Competitiveness is a key part of achieving development in all countries and India is not an exception. The struggle and efforts in this area will contribute to positive results in the political, economic, cultural, scientific, technological and innovation, social spheres among others.
All countries around the world seek to achieve high levels of competitiveness in order to be the best in world rankings, while offering interesting living standards and societal welfare, and are attractive for foreign investment and international markets. India needs to demonstrate competitiveness and potential improvement options enabling it to stand out for its sustainable economic development.
India has been increasing its objective towards becoming a competitive country. This can be seen with policies promoting small and medium enterprises, the Land Use Plan, access to scholarships for postgraduate and doctoral studies, the reforms generated in order to ease local business (not only just foreign business) and shaping the work options being offered to the lower classes. However after so many efforts, the country still has a long way to go in terms of competitiveness to achieve the expected results. Many of the goals set by the national government in recent years have not been met. This is just not the major shortcoming in India, most of the proposals with specific goals and dates remain only on paper and do not transcend into becoming reality. The interesting proposals will be kept prolonged and the current situation will continue until the radical changes are effectively applied.
Economic liberalisation started on 24 July 1991 as India faced a severe payments crisis and was forced to pledge 47 tonnes of gold to the Bank of England as well as 20 tonnes of gold to the Union Bank of Switzerland. As part of a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India underwent structural reforms. The logistics and infrastructure sectors became of vital importance in economic development. Opening for international trade and investment to compete in international markets played a key role. Additionally, due to trade agreements that India had with its neighbours, and the high flow of trade in goods and services to and from these, the optimum infrastructure conditions generated high value added and ease in business.
Efforts to advance the development of this sector has increased in recent years and in 2007, India recorded its highest GDP growth of 9 percent however this significant achievement within the region is not very remarkable. India is still in a position that is well below average when compared to developed countries and therefore, much less globally competent. Thus it is necessary for the country to cope with its weaknesses and start generating action plans against the proposals that are already established, so as to achieve a significant progress in the area and leading to the development of a viable logistics infrastructure and become attractive to Indian foreign trade.
Moreover, the agricultural sector is another key point to be treated. India is a country rich in natural resources and agriculture represents a significant percentage of contribution to the economy. However, agriculture in India is still limited to meeting the demand for commodities without generating any additional value. India needs to expand its capabilities against business options in this area because they are other countries who are taking advantage of this and are taking over all benefits i.e. the organic industry. We need to generate a correlation between the agricultural and industrial sectors so that their combination represents the new generation of products that are attractive and accepted in the international market and will enable the country to extend its limits in agriculture, generating new jobs (through new sources of business) and increasing profitability and earnings from these products. In general terms, this means that we have a wide variety to offer and we have ample scope to expand.
A third area that requires special attention is the research and development. Encouraging both government and corporate organisations to offer scholarships and financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students will give access to better education and encourage them to become better prepared professionals who can provide additional knowledge to country and society for development. These professionals cannot do it alone; we need the support (especially in the economic sphere) of government and corporate entities to run these new plans. What is needed is not only a change in the levels of international competitiveness but also an improvement in the standard of living of its citizens so that everyone can benefit from these changes.
Authors: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba and Angela María Muñoz Barón