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The international ratings

Countries over the world are measured on various scales by different institutions. Some measurements are done by institutions within the country while some by outside the country. Per capita income or how much an average citizen earns is collected and published by the country. While some measures like ease of doing business or gender inequality is done by external institutions.

By and large, those ratings give a rough idea on how a country is doing, while the specifics can be questioned. Better or improved ratings leads to thumping of chests by the leaders of the country while a lower or reduced ratings leads to vehement disagreements. Three such ratings of India caught my attention – ease of doing business, gender inequality, and how free a country is. India has moved a lot on the ladder of ease of doing business in the last six years or so. Basically since PM Modi took over.

It is now easier to do business in India as compared to the prior decades of dynastic rule. This is a view at a macro level for foreign investments and big business houses to start new ventures. Reliance Jio has become a major telecom player with superapps on the mobile phones. Given that the petroleum business may dwindle in the future, it is a good diversification strategy. Adani ports are managing several major ports. In fact, one of their ports in Gujarat, Mundra, has overtaken the Jawaharlal Nehru port in Mumbai as the largest in the country. Regardless of slogans like “atmanirbhar”, the likes of Google, Walmart, Amazon and a host of other multinationals are also doing well . While the majors are doing well,   there could still be headaches at the local level for the small and medium sized businesses. India has still a long way to go although significant achievements are encouraging.

Next about gender inequality. Lot of progress has been made. Women have made strides in terms of working alongside men in the workplace. Lot of them are getting educated and employed and have no dependence on their parents or their spouses. As a result, there has been movement for better on the scale of gender inequality. But not as much as one would have liked. There is a much longer way to go as compared to the ease of doing business. I try to do my part by contributing to women’s organizations and sponsoring girl students. All that amounts to nothing and I would like to see more progress.

Lastly about a recent rating claiming that India is  “partially free” and not “totally free”. It is like downgrading the credit rating of a country. I have a concern about this downgrading. Was the US downgraded when Trump was ruling the roost as the President. When he gave free rein to the white supremacistds and pedalled lie after lie. Just refusing to give up power after losing an election and behaving like a dictator of a banana republic. Eventually  ending up with leading an attack on the Capitol in Washington  DC, the world’s sanctum sanctorum of democracy.

The US and India are the world’s two largest democracies. There are going to be internal tensions and disagreements. Dissent needs to be tolerated. Non-violent protests should be OK. But arresting journalists and going on offensive about every criticism is not the way. Perceptions need to be managed by the ruling party. The perception that pseudo secularism and vote bank politics  is superior to emphasizing on the rich cultural legacy of the country.

Identity politics will not go away. It is practiced by all the political parties alike. So much energy gets wasted in such debates. Media will take sides. Managing perceptions and developing a thick skin against disagreements is a better strategy than getting fixated and suppressing such voices. That can lead to better international ratings.

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Prasad Ganti

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Navneet Bakshi
24 days ago

Very balance view and a very beautiful article. Your comment on Trump and U.S. politics being overlooked by the rating agencies is very apt. I also feel that all those agencies are very harsh on India but none dares to downgrade the United States. Same is true of the international watchdogs. Even there was a criticism about the way Twitter’s coverage of Farmer’s Protests leading to the Red Fort Incident and that of the seize of the Capital Hill by the White Supremacist. After all the white supremacist are occupying all high offices and own big businesses, so while they are openly critical of others, they can’t be expected to criticize their brethren.

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