાં બાંગ્લાદેશ આપણા કરતા આગળ નીકળી ગયું છે. આ વાતાવરણને બદલવાનો પ્રયત્ન કરનાર અને ભારતમાં વેપાર-ઉદ્યોગ સ્થાપવાની પ્રક્રિયા સરળ બનાવનાર મોદી સરકાર પ્રથમ છે.

નોકરીઓ ક્યાંથી આવશે? કેટલાક લોકોનું માનવું છે કે મેન્યુફેક્ચરિંગના યુગનો અંત આવી ગયો છે. તે હવે સ્વયંસંચાલિત થઈ ગયો છે અને અકુશળ શ્રમિકો માટે કોઈ નોકરીઓ નથી. આ વાત કેટલેક અંશે સાચી છે, પણ મને લાગે છે કે આ નિરાશાવાદ જરૂર કરતા વધારે પડતો છે. વેપાર-ઉદ્યોગ સ્થાપવાની પ્રક્રિયા જેટલી સરળ બનશે એટલી જ વધુ નોકરીઓ પેદા થશે. ભારત ભલે મેન્યુફેક્ચરિંગ ક્રાંતિ ચૂકી ગયું હોય. પણ સેવા ક્ષેત્રે તે ઉંચો વિકાસદર ધરાવતું અર્થતંત્ર બન્યું છે.

સેવા ક્ષેત્ર (સર્વિસ સેક્ટર)ની ક્ષમતાને આપણે અવગણી શકીએ એમ નથી. દાખલા તરીકે ભારતમાં વેચાતી ત્રણમાંથી એક કાર ડ્રાઇવરની નોકરી પેદા કરે છે. દર વર્ષે 25 લાખ કારો વેચાય છે, જેનો અર્થ છે ડ્રાઇવરની આઠ લાખ નોકરીઓ. તેમાં દર વર્ષે વ્યવસાયિક વાહનોના સાત લાખ ડ્રાઇવરોને પણ ઉમેરવામાં આવે. ઇ-કોમર્સ પણ મોટાપાયે નોકરીઓ સર્જી રહ્યું છે. 2020 સુધી 13 લાખ વેન્ડરો સાથે ઇ-કોમર્સનું કુલ વેચાણ 90 અબજ ડૉલરને આંબી જશે. દરેક વિક્રેતા માલના સંગ્રહ, ડિલિવરી તથા અન્ય સહાયક સેવાઓ માટે 12 નોકરીઓ પેદા કરે છે. ટૂંકમાં કુલ બે કરોડ નોકરીઓ પેદા થાય છે. તેમાંથી જ અડધી નોકરીઓ પેદા થવાની ગતિ ધીમી હોય તો પણ એક કરોડ નોકરીઓ તો નક્કી છે.

દેશમાં અત્યારે સ્ટાર્ટઅપનો જુવાળ છવાયેલો છે. સેંકડો યુવાનો પોતાની કોર્પોરેટ નોકરી છોડીને ઉદ્યોગસાહસિક બની રહ્યા છે. કેટલાક સફળ થશે, કેટલાક નિષ્ફળ થશે. પણ આ પ્રથમ એવી સરકાર છે જે યુવાન ઉદ્યોગસાહિસકોને પ્રોત્સાહિત કરવાનું મહત્ત્વ સમજી છે. નવા ઉદ્યોગસાહસિકને કોઈ પણ સરકારી ઓફિસમાં જવાની જરૂર નથી. માત્ર ઍપ ડાઉનલોડ કરીને તે રજીસ્ટ્રેશન કરાવી શકશે, મંજૂરી લઈ શકશે અને વેરા ચૂકવી શકશે. સ્ટાર્ટઅપ કંપનીઓને આકર્ષિત કરવા માટે દક્ષિણના રાજ્યોએ ઇન્ક્યુબેટર અને ‘ઇનોવેશન પાર્ક’ બનાવ્યા છે. રાજકારણીઓએ હંમેશા યાદ રાખવું પડે છે કે તેમને શા માટે ચૂંટવામાં આવ્યા છે. ‘અચ્છે દિન’ નોકરીઓ અને તકોનો કોડ વર્ડ છે. મોદીએ વિદેશની બાબતોમાં સારું કામ કર્યું છે પણ દેશવાસીઓએ તેમને નોકરીઓ પેદા કરવા માટે પસંદ કર્યા છે. મોદી વિદેશપ્રવાસોનું કામ પોતાના કુશળ વિદેશપ્રધાન સુષમા સ્વરાજને સોંપીને નોકરીઓ, આર્થિક વિકાસ અને અચ્છે દિન પર ધ્યાન આપશે તો એ બહેતર ગણાશે.

अब नौकरियां पैदा करने पर ध्यान दें

प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी के लिए यह करो या मरो जैसा वर्ष है। यदि 2016 में आर्थिक वृद्धि महत्वपूर्ण तरीके से नहीं बढ़ती और थोक में नौकरियां पैदा नहीं होतीं, तो हम अच्छे दिन भूल ही जाएं यही बेहतर होगा। रोजगार पैदा करने और गरीब देश को धनी बनाने का आदर्श नुस्खा तो श्रम-बल वाले, निम्न टेक्नोलॉजी के थोक उत्पादन का निर्यात है। इसी ने पूर्वी एशिया, चीन और दक्षिण-पूर्वी एशिया को मध्यवर्गीय समाजों में बदला। पिछले 60 वर्षों में भारत मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग की बस में सवार होने से चूकता रहा है और आज वैश्विक प्रति व्यक्ति आय के छठे हिस्से से भी कम के साथ भारत सबसे गरीब बड़ी अर्थव्यवस्था है। उसका स्तर लाओस, जाम्बिया और सुडान से भी नीचे है, जैसा कि टीएन निनान ने अपनी नई किताब, ‘द टर्न ऑफ द टॉरटॉइज़’ में याद दिलाया है।
 
