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Dr. Prajapati Trivedi - Economist par excellence

The depth of his C.V inspires awe and admiration. Since completing his B.A (Honors) in Economics from the respected St. Stephen's College in Delhi, Dr. Prajapati Trivedi, Senior Economist at the World Bank and Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Planning, Saudi Arabia, has gone from strength to strength and is today one of the most qualified and high-ranking Indian origin expat in the Kingdom.

After completing his B.A (Honors), Dr. Trivedi went on to the London School of Economics, where he completed his M.Sc. (Economics), specializing in the Theory of Investment and Planning, in 1974. He was soon back in Delhi, where in 1977 he got a PG Diploma in the Law of International Institutions, Indian Academy for International Law and Diplomacy, Delhi University. He later got another M.A, this time in Development Economics, from Boston University in 1983 and went on to do his PhD from the same institution in 1985, specializing in : Economics and Management of Public Enterprises, Public Finance, Economic Development. Dissertation Topic: Comparative Performance Evaluation and Explanation of Public and Private Enterprise Behavior (Issues, Methodology and the Case of the Indian Cement Industry).

Born on Aug. 9th, 1953, Dr. Trivedi is married, with two children.

Dr. Trivedi, a senior economist at the World Bank, is on secondment as an Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Planning in the Kingdom. He is responsible for public policy advice on a wide range of development issues and also for the development of the national long-term strategy of the Kingdom. He was the author of the key paper on public sector efficiency in the Vision Symposium organized jointly by the World Bank and the Ministry of Economy and Planning. He has led the work on public sector reform issues within the Ministry, too.

Asked about India's privatization program, Dr. Trivedi told yahind.com, "If one looks at it objectively, one has to admit that it is moving at a disappointing rate. We have to simply look at the promises made during each budget exercise and the results obtained. Since the Department of Disinvestment was set up in 1999, promises to privatize Rs. 57200 crores have been made by the Government of India. Unfortunately, against this target, the total sale thus far has been only Rs. 13643 crores. This is a mere 24 percent of the target. In the private sector managers would be fired for such poor performance."

He further noted, "It is ironic that the government's performance on this front was in fact better before the Department of Disinvestment was created in 1999. Since the new economic policy was announced by Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1991 (and went on till 1999), promises worth Rs. 34300 crores were made by the government. It sold stakes worth Rs. 11858 crores over the same time period. This makes an achievement level of 35 percent of the target. Not a record to be proud of, but a great deal better than that of the current officials."

Asked about the biggest concerns for our nation in the 21st century, Dr. Trivedi (like most Indians) reserved his ire for the politicians: "I am worried that ordinary citizens are fed up with politicians. They have tried all political parties and found them wanting. Unless things shape up, I foresee a movement for the change of our system. We will always be a democracy but the form will probably change. A poor country like India can not afford the luxury of frequent changes in government. The only goal of these governments is to stay in power by hook or by crook. Can you imagine a jumbo cabinet of 98 extremely unqualified ministers hoisted on the people of UP so that an unstable political coalition can stay in power? How long can people tolerate this?" he wondered.

He added that to him, the political instability appeared to be at the root of all evils in India. "One can find this is linked to corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and divisive politics by extremist elements in our society," he said.

When Yahind asked him about his view on the President's call for India to become a developed nation by 2020, Dr. Tridedi noted, "Before I answer this question, let me say that I wish he was an executive president and not a ceremonial president. I have extremely high regards for him. I have read his book called Vision 2020 and I am also familiar with his ideas. I salute him for inspiring the nation to meet this challenge. But, unfortunately, our politicians have made a mockery of this by jumping on the bandwagon and repeating it frequently as a slogan. I am afraid they are making it fall to the same category as the Garibi Hatao slogan by Mrs. Gandhi. In spite of the slogan, the poverty in India has increased since Mrs. Gandhi's time."

He added, "My constructive suggestion would be to take the key policy makers on a study tour of Malaysia. Because Malaysia is the only developing country that I know that declared that it wants to be a developed country by 2020 and is on track to becoming one. Dr. Mahathir can teach our politicians a lesson or two. Fortunately, I have studied the case of Malaysia very closely and thus I can speak with some degree of confidence. The ability to implement policies successfully was the key to Malaysia's success. The Malaysian premier realized that good ideas do not implement themselves. They need an efficient administrative machinery to do so. He created a results-oriented civil service through bold civil service reforms. Then he promoted public-partnership in an unprecedented manner. Malaysia realized that for an effective public-private partnership, it is important for the two partners to be equally strong. A strong private sector and a weak public sector can only have an unstable partnership at best. It is like having a chair with one leg larger than the other." Any politician or bureaucrat listening?

Interviewed by: Syed Zia ur Rahman
Exclusive Interview to YaHind.Com

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