Viewpoint: Crises and Economic Reforms

01 NOV,2020 | MEDC


 

Historical evidence has shown that times of crises can be gainfully employed for the strategic implementation of economic reforms. Despite all the devastation caused by it, Covid has jolted policymakers into thinking outside the box. To begin with, the fact that data is the new oil has been brought out forcefully. The time is right to initiate steps towards a non-partisan gathering of transparent, fast, and accurate data to aid the decision making process. This data should also be strategically disseminated to the public to enlighten them about the way in which policy is heading and how they could best brace themselves for it. In today’s data-driven society, no one can underestimate the power of reliable information for enhancing their personal and professional competitiveness. In this regard, we still have a long way to catch up with the developed world, but this is an appropriate time to begin the process. Education has been a major stumbling block for India. In this context, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has come as a welcome change. It is a sincere attempt to integrate India’s education system with that of the developed world, while retaining the strong element of tradition that characterises us so deeply. Its thrust on foundational learning, modular building of college credits, multidisciplinary options in higher education, and vocational streaming from high-school onwards deserve a round of applause. However, a lot will depend on how these lofty ideas are actually put into practise. It is high time that Indian students got a better deal from their country’s education system. Agriculture continues to remain the largest employer of the Indian workforce and the single most important economic activity in the country. The government has acted well by deregulating farm-to-market supply chains, reducing the number of commodities under the Essential Commodities Act, and allowing farmers to defragment their land holdings. If adequately implemented, these reforms will help to dilute the importance of the middlemen in this important socioeconomic activity, and give the farmer a greater share of what is rightfully his. Two areas needing more focus are the emphasis on infrastructure and technology, and educating farmers about the impact of inevitable climate change on their crops, and how they could best prepare themselves for it. Another key area requiring fundamental reform is India’s banking sector. Public sector banks, especially, are in dire need of governance reforms and measures to enhance their image vis-à-vis their private sector counterparts. Policymakers need to be bolder and more innovative with solutions, as a weak banking and financial system can derail almost alleconomic progress made till date. This is an area wherein patchy solutions are not likely to produce results. In the Chinese language, the world crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. Covid-19 has given us a unique chance to overhaul our systems and convert our crisis into an opportunity.

*Photo Credit: Google

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