1960 की शुरुआत में दुनिया को जल्द ही साफ हो गया कि जापान खिलौने, जूते और बड़े पैमाने पर उत्पादित साधारण वस्तुओं के निर्यात के जरिये बड़ी संख्या में नौकरियां पैदा कर रहा है। कोरिया, ताईवान, हॉन्गकॉन्ग और सिंगापुर ने जापान की राह पकड़ी। वे सभी ऊंची वृद्धि दर वाली अर्थव्यवस्थाएं बन गए, गरीबी को मिटा डाला और पहली दुनिया के देश हो गए। दक्षिण-पूर्व एशिया के देशों ने 70 के दशक में जापान की नकल की और मध्य-आय वाली अर्थव्यवस्थाओं के सम्मानित देश बने। 60 फीसदी मध्य वर्ग के साथ चीन इस मॉडल की सफलता की नवीनतम गाथा है। हमने मोदी को चुना, क्योंकि उन्होंने मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग की बस में सवारी का वादा किया था, लेकिन अब तक तो नौकरियों का अता-पता नहीं है। जब वे मई 2014 में निर्वाचित हुए तो अपेक्षाएं इतनी ऊंची थीं कि अर्थशास्त्रियों को उन्हें आगाह करना पड़ा कि जो अर्थव्यवस्था उन्हें मिली है, वह इतनी खराब दशा में है कि उसकी दिशा बदलने के लिए वक्त लगेगा। उन्होंने बताया कि एक प्राकृतिक निवेश चक्र होता है और ऊंची आर्थिक वृद्धि पर लौटने में दो साल लगेंगे। मोदी यह सब लोगों को समझाया होता तो आज इतनी निराशा की स्थिति नहीं होती।

हां, अर्थव्यवस्था ऊपर तो उठी है, लेकिन उपभोक्ताओं की मांग अब भी बहुत कमजोर है। कंपनियों पर ऊंचे कर्ज का बोझ है और वे खराब नतीजे दे रही हैं, इसीलिए न तो वे निवेश कर रही हैं और न नए कर्मचारियों को नौकरियों पर रख रही हैं। इसी कारण मांग कमजोर है। बैंक संकट में हैं, क्योंकि उनसे लोन लेने वाली कंपनियों ने भुगतान नहीं किया है। उन्होंने नए निवेशकों को लोन देना बंद कर दिया है, जो नई नौकरियां और मांग पैदा कर सकते थे। किंतु मोदी के लिए समय हाथ से निकलता जा रहा है। अर्थव्यवस्था में दो प्रतिशत बिंदु की आर्थिक वृद्धि होगी तो ही हर साल 1.20 करोड़ नई नौकरियां पैदा होंगी और मोदी वादे पर खरे उतर पाएंगे।

इस नाकामी के लिए मोटेतौर पर नेहरू का समाजवादी मॉडल जिम्मेदार है, लेकिन इसके लिए नेहरू को व्यक्तिगत रूप से दोष नहीं दिया जा सकता- वे काफी कुछ समाजवादी युग की ही देन थे और सोवियत संघ की कामयाबी से इतने मोहित थे कि उन्होंने पूरब में जापान को देखा ही नहीं। इंदिरा गांधी ने ‘एशियाई शेरों’ से सीख लेने का विश्व बैंक का सुझाव ठुकरा दिया। इसकी बजाय उन्होंने बैंकों का राष्ट्रीयकरण कर दिया, सनकभरे अन्य कदम उठाए और भारत पूरी एक पीढ़ी पिछड़ गया।

वर्ष 1991 में आर्थिक सुधारकों ने एशियाई मॉडल अपनाने का कठोर प्रयास किया, लेकिन लालफीते का समाजवादी माहौल, कमजोर आधारभूत ढांचा और खराब रवैया आड़े आ गया। मसलन, लुघ उद्योग क्षेत्र के लिए 800 उद्योगों को आरक्षित करने के कदम ने निर्यात को चोट पहुंचाई, क्योंकि प्रतिस्पर्द्धी राष्ट्रों ने अधिक उत्पादनशील बड़ी निर्यात कंपनियां बनाईं। हालत तो यह हुई कि तैयार वस्त्रों के निर्यात में बांग्लादेश हमसे आगे निकल गया।

नौकरियां आएंगी कहां से? कुछ लोगों का मानना है कि मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग युग खत्म हो गया है। यह बहुत स्वचालित हो गया है और अकुशल खेतिहर मजदूरों के लिए नौकरिया पैदा नहीं कर सकता। कुछ हद तक तो यह सही है, लेकिन मुझे लगता है कि वैश्विक व्यापारिक निर्यात अब भी बहुत बड़ा है। पिछले साल यह 18 खरब डॉलर था। अकेले चीन ने 2.30 खरब डॉलर का निर्यात किया। इन नौकरियों को आकर्षित करने की भारत की उम्मीद ‘व्यवसाय करने की आसानी’ की मुहिम पर निर्भर है। दीवालिया होने संबंधी नया कानून, वाणिज्यिक अदालतें और राष्ट्रीय कंपनी कानून न्यायाधिकरण इसकी अब तक की बड़ी उपलब्धियां हैं। निवेश के लिए राज्यों के बीच स्पर्द्धा में भी सफलता निहित है और इसका फायदा मिल रहा है- राजस्थान, गुजरात, मध्यप्रदेश और आंध्र प्रदेश, इन चार राज्यों ने गंभीर श्रम सुधारों को कानूनी रूप दिया है।

