Creating a new jungle book to understand economics

RBI Governor Subbarao tries to bring some humor to the Indian growth story.

India growth has been called an elephant for a while with its huge potential and lumbering walk (read growth). And then suddenly it started dancing.

My simple and single answer to all of the above questions is that the India growth story is still credible. If the East Asians are the tigers, and China the dragon, India is commonly ‘the elephant’ – a strong animal with enormous potential but given to a lumbering pace. For a world that once believed that an elephant does not have any animal spirit, our march up the high growth trajectory proved that an elephant too can dance. But the elephant dance got interrupted by the ‘zoo party’ of the global financial crisis, and to get it back on course, we need to rejig the dance.

So, for India to regain its growth momentum and indeed accelerate it further, we need to address several challenges. What I propose to do is to outline what in my view are the ten most important challenges that we need to address to move up the growth ladder.

The ten challenges:

  • First Challenge: Raising Agricultural Production and Productivity
  • Second Challenge: Expanding Employment
  • Third Challenge: Raising Productivity
  • Fourth Challenge: Managing Urbanization
  • Fifth Challenge:  Bridging the Infrastructure Deficit
  • Sixth Challenge: Improving Social Sector Outcomes
  • Seventh Challenge:  Promoting Financial Inclusion
  • Eighth Challenge: Managing Globalization
  • Ninth Challenge: Providing a Stable and Predictable Macroeconomic Environment
  • Tenth Challenge: Good Governance

Most are talked about quite a bit. So not really discussing them. In the end he says:

Let me now conclude. I have highlighted ten challenges that we need to address in order to accelerate output growth with focus on the quality of growth. I must admit that this list is by no means exhaustive, and individual lists can vary both in content and emphasis. I hope my list would, at the least, serve as a reference point for thinking through.

As people we are understandably eager for our economy to sprint like a tiger rather than amble like an elephant. Yet few animals have an elephant’s stamina. And elephants do not always amble; they dance too. And when elephants start dancing, they can go on for a long long time. But while dancing, an elephant can go off course occasionally. That calls for rejigging the dance. As I conclude, my thoughts are on how late Shri Haksar might have rejigged the elephant dance.

Hmm. Does Indian elephant have enough stamina? Or is it not really still a baby elephant which tires away too quickly? Or has it become some other animal which  runs into disappointment after a short sprint?

Moreover, the elephant stamina and dancing is dependent on various factors – the environment in the jungle, quality of its diet, its owner (in case it is domesticated and taken care by a mahaut), the other animals in the jungle (read the tigers and jackals (economies like Greece which have been duping  the world) in the global economy) etc. None of these especially the other animals in the economic jungle look good. The Subbarao lists ten things which need to be improved for the elephant…

I recall this interview of Yana Rodgers who picks five books that help teach economics to children. May be someone could attempt a  jungle book to help understand economics and economies…It will be a super fun book for a general reader which Daniel Hamermesh will approve..

So the book could look at:

  • How Greece was actually a jackal in tiger’s hiding..
  • India an elephant which might dance
  • A fight between SE Asian Tigers vs Celtic Tiger (Ireland) to reach the top was defeated amidst greed
  • US is the king of the jungle  whose terrain could be ended by the Chinese Lion
  • The case of how China became a different specie of lion from a cat..
  • How Europe keeps trying to become the lion..
  • Latin America could be an animal which hardly runs from its mistakes with Argentina as a special specie which never learns the lessons..
  • Some economies like Botswana, Chile etc could be seen as deers which are quick and sharp…
  • Africa as animal which does not understand it could overpower the lion… (given the huge potential)
  • The classic tale of Rabbit and tortoise where a tortoise wins with his slow and consistent approach. This will help understand big bang reforms vs gradualism approach
  • And then of course we have these economists and advisers which are dubbed as hawks/doves etc…
  • Rules of the jungle could be explained to help understand property rights, importance of rule based system etc..

Would request the readers to chip in with their own list..


I just forgot to mention this will be a more advanced version of Animal Farm…what a book that is..


One Response to “Creating a new jungle book to understand economics”

  1. RK Says:

    this might lead to the next Farmville on facebook

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