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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"Subsistence" mindset

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:01
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The heading of a news report in the January 8, 2018 issue of The Hindu states: Centre mulls incentives for States promoting exports. The report says: "Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday said the Government was looking into ways to incentivise States that promote exports, adding that a strategy was being prepared to increase the share of international trade in India's GDP." The Minister reportedly said this at a press conference following the 3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion. He is also reported to have said: "We will have to work with NITI Aayog for this. We had also asked States to appoint at least one nodal officer in charge of exports. They said for this, they would need experts, not bureaucrats. So, we are looking into that." But what about states that do not promote exports? Or, states that have the potentials to export but are totally neglectful of this avenue of economic activity and revenue generating source? Take Nagaland for instance, there are speeches and exhortations galore, directed at young people particularly, about not seeking government jobs but to set up one's own shop, etc. Alas, our Government seems to be unaware and probably disinterested about the dynamics of setting up one's own shop as well as the dynamics of marketing and markets anywhere in Nagaland. While there are sectors that are set up solely for exports, there are probably larger sectors that grow into and diversify into exporting after having produced sufficiently for the domestic market. The possibility for the latter is not improbably amongst entrepreneurs in Nagaland. Now, what support-system, what policies and strategies is the Government of Nagaland ready with if and when our entrepreneurs wish to export? There are a handful of entrepreneurs (mostly women, I am informed) in Nagaland that are already exporting their produce to foreign shores and it is unlikely that they have received much or any support-system from our state Government. Forget about boosting India's GDP, if even a handful of our entrepreneurs are encouraged to boost their productivity levels and increase their exports, Nagaland's revenue would see a slight change. Yes, Nagaland is a land-locked state more or less totally dependent on imports for our economic survival but what compounds this is that our minds ~ particularly the mind of the state Government ~ are even more land-locked than our land. While the state of Nagaland was created for political reasons, it is a pity that even after more than five decades we are yet to realize that politics unsupported by economics is mere puppetry. Because we were (still are) so focused on ourselves we failed to read the writings on the wall as regards the direction the world was taking since the 1980s so neither our politics work out nor our economics take root. At this point, it would be most convenient to blame the Central Government for both our politics and economics but that would only re-emphasize our immaturity and lack of foresight ~ I'll not even use the word 'vision'. We can clamour for change all we want but that would not happen unless change is preceded by knowledge and wisdom. It is quite clear that in all our endeavours, we are still limiting ourselves by our "subsistence" mindset. Our subsistence economy was fine as long as all else remained the same and equal but even our climate has changed, no longer sustaining our subsistence economy, which also couldn't keep up with our unsustainable wants. The tragedy is our failure to expand our mental, economic and political horizons for unsustainable eventualities like the ones we have been are facing for quite a few decades. Okay, maybe today Nagaland does not export anything but what other economic activity can we think of that would make the Central Government incentivize us, which isn't a metaphor for hand-holding and spoon-feeding? One can think of good governance, which is rarely perceived as an economic activity. The fact of the matter is that good governance is the foundation of economic activities, enterprises, growth and development ~ for good governance alone creates the atmosphere and the environment for enthusiasm to create, to make, to produce and to aspire to reach out to larger minds and markets.

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