On the aftermath of Independence
Review by Manju Gupta
Forum of Free Enterprise has come out with five thin booklets?Population and Economic Development in India by N.R. Narayana Murthy, Value Systems in Public Services by A.K. Purwar, The Changing Face of Indian Banking by Naina Lal Kidwai, Quest for Justice by Fali S. Nariman and Prerequisites of Freedom by Arun Shourie.
In the 1950s with socialism on the rise, a few businessmen got together to found the Forum of Free Enterprise to create national awareness on the enormous contributions our early pioneers made to establish industries in the pre-Independence era in the face of heavy odds. The Forum organised annual lectures in which Narayana Murthy of Infosys addressed the question whether a large and rapidly growing population in India was really a drag or an opportunity and hence the birth of this booklet. According to him family planning and family welfare in India were not as successful as originally intended as the will was lacking and the implementation tardy. Besides there were frequent changes in policy, depending on the ideological complexion of the government of the day. Murthy has emphasised that far greater importance must be given to primary education, health care and family planning, which would lead to reduction in maternal and infertile mortality rates.
In the booklet by A.K. Purwar, emphasis is on ethics in commercial life, in whichever sector one is operating in. With the growing accent on corporate governance, the treatment of the subject makes for absorbing reading. The treatise deals with the expectations of the service user, the government and the community at large. Public service per se is vital for the economic and social well-being of the country and its citizens. It has a large public interface demanding a high degree of trust and integrity from all public servants. Hence, what is of importance, according to the writer, is the credibility of the constituents through superior levels of performance, transparency and integrity.
Naina Lal Kidwai says that with the ongoing process of liberalisation over a decade ago, regulation is playing a key role in the transformation of Indian banks. She expounds on the three broad factors responsible for the change?technology, the customer and consolidation. This way the Indian banking sector, though in a reasonable fettle, needs to further strengthen to support higher economic growth and the new investment cycle Indian companies are entering into.
In Quest for Justice, Fali S. Nariman points out that ?personal freedom is like oxygen in the air?we do not realise its worth till it is withdrawn and then it is too late?. He asserts that even today, after fifty-six years of Independence, a wall of separation exists between those who govern and those who are governed and we cannot hope to give justice to the people unless we citizens bring down this ?wall? and become sensitive to the their needs, expectations and aspirations.
Arun Shourie says that the hopes expressed by the framers of our Constitution have remained unfulfilled and the warnings they sounded have not been heeded. In the process, a slow rot has set in which is eroding our freedom from within. As he points out, ?more trees succumb to termites than fall to storms?.
(Forum of Free Enterprise, Peninsula House, Second Floor, 235 Dr D.N. Road, Mumbai-400001.)