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Freidman: India needs More Reforms, not Less

May 21st, 2004 · No Comments

Thomas Friedman writes on the aftermath of the Indian elections, echoing some of the sentiment in my Tech Talk series this week:

The broad globalization strategy that India opted for in the early 1990’s has succeeded in unlocking the country’s incredible brainpower and stimulating sustained growth, which is the best antipoverty program. I think many Indians understand that retreating from their globalizing strategy now would be a disaster and result in India’s neighborhood rival, China, leaving India in the dust. But the key to spreading the benefits of globalization across a big society is not about more Internet. It is about getting your fundamentals right: good governance, good education. India’s problem is not too much globalization, but too little good governance. Local government in India basic democracy is so unresponsive and so corrupted it can’t deliver services and education to rural Indians. As an Indian political journalist, Krishna Prasad, told me: “The average Indian voter is not saying, `No more reforms,’ as the left wants to believe, but, `More reforms, please’ genuine reforms, reforms that do not just impact the cities and towns, but ones which percolate down to the grass roots as well.”

India needs a political reform revolution to go with its economic one. “With prosperity coming to a few, the great majority are simply spectators to this drama,” said Mr. George. “The country is governed poorly, with corruption and heavy bureaucracy at all levels. I am a great advocate of technology and globalization, but we must find a way to channel their benefits to the rural poor. What is happening today will not succeed because we are relying on a corrupt and socially unfair system.”

Tags: Emerging Markets

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