भारत चाहे मैन्यूफैक्चरिंग क्रांति चूक गया हो, लेकिन यह सेवाअों के जरिये ऊंची वृद्धि दर वाली अर्थव्यवस्था बना है और हमें इसे कम करके नहीं आंकना चाहिए। उदाहरण के लिए भारत में बेची गई तीन में से एक कार, ड्राइवर का जॉब पैदा करती है। हर साल 25 लाख कारें बिकती हैं, जिसका अर्थ है ड्राइवर के 8 लाख जॉब। इसमें प्रतिवर्ष व्यावसायिक वाहनों के 7 लाख ड्राइवर और जोड़ें। 2020 तक ई-कॉमर्स बिक्री के संदर्भ में 13 लाख विक्रेताओं के ऑनलाइन होने के साथ 90 अरब डॉलर तक पहुंच जाएगा। प्रत्येक विक्रेता चार सीधे जॉब और भंडारण, डिलिवरी तथा अन्य सहायक सेवाओं में 12 अप्रत्यक्ष नौकरियां निर्मित करता है। कुल-मिलाकर दो करोड़ नौकरियां निर्मित होती हैं। यदि इनमें से आधी चाहे क्रमश: पैदा हो, लेकिन फिर भी एक करोड़ जॉब तो पक्के हैं।

देश में इस समय स्टार्टअप का जुनून छाया हुआ है और सैकड़ों युवा कॉर्पोरेट जॉब छोड़कर आंत्रप्रेन्योर बन रहे हैं। यह पहली सरकार है, जिसने युवा उद्यमियों को बढ़ावा देने का महत्व समझा है। इसके ‘स्टार्टअप इंडिया’ अभियान के तहत नए नियमों की घोषणा की गई है, जो लालफीताशाही पर लगाम लगाएंगे, इंस्पेक्टरों की बजाय स्वप्रमाणीकरण का मतलब है अनुमति लेना आसान होगा।

नए आंत्रप्रेन्योर को किसी दफ्तर जाने की जरूरत नहीं है- सिर्फ एप डाउनलोड करके वह पंजीयन करा सकेगा, मंजूरी ले सकेगा और करों का भुगतान कर सकेगा। राजनेताओं को हमेशा याद दिलाना पड़ता है कि उन्हें क्यों चुना गया था। ‘अच्छे दिन’ नौकरियों और अवसरों का कोड वर्ड है। मोदी ने विदेशी मामलों में अच्छा काम किया है, लेकिन देश ने उन्हें नौकरियां निर्मित करने के लिए चुना है। वे यदि विदेशी दौरे अपनी काबिल मंत्री सुषमा स्वराज पर छोड़कर पूरी एकाग्रता से नौकरियों, आर्थिक वृद्धि और अच्छे दिन पर लग जाएं तो बेहतर होगा।

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Forget the jetsetting, Modiji. Just think jobs in 2016

This is a make or break year for Prime Minister Modi. Unless economic growth picks up significantly in 2016 and jobs come in masses, we can forget about achhe din. The standard recipe for making a poor country rich is to export labour-intensive, low-tech manufactured goods. It transformed East Asia, China and South-East Asia into middle-class societies. But India missed this bus and today is the poorest large economy in the world with ‘less than a sixth of the global per capita income, at a level lower than Laos, Zambia, and Sudan’, as T N Ninan reminds us in The Turn of the Tortoise. We elected Modi because he promised to catch this bus.

In the early 1960s it was becoming clear to the world that Japan was creating a huge number of jobs based on the export of toys, shoes, and simple manufactures. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore saw this and quickly followed suit, like flying wild geese who follow the leader in a V-formation. All of them became high-growth economies, wiped out poverty and went on to become First World countries. The countries of South-East Asia realized this in the seventies, and followed this model to become respectable middle-income economies. China was the last to fly in the wild geese formation. It was so successful that it became the world’s factory.

Why did India fail to join the wild geese? Nehru can’t be blamed — he was too much a product of the socialist age to look eastwards. But Indira Gandhi can — she sneered at the World Bank’s suggestion that India might learn something from the Asian tigers. She nationalized banks instead, committed other lunacies, and India lost a whole generation. After 1991, the reformers did try to emulate the Asian model but the overhang of bad socialist policies and red tape defeated them. This is the first government to make a determined attempt to fix the damaging ecosystem.

Where are the jobs going to come from? Some think the manufacturing age is over — it is too automated and can no longer create jobs for unskilled farm workers. But this pessimism is overdone. Global merchandise exports are still huge — $18 trillion last year; China alone did $2.3 trillion. India’s hope of attracting these jobs depends on the ‘ease of doing business’ campaign, whose big achievements so far are the new bankruptcy law, commercial courts, and the national company law tribunal. Taken together they represent as big a reform as the GST. Success also lies in competition between states, and this too is paying off — four states have enacted serious labour reforms: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra.

India became a high-growth economy via services and we mustn’t undervalue its role. For example, one in three cars sold in India creates a driver’s job. Around 2.5 million cars are sold each year and this means 800,000 jobs for drivers; add to this 700,000 driver jobs annually for commercial vehicles. E-commerce is also creating masses of new jobs. By 2020, it is expected to reach $90 billion in sales with 1.3 million sellers online. Each seller creates four direct jobs and 12 indirect jobs in warehousing, delivery, and support services. This adds to 20 million jobs. Some of these will replace offline jobs,but even if half are incremental, this means 10 million net new jobs.

The country is presently in a startup mania, and like all bubbles, it too will subside. But this is the first government to recognize the importance of nurturing entrepreneurs. Its Startup India campaign has announced new rules that will cut red tape, ease compliance, relying on self-certification instead of inspectors. A new entrepreneur will not need to visit an office — merely by downloading an app, he will be able to register, get approvals, and pay taxes. In the competition to attract startups, states in the south have created incubators and ‘innovation parks’.

