Warrier's Blog : Fortnightly Recap, July 12, 2018

Warrier’s Blog : Fortnightly Recap, July 12, 2018

(M G Warrier is a Mumbai-based consultant and author of ‘India’s Decade of Reforms’, ‘Chasing Inclusive Growth’ and ‘Ants and Honeybees’)

People’s CEA

This refers to the interview with CEA, Arvind Subramanian (BS, Q&A, July 6). While regretting the short shelf-life in India for imported talent, mostly because of the fear of the unknown the individuals who are used to (and therefore are more comfortable with) western culture develop once they land in India, we need to welcome them and their contribution in our efforts to move forward. Perhaps, these celebrity economists fear that remaining in India for longer periods may affect their growth potential.
Let us thank Arvind Subramanian for sharing his thoughts about recent developments in the Indian economy and his own unfinished agenda (the four issues he would have focused in Economic Survey 2017-18 (PPP for the Indian states, a different approach to employment flows and GDP estimates and the impact of trade wars and currency wars on India). If Noor Bashir, Security Officer at Delhi Airport is taking this much interest in CEA’s inputs for the country’s economic development, the outgoing CEA can rest assured that Aam Aadmi in India has come out of slumber and is going to have his say in governance.
We will definitely miss people like Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian who, during their relatively short incumbency gave a new life and sense of direction to the offices they held. As candidly admitted by both, in different contexts, their perceptions about government and institutions in India underwent a change during their tenures as RBI Governor and CEA. Unfortunately, we are not getting the full benefit of the efforts they put in to understand India!
M G Warrier, Mumbai

GDP ranking

This refers to the report “India scores over France in GDP” (Business Line, July 12). This is yet another case of selective comparison which is used by various national and international agencies to serve their constituency interests. Ranking countries using GDP as a parameter is like ranking ‘High Net-worth Individuals’ (HNIs) based on their bank balances alone ignoring their borrowings and lifestyle. In the instant case, to know the position of countries in overall economic development, appropriate weightages need to be given for population, GDP, External Debt and Savings Rate.
The following table gives some more data based on latest available figures in respect of 7 out of the 10 countries listed in the report:
World’s top 7 economies (Amounts in trillion dollars)
Economy
GDP
Population
(In billion)
External Debt(ED)
ED as % of GDP
US
19.39
0.33
21.2
98
China
12.24
1.38
  1.7
14
Japan
  4.87
0.13
  3.6
74
Germany
  3.68
0.08
  5.4
141
United Kingdom
  2.62
0.07
  8.4
313
India
  2.60
1.30
  0.5
  20





France
 2.58
0.07
  5.7
213

As countries with lower levels of GDP migrate to ‘developed nations’ status, countries with higher levels of external debt will be under pressure and costs of servicing external debts will be on the rise. In the above list US, UK and France have already started feeling the discomfort of dependence on countries which are comparatively self-reliant for borrowing and also selling their products.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

 Spirit of SC verdict

Apropos the report “Till the Top Court Takes a Stand…” (ET, July 9) read with the compilation of pending issues prepared by Samanwaya Rautray one can only wish that the contending parties will keep national interest over temporary winning and losing of legal battles. Here, the best option before Centre and the Delhi CM is to go by the spirit of the fairly clear messages given in the recent Apex Court judgments.
Several temporary arrangements made immediately after independence which were of a first-aid nature, remained unattended till the end of last century and got permanency of sorts by passage of time. The lack of clarity in division of responsibilities between Centre and states in certain matters and the hanging in air of the Delhi State with mandate to govern without power are some such residual issues.
The absence of opposition or presence of nominal opposition in the legislatures during the two decades that followed independence affected the growth of democratic institutions in our country. We are also paying the price of keeping the literacy level of the majority of India’s population low for several decades.
As rightly done in this case, judiciary need to discourage citizens and governments from asking courts to make up for the deficiencies in statutes. The responsibility to review and amend legislations including the Constitution to meet current realities rests with legislatures and as rightly pointed out by Apex Court, courts will only interpret existing laws (except in exceptional situations).
A review of Governor’s role beyond the relationship issues in Delhi emanating from the special status, is overdue. Governor should have an appropriate place in the much talked about ‘cooperative federalism’ as an organic link connecting Centre and states. Bluntly put, Governor’s office too need to be democratized.
M G WARRIER, Mumbai
Retirement age

The plea made by Attorney-General(AG) of India K K Venugopal in his speech at a farewell function organized in honour of retiring Supreme Court Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on July 6, 2018, to raise retirement age of judges did not get much media attention. According to Venugopal, the present retirement age of 62 for High Court Judges and 65 in Apex Court was a blow to several judges who did not get enough time on the bench to implement their innovative thoughts.
By default, retirement age in India in government and public sector has been linked to employment opportunities, career progression and in certain cases like Apex Court, ‘equal opportunity for all’ to reach the highest level. This convention has ended up in the unenviable situation described by AG, where individuals reaching certain high positions do not get much time to ‘do what they always wanted to do’. The low retirement age has also been creating a captive talent pool, trained and prepared in public sector for recruitment by private sector (If in doubt, please check the who’s who in reputed Multi-Specialty hospitals or some high level positions in some corporates).
As several basic features have changed, it is time for a review of retirement age and retirement process in government and public sector. The first appointment itself could be delinked from age and made for tenures of 10, 20 or 30 years, further extendable by 5 years at a time based on performance and need, subject to fitness tests. Top level appointments like those of High Court and Supreme Court Justices and Chief Justice, Chief Secretaries in states, heads of statutory bodies and PSUs including PSBs could be initially for a tenure of 3 years extendable on merits. Sector-specific talent pools also can be considered.
M G Warrier, Mumbai



Governors’ role

This refers to Gopalakrishna Gandhi’s article “Why we need Governors” (The Hindu, July 6). At a time when such balanced analyses of issues branded as ‘politically controversial’ have become a rarity, The Hindu may kindly take the debate forward by inviting contributions from more thought leaders.
Several temporary arrangements made immediately after independence which were of a first-aid nature, remained unattended till the end of last century and got permanency of sorts by passage of time. The absence of opposition or presence of nominal opposition in the legislatures during the two decades that followed independence affected the growth of democratic institutions in our country. We are also paying the price of keeping the literacy level of the majority of India’s population for several decades.
As rightly brought out in the article, the office of Governor still has a role to play. But a review of Governor’s role ( not just judicial as the Apex Court has done now) beyond the relationship issues in Delhi emanating from the special status, is overdue. Governor should have an appropriate place in the much talked about ‘cooperative federalism’ as an organic link connecting Centre and states. Bluntly put, Governor’s office too should be democratized.
M G Warrier, Mumbai



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