India - Developing Nation
By Rucha Bhimanwar and Debasmita Panda
The development project in India is nowhere near complete – indeed it has barely begun. It is still a poor country: per capita income remains below at actual exchange rates, and there is still widespread destitution. Development is supposed to involve job creation, with more workers in formal employment in large units, but that has not happened.
Manufacturing still counts for less than one-fifth of both output and employment. More than half of all workers languish in low productivity agriculture, while another quarter or so are in low grade services.
India is currently in the midst of two large but different endeavours. The first is to complete the unfinished agenda of the previous decade, providing the country with the modern infrastructure, rural amenities, social services, and connectivity that any developed economy needs. And the second, the more ambitious of the two, is to create jobs, wealth, and value to accommodate a young and aspiring population, eradicate poverty, and boost GDP growth.
INDIA A DEVELOPING NATION
John Stuart Mill wrote in The History of India (that time it was under British rule): "The condition of women is one of the most remarkable circumstances in the manner of nations. Among rude people the women are generally degraded, among civilised people they are exalted." If the stories of rape and torture of women in India that have hit the headlines recently are anything to go by, then can we consider India to be a developing (civilised?) country?
However, if we reflect upon what the Mill quote invites – the "exaltation of women" as a discourse legitimising the colonial occupation of India – then we might also question the whole notion of "developing country". While no one can deny the problems that women face in India – from the skewed sex ratio in favour of males to violence in their everyday lives – it is also important to note that this violence is experienced by women across the world.
We try to look at some of the factors that are becoming a barrier to India becoming a Developed Nation.
Poverty: Poverty has been a major hindrance to India’s quest to be a developed nation. A major part of India, almost 70% of the country’s population lives in rural areas in conditions that have seen little or no improvement since independence and poverty is correlated with other social problems like illiteracy, over-population, malnutrition, unemployment, homelessness etc. All of it having an impact on each other.
Corruption: Corruption is regarded as one of the biggest reasons of poverty in India. Almost all the government departments are affected from it.Corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS) is the worst form of corruption. Even the schools to the parliament, corruption permeates the length and breadth of the country. Corruption has eroded the institutional capacity of governments. The other leading source of corruption in India is entitlement programmes and social spending schemes that are meant for the welfare of our society. Though government is putting efforts to have an “inclusive growth” but corruption is playing its role. So all such programs designed for poor and needy have eventually failed to impress and help them. Instead poor are even denied of their basic rights and needs. Corruption is just like an endemic in India. It leads to social inequalities and hit economy of our nation. Funds granted to uplift the poor are misused. Poverty is further worsen by the administrative corruption. Even the simplest of the task is not performed without a bribe. Corruption also delays and diverts the economic growth. India being a democratic nation corruption has affected it completely.
Religion: Religion has been more of a divider than a unifier in this country. This is not just because of the people who follow it but also because there is a lot of political interference which brings a divide amongst people becoming a barrier in development. Religious beliefs have consistently played a crucial role in national politics and decisions irrespective of governments, appeasement playing a major role in ruling over the gullible masses.
Population: If there could be one single factor that has played the most significant role in decelerating India’s development march, it has to be population or overpopulation. The supply and demand equation has always been highly unbalanced, the demand always being higher than the supply because of the limited resources with the country to meet the expectations, thereby creating irreversible imbalances in the standard of living, resource utilization, employment, education, opportunities, healthcare, affecting almost every sphere.
Income Inequality: Any country having a high rate of population and corruption will also have the income inequality problem. By this what it means is that the population and corruption directly affect the income distribution levels in the country. The size of population is to high compared to the employment opportunities the country can facilitate resulting to high unemployment in the country and moreover corruption makes it worse as it only makes rich the richer and poor the poorer.
Illiteracy: India has the highest population of illiterate adults in the world at 287 million. Illiteracy in India is more or less due to the different forms of disparities that exist in our society like gender imbalances, income imbalances, state imbalances, caste imbalances, technological barriers etc. Even more worrying is the fact that illiteracy is directly linked to other social evils like poverty, child labour, child marriage, unemployment, social crimes etc. that should ideally have no place in a developed society.
Caste System: This is a major problem in our country. There is a division of society into so many castes and sub-castes found only here and this division is not good for the society as it doesn’t allow upward mobility for persons belonging to the lower strata in society eventually leading to injustice and inequality. Not just this, it makes a mockery of democracy and its values as people in the world’s largest democracy vote on the basis of caste and religion. Merit is often not taken into account, resulting in an unfair selection of candidates throughout the country.