Political leaders always need reminding why they were elected. Achhe din was a codeword for jobs and opportunities. Modi has done a good job in foreign affairs but the nation elected him to create jobs. He would do well to give foreign trips a short rest, turn over foreign affairs to the competent Sushma Swaraj, and focus with ekagrata on jobs, growth and achhe din.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Road to smart cities goes via Dharavi, not Chandigarh

Since the Congress party is determined not to let Parliament work, Prime Minister Modi has an unexpected opportunity to focus on executive action. So much can be achieved through good execution, and voters too will generously reward those who visibly improve their lives. Urban reform is one area crying for such vigorous attention.

The intriguing phrase ‘smart cities’ conjures a vision of a technological and sustainable future for an aspiring India. Yet no one quite knows what it means, including those in charge. I believe the Indian city will only become ‘smart’ if it builds around the way Indians actually work and live; and second, if it seizes autonomy from state governments. Until our cities have directly elected, empowered mayors who can raise funds for the city, and to whom municipal commissioners report, urban India will not become ‘smart’.

Since Nehru’s time it has been fashionable to create elitist master plans that were hugely wasteful of land and capital, and ignored the way Indians worked and lived. The plans imposed rigid ideas about separating the workplace from the home, which was reflected devastatingly in a Supreme Court judgement a few years ago that destroyed the livelihoods of lakhs of poor in Delhi. It is the same mindset that encouraged Nehru to create the visually exciting Chandigarh, with its acres of greenbelts, which only served elite bureaucrats and was always hostile to the needs of the masses.

Modi should not make the same mistake. His people talk about smart cities mainly in technological terms. This is fine, but I believe a smart city is also about doing ‘smart things in a city’. One of these is to design it around the livelihoods of the aam aadmi. Such a city should humanely place the urban poor and our informal economy at the centre of its thinking; take inspiration, not from leafy Chandigarh, but from the sprawling slum of Dharavi in Mumbai.

Dharavi teaches how a city grows organically when people move from villages and learn to live and work in the same place. To service their needs, kirana shops, barbers, cycle repair and mobile phone recharging vendors pop up. The strength of Dharavi is its face-to-face sociability where human bonds of inter-dependence are formed with strangers.

Because of historic prejudices, many city regulators do not allow mixed use of land where working and living co-exist. Many do not allow high-rise buildings, which is absurd in a country where land is in short supply. By living vertically we would make horizontal space available for precious common goods — parks, schools, libraries, and public squares — which encourage sociability and friendliness. In a country where the aam admi walks and cycles, we should have generous pavements and bicycle paths. Instead of wasting hundreds of acres on a university for a thousand students, a land-scarce country should have high-rise campuses in the middle of a downtown where students become part of the community.

Most important: a smart city must have freedom, especially autonomy in governance and finances. Today, an Indian city is at the mercy of the state government. The 74th Amendment provides for this political reform but the states have thwarted it. Unless there is an elected mayor accountable to the citizens of a city, the delivery of services to the community will not improve. The municipal commissioner should report to the mayor and not the chief minister. A city should be able to become financially more independent. It must have its ‘own’ sources of revenue, both from taxes and from levying rational user charges for services. It must be entitled to predictable formula-based transfers from state governments as part of revenue-sharing arrangements. It should be able to issue municipal bonds as many cities do around the world.

Modi’s critics call it old wine in a new bottle. They are right — many of the ‘smart city’ ideas were a part of the old JNNURM (UPA’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission). But twenty years from now, which one will you remember: Smart cities or JNNURM? Now that we have a name to rally people around, let us not focus on technology alone but on innovative solutions to transform the future of the Indian city.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Dharma Of Capitalism

Dharma is a frustrating, almost untranslatable word. Duty, goodness, justice, and law have something to do with it, but they all fall short

Some nations seem to possess a code word, which is like a key — it unlocks the secrets of the country. That word is ‘liberty’ in America’s case. It is égalité, ‘equality’, in the case of France. For India, the code word is ‘dharma’. You wouldn’t know it, though, if you were a member of the India’s english speaking elite, but it resonates in the hearts of the vast majority of ordinary people.

Dharma is a frustrating, almost untranslatable word. Duty, goodness, justice, and law have something to do with it, but they all fall short. Dharma is chiefly concerned with doing the right thing, both in the private and the public life. Dharma provides the underlying norms of society, creating obligations for citizens and rulers, and it thus brings a degree of coherence to our everyday life. What makes dharma different from notions of morality in the other traditions, such as Christianity, is that it does not seek moral perfection. It is pragmatic; hence it is eminently suited to exchanges in the market place and to public policy. This is especially true of rajdharma, or dharma of the king or the state.

At the heart of the market system is the idea of exchange between ordinary, self-interested human beings, who seek to advance their interests peacefully in the marketplace. Dharma places restraints on buyers and sellers and creates a sense of trust between strangers. Since I trust you as a person of dharma, I readily accept a check from you. In the same way a taxi driver stops and takes me in as a passenger because he knows that the restraint of dharma will ensure that he will get paid at the journey’s end. Thus, millions of transactions in the global economy are conducted daily based on this shared trust.

People believe that markets are efficient but they are not moral. The truth is that market is neither moral nor immoral, but people are. However, the market sends powerful signals to people to behave in accordance with dharma. It tends to reward dharmic behaviour and punish adharmic behaviour. This reinforces a sense of trust in society.

I trust the woman who sells fruit to me regularly in Khan Market near my house in Delhi. One day she claimed that she had received exceptionally good mangoes but they were expensive because of their higher quality. I reluctantly bought the mangoes but unfortunately they turned out to be bad. I promptly punished her by shifting my allegiance to her competitor. Not only did she lose my custom but I also told half a dozen friends and neighbours. All of us shared similar stories of her behaviour. As word of mouth spread, she came to be known as a person of low dharma, and lost market share. In this way, the market punished bad behaviour.

