Despite consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (10 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • This is a recurring theme of many editorials, op-eds, and articles in current affairs. So you should not have issues in approaching this question.
  • In the intro, you have to show the dichotomy between India’s GDP growth and its inclusive development indicators. You can come up with facts related to human development indicators in India – India’s rank in HDI (130) while showcasing recent GDP indicators which show higher growth trajectories. 
  • In the main body, you need to identify those factors which are creating challenges to inclusive development and how it is impacting the nation.
  • Economic inequality, poverty, lack of awareness on government initiatives/schemes/welfare programs, jobless growth, patriarchy, uneven access to health and education, etc are some of the issues which you can mention.
  • In the 2nd part, you need to discuss the way forward.
  • Conclude in an optimistic tone.

Answer:

India has grown rapidly since 1991. Average industrial growth in the 25 years since 1991 has been around 6.7 percent. While average economic growth since 1991 has been around 7 percent. While India is surging ahead in terms of GDP growth, it is faring poorly on the human development front which means that millions of Indians have less healthcare and education than in more advanced countries or even in Emerging Economies like the BRICS where India’s rank is the lowest. China’s rank is at 90th, Brazil 79th, Russia 49th, and South Africa 119th. Even among SAARC members, India’s Human Development Index( HDI) rank is lower than Sri Lanka and the Maldives and a little higher than Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal.  

Issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive

    • Jobless growth: Since India’s growth is led by services (Which is not a labor-intensive sector) It has been considered as jobless growth as the employment growth has declined for the same level of economic growth. Thus growth has only affected a very small section of India.
    • Uneven growth: Secondly, growth has been uneven across sectors and locations. For instance, agriculture has been lagging behind and in countries such as India and China, some regions have advanced faster than others. Policies are also relatively ignored in the agriculture sector.
    • Marginalized sections unaffected by growth: A major weakness is that the growth is not perceived as being adequately inclusive for many groups, especially Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and weaker section. The development will not be inclusive if some groups are discriminated against, overtly or covertly. 
    • Patriarchy: In a hugely patriarchal country like India, one cannot expect India to score high on gender equality.
    • As much as 50 percent of malnutrition is caused, not by a lack of food or poor diets, but due to poor water, poor sanitation facilities, and unhygienic practices. 
    • Lack of Government expenditure on education: India spends only 3.4% of the total budget on education which is one of the lowest in the world. This results in poor quality schools and colleges.
    • Lack of Government expenditure on health: India spends just 1 percent of total GDP on health which is lowest among the BRICS countries. This has resulted in a single hospital for every 61 thousand, and one bed for every 1833 people. 

Way forward:

India needs to address the various parameters of human development separately—and simultaneously.

  • First, it cannot possibly envisage a long and healthy life without addressing the issue of malnutrition which is plaguing it. The recent improvements in nutrition have been noteworthy but not enough.
  • Second, in terms of knowledge, India needs to ensure access and quality through the effective implementation of schemes such as Digital India and Skill India.
  • Third, for a higher standard of living, it should ensure that work is quantitatively and qualitatively enhanced in the country. The country’s efforts in terms of employment guarantee schemes have been lauded for its role in reducing unemployment. But it is by no means a long-term remedy. 
  • Indian government must also focus on improving quality and access to education. Education has a major role in promoting inclusive economic development. 
  • It can particularly help reduce the share of informal employment going forward and promote social inclusion. 
  • India needs to reform its rigid labor market governed by obsolete laws, address problems of child labor and forced labor, and bring about wage equality.
  • Policymakers and government officials need to work on agriculture productivity, in order to be more inclusive. 
  • Efforts are needed to increase energy and resource efficiency, notably through lower fossil fuel subsidies, and accelerate the adoption of clean technologies. 

Development is now a multidimensional achievement, the gains achieved from the 25 years of LPG reforms must help build capabilities and improve the health of all sections. We need to also handle challenges such as urbanization, the housing deficit, access to power, water, education, and health care. A central focus on social indicators is necessary for India to break free from its position as an underachiever and bring inclusive development.

 

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