If you’ve been a part of the Shiv Nadar School fraternity for more than a year, ‘The Dialogue’ would be a familiar term for you. Conducted annually as a rich panel discussion between experts and leaders, The Dialogue has come to occupy its unique space in our vision for building a healthy and fertile space for encouraging insightful and deep discussions on issues of relevance.
Students, teachers and parents, all form a part of the audience at ‘The Dialogue’, so that we may, as a community come together and learn about issues which affect India and its future. In its first edition, we addressed the broader canvas of India’s place in the 21st century, posing the question ‘Is this India’s Century?’ A rather optimistic panel greeted us, which also made the audience aware of the challenges we must be mindful of and caution we must observe while treading along on the path to our collective future.
This time, we asked a more dynamic question – ‘Is India’s Incredible Growth Story a Hyperbole?’ The premise was simple – India’s economise rise has been, at various times and place, been referred to as a ‘growth miracle’. The nearly consistent high rates of GDP growth have caused the world to recognise the mettle of Indian economy, as an important regional and global player. Is the growth, however, distributed evenly across sectors? Has this growth translated into prosperity for all? Are our policies futuristic enough for us to retain the rate of growth? In other words, is India’s growth holistic, Inclusive and sustainable?
A panel of eminent speakers, representing diverse fields of occupation and thought came together to address the issue. These included –
- Partha Chatterjee (HOD, Economics, Shiv Nadar University)
- Shantanu Deshpande (CEO, Bombay Shaving Company)
- TCA Srinivasa Raghavan (Senior Associate Editor, Hindu Business Line)
- Anisha Madhukar (Economics faculty, Shiv Nadar School)
- Rajiv Makhijani (Country Director, Tata Centre for Development, and The International Innovation Corps at University of Chicago)
Moderator – Saumya Kulshreshtha, Marketing and Communications team, Shiv Nadar School
Those who witnessed the debate have been kind enough to write in their appreciation for the invigorating and thought-provoking session that it was. For the others, here is a short recollection of the same.
Audience Clicker response to ‘Is India’s Incredible Growth Story a Hyperbole?’
Pre-Discussion – YES: 44%, NO: 28%, MAYBE: 28%
Post-Discussion – YES: 61%, NO: 30%, MAYBE: 9%
Flow of Debate
After the premise was set by the moderator, the panellists made their opening comments about their broad observations on the growth pattern, along with comments from the domain they belong to.
Mr. Raghavan summarised his opinions by bringing out the paradox between the necessity of government to facilitate growth, and the hindrances caused by the same government in order to sustain it. Also, he mentioned that while we are growing fast, we are not growing fast enough to meet the needs of our burgeoning population.
Prof. Chatterjee made audience revisit the historical precedents insofar as growth rates are concerned. Beginning at the Industrial Revolution, which is when the world began seeing high rates of economic growth, he made one travel towards the emergence of the Asian Tigers and finally reflected on India’s story.
Dr. Madhukar took the route to explaining how India’s growth has been impacted by international events, and what are likely to be the continued effects given major global events, viz. BREXIT, political leadership changes in USA, protectionism, et al.
Mr. Shantanu Deshpande, while talking very briefly about his own journey as an entrepreneur in the country, dwelt majorly upon how to not to restrict one’s understanding of growth to GDP increase. He spoke at length about ‘empowerment quotient’, which needs to rise if one were to see growth comprehensively.
Mr. Makhijani took a step back in the discussion and a step forward into the audience to engage with them about the distinction between growth and development. He later emphasised upon the definition of development given by Joseph Stiglitz, which is the increased four stocks of wealth in a country – economic capital, natural capital, human capital, and social capital.
Post the opening comments, questions were posed to the panellists by the moderator. These broadly addressed the following issues –
- Inclusiveness of growth, steps by the government in the right direction, are we addressing the right parameters to understand growth.
- Global policies; India’s opening of economy and possibilities of growth given the increasing climate of protectionism. Also, the impact of international competition on the indigenous businesses and the economy.
- India’s ability to hone innovation and encourage local business and start-ups.
- Role of education/skilling in enabling growth and helping spread its benefits across a large segment of population.
By a wide consensus, this was regarded as the most invigorating and interesting session of the day. The questions put up by students (grade 7 to 9) showed unexpected levels of comprehension of the topic, as well as skills of observation and commenting.
Examples of some questions –
- The growth we see in Gurgaon; is it an example of development? Is there any way in which it brings about a betterment in the conditions of living of the not-so-privileged of our world?
- Is India able to appreciate its idea generators/entrepreneurs? Why are we so afraid of failures?
- Are we coming under the negative influence of advertisements?
- Are our consumption choices rational?
- Should we also measure Gross National Happiness like Bhutan?
- Comment on ‘Make in India’ and Freedom 251 mobiles.
- What are the right bets – Manufacturing, service, agriculture. (by a parent)
- A question on demonetisation and its short and long term impact. (by a teacher)
We closed the discussion after addressing as many questions as possible, on a note of greater understanding of the issue and lots of themes, concepts and ideas to ponder upon.
If the above makes you want to share a thought or a view, please do so in the comment box below!
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