Putting Growth In Its Place (Amartya Sen & Jean Dreze; OUTLOOK, Nov. 14, 2011)
The piece is depressing, and a must-read — Qalandar
“India’s growth achievements are indeed quite remarkable. According to official data, per capita income has grown at a compound rate of close to five per cent per year in real terms between 1990-91 and 2009-10. The more recent rates of expansion are faster still: according to Planning Commission estimates, the growth rate of GDP was 7.8 per cent in the Tenth Plan period (2002-03 to 2006-07) and is likely to be around 8 per cent in the Eleventh Plan period (2007-08 to 2011-12). The “advance estimate” for 2010-11 is 8.6 per cent. These are, no doubt, exceptional growth rates…”
“The comparison between Bangladesh and India is a good place to start. During the last 20 years or so, India has grown much richer than Bangladesh: per capita income was estimated to be 60 per cent higher in India than in Bangladesh in 1990, and 98 per cent higher (about double) in 2010. But during the same period, Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of a wide range of basic social indicators: life expectancy, child survival, fertility rates, immunisation rates, and even some (not all) schooling indicators such as estimated “mean years of schooling”. For instance, life expectancy was estimated to be four years longer in India than in Bangladesh in 1990, but it had become three years shorter by 2008. Similarly, the child mortality rate was estimated to be about 24 per cent higher in Bangladesh than in India in 1990, but it was 24 per cent lower in Bangladesh in 2009. Most social indicators now look better in Bangladesh than in India, despite Bangladesh having barely half of India’s per capita income.
No less intriguing is that Nepal also seems to be catching up rapidly with India, and even overtaking India in some respects. Around 1990, Nepal was way behind India in terms of almost every development indicator. Today, social indicators for both countries are much the same (sometimes a little better in India still, sometimes the reverse), in spite of per capita income in India being about three times as high as in Nepal. … As expected, in terms of per capita income, India’s rank has improved—from fourth (after Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) to third (after Bhutan and Sri Lanka). But in most other respects, India’s rank has worsened, in fact, quite sharply in many cases. Overall, India had the best social indicators in South Asia in 1990, next to Sri Lanka, but now looks second-worst, ahead of only Pakistan. Looking at their South Asian neighbours, the Indian poor are entitled to wonder what they have gained—at least so far—from the acceleration of economic growth.”
Read the complete piece HERE.