Hard work is more powerful than Harvard : Narendra Modi
Modi’s remark comes against the backdrop of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s comment that demonetization is a “despotic action that has struck at the root of economy based on trust.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said, “ Hard work is more powerful than Harvard” as the latest GDP data shows demonetisation did not affect growth rate, rather the figures improved.
“On the one hand are those [critics of note ban] who talk of what people at Harvard say, and on the other is a poor man’s son, who through his hard work, is trying to improve the economy,” he said at an election meeting in Maharajganj.
“In fact, hard work is much more powerful than Harvard” he said.
Mr. Modi’s remark came against the backdrop of Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen terming demonetisation a “despotic action that has struck at the root of economy based on trust.”
On February 28, the government pegged the GDP growth at a higher than expected 7.1% for 2016-17, despite the cash blues, which was higher than China’s 6.8% for October-December period of 2016, making India retain the tag of the world’s fastest growing economy.
On the electoral politics in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi said the electorate had ensured the BJP’s victory in the first five phases and now they would give surplus votes as “gift and bonus” in the remaining two rounds.
“I request the voters of the State to give the rest of the two phases as bonus to the party. This is similar to the chillies and coriander leaves, which the vegetable seller gives to the buyer as bonus,” he said drawing applause from the crowd.
A few days back, the Prime Minister spoke of the possibility of a hung Assembly in the State, saying that the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were waiting for such an opportunity for bargaining. This prompted Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to comment that after dreaming of 300-plus seats, Mr. Modi is now talking about a fractured verdict.
Frustrated not with India, but governance of India: Amartya Sen
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says he is not frustrated with India but governance of India. In an
interview to The Times of India he calls for greater government focus on healthcare, education and social safety net to make growth more robust. Excerpts:
How do you see the state of development in India?
I have a certain view of Indian development, more importantly its deficiencies and the deficiencies go back to the previous government. But they are certainly not being remedied and to some extent intensified by the present government. On top of that, they have other problems like issues about secularism, religious tolerance.
Basically, the average Indian either hasn’t got any elementary education or certainly not good quality education and in healthcare, similarly we are in total chaos. The patients do not know what they are spending on. They are very easy to exploit if you don’t have a good public service. We have been in that state of denial even in the previous government. Often I am thought that I supported the UPA. I criticised them. They didn’t do very much and of course now they have cut the allocation for school meals, for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and of course for healthcare, they have done nothing. So, I am pessimistic.
For the growth to be securely founded and to be shared, you need public services of healthcare, education, social security net. In India, they have consistently neglected them and now even more.
Is there a need for course correction of the growth strategy?
The fields in which India is very good, none of them really depend on the general labour force, they depend on special labour. These are IT, of which Infosys is a radically good example, another is pharmaceuticals and the third is auto parts.
The new commodity is very difficult for an illiterate labour force to make it. It is not true of China. I pick up my pen, I pick up my telephone, I look at my watch. These are all made in China. How can they make all kinds of things? You don’t have to be specialised if you can read, write and count and are in reasonably good health and can work full time with full vigour. We can make them too. But that requires not a course correction of the economic strategy, it requires a course correction on the understanding of the relation between economic and social strategy.
Is there a need to modify the MGNREGA?
I am ultimately in favour of such a modification. Did I think it was full of wastage? I did think that. Despite the wastage, it achieved something, many of the other things didn’t. Now, the present government seems to recognise that it did achieve something and, in fact, they seem to think that they should get credit for that.
Now, if they can make MGNREGA a more leak-proof and more asset-creation oriented without violating the commitment, then it would be a good thing. You can take things out as you put things in. MGNREGA demands large amounts of money but given the total size of the budget, it is relatively a small fraction but somehow people want to attack that because it is the only one from which the poor get something. Anything that only the poor get is vulnerable to attack.
Is it because the poor do not have a voice compared to the middle class or the rich?
That is 100% correct analysis.
Are you suggesting building on the success of MGNREGA and modifying the scheme?
Yes. But I would say don’t take things out without putting alternatives. The promise of reform could be a ‘gentle way’ of withdrawing the scheme. Don’t do it. Yes, reform it. As you reform it, replace an existing one with that but don’t abolish the existing one on grounds that you are going to do some reform.
This government has tried to rework the subsidy delivery on cooking gas and they are talking about fertiliser and food subsidies…
I think the government has done some very good things in making use of the fact the oil prices fell to remove subsidies. I welcome them. When people say are you frustrated with India, I am not frustrated with India at all. I am frustrated with the governance of India.
What are your concerns on governance?
Mainly those who have voice get heard and some people are never heard. I am not going to give advice to any government. I think we have to get our priorities right, recognise that ultimately the strength of an economy lies in the strength of the people and the strength of the people lies in whether they are educated, whether they are healthy or unhealthy, whether they are worried about whether they will survive the next illness or whether the next illness will make them bankrupt or whether they will get some kind of support as a safety net to get them through. These are the issues which we have to look at.
Does the Nalanda University experience still bother I can tell you why I moved on. My board was very keen on my staying on. But it was quite clear that the government did not want me there. It was clear to me that if I stayed on it may be fine for my ego but it wasn’t going to be good for Nalanda because every move was being blocked and opposed by the government.
Courtesy – Times of India (Sidhartha & Surojit Gupta | TNN | Feb 13, 2016)