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The ‘other side’ of India


May 19, 2019

India claims to be the world’s fourth largest economy. Reports say while it produced $9.4 trillion in goods and services in 2017, it still cannot beat the top three i.e. China with a production worth $23.1 trillion, the EU with $19.9 trillion, and the US with $17.4 trillion. In fact, it does not seem possible anytime soon i.e. in a decade, two, three or four of India overtaking the top three.

Despite promises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has largely failed to reduce bureaucracy and regulations, ease of doing business and simplify the tax code.

Unemployment is at 8.5pc, the government-owned banks have bad debt, the rupee declined and inflation is rising, there is low per capita income, huge dependence of population is on agriculture while there is heavy population pressure.

A new report suggests that Indians who have the means to quit the country are doing so and in increasing numbers.

“India saw the third highest outflow of wealthy individuals last year.

Nearly 5,000 millionaires, or high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), left the country, which is 2 per cent of the total number of HNWI,” says the Economic Times.

According to Kimberly Amadeo, an American analyst and economy expert, “Climate change threatens India’s attempts to improve its citizens’ standard of living. More than 600 million Indians face acute water shortages. Bangalore and New Delhi are two of the 21 cities that could deplete their groundwater in 2020. Around 200,000 people die from contaminated water. By 2030, 40% of the population will have no access to drinking water.”

She further says: “Most of India’s rainwater falls during the four-month monsoon season. It isn’t captured efficiently. Climate change will increase flooding from these monsoons. Sea level rise threatens the 4,660 miles of coastline.”

In a study conducted by India’s National Sample Survey Office in the 12 months ended June 2017, it was found that up to 36% of companies that were included in India’s GDP calculations could not be traced or were wrongly classified.

It was also reported by the international media that a group of 108 economists and social scientists from various institutions in India and abroad “has decried the Narendra Modi government’s tweaking of yardsticks used to calculate GDP and complained of a practice of withholding unpleasant data. The group called for an end to political interference in influencing such data and restoration of institutional independence and integrity to the statistical organization.”

Kaushik Basu, professor of economics at Cornell University and former chief economist of the World Bank, has reportedly tweeted, “India had a global reputation for the quality of its statistics. It is unfortunate to see this damaged. On the plus side, this can explain why India’s GDP numbers were not matching with its poor record of job creation.”

Reports also say International Monetary Fund chief economist Gita Gopinath “raised doubts over the veracity of India’s GDP numbers and called for greater transparency in its statistics. Gopinath said there were some issues with the way India was calculating its growth rate and the IMF was paying close attention to the new numbers.”

The other side of ‘Shining India’ is also about extreme levels of illiteracy, poor education system, lack of basic hygiene, atrocious healthcare system for masses, rising pollution, poor women safety record, pitiable infrastructure, growing intolerance towards minorities to name a few.