Modi: Development and Growth-Oriented Employment is the Government’s Responsibility

PM launches global initiativeThe process of trade and investment liberalization in India suggests the importance of history and process in a political explanation (Pierson 2004: 54-78; Mukherji 2010: 492).  Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ global initiative allows a reconsideration of economic geography, that is, it’s time to attempt to incorporate the insights of the long but informal tradition in India (Krugman, 1991).

Modi’s approach is based on the premise that many goods and services can be produced more cheaply in long series, a concept generally known as economies of scale.  Meanwhile, consumers demand a varied supply of goods.  As a result, small-scale production for a local market is replaced by large-scale production for the world market, where firms with similar products compete with one another (Krugman, 1991).

The Prime Minister has urged investors not to look at India merely as a market, but instead see it as an opportunity.  “Development and growth-oriented employment is the government’s responsibility,” he said.

Krugman’s theories have shown, that these processes enables specialization and large-scale production, just what the Make in India program hopes to achieve.    However, scaling economies also require attention in areas such as: tax policy, climate change, outsourcing, intellectual property rights, ‘ease of doing business’, ‘effective’ governance and skilled labor for manufacturing and other issues.

The New Security Dilemma

Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, left, speaks to Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister.  Photographer Shizuo KambayashiBloombergLast month – Japan (Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, left, speaks to Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister), Germany, the UK among others – pledged commitments to India’s economic security.  The pledge, “special” strategic and global partnership, along with vocational training and infrastructure projects, renewable energy or the remedying of environmental damage, especially in river basins across the country – and millions of dollars for public and private investment and financing.   India’s ambitious economic and social transformation has created a security dilemma.  In the offing, a consistently more competitive and dangerous world (Glaser, 1997).

The Security Dilemma

The security dilemma exists when “many of the means by which a state tries to increase its security decrease the security of others” (Jervis, 1978).  First, it provides the rational foundation for what Jervis termed the ‘spiral model’, which describes how the interaction between states that are seeking only security – economic or otherwise – can fuel competition and strain political relations (Glaser, 1997).   Second, Jervis explains that the magnitude and nature of the security dilemma depend of two variables: offense-defense balance and offense-defense differentiation.

Offense-Defense Theory

Offense-defense theory argues that the relative ease of offense and defense varies in international politics.  When the offense has the advantage, military conquest becomes easier and war is more likely; the opposite is true when the defense has the advantage.  The balance between offense and defense depends on geography, technology, and other factors (Brown et. al., 2004).

 Cooperation or Competition?  

The reality is mass cooperation and participation in creating energy efficiency, clean technology at affordable prices, food security, and building model towns with facilities for solid waste management and waste water treatment is a boon for growth and competition.  That said -a large scale resetting of extant decision structure mechanisms and strategy is underway.  Needless to say, powerful interest groups that will benefit from this change have every reason to exaggerate the dilemma.

The Increasing Complexity of Class Conflict and Caste Cleavages

Caste remains a focal point for political mobilization in India.  But recent research also suggest that class and caste politics is being modified in new and unexpected forms.

First, political cleavages are being reflected in new policy demands such as the demand for reservation by subgroups (Jayal and Mehta, 2011).  While some agriculturalists call for a second green revolution to meet the ever-increasing demand for food, others remain skeptical of the technology and its consequences.  The chemical fertilizers that helped increase crop yields also killed important vitamin A-rich weeds; also, the geographic distribution of emerging agricultural research remains disproportionate.

The Green Revolution helped India move from being a massive food importer, heavily dependent on aid, to a food exporter.  Reaching self-sufficiency in food had huge political implications.  Now the prospect of re-revolutionizing with bio-crops, for example, would mean strengthening employment and food security for tribal population and farmers in some states.

Second, class is complex interacting with new forms of identity including caste and gender.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently issued a notice to Punjab Government after the Commission took suo motu cognisance of a media report that 105 families belonging to Scheduled Castes have been facing social boycott by upper caste people in Baopur village of Moonak Sub-Division of Sangrur district since May 15.

Reportedly, they are facing this situation since they decided to cultivate 26 acres of Panchayat land reserved for the Scheduled Castes.  Earlier, this land was being cultivated by the upper caste people who allegedly used to get it on contract through auction in the names of Dalits.  The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of Dalits.

It’s possible a solution may be found in restructuring legal regimes that govern property, labor and natural resources to make them hospitable to new forms of identity.  Major economic transformation and the emerging middle class, notwithstanding its uneven rates of political participation has increased the complexity of class composition.  While caste will remain important, there is a possibility of several new and shifting coalitions emerging (Jayal and Mehta, 2011).