Is Decoupling a myth?
Why hasn’t any country been able to decouple from collective world economics for longish periods?
What does it take to decouple?
For starters, good governance. Over long periods.
Resources. One needs to have independent resources, as in energy resources. For example, India does not have ample independent oil resources. Going nuclear could make it a stronger candidate for decoupling, but does the country have responsible governance to handle nuclear energy safely? As of now, no.
A conducive business environment is the order of the day. Business needs to thrive. It can only do so, if laws are approved, that are favourable for business. The private sector needs to be allowed to grow wherever possible. Red-tapism and babudom are enemies of decoupling.
To thrive, business needs proper infrastructure. Bottlenecks arise when those responsible for getting this infrastructure in place simutaneously siphon away funds, thereby decreasing the quality of the infrastructure proportionately. Bottlenecks are enemies of decoupling.
Internal demand drives a decoupled economy. The demographic social structure of such an economy allows demand for manufactured goods to blossom.
What kind of a population dynamics caters to this sort of demand creation? One with a healthy demographic pyramid, with the broad pyramid base boasting a large, young consumer base.
This young consumer base is also supposed to be the decoupled economy’s demographic dividend.
Demographic dividends don’t just start existing just like that. They need to be reaped after sowing the proper seeds. An economy needs to first provide proper education and healthcare infrastructure, so that its citizens enjoy a beneficial environment to grow up in, which is when they can go on to become productive citizens.
Savings of productive citizens provide cushion to the decoupled economy. No savings, no cushion. The first Tsunami then destroys the decoupling.
Domestic payment cycles need to be healthy, and not chokingly long.
Imports are a necessary element of trade. Importers should thrive too, but not to the extent of recoupling a decoupled economy.
Then there are moral values. These keep a decoupled economy on track, after everything else is in the correct trajectory. Productive citizens need to do the right thing. Long-term, holistic thinking. No corner-cutting.
Sounds utopic, right?
Well, at least one is allowed to dream!