Each team, however, comprised the best students at India’s premier management institute. They had all researched their cases thoroughly and all have a background in business before joining the IIM. But the difference in tone among them made it clear they too now have doubts about the course of economic strategy which India needs to adopt. The doubts at one level show a welcome sense of concern for the underdogs which will soon characterise business.
But it also shows a problem unacknowledged by the economic managers of the UPA. They have not been able to sell the need for key reforms even among the most receptive young Indians, the future managers of the economy.
Irrespective of the outcome of the debate each one of these students would soon also be in a position within the corporate, the government or the NGO sector, where their opinions would matter.
India is yet to reach the status of middle income countries—it is still a decade and more away. But the middle income curse, basically the strange phenomena of countries losing steam for their growth agenda, it would seem is going to hit us far earlier.
Remember this is the class of IIM which has seen the crippling effect of growth downturn post 2008 and yet is baying for more. What is playing out at the premier institutes could be played out even more powerfully at our other campuses. This is far more insidious than is realised now.
It would then seem India has a far more difficult job going ahead on pushing the growth agenda than right now. The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) has recently cleared 42 projects with Rs 3,54,409 crore of which 70 per cent was environment and land related. As on August 19, there are another 198 projects identified by different ministries and departments to the government’s project monitoring group involving an investment of Rs 9,09,705 crore. These too hinge on clearances for land and environment. The big challenge will be to get the project managers of the future ready and willing to find ways to work around these themes and not wait for a CCI nod.
Not being able to sell the reform story by the government has made that expectation somewhat more difficult.
Subhomoy is a Deputy Editor based in New Delhi.