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   India: The Emerging Giant
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
09 Dec 2009

The hollow hype

To call a country an 'emerging giant economy' where rural inequality has remained unchanged and urban inequality has worsened can only be a half-truth. To continue with his half-truth, Arvind Panagariya fails to find any link between economic reforms and farmer's suicides in the country. Conversely, the author argues, open policies and rapid economic growth are the best antidotes for poverty reduction. The glossy picture of the Indian economy may have very little to do with Indian reality but the author seems to insist that is the only way.

Having spent a significant part of his professional career with the global financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, Panagariya's growth diagnosis hinges on the much-hyped high-wage skill-intensive information technology sector. Expectedly, the economic picture blurs the stagnant agriculture sector and the restless unskilled labour into the background. Though the current economic thrust has been found wanting to fill the large development gap, Panagariya stays overtly optimistic that market reforms will reach the impoverished masses.

While the author has sketched the country's economic scene with exhaustive research and careful analysis, the structural problems of the economic system have nevertheless been left unaddressed. The recent collapse of the financial markets has aptly demonstrated that not only the economic system cushions itself against such hard times but that it exhausts the rest of us and corrodes the lives of the poor. This scholarly yet readable book