Strengthening liberal democracy essential for development: Raghuram Rajan

Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday said India’s future lies in strengthening liberal democracy and its institutions as it is essential for achieving economic growth.

Cautioning against majoritarianism, he said Sri Lanka is an example of what happens when politicians from a country try to address a job crisis by targeting minorities.

Speaking at the 5th convention of the All India Professional Congress, a branch of the Congress party, he said here that any attempt to convert a large minority into “second-class citizens” would divide the country.

Rajan was speaking on the topic ‘Why liberal democracy is needed for India’s economic development’.

“…What is happening with liberal democracy in this country and is it really necessary for Indian development?..We should absolutely strengthen it. Today in India there is a feeling among some sections that democracy is lagging behind India. Rajan said, India needs a strong, even authoritarian leadership, which has some checks and balances and we are moving in that direction.

The former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund said, “I believe that this argument is completely wrong. It is based on the old model of development that emphasized goods and capital, not people and ideas.”

The country’s poor performance in terms of economic growth “points to the way we are going, which needs to be reconsidered,” he said.

The former RBI governor further said that “our future lies in strengthening our liberal democracy and its institutions, not in weakening them, and this is indeed essential for our development.”

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Elaborating on why majoritarian authoritarianism must be defeated, he said that “any attempt to make a large minority of another class of citizens will divide the country and create internal resentment.”

Rajan said it would also make the country vulnerable to foreign interference.

Referring to the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka, he said the island nation was “seeing consequences when politicians from a country try to divert attention from its inability to create jobs by attacking a minority.”

He said that it does not do any good.

Rajan said that liberalism was not a perfect religion and the essence of every major religion was to find what is good in everyone, which in many ways is also the essence of liberal democracy.

Claiming that India’s slow growth was not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rajan said the country’s poor performance predicted it.

“Indeed for almost a decade, probably since the start of the global financial crisis, we haven’t been doing as well as we could have done. The major measure of this poor performance is our youth’s inability to create good jobs.” Former RBI governor said.

Referring to strong protests against the Centre’s Agniveer military recruitment scheme, Rajan said it shows how hungry the youth are for jobs.

“Not long ago you saw 12.5 million applicants for 35,000 railway jobs. This is especially worrying when there is a lack of jobs in India with so many women not working outside their homes. India’s Women Labor Shakti participation is lowest in G- 20 in 2019 at 20.3 per cent,” he pointed out.

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Talking about the “vision of development” of the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said that it is centered around the word ‘Atmanirbhar’ or self-reliance.

“Now, it emphasizes on better connectivity, better logistics, better roads and devoting more resources to it, in some way this (Atmanirbhar Drishti) appears to be a continuation of the past reform decades. And that is good,” he said. Told.

But, said the former RBI governor, in many ways a look at what ‘Atmanirbhar’ is trying to achieve takes us back to an early and unsuccessful past, where the focus was on physical capital and not human capital. , on security and subsidies, not on. Liberalisation, choosing the favorite to win rather than letting the most capable succeed.

Stating that there was a wrong sense of priorities, Rajan said the country was not spending enough on education, which has sad consequences.

“Many (children) have not been going to school for two years. Their human capital, which is their most important asset for them and our years to come, is something we are neglecting. We are failing them by not giving them enough resources. There are remedial education,” Rajan said.

(Only the title and image in this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)