ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Road Map to Prosperity

India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity by Vijay Joshi, Allen Lane, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp 421, ₹699.

Something significant seems to be happening in India. Or at least there is a hope that this is the moment to seize the day; the right time for fundamental changes in how the economy is being managed and how the country could be led to a path towards prosperity. Authors like Dreze and Sen (2013) and Panagariya and Bhagwati (2014) have proposed their own diagnoses and fixes; Anirudh Krishna (2017) in his book The Broken Ladder has talked about the micro stories that are preventing inclusiveness in development and has some macro policy measures. Journalist Mihir Sharma (2015) indicates that if we do not restart the economy now, we are losing a golden chance. A fellow journalist Raghav Bahl (2012) compared the two superpowers China and India to the hare and the tortoise, to see where we are headed, while T N Ninan (2016) had a response book using the tortoise as a metaphor and suggested how the tortoise could turn around. Investment banker Ruchir Sharma (2016) has been looking at patterns of high growth economies and retrofitting them into growth prescriptions for India and other locations. Old warhorses Rakesh Mohan (2017), Bimal Jalan (2017) and Surjit Bhalla (2017) have all come out with their own versions of what takes India towards greatness. All these books (and many more not named here) published in the past 5–10 years seem to indicate something about the Indian economy. A hope that there would be some change; despair that it is not happening fast enough; anticipation that the political class will take some courageous decisions, and optimism that this is the chance to reap the demographic dividend that is waiting to be harvested.

The book by Vijay Joshi has to be located in this context. The book has a wide canvas and covers significant ground both in terms of the historical aspects of economic development of India as well as the road map for the future. Unlike many of the quick-fix books that put solutions into silos of (i) encouraging investments, (ii) labour reforms, (iii) land reforms, (iv) privatisation and pay the necessary lip service to elements of inclusiveness, (v) education, (vi) healthcare, and (vii) financial inclusion, this book and its discussion of each of the elements are deeply rooted in economic theory and constantly interfacing with how these discussions relate to the taxation policy, inflation, monetary policy and macro aspects of the economy. This constant engagement with the larger numbers, which are rooted in a larger rigour and the easy flowing text, makes the book not only interesting (but difficult) to read, but also very credible. In one sense Joshi’s book is looking at all the pieces of the jigsaw—both as an individual piece in the puzzle and also as how that piece affects the complete picture—and then also painting the complete picture when the pieces of the jigsaw are all in place. It is not too critical of the past regime and appreciates the constraints therein, while simultaneously pointing to policy loopholes. It is also not too celebratory about the changes that are happening right now. Clearly there is little to celebrate, but Joshi also identifies the lost opportunities and the measures that could be taken to move in the appropriate direction.

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Updated On : 24th Dec, 2018

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