India’s development story: unfounded apprehensions?

Vachaspati Shukla

Abstract

This book attempts to evaluate the implications of the recent economic growth in India for improvement in the living standards of the masses. According to Dréze and Sen, India’s recent economic growth is, indeed, quite remarkable; however, its celebration is contemptible, given its limited translation into better living conditions for the people. One indication that something has been wrong with India’s development strategy is the fact that it has started falling behind every other South Asian country in terms of social indicators, despite doing so well on the economic front. A comparison between Bangladesh and India offers evidence of this. India experienced higher economic growth than Bangladesh in the last two decades, in terms of per capita income, which was 60% higher than that in Bangladesh in 1990 and 98% higher in 2010. However, during the same period, Bangladesh overtook India in terms of a wide range of basic social indicators: life expectancy, child survival, fertility rates and immunisation rates. Bangladesh surpassed India even in certain educational indicators, such as the estimated “mean years of schooling”. The authors present their analysis mainly in chapters 3–8. Chapter 3 deals with how poorly India fares on social development indicators in relation to poorer nations of the world. Chapter 4 discusses the lack of accountability in India’s public sector and the prevalence of corruption. The next three chapters (5–7) discuss education, the healthcare crisis and poverty. In Chapter 8, the authors discuss the various forms of inequality in India.

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