I admit it. A huge trigger for this particular two-part post was Shashi Tharoor and his oratory genius. But now I recall in retrospect that I was taught an in-depth subject about this (well, not EXACTLY this). I then began reading on this, talking to different people (one of the benefits when you’ve been abroad) and some from the UK themselves. Turns out, it absolutely alright for India to be fucking balls-in-the-air enraged about what the British did! Justified!
Every time I read a patronizing article about South Asia (which essentially means India, making over 82% of the region’s economy), talking about its human development index and taking pity on the poor souls that live and die here, anger fills me to the brim.
Let me make very clear that I am no in no way disregarding post-independent India’s history of rampant corruption and mismanagement that put us almost on the precipice of economic collapse. But the colonial history of India that involved untamed loot and plunder of both our resources and people has a prime role to play in everything we witness today.
I believe certain factors hinder India’s, and South Asia’s growth.
The ominous 1947-1991 timeline: This time in India’s history is notorious for all the wrong moves, and essentially the time when we fell behind the rest of the sovereign nations in terms of economic growth.
India had been subjected to what was called the ‘Hindu rate of growth’, a meager 3.5% in GDP growth while the per capita growth averaged less than 2%. The rest of the world averaged over 4-5%, while our Asian peers (the ‘Tiger’ kind) grew their per capita incomes by over 10% annually.
India followed a protectionist regime, much to the world’s chagrin, and not to our government’s fault. We had been screwed over by centuries of foreign rule that had started off as the British East India Company. We grew close to Moscow and followed in the communist economic footsteps, not realizing that its demerits heavily outweighed its merits. The notorious ‘License Raj’ was a direct consequence of the same. Had it not been for the colonial rule, we may have been a bit more open to trade.
It is courtesy this protectionist time that we developed cracks in our administrative systems instead of streamlining. We focussed on artificial policies, subversive prices rather than letting than market forces take control and play the role of an enabler. Business or trade was considered the enemy, the root of all problems. Our bank nationalization happened then, developing the sever NPA (non-performing asset) culture we see troubling India Inc. today.
Educational Structure and Competitiveness: India’s education system is archaic, as I have already talked about in a previous article. Our bureaucratic structure, our concepts, everything was tailored to meet the British requirements. Nothing was done with the intent of improving the India domestic situation or providing Indians the necessary know-how for the industry. On the contrary, the Macaulay education system, a lot of which survives till the present in our country, is an example of how to promote rigmarole and how to suppress innovation.