Shiva's India: Memo from Mumbai and Delhi, November 2011

Published Thu 1 Dec 2011
'India used to be a country high in patience and low on expectation. It is now a country low on patience and high on expectation.'

An IPPR delegation including Lord Peter Mandelson and IPPR director Nick Pearce visited Mumbai and Delhi from 16 to 22 November 2011, as part of our Future of Globalisation project. Will Straw reports on the experiences and findings of the visit.

At the end of a year described by one government source as India's 'annus horribilis', we heard two views of the country's prospects. The first, primarily articulated by business leaders and journalists, sees more doom and gloom ahead. The principal problem is the paralysis at the heart of government, which shows no sign of letting up. A second set of concerns centres on the make-up of India's economy and the potential for a looming jobs crisis. Finally, there are concerns that India's development has not kept pace with its growth.

A more optimistic view of India's future was presented to us by a series of politicians and bankers, many of whom blamed much of the current malaise on the depressed global economy. A number of reforms are taking place, for example on skills and broadband access. In relation to development, India's rural employment scheme was identified as a success by a number of people we met, and the government was also praised for its approach to urbanisation.

There is little doubt that Britain stands to gain from India's rise, but British firms need to do all they can to enter Indian markets, since the country will not wait for the west.

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