Terrorism: Be it Pakistan-sponsored, Maoist-sponsored or north-east insurgency, terrorism has slowed down the country’s development in more ways than one. A major portion of the country’s GDP gets diverted towards bolstering defence capabilities that could otherwise have been directed towards other development activities. A terrorist attack, in any part of the country, has a significant impact on the economic growth, investment, overall expenditure, not to mention the safety and security of the general people.
Economic policies: It is believed that economic reforms started in early 1990s are responsible for the fall down of rural economy in India. It also led to the agrarian crisis. The new policies by the government encourage farmers to switch to cash crops in place of traditional crops. But this has led to a manifold increase in farm input cost which ultimate resulted in the economic burden and thus poverty. Also villages in India are not self sufficient like they used to be. The rural youth is mostly not well educated, lack skill and even not interested in farming. All these are enough for a disastrous and poor future. Government should come up with plans to make villages self-reliant. Skill based education must be provided to the youth.
Brain Drain: This has a lot to do with our education system again. There are many barrier that come when we talk about our education system India has not been able provide sufficient and right kind of opportunities to its people, the same reason why it has not been able to hold back its talented youth and skilled workforce from emigrating to developed countries which includes doctors, engineers, scientists, technicians etc. This has had quite a significant impact on the country’s development. The other factors like the mammoth population, cut-throat entrance exams and the insane cut-offs for admission to top Indian Institutes that deny enrollment to even the deserving candidates, all play their part in this exodus. Besides, better work opportunities, better pay packages, high quality of life and facilities tempt most of the students who go abroad to stay back in their host country, thus triggering a prodigious amount of brain drain from India.
Crime Rate: Due to other prevailing problems in the country like the high illiteracy rate, unequal income distribution levels, low education system, low standard of living and various other problems there are a lot of issues people amongst themselves. This has lead to an increase in the crime rate in our country.
Lack of Knowledge: A major problem again.as the literacy rate is very low in the country most of the people do not know of their rights and duties towards themselves and the country as well and the other part of the society that is literate is found to be unaware of their own rights and duties. Only Government can take steps to increase awareness amongst people about such things and for this they are trying to have various awareness programmes and schemes but have not been very successful, the problem again is the implementation of these.
These are a few prominent barriers that have always dehorted the country from treading the path of development since independence. Although steps have been taken by governments from time to time to expunge these aforementioned deterrents, their implementation and probity on the part of the people involved has always been questionable. As a matter of fact, challenges of this complexity and magnitude cannot be solved by governments and ministries alone. To rectify these issues, a collaborative approach involving business leaders, members of civil society and academia, youth groups and social entrepreneurs would be required.
In my opinion, India cannot and doesn’t want to become classified as a developed country. It is unfortunately still a backwards state going nowhere fast. The shocking vital statistics in the context of the wider international landscape, only exemplify this. Just look at any figures from the World Bank, United Nations, Unicef or the World Health Organization. These statistics include one of the highest rates of corruption in all levels of society, the existence of a massive parallel black economy, appalling infrastructure for example roads and lack of proper footpaths, widespread child malnourishment, hunger, poverty, child labour, high unemployment, illiteracy rates, total lawlessness, people still voting on the basis of religion and caste, health statistics – high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, malnutrition, maternal mortality, infant mortality and morbidity, poor sanitation, virtually no waste management in urban areas, hungry animals wandering about the roads, water and electricity shortages all over the country. If you read the figures and numerous social commentaries on any of the above, the evidence is clear that it is not a developed country, and it has an awfully long way to go to become one. It is not a stable economy and if I lived there, I would want to leave and go to a developed country, where the above problems don’t exist. Yes the problems probably stem from a combination of factors including colonial exploitation, overpopulation and corruption, but this is no excuse for the chaotic mess the country is in. It is the people, who lack civic sense and social responsibility. The change has to come from within the people, for the people.
India must think big. It must consider the possibility that it will have to leapfrog over the industrialisation process itself. It must imagine itself becoming the epicentre of the robotics and AI world, much like Japan become the hub for electronics, Germany for automobiles, and China for manufacturing everything at a tenth of the cost.
To prosper in a world that is suffering from the absence of growth and the disruption of old models, India must strive to become the principal stakeholder of the digital revolution—and ensure that its teeming millions partake in it gainfully, even if informally.