Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dreze and Sen on growth and development

in India. Dreze and Sen observe in Putting Growth In Its Place that eventhough India's economic growth in recent years has been impressive "India has started falling behind every other South Asian country (with the partial exception of Pakistan) in terms of social indicators." Some of the reasons may be "The neglect of elementary education, healthcare, social security and related matters in Indian planning fits into a general pattern of pervasive imbalance of political and economic power that leads to a massive neglect of the interests of the unprivileged. Other glaring manifestations of this pattern include disregard for agriculture and rural development, environmental plunder for private gain with huge social losses, large-scale displacement of rural communities without adequate compensation, and the odd tolerance of human rights violations when the victims come from the underdogs of society."
Thet also note that three states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Himachal Pradesh which have followed comprehensive social policies in education, health care, child care and some other areas have best social indicatorsamong Indian states.
They conclude
"There is probably no other example in the history of world development of an economy growing so fast for so long with such limited results in terms of broad-based social progress.

There is no mystery in this contrast, or in the limited reach of India’s development efforts. Both reflect the nature of policy priorities in this period. But as we have argued, these priorities can change through democratic engagement—as has already happened to some extent in specific states. However, this requires a radical broadening of public discussion in India to development-related matters—rather than keeping it confined to simple comparisons of the growth of the gnp, and naive admiration (implicit or explicit) of the high living standards of a relatively small part of the population. An exaggerated concentration on the lives of the minority of the better-off, fed strongly by media interest, gives an unreal picture of the rosiness of what is happening to Indians in general, and stifles public dialogue of other issues. Imaginative democratic practice, we have argued, is essential for broadening and enhancing India’s development achievements."

Worth reading in full.


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