keep balance

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Jan 2019 12:14:20

THE point made by NITI Ayog Chief Executive Officer Mr. Amitabh Kant that urbanisation would be a big driver of the growth of the Indian economy, certainly has much importance in the larger scheme of things. Mr. Kant also said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in Switzerland that the growth of the Indian economy in the next two years may surpass the growth of the Chinese economy and may even dwarf the 7.5% growth prediction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Even as Mr. Amitabh Kant has made the statement at Davos, the United Nations, too, has predicted that Indian economy would be the fastest-growing system in the world. This means clearly that there will be much to look forward to in the Indian economy in the next two years. This certainly reads as a happy tiding on the economic front. Yet, if urbanisation is going to be the biggest driver of India’s economic growth, then obviously other sectors like rural and agriculture may not make significant contribution. If this is going to be a possible scenario, then the lopsided growth it may ensue will be less welcome from the overall perspective. This should be one cause of concern, to say the least.


There is no doubt that the Indian economic scenario has had a rapid growth in the past some time. Yet, those who were acquainted with the vision of new India’s founding fathers realised that much of the growth has been taking place in the urban sector, almost at the cost of other sectors. The rural sector in which agriculture is a critical component even recorded a negative growth, no matter the political tall talk in this regard. Growing numbers of farmers’ suicides, a regular outflow of people from villages to the cities in search of livelihood, and a slow degeneration of the quality of rural living, over time, became national worries. Now also, the conditions do not seem to have improved much in the rural sector. The pro-urban assertion by Mr. Amitabh Kant, therefore, comes rather as a point of shock to those who hope for a balanced growth of all sectors of the economy.


Let us not shy away from admitting that now there is more money in the country than ever before. Let us also not shy away from confessing that more people have more basic facilities to lead a better life. Yet, let us also not refuse to see another part of the economic reality that despite all the big money, the quality of overall Indian life has not improved. Let us also confess that the Government, per se, has less money in its coffers now than it had before. That is also the reason why quality of services provided by the Government has declined over time at all levels.


All this is happening despite the tall claims that our economy is growing more rapidly than any other economy in the world.
If this growth is not reflected in better living conditions of most people, in better healthcare, in better basic education, better comforts that should normally come with economic growth, then all the claims have little actual value. For, the actual economic scenario demonstrates scant respect for the people in the lower layers of the society. If this does not disturb the thinking Indians, then it is just unfortunate.
There is a strong opinion in the country that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone cannot be the correct indicator of economic growth and well being of the nation. For, GDP by itself does not indicate how the nation’s wealth gets distributed among various sections of the population. There are many other parameters, as well, that do indicate a lopsided picture of growth.


This is certainly not the picture the nation had actually bargained for at the Dawn of Freedom. If the national planners seem happy about urbanisation as the most important driving force behind economic growth, then there is something amiss in the overall story, something that disturbs the balanced growth.