Economic Reforms for Sustainable Growth*

posted 9 Jul 2011, 00:01 by CA Naresh Shah

. Introduction

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to be speaking at the 175th Annual General Meeting of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I have had the opportunity to speak at previous events organized by the Chamber, and also interact with committee members and the secretariat during my tenure as the chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee of ASSOCHAM. But, this is a special occasion and I thank the Chamber for inviting me to speak on a topic that has been close to my heart and mind for many years now.

An organization that has been in existence and, by all indications, thrived for 175 years clearly knows a thing or two about sustainability. It has, presumably, through trial and error, figured out what it needs to change and what it needs to retain in order to remain relevant and useful to its individual stakeholders. To be meaningful, sustainable growth has to be viewed from the perspective of the individual. Ultimately, it is individuals or households who determine whether the growth process has benefitted them or not. In short, just as the durability of an institution such as the MCCI depends on how effectively it serves the interests of its members, so also does the sustainability of a growth process depend on how effectively it serves the interests of its core stakeholders – the individuals and households in the economy.

This is the broad perspective with which I plan to address today’s topic. In what follows, I will address four issues - food, human capital, infrastructure and financial sector development - in which I believe reforms are critical to the sustainability of the growth process in the way I have defined it. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. I am acutely aware that there are many other issues, which have a legitimate claim to be on anybody’s list of reform priorities. I have chosen my list based on my understanding and knowledge of them and not because I believe they are decisively more important than others that have been excluded. Nor am I claiming to offer panaceas by way of reform ideas. Given complex inter-linkages, many solutions that may seem perfectly reasonable in a limited context break down when the context is widened. However, despite all these caveats, I will assert that these are all critical reform agendas and it is worth debating and refining the solutions that emerge.

CA Naresh Shah,
9 Jul 2011, 00:03