Convocation Address by Dr Vijay Kelkar at Banaras Hindu University

  • Indians are so occupied with the present that they fail to realize the journey India has travelled since 1947 and what needs to be done to improve things further.

When I read Dr Kelkar’s address the thought that came to mind is, we are so engrossed and finding fault with the present that we rarely look back at the journey travelled since India got independence since 1947.  Since Dr Kelkar’s speech takes us through India’s evolution through this journey very well so decided to share it on eSamskriti. We have obtained permission from Dr Kelkar to share a PDF file of his speech. Dr Kelkar is Chairman of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.  

To read speech in PDF click on PDF. We share key excerpts from speech below –  

“Today I want to share with you my reflections on our country’s journey towards what our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru so eloquently expressed in his mid-night speech on 15th August 1947 as our “Tryst with Destiny.” To my mind, this “Tryst with Destiny” meant wiping out the curse of poverty from our land and make our nation a prosperous and liberal Republic and thus contribute handsomely our due share to the wellbeing of every nation and to the advancement of global peace.” 

“But we must tell each other stories about the journey that we have been on, so that we may understand our journey better, and bring greater wisdom to the next fork on the road.” 

The speech covers Our Mahayajna, The audacity of our Founding Fathers, The First Development Paradigm, The Second Paradigm and The Third Paradigm.  

“This first development paradigm was led by Nehru, Mahalanobis, Pitambar Pant, Prof. Sukhamoy Chakravarty and others. It involved a leadership role for the government in many aspects of society. Gandhiji thought this was a bad idea, and the future proved his hesitations regarding the role of the State rather prescient.” 

“The Second Paradigm was developed by thinkers from the mid-1960s onwards. The Second Paradigm thus involved thinking from the 1960s onwards, and delivered the growth episode of 1991-2011. These three problems have come together, and changed the risk/reward tradeoff as seen by private persons. As a consequence, dynamism of private investment as well as exports declined. We now see this clearly in many data series. Trend growth went down since 2011.”  

“Third Paradigm involves a complete transformation of the formulation and implementation of economic policies and also fundamentally to strengthen our Liberal Republic. The foundation of liberal democracy, and prosperity, is individual freedom. We must strengthen the foundations of personal freedom and economic freedom. This requires a substantial reduction intervention in the economy.” 

“We need a much better functioning judiciary. And the arbitrary power of officials needs to be replaced by a rule of law system with elaborate checks and balances, which give protections to private persons.” 

“This Third Paradigm in the Idea of India is not the task of any one discipline. It requires inter-disciplinary work between public economics, law, public administration, political economy and political science. All of us, across these multiple disciplines, have to break heads, and teach each other, in order to understand the problems that we face and solve them.” 

Hope you enjoyed reading Dr Kelkar’s speech as much as I did – Editor. 

The speech was delivered at BHU Convocation on December 23, 2019 and is a National Institute of Public Finance and Policy Working Paper.   

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