India's States grow Unevenly

India's States grow Unevenly

According to a Financial Times analysis of data provided by India’s government, economic growth in India has benefited some regions more than others.

The relatively wealthy states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west, Haryana and Punjab in the north and Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south continued to outperform the rest of India in date for 2009-10 compared to the previous year. The relatively poorer eastern states of Orissa and Chattisgarh (which was carved out of Madhya Pradesh a few years ago) are showing good growth, partly due to increased mining activity.

But the large, heavily populated provinces of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have continued to lag and to stay poor. Their per capita income is less than half of India’s average and they are not keeping up in growth either. This should be a major concern for politicians, economists and business people alike.

The Financial Times quotes Indian expatriate economists, such as Nobel Prize winner Harvard economist, Amartya Sen,  who  issued a stark warning to New Delhi about how “stupid” it was to aspire to double-digit economic growth without addressing the chronic undernourishment of tens of millions of Indians.  It also highlighted Columbia’s Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, who is somewhat more hopeful, arguing that rising incomes were felt widely across the country and were not bypassing the poor. “[Success in] denting poverty significantly, though nowhere near enough, is that poverty is now seen by India’s poor and underprivileged to be removable.”

In my view,” islands of prosperity among oceans of despair” are unsustainable in a democracy and the unmet aspirations of young people in these states are further exacerbated when they can witness the success of their brethren via  newly acquired cell phones and televisions.


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