Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), sounded a clarion call for change in how India approaches growth and development.
Addressing the 'Young Changemakers' conclave presented by dna under the aegis of the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan and the US consulate on Saturday, Rajan said India needs an easier environment to do business.
Donning the role of an intellectual and a thinker, Rajan punned on 'environment' saying the nation should not hesitate in making a sensible trade-off between growth and environment.
“It's extremely important that we respect the environment, that we do ecologically sound development. It is equally important that we respect the rights of the underprivileged sections of the society, including tribals who are the most deprived part of the society. But in doing this, in respecting the natural habitat of tribals or rainforests that we have, we also must see that there is a trade-off between growth and environment.
“Trade-off should not go entirely one way, nor should it go the other way. You will on occasion run a pipeline or a road through the forest. We have to make sure we protect environment in the best way we can, without holding up development,” Rajan said. “On this front, we have not done as well as we should over the last few years.”
Amid frequent applause from the audience comprising youngsters and the intelligentsia, Rajan denounced the “thicket of regulation” the country has inherited over time. “We need to ask ourselves whether we need it all. We need better regulation, not more, not less, regulation that can allow youth to start businesses overnight that can create jobs,” he said.
Entrepreneurial spirit abounds among Indians as evidenced by tremendous success stories both in India and overseas, and this spirit needs to be harnessed to the hilt now, he said.
A new India can materialise only if there is better finance that can reach everyone – “finance that enables a migrant labourer in a remote part of India to send money back to his village at low cost, finance that enables everybody to have a bank account or everybody to have a savings product, a place where we can earn real returns”, Rajan said.
Without specifying details, Rajan said the RBI is on the verge of licensing “innovative payment proposals” which could lead to new services at ATMs very soon.
He exhorted youth to look beyond glamorous careers like banking and advertising and think of becoming economists because that is what the nation needs. “There was a time when India's youth could look forward to becoming either a doctor or an engineer. Now, choices abound. India really needs good economists. I'll be happy if young people go and do a master's or a PhD in economics, come back and work for the RBI. I can promise you an exciting career,” Rajan said.
He urged educational institutions to move away from promising careers to young people and instead focus on making a difference to the society and having great experiences in life.
He said after the elections, he would like to see a government that focuses on creating growth and jobs.
Guv turns visionary
- Sounds clarion call for change in approach to growth
- Urges environment-development trade-off
- Promises innovative payment options at ATMs
- Underlines finance for everyone
- Asks universities to stop promising careers to young people and instead inspire the latter to make a difference to the society