India’s GDP crashed in 2020 due to the pandemic – but it was showing a decline even before that. Private investment surged in India from 2003 to 2012, and has declined thereafter. In 2020-value rupees, the stock of private projects under implementation dropped from Rs.83 trillion in 2012 to Rs.35 trillion today. The most important puzzle in contemporary Indian economics consists of diagnosing and addressing the disenchantment of the private sector, due to the change in conditions when compared with the high growth of the 1991-2011 period. Most GDP growth, and almost all jobs, are made when private persons choose to invest in building firms.
What happened to the promise? Where have we faltered? How do we change course? How do we overcome the dangers of the middle-income trap and get rich before we grow old? What do we need to do to make our tryst with destiny?
This requires going back to first principles, in public economics and public administration, to rethink the foundations of public policy in India, to rethink the concept of the Indian state, and its engagement with private persons. Speakers Vijay Kelkar, former petroleum secretary of India, and Ajay Shah, formerly at the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, wrote an ambitious book, In Service of the Republic: The Art and Science of Economic Policy (India Allen Lane, January 2020), around these questions. Ashima Goyal, professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development in Mumbai, India, will serve as discussant; IIEP's James Foster and Ajay Chhibber will also speak.
This event is free and open to the public.
Helen Jiang, Program Coordinator, Sigur Center for Asian Studies