Every purchase manager has the temptation to squeeze his supplier. If he does not treat the supplier dharmically and gives him a fair price, his own company will suffer when the supplier delivers sub-standard components. On the other hand, the market rewards good behaviour on the part of a company that treats its employees well. The best will want to join such a firm, and with the influx of talent it will be rewarded with high performance and market share. I know of one such company, a small one, that is able to consistently attract talented people from IITs and IIMs because it has built a reputation for having happy employees fairly. Behaviour in accordance with dharma strengthens a company’s brand.

In the same way, a company which builds a reputation for honesty and for doing good for the community is rewarded. I was recently asked by a large multinational to recommend a partner. I immediately suggested the Tatas. A person or a firm of high dharma is rewarded with a good reputation. Smart businessmen know this and work incessantly to improve their reputation.

These are some of the ways in which markets are not only efficient but they also reinforce good behaviour. The market system depends ultimately not on laws but on the self-restraint of individuals. Dharma provides that restraint in order for people to behave with tolerance and respect. However, there are limits to self-restraint and trust as there are crooks in every society. They have to be punished. Bhishma instructs Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata about the importance of danda, the ‘rod’of the state to punish persons of low dharma. The epic says that when dharma is low in a society, the dependence on danda or intrusive regulation rises. A society where dharma is weak suffers from pervasive corruption of public officials and ineffective public administration.

Such a situation is painfully obvious in contemporary India where public institutions of governance — the bureaucracy, the police and the judiciary —continue to fail to enforce the law. Why should it take fifteen years to get justice in the courts? This is because people of low dharma find ways to manipulate the courts and the police. The reform of these institutions is a key unfinished agenda of reform in India today. Too many tend to blame the market for the pervasive corruption, especially in high places, calling it ‘crony capitalism’. The opposite, in fact, is the case. Corruption exists mainly in the unreformed sectors of the economy where public officials still have discretionary authority over economic decisions.

Although two decades have passed since the reforms of 1991 when Indians began their love affair with free markets, capitalism is still trying to find a comfortable home in India. India reforms by stealth because no political party has bothered to explain the difference between being ‘pro-market’ and ‘pro-business’, leaving people with the impression that liberal reform mostly helps the rich. They do not understand that being pro-market is to believe in competition, which helps keep prices low, raise the quality of products, and leads to a ‘rules based capitalism’ that serves everyone. To be pro-business, on the other hand, means to allow politicians and officials to retain power over licenses, which distorts the market’s authority over economic decisions and this leads to ‘crony capitalism’. This confusion explains the timidity of reform and prevents India from performing to its potential.

Part of the reason, I am convinced, why capitalism is so disliked lies in linguistic confusion. Too many glibly equate capitalism with greed and confuse self-interest with selfishness. When Adam Smith wrote about self-interest he had in mind ordinary people going about making sensible decisions in their day-to-day lives. When I go to buy mangoes in the market, for example, I naturally want the best quality at the lowest price. This is not being selfish; it is merely being self-interested. If it rains, I will carry an umbrella—nothing selfish about that. In buying and selling each person gains by benefiting others, and an “invisible hand”, to use Adam Smith’s famous phrase, ensures that everyone gains from self-interested behaviour.

A selfish or a greedy person, on the hand, is not morally neutral —he promotes his interest at another’s expense, and that is wrong. Selfishness is a social attribute and a selfish person often transgresses on the rights of others. Self-interest, on the other hand, is not a social attribute and can be practiced in solitude on a deserted island. Self-interest is the pursuit of whatever is in one’s interest —a scientist pursues science, a doctor pursues medicine, and an artist pursues art. There is nothing selfish in that, which is why Adam Smith called it rational self-interest. In the Theory of Moral Sentiments, he said that what is rational is not only from the viewpoint of the person involved but also from that of a disinterested rational observer.

There is purpose to economic activity and the ancients in India were acutely aware of this when they posited artha, ‘material well being’, as one of the goals of life. They believed that the pursuit of money is justified to the extent that it leads to the good life. That good life also consists of other goals, in particular, dharma, ‘moral well-being’. Mahabharata reminds us that the goal of artha is subordinate to dharma. In other words, there is a right and a wrong way to pursue wealth. In today’s language, the pursuit of artha is to make the world a better place —to lift the poor out of poverty. Thus, the moral purpose of capitalism is take societies from poverty to prosperity. The problem begins when poverty has been conquered and a society has become prosperous and middle class. Beyond a certain point increased wealth does not make people happier, and they seek other goals. Successes of capitalism produce over time enervating influences when a generation committed to saving is replaced by one devoted to spending. This is a problem which will confront India and China in the next generation. Ferocious competition is another feature of the free market and it can be corrosive. But competition is also an economic stimulant that promotes human welfare.

It is in man’s nature to want more. And dharma seeks to give coherence to our desires by containing them within an ordered existence. Since no amount of regulation will catch all the crooks, self-restraint is needed on the part of each actor in the market place in order to achieve dharma within society. The choice for policy makers is not between unregulated free markets and central planning but in getting the right mix of regulation. Except for communists, hardly anyone in India wants state ownership of production, where the absence of competition corrodes the character even more. Dharma’s approach is not to seek moral perfection, which leads inevitably to theocracy or dictatorship. It offers a modestly coherent world that is also close to our day to day life and hence suited for exchanges in the market place. Self-restraint is one of the meanings of dharma and the trust that self-restraint helps to create in society is I believe the ‘dharma of capitalism’.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)

 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bihar polls over, it’s time to fix those leaky pipes

The circus is over. Another election has come and gone, and it’s time for bread. “Bread and circuses” is an ancient figure of speech from the Roman Empire when politicians neglected the real issues and diverted the people with cheap entertainment. The Bihar election was important but a huge distraction. India is continuously in election mode, and this delays crucial reforms and executive decisions. For the past month, we have had only a part-time Prime Minister. This is clearly wrong in a poor country where the ethical imperative is to create jobs and fulfill the hopes of the young, and this is why we elected Mr Modi in the first place.

