Economic Development in India

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA: THE ROLE OF INDIVIDUAL ENTERPRISE (AND ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT) Anil K. Lal* and Ronald W. Clement**

The Indian economy provides a revealing contrast between how individuals react under a government-controlled environment and how they respond to a market-based environment. Evidence suggests that recent market reforms that encouraged individual enterprise have led to higher economic growth in that country. India can generate additional economic growth by fostering entrepreneurial activity within its borders. To pursue further the entrepreneurial approach to economic growth, India must now provide opportunities for (1) education directed specifically at entrepreneurial skills, (2) financing of entrepreneurial efforts, and (3) networking among potential entrepreneurs and their experienced counterparts. Further, although the Indian government should establish policies supportive of entrepreneurial efforts, its role overall should be minimized so that the influence of the free market and individual self-interest can be fully realized.

Economic development, achieved largely through productivity growth, is very important to both developed and developing nations. However, even though we know that higher productivity leads to improved economic outcomes (for example, higher income, more choices to the consumers, better quality products, etc.), there has been no consensus among researchers about either the desired path of development or the role of state in economic development. Concerning the path of development, Lall (2001) says that the appropriate strategy for any country depends not only on its objective economic situation but also on its government policies and national views regarding the appropriate role of the state.

* **

Associate Professor of Economics, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, U.S.A. Professor of Management, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, U.S.A.

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Asia-Pacific Development Journal

Vol. 12, No. 2, December 2005

Regarding the appropriate role of the state, it seems that for every argument in favour of a smaller government role one can find a counter argument in favour of a more active government role. The role of the state in economic development began to change dramatically with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. In the West, the resulting industrialization and economic development were based on the establishment of individual property rights that encouraged the growth of private capital. Competition and individual enterprise thrive in this environment because individuals pursue their self-interest of survival and wealth accumulation. The instinct to survive under competitive pressures yields innovation and productivity increases, which eventually lead to both increased profits for business and lower prices to consumers.1 However, the rise and spread of capitalism led a number of thinkers to examine the consequences of the market-based approach to development. Socialists argued that capitalism (or private ownership of capital) can lead to greater inequalities of income and wealth, while developmental economists argued that private decisions may not always lead to socially desirable outcomes (particularly in the case of market imperfections). Indeed, many policymakers at the time saw market failures as quite common and therefore assumed that only appropriate government interventions could guide an economy to a path of sustained economic development (Krueger, 1993). In the early 20th century, the former Soviet Union attempted a bold experiment of improving individual well-being without sacrificing the objective of greater equality of income and wealth through total ownership of capital by the government. Initially, the Soviet Government was able to raise productivity through directed industrialization and, within a span of 25 years (by the end of World War II), emerged as a superpower. It was around this time that a substantial...
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