India versus Development

According to Wikipedia:

Developing countries are in general countries which have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to their populations, and which have a low standard of living. There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth, both within and between countries.

The concept of “development” is pretty well defined and is measured in terms of HDI (Human Development Index). It’s interesting to note that the index was developed in 1990 by Amartya Sen (Indian Economist & Nobel Laurette), Mehbub ul Haq (Pakistani Economist), Meghnad Desai (London School of Economics) and Gustav Ranis (Yale University). The value of HDI lies from 0 to 1.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.

The 2006 UN Human Development Index Report provides the HDI for 2004. The top 10 nations are:

  1. Flag of Norway Norway 0.965
  2. Flag of Iceland Iceland 0.960
  3. Flag of Australia Australia 0.957
  4. Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland 0.956
  5. Flag of Sweden Sweden 0.951
  6. Flag of Canada Canada 0.950
  7. Flag of Japan Japan 0.949
  8. Flag of United States United States 0.948
  9. Flag of Switzerland Switzerland 0.947
  10. Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0.947

The HDI for India lies somewhere between 0.500 to 0.600. Since the HDI points to the year 2004, we have no need to worry. We have a come a long way since then. In fact, each day has been (and is) an big leap. Experts, scientist, philosophers, politcians… all around the world have announced that India (and China) will be the next Super Powers.
Sounds satisfying and ecstatic. Isn’t it? 🙂
But is it really the reality?

We have made exponential progress in almost every technical and modern field. Today we have internet in almost every gully. The electronic items and luxury products are in everyone’s reach. Every kid in your family has a personal cellphone.
But does that really mean that India, as a nation, is developing?

You might think that it’s stupid of me to talk about such developments and still question about “development”, which is nothing but plain measurement. If you are then let me put some simple questions for the Reality Check.

  1. How big is your India? What is the percentage of India that comprises of villages and tribal areas?
  2. The price of tubelight might not have risen, but are you aware of the price of kerosene (if available)?
  3. KFC’s providing an amazing “Bucket offer”. What about the rise in price of Wheat and Rice? …and aa yes. Which country does the KFC belong to?
  4. You oppose Medha Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan because the stupid movement is disrupting the government from building the proposed 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams; which will provide ample water and electricity, and hence help in achieving a higher HDI. But did you think about the rural (repeatedly called handful) people who will be dislocated because of these 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams? If not then just imagine being driven out of your house because the government suddenly discovers that your house lies on the shortest possible train route from source A to destination B.

I spent so much of my time, which I could’ve spent with my family after 6 long months, just to mention (and remind myself) that development in India cannot happen on one single track. We cannot build a highway, if the farmers are committing suicide. We need to find alternatives for development which will target, not only the elite class, but also the handful few.

The HDI needs to rise on both fronts.

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8 thoughts on “India versus Development

  1. Thanks for relocating me. 🙂
    Considering that media is “serving” dirt with the likes of “Sansani”, I thought we need to put up the picture of beautiful and real India. This post is not really on those grounds but it aims to put forward issues that are hidden.

  2. You know what, I sincerely believe that it’s just a matter of time before “Manohar Kahanayiaan” magazine launches it’s channel and establishes monopoly. After all it’s the video version of the magazine that the news channels are following. 😉

  3. @Bipin: I have to point out that the questions posed in the ‘Reality Check’ section are nothing but random question with little or no significance to the ‘developing’ aspects of the post. Allow me to elaborate on that.

    The price of tubelight might not have risen, but are you aware of the price of kerosene (if available)?

    The prices of petroleum and crude oil products have historically risen. And this is not restricted to the Indian sub continent. Prices of gasolines and other items have risen over 100% in the state of California and this is in one of the so called developed countries

    Ref:http://www.energy.ca.gov/gasoline/margins/2000.html.

    Replace that with 2006 and you get that years charts and do a comparison.

    2.KFC’s providing an amazing “Bucket offer”. What about the rise in price of Wheat and Rice? …and aa yes. Which country does the KFC belong to?
    The reason for this rise in price can stil be attributed to an extent to the increase in fuel prices. But in this section I would like to elaborate on the second half of the question. What country does KFC belong to? What relevance is that to a reality check? Recently the Taj group bought out Ritz Carlton, Boston? Which country does Taj belong to?
    [This is for justification only – Taj is owned by TATA]

    I could elaborate on the others but then this comment would exceed the lenght of the post which i am afraid it already has. None the less do deliberate on these and you will find that these question do not pose any relevance to the topic discussed 🙂

  4. @Bentley:
    I guess I put up points in “Reality Check” but failed to properly emphasize the context in which I mention them. My bad. 🙂
    The points, I have mentioned, have a direct impact on the lower/poor class which is immensely huge in number *in India*. A rise in price of kerosene directly affects the people living in villagers/tribals, who have no access to electricity. Now, you might be amazed to know that the primary reason these people do not have access to electricity is *not* because they cannot afford it. It’s because the corrupt levels of multitude makes it impossible for the allocated funds for such projects to be utilized.
    Again, by pointing at KFC, I meant to put up two points:
    1. KFC caters to the needs of the upper/elite class. The lower class needs food to live, which in India means rice, wheat etc. Either these items should be in reach of such people or these people should be made capable of reaching them.
    2. The profits earned by KFC (and others) does not *really* help the condition of such people. Gandhiji’s slogan of Swadeshi is still relevant.

    Connect the points to the impact they have/can have on the life of the poor and you will find relevancy in the fact that building race course at Hyderabad at a time when farmers of the state are committing suicide, doesn’t really contribute to the formation of a developed nation. The backbone would still be weak.

  5. Yep in this context it does make more sense to me 🙂 But then again i am a cold heartless capitalist. I would let this things slide under the desk. None the less interesting article.Reminded of those good ol college debates 😉

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