In an exclusive interview with XEDGlobal, Skoch Chairman, Sameer Kochhar narrates his personal journeys, experiences and evaluation on the Indian policy-making mechanism and how it must not ape the corporate systems, but be based on intervention and sociological aspects.
One of the biggest things lacking in Indian policy is a friendly perspective. No one actually understands hunger better than a person who has been hungry. So, for the first 17 years of life, I was a practitioner of poverty. So, I know the value of public distribution system, I know the value of subsidized education, I know the value of subsidized healthcare and I know how all this can be delivered in a better manner.
Post-1991, there was a whole series of reformists who came in India. Not all of them were politicians, quite a few of them were more technocratic in nature but they did get a free hand to implement their ideas. That is why from 1991 you would see that India has been in a different growth trajectory compared to earlier times. So, I think both forward-looking politicians and a balancing act is crucial and getting the right capacity from technocrats is equally important.
You have to understand that, there is hardly any battle between the corporate world and the government world. What is wrong is that the Indian government tries to ape the corporate world, as if they think that corporate world has a solution to every problem there is. There are best practitioners in the corporate world and there are best practitioners outside the corporate world.
First of all, we have to try and understand the problem we are trying to address. For example; one problem in India is poverty, so the primary job of government in India would be addressing poverty. So this is very unlike a corporate situation where there is no intervention concept. So, we should not try to learn from them the former system, where the primary objective is profit. So, the infatuation with the corporate world has to go.
Technology is an enabler. Technology is not a solution to any problem. The biggest challenge we face in policy making in India is that when we have a 5000 crore or 500 crores budget, we immediately think which technology to buy. So instead of solving any problem, you get into technology evaluation or technology implementation report, which should have been the later chapters of the book you are doing. First, we need to understand the problem itself and what is it that you are trying to address itself takes a back seat. So, I think technology comes much later. First, there has to be capacity building on governance itself, what are the challenges they are facing itself, what are the factories they are facing itself.
The technology has to solve a problem but the problem is undefined and you are just buying and throwing technology on it. So, no problem will be resolved. So, I get a bit nervous when I hear of artificial intelligence and big data and cloud etc, and when the real problem goes neglected.
Leadership is a learning process. No one is born a leader. You become a leader, based on the experiences you go through. So, if I say I am good at policymaking on food, because I have been hungry, you can’t take a revenge on hungry or every person is hungry. So, what is the learning is to understand what a hungry person feels like. So policymaking in India, till now has been hijacked by economics and statistics which are important. So, until and unless you focus on sociological dimension to policy-making and you get more participants who see it in different ways and then you amalgamate out of it. That really is going to be precious.