The solution to ending the constant distraction of “bread and circuses” is to go in for fixed term elections as most sensible countries have done, the latest being the UK. We need to restore the balance between giving the executive freedom to act and holding it accountable for those acts via elections. Elections should only be held in two fixed time periods every five years — once at the national level and two and half years later, simultaneously in all the states. Should a government fall between those dates in a no-confidence vote, the House should not be dissolved; legislators should be forced to cobble a new government or face President’s rule.

If India is to create jobs, the Prime Minister must begin to see the world through the eyes of a small Indian entrepreneur. On his or her narrow shoulders rests the responsibility for creating the vast majority of jobs. This is especially true in the construction industry, which is the biggest creator of jobs in every country. A builder took his life in Thane last month, and in his suicide note he complained about repeated demand for bribes from politicians. He said he could cope with the slowdown in his business but not the red tape and official harassment.

India’s problems are administrative and managerial, not so much political. Hence, Mr Modi must focus single-mindedly on the unglamourous work of fixing leaky pipes. Successful auctions in mining and spectrum are an example of fixing the plumbing. So is the creating of conditions for the efficient delivery of subsidies via cash transfers through JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana/Aadhar/Mobile banking). Last Tuesday’s liberalization of FDI, which cut red tape for investors by giving them automatic entry into many sectors, is another example. The Arbitration and Commercial Courts Ordinance is yet another. Yes, legislative reforms are important, but don’t underestimate the power of overhauling the plumbing left behind by the “license, permit, inspector raj”. Remember, India experienced its highest growth in history between 2003 and 2012 without the GST or the reform of its labour and land laws.

India has a lot going for it. Economic growth is up and inflation is down. Foreign investment and government revenues are rising and the current account deficit and fiscal deficit are declining. Importantly, interest rates have fallen and the rupee is stable. All this did not happen by accident. Major manufacturers like Foxconn in telecom and GE and Alstom in locomotives have come in; payment banks will soon enter the scene; telecom companies can now share spectrum; the defense sector has emerged as a major driver of growth. Even the Bihar election, contrary to the headlines, was mostly about development. What made the difference is that Nitish had something to show for it, especially in bringing electricity to villages.

However, there is a long way to go. Uneconomic power tariffs have again put the finances of the State Electricity Boards in a colossal mess. State- owned banks have had to be bailed out yet again. Our tax administration continues to diminish us as a nation. State-owned companies like Air India destroy India’s brand image daily. As did the Maggi saga. There is no effort to tackle the real problems in education and health. And more.

India does well when it bets on its people; it does less well when it bets on its government. Hence, the reform of the state — fixing the leaky pipes is even more important than economic reform. It will cut corruption and bring jobs quickly by making India attractive to the small entrepreneur. To stay focused on this agenda is Mr Modi’s and the nation’s priority.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Handle with care: The big takeaway from Nepal fiasco

“Good fences make good neighbours,” said Robert Frost, and by this he meant that neighbourly success depends on respecting each other’s autonomy. This is especially true when those neighbours are as unequal as Nepal and India. The smaller neighbour is invariably suspicious, which is why Mexicans say, “Too close to America; too far from God.” India looms large in the Nepali imagination but Nepal hardly figures in India’s, except as a fantasy wonderland in the Himalayas.

Ten months ago, Prime Minister Modi was a hero in Nepali eyes after his brilliant address to the nation’s lawmakers. India’s stock rose higher after its generous aid to the victims of the April earthquake. Today, the Indian flag is being burned on the streets of Nepal.The trouble began when Nepal announced a new constitution last month. Much awaited, it should have brought joy and celebration. Instead, it brought a revolt among Madhesis in the terai belt bordering India. Forty persons died. Although a third of Nepal, Madhesis have long felt discriminated by the hill elite. The new constitution marginalized them further as many of their districts were merged into the hill states.

Madhesis retaliated by blocking trucks carrying food and fuel from India. As shortages developed and prices shot up, Nepal blamed India for its misery. India claimed innocence — it was a Madhesi blockade. But Nepalis accused India of siding with the Madhesis.True, India had championed their cause during the constitution-making process. A late frantic visit by Indian’s foreign secretary, Jaishankar, had strengthened the perception. Although of Indian origin, Madhesis were Nepalis, and Nepal felt that India had interfered in its domestic affairs. What if Pakistan became India’s adviser on how to treat India’s Muslims, or if Americans instructed us on how to manage Kashmir?

It is never easy for a big country to compel a small one to act in a certain way. It needs finesse and subtlety. India’s national interest is to have a friendly Nepal that does not fall into China’s hands. Diplomacy is the art of friendly persuasion — to align a neighbour’s interest with one’s own. This is where India’s diplomacy has failed.

To their credit, both sides have realized their mistakes. Modi has welcomed Prime Minister K P Oli’s rise to power. Oli has appointed a dissident Madhesi as a deputy prime minister and has promised to sort out Madhesi grievances.

But the anger, the pain of the blockade, and ill-will towards India remain. Our Nepali fiasco, ironically, comes on the heels of India’s triumph with another neighbour, Bangladesh, where a historic accord has recently erased a dispute as old as Kashmir while nudging the subcontinent towards a common market.

