Economic Reform in India - Lesson Learnt


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Five lessons may be drawn:

(i) The effects of globalization and economic reforms on poor women are highly differentiated and nuanced, so a blanket analysis or stance is not justified (Jhabvala, 1995). Some features of the economic reform process, such as reducing the role of the state in Forestry, and some consequences of greater openness, such as the easier access to international markets for poor women’s products, are beneficial to poor women. But other features are not.

(ii) Despite the benefits of globalization and economic reform, the three troubling features identified from first principles— relative decline in unskilled wages, increased risk and vulnerability, and a declining bargaining power of unskilled labor— are indeed seen in SEWA’s ground level experience.
(iii) Maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs requires active management of the process of globalization and economic reform with the outcomes for poor in mind. A hands off policy is not an option. Strategies for management should be developed by listening to the experiences of the poor and to their representatives.

(iv) Managing and mitigating the negative consequences of liberalization will require direct interventions to enhance the skills of the poor, and to develop insurance tools to manage the risks they face. These interventions need to combine government action and action by organizations of the poor.

(v) The poor, and especially unskilled poor women, need organization to counteract the growing economic power of capital and skilled labor as a result of their greater national and global mobility. Organization is also the sine qua non for representation of the interests of poor women in local, national and global policy making councils, a point also emphasized in World Bank (2000). Public policy can help by developing an enabling legal and regulatory environment in which membership based organizations of the poor can represent their interests and provide them with services they need.



Saturday, 05th Sep 2015, 10:48:12 AM

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