India Uncut

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Worse than Sania

So India's the next superpower, eh? TN Ninan gives us a reality check:
The inescapable fact is that even today India accounts for only 2 per cent of the world’s GDP, less than 1 per cent of world trade, less than 1 per cent of global investment flows and an even smaller share of global technology breakthroughs — with 16 per cent of the world’s people.

While it is good to be optimistic and to be conscious about the country’s latent potential, and indeed to capitalise on recent positive trends, it would be dangerous to get into the mindset that says we have already arrived.

The distance to be covered between today’s reality and tomorrow’s potential was emphasised in bold relief this last week, with the release of UNDP’s latest Human Development Report. At a rank of 127, India is still among the laggards. And despite the front-ranking rate of 7 per cent economic growth, we are making precious little progress in education, health care, sanitation and other elements of social infrastructure.

Most other international rankings also show India in a poor light, whether it is the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness report, or Transparency International’s corruption perception index. In none of them do we match Sania Mirza’s global rank of 42, and she to her credit is likely to move up the numbers ladder faster than the country.
To point all these out is treated as non-patriotic is some circles, but to not do so would be to ensure, in Ninan's words, that "we ignore the hard work that has to be done today, and the tough decisions that have to be taken." Good things have happened in the last decade-and-a-half, but, as I'd written here, a lot still remains to be done. Until every citizen of India has economic and personal freedom, we should focus on building the road ahead, and not on celebrating the footpath behind.

Cross-posted on The Indian Economy Blog.
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