The continued and widening dissonance between India’s growth story and its social indices..

There is near complete silence on things that matter for people in India. Things like water, traffic, health, education etc are just buried under the carpet. Instread we keep thumping ourselves over our high growth rates. IMF, World Bank etc which were hardly as popular with Indian media has just found the right way to be noticed. Keep talking about how India’s growth rate is going to be highest in the world.

Business Line edit writes on the divide between India’s macro and social indicators. India lags behind most of its lower growing neighbours:

The chest-thumping over India’s growth rates overtaking China’s is misplaced in view of our poor human development indicators. Our performance compares poorly not just with China but also with our South Asian neighbours that are way down the growth ladder, raising questions about the quality of our growth. The Socio-Economic and Caste Census points to an illiteracy level of 36 per cent in rural India. A per capita monthly income of ₹7,400, with only 8 per cent of the rural population earning more than ₹10,000, underscores the serious rural-urban disparity, with implications for the even spread of markets.

India’s progress in the reduction of infant and maternal mortality since 1990 has been tardy. While Sri Lanka’s health and education indices are on a par with China or better, it is remarkable that even Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh have achieved steeper reductions than India since 1990 in their infant mortality and maternal mortality rates, and can boast of better numbers on these counts today. Female literacy is total in China and Sri Lanka as against less than 75 per cent in India. A country with such indices will find it hard to move up the productivity ladder. Growth numbers are important but we also need to take a more holistic view of development.

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