Thursday, January 18, 2007

India Poised

Having spent the last 2 weeks in India, I've been overexposed to slogans from every conceivable brand - from political, to commercial and from civic to the downright cynical, proclaiming that India is "poised". Poised for what? - You may well ask! I suppose that ever better growth, centrality on the world stage, overall inward investments, reduction in absolute poverty are some good things to be poised for. But the question which has been on my mind for a few months now is: how does a country make a transition from being a 'developing' country to a developed country? What are the parameters of that transition? What are it's harbingers and milestones? What are the danger signals of regression? And of course, what are the pitfalls to avoid?

I asked my friend Amit, who is a professor of Economics, but alas, it was already 3 AM and either he was too tired to explain at length or (more likely) I was too sleepy to comprehend. But wandering around Lucknow, Kolkata and now Mumbai, I had to rethink some of my own presuppositions.

The one belief that hasn't changed, though, is my view that the process of development of a nation or a society is not judged through it's most fortunate citizens but by the lifestyle of its least privileged. It's this lens we need to hold up while evaluating progress and growth. This isn't a cry for socialism or equality. I think equality is a somewhat overrated as a premise. In a free economy, growth and wealth creation will always come at the expense of equality. But this progress needs to be measured by the improvement in the reduction of absolute poverty i.e. the actual income and consumption patterns of the poorest sections of the population needs to improve.

The questions still remains in my head... the answers hopefully, will come.


Post a Comment

<< Home