Wealth creation: Advani’s take

Modern India’s leaders must stop disparaging wealth creation

L K Advani’s speech at CII was a lot better than Manmohan Singh’s: for he recognised the need for the government to match the ambition of the population. [Yossarin has a fuller analysis]

Rather, the soaring ambitions, aspirations and expectations of the Indian people, especially India’s youth, make it obligatory on any government to work with matching ambition. Anything less would mean letting down our people, letting down our youth.

By ambition, I mean, first of all, expansion of the prosperity net to include all those sections of our society who have so far remained either deprived of the fruits of India’s economic growth or received only some crumbs.

What India has witnessed in recent years is growth with widening inequalities. A very responsible person in our public life, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India—no less—, recently stated that the earnings of 20 richest Indians exceeds those of 30 crore poor Indians. If this is true, it is shocking. Lopsided growth, however high its rate, can never be sustainable. This is the reason why the exclusive talk of 9 per cent GDP growth rate by some people in government or in the business community does not enthuse the general public.

Forbes magazine, which is famous for tracking the wealth of businessmen around the world, has predicted that India will have more billionaires than any other country in the world by 2017. Frankly, this does not gladden me at all. Rather, I would be delighted if, ten years from now, we are able to eliminate abject poverty from India. [via Offstumped]

Unlike Dr Singh, Mr Advani didn’t spout dangerous nonsense about earning less being a national duty. But his discomfort with wealth creation was unwarranted, and is disturbing if it is genuine. It not only misses the point that wealth creation and poverty elimination are not in opposition. It also contradicts the earlier part of his speech about matching ambitions: eliminating poverty is unambitious. Creating the conditions that allow the people to become wealthy is a far more ambitious goal.

Related Link: Atanu Dey’s commentary on Mr Advani’s economic agenda (in a speech to FICCI) in the March 2008 issue of Pragati.