InclusionWhat Economists Do Not Get?

From The Editor

One has always argued for the need of product management when it comes to the government. Civil servants as Product Managers are familiar with the implementation of schemes and are clear about the roadmap. Planning, time, scope and costs are great tools for making strategic decisions that should help them do a good job of product management. Theoretically, it is supposed to work well. But unfortunately, government suffers from a lack of ownership—a tendency to want to maintain option value: lay blame on others if something fails and take credit if it succeeds. What is missed here is that shared ownership decreases the chances of success dramatically and ends up painting a rosy picture of failing projects, which are only ‘packaged’ well. It is time to get out of ‘territorial’ behaviour and ‘this is not my job’ or ‘I do not know…” culture.

This is the reason for several well performing schemes under the Modi government, which have been given a go by, while the under-performers or non-performers have been tomtommed about. These include, Make-in-India, Ease-of-Doing Business, Kaushal Vikas Yojana and so on. These are projected to be delivering but in reality have been non-starters. On the contrary, schemes like Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have all performed and delivered above expectations. Also meaning to say that the rural facing schemes have done well but lack swanky ‘packaging’.

Government has been under flak for leading a job-less growth. SKOCH primary research of PMMY recently revealed 5.44 crore jobs generated as a result of MUDRA loans, out of which 1.77 crore jobs have been incremental. Our research also showed that there is rural revival in the country and that PMGSY’s achievements during last two years have been twice as much as the last one full-term of UPA. Further, PMJDY has had an unprecedented impact on financial inclusion, which otherwise remained a mirage until 2014! Only if crop insurance was introduced early on, as it is done now, country would have saved thousands of lives out of agriculture distress. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) have settled 59,770 and 9,646 claims respectively – settlement ratio above 96 per cent. Neem coating of urea has eliminated black marketing, diversification and excessive use of chemical in cultivation. There is much more, but who is talking about it? Government? Certainly not! Because, ‘rural’ is not attractive and talking about it does not attract international eyeballs.

Worldover, experts from private sector think tanks contribute to policymaking for they have the ability to engage closely with the community and are clued into felt-needs. Government’s inclination towards this is a welcome idea. But left to the choice of bureaucracy, this idea runs the risk of degenerating into becoming another ‘buddy club’ of like-minded people.

Jai Hind!

Sameer Kochhar

Sameer Kochhar, Chairman of SKOCH Group, is a passionate advocate of social, financial and digital inclusion. In 1997, after spending 15 years in the corporate world, he decided to follow his inner calling and become a development thinker. Ever since, he single-mindedly applied himself to the rigours of self-education, academic research and field tours. The SKOCH Group – which has a think tank, media and consultancy arms – was established as part of this endeavour. His expert opinion is sought by the government. In Kochhar's thinking, writings and activities, his profound admiration for Indiaís economic reforms – and in extension, those outstanding personalities who strive to make these reforms more meaningful and broad-based – comes out clear and unambiguous.

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