There are other lessons in this fiasco. Nepal’s old politicians need to shed their distrust of India. With huge hydroelectric potential, Nepal should not be suffering from constant blackouts. Instead of buying power from India today, it should be selling it to India. But xenophobia prevents it from allowingIndian entrepreneurs to generate power. It could learn from Bhutan, which has achieved the highest GDP per capita in South Asia by selling power to India. In fact, by hitching its economy to India and China, the world’s fastest-growing economies, Nepal could become a Switzerland.

Nepal’s old elite also needs to catch up with a new generation of aspiring, young Nepalis who will no longer put up with the old iniquities against minorities and women. Young Nepali women are deeply offended by an unequal provision in the constitution: children of Nepali men with foreign wives will get citizenship but not those of Nepali women married to a foreign husband. This law is aimed at the Madhesis. Manjushree Thapa, the Nepali author, puts it nicely: “Ruled by a deep-seated xenophobia, Hindu patriarchs fear that Indian men will marry Nepali women, and the children — born of Indian seed! — will populate Nepal. Nepal will then no longer be Nepali.”

India should learn not to take Nepal for granted and respect its autonomy. Nepal would be happier if it shed its unwise fears. It should bear in mind that, unlike China, India has only created empires of the spirit, never of the sword. As Chinese scholar and diplomat Hu Shih said: “India conquered China culturally for 20 centuries without sending a single soldier across her border.”

Saturday, October 03, 2015

शिक्षा की शर्मनाक हकीकत

केंद्रीय मानव संसाधन विकास मंत्री स्मृति ईरानी को दुनिया की सबसे खराब शिक्षा व्यवस्था विरासत में मिली है। भारत में शिक्षा का प्रभार कम गुणवत्ता वाले मंत्रियों को मिलता रहा है। अर्जुन सिंह जैसे लोग भी इस पद पर रहे हैं जिन्होंने व्यवस्था में सुधार की चिंता तो नहीं की, लेकिन ओबीसी आरक्षण कार्ड खेलने में जरूर लगे रहे। यही कारण है कि एक प्रसिद्ध अंतरराष्ट्रीय परीक्षा में भाग लेने वाले भारत के 15 साल के लड़के और लड़कियों को केवल किर्गिस्तान के ऊपर सभी देशों में आखिरी से दूसरा स्थान मिला। हां, सचमुच। विज्ञान और अंकगणित की सामान्य परीक्षा में 2011 में 74 देशों में भारत के बच्चों को 73वां स्थान मिला था। यह परीक्षा पीसा कहलाती है जिसका अर्थ प्रोग्राम फार इंटनेशनल स्टूडेंट असेसमेंट। संप्रग सरकार ने इस तरह के दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण परिणाम के कारणों की वजह जानने की जगह पीसा में फिर भाग न लेने का फैसला किया। दुनिया में आखिरी से दूसरा स्थान उन लोगों के लिए भी सदमा था जो अपनी शिक्षा व्यवस्था में जंग लगने की बात जानते हैं। देश के हर जिले में हर साल सात लाख विद्यार्थियों की अच्छी-खासी संख्या का सर्वे हमें शिक्षा के वार्षिक स्तर की रिपोर्ट (एएसईआर) के रूप में मिलता है। इसने बार-बार दिखाया है कि पांचवीं क्लास के आधे से भी कम बच्चे ही दूसरी क्लास के पाठ्यक्रम से कहानी पढ़ सकते हैं या उस स्तर के अंकगणित के सवाल हल कर सकते हैं।

शिक्षकों का प्रदर्शन और भी बड़ी समस्या है। सिर्फ चार फीसद शिक्षकों ने शिक्षक पात्रता परीक्षा (टीईटी) पास की है और उत्तर प्रदेश तथा बिहार के चार में से तीन शिक्षक पांचवीं क्लास स्तर के प्रतिशत निकालने वाले सवाल तक हल नहीं कर पाए। देश के सर्व शिक्षा अभियान और शिक्षा के अधिकार अधिनियम पर हजारों करोड़ रुपये खर्च करने के बावजूद हाल के वर्षों में सीखने वाले परिणाम गिरते ही गए हैं। अगर मैं स्मृति ईरानी होता तो इस खराब हालत पर सिर झुका लेता और रोता। खूब रो लेने के बाद मैं सवाल पूछता कि गरीब भारतीय मां-बाप अपने बच्चों को उन सरकारी स्कूलों से निकाल लेने को क्यों बेचैन हैं जो नि:शुल्क पढ़ाते हैं और उन निजी स्कूलों में क्यों भेज रहे हैं जहां उन्हें फीस देनी पड़ती है? हो सकता है, फीस कम हो, लेकिन कड़ी मेहनत से कमाए गए पैसे को उस चीज के लिए खर्च करने में उन्हें बेचैनी होनी चाहिए जो नि:शुल्क उपलब्ध है। कुछ गरीब बच्चे गलत हो सकते हैं, लेकिन पूरा देश गलत नहीं हो सकता। एएसईआर के आंकड़े बताते हैं कि बच्चे चिंताजनक दर पर सरकारी स्कूल छोड़ रहे हैं। स्कूल शिक्षक खुद अपने बच्चों को सरकारी स्कूलों में नहीं भेजते हैं।

दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण ढंग से समस्या 2009 में बनाए गए शिक्षा के अधिकार कानून में है। संप्रग सरकार ने मान लिया था कि समस्या आंकड़ों और स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चों की संख्या में है। लेकिन 2009 में 96.5 प्रतिशत बच्चे तो स्कूल में थे ही। आरटीई कानून पढ़ाई जाने वाली चीजों के परिणाम और शिक्षकों की गुणवत्ता पर बिल्कुल मौन है। इसने दूसरी यह गलत बात भी मान ली कि बच्चों की उपलब्धि की समीक्षा का बच्चों पर दबाव पड़ेगा और इस बात ने विद्यार्थियों की परीक्षा को अवैध बना दिया। बच्चों की अच्छाइयों और कमजोरियों के बारे में अभिभावकों की जानकारी के बिना बच्चे अपने आप अगली क्लास में भेजे जाने लगे। परिणाम यह हुआ कि बच्चों के प्रदर्शन के लिए शिक्षकों की कोई जिम्मेदारी नहीं रह गई है।

