It’s believed that economic growth will bring solutions to India’s social and political problems. Progress with issues such as poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation is being evaluated against economic growth, marking the bottom line as the only indicator to evaluate the progress. The growth rate therefore has been a topic of discussion and has been seeking attention from all sectors of society as well as vote-seeking politicians.
A blog by Jean-Pierre Lehmann in the Wall Street Journal points out that high growth does not seem to have made India a happier or more egalitarian place. There is a growing social backlash. Youth unemployment and disaffection are very high. There is already a strong presence in several provinces of the extreme political-guerrilla movement known as the Naxalites.
Even though India has been registering rapid growth, the crisis of energy supply is still unresolved. Over 33 percent of households still have no access to electricity and are therefore left with no other option than to depend upon fuel wood for cooking. A staggering 70 percent of the population still depends on fuel wood, twigs and animal dung to supply energy for cooking. This, despite the fact that the world praises India for its low levels of per capita energy consumption and carbon emissions which amount to just 1.5 tonnes per person. What this statistic overlooks is that one of the factors for such a low per capita consumption is the hundreds of millions of Indians who still do not have an access to electricity.
There is still a huge gap between countries rich and poor, certain aspects of growth allows the richer countries rich to acquire more private gains and promote a better standard of living, while hampering the poor by neglecting the very basics rights of health, nutrition, education and shelter.
Research Councils UK (RCUK) in their report on India’s new 12th Five Year Plan states that, if India’s ambition of investing 2 percent of GDP on R&D is achieved and the quality of its research base is improved, then India, by virtue of its size, is likely to be one of the most important scientific nations in the world.
The Globalist, in their article Is India's Economic Growth Sustainable?, points out that in order to resolve India's social and political problems, the country's power-generating capacity would have to be increasedby three to four times its current level to meet up with the United Nations index which establishes a standard of 1,000 KWh per person as the minimum necessary for an acceptable quality of life.
Edited by: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial
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