सरकारी स्कूलों की गुणवत्ता बेहतर करने की जगह आरटीई ने निजी स्कूलों पर भ्रष्ट इंस्पेक्टर राज डाल दिया है और इससे काफी बड़ी संख्या में स्कूल बंद हो गए हैं। पंजाब और हरियाणा उच्च न्यायालय को इसमें दखल देना पड़ा और इस पर रोक लगानी पड़ी। सरकारी स्कूल विफल हो रहे हैं, इस बात को मानते हुए आरटीई ने गरीब परिवारों के बच्चों के लिए 25 प्रतिशत आरक्षण का कोटा निजी स्कूलों पर लाद दिया। अपने आप में यह बुरी बात नहीं है, लेकिन यह इस तरीके से किया जा रहा है कि सरकार ने निजी स्कूलों में दखल देना शुरू कर दिया है। कुछ राज्यों में लॉटरी की जगह राजनेता और नौकरशाह निर्धारित करने लगे हैं कि किस बच्चे को कोटे का लाभ मिलेगा। इसने निजी स्कूलों पर दूसरा ही इंस्पेक्टर राज डाल दिया है।

क्या किया जाना चाहिए? यह आश्वस्त करने वाली बात है कि व्यवस्था में किस तरह सुधार हो, इस बारे में मंत्री स्मृति ईरानी सुझाव मांगते हुए लोगों से संवाद और विचार-विमर्श कर रही हैं। इस संदर्भ में छह ऐसे मजबूत कदम हो सकते हैं जिनके जरिये वे 24 करोड़ स्कूली बच्चों के भविष्य बचा सकती हैं। एक, इस बात को पहचानें कि समस्या पैसे की नहीं, प्रबंधन की है। यह शर्मनाक बात है कि स्कूल में चार में से एक शिक्षक अनुपस्थित रहता है और उपस्थित दो में से एक पढ़ाते हुए नहीं पाए जाते। संप्रग के शिक्षा विशेषज्ञ शिक्षा दर्शन पर बात करने में अच्छे थे, लेकिन शिक्षकों की अनुपस्थिति जैसी वास्तविक समस्या के समाधान के मामूली काम में बुरी तरह विफल रहे। दो, नीति में स्कूल में पढ़ाने से अधिक ज्ञान देने और संख्या से अधिक गुणवत्ता पर जोर देने वाला बदलाव हो। गुजरात के गुणोत्सव कार्यक्रम का अनुसरण हो सकता है जिसमें नियमित रूप से जांचा जाता है कि बच्चे कैसा कर रहे हैं। नियमित राष्ट्रीय परीक्षाओं की शुरुआत हो। राष्ट्रीय उपलब्धि सर्वेक्षण (एनएएस) को इस तरह का बनाया जाए कि वह ज्ञान का बैरोमीटर बने। तीन, महान नेता महान संस्थाएं बनाते हैं। वरिष्ठता के आधार पर प्रधानाध्यापकों की नियुक्ति बंद हो। एक मजबूत प्रधानाध्यापक एक कमजोर स्कूल को भी पूरा बदल सकता है अगर वह सिर्फ प्रशासक नहीं, दिशानिर्देश देने वाला नेता हो। फिर वही बात, गुजरात के शिक्षा मॉडल का अनुसरण किया जाए और प्रधानाध्यापकों के चुनाव के लिए प्रधानाध्यापक योग्यता परीक्षा शुरू की जाए। स्कूल का नेतृत्व करने वालों को तैयार करने वाले प्रशिक्षण केंद्रों की स्थापना हो।

चार, पिछले वेतन आयोग के बाद शिक्षकों का वेतन बेहतर हो गया है। अब शिक्षण में बेहतर प्रतिभा आकर्षित करने के लिए प्रोत्साहन भत्ता शुरू किया जाए। तीसरे दर्जे की शिक्षक प्रशिक्षण संस्थाओं की जगह भारत के अच्छे विश्वविद्यालयों में प्रतिष्ठित शिक्षण संस्थाएं बनाई जाएं। पांच, निजी स्कूलों को न तो परेशान करें, न उनके साथ दुधारू गायों की तरह व्यवहार करें। 'लाइसेंस राज' से मुक्ति पाएं। यह उन वास्तविक शिक्षा उद्यमियों को शिक्षा क्षेत्र में प्रवेश करने को प्रोत्साहित करेगा जो सोचते हैं कि उनका काम पढ़ाना है। छह, चिली, सिंगापुर, स्वीडन, ब्राजील और पोलैंड के सबसे अच्छे तरीकों से सीखना चाहिए। इनमें से कुछ देशों के साथ वही समस्या थी जो हमारे साथ है। लेकिन अपनी शिक्षा व्यवस्थाओं में सुधार के लिए बड़ी ऊर्जा का निवेश कर उन्होंने अपनी समस्याओं का समाधान कर लिया है। स्मृति जी, अगर आप अपने पूर्ववर्तियों से भिन्न होना चाहती हैं तो आइआइटी को सताना, मुख्य स्थानों पर आरएसएस के लोगों को नियुक्त करना और संस्कृत तथा वैदिक गणित पढ़ाना बंद करें। 24 करोड़ स्कूली बच्चों के भविष्य को बचाएं और गर्व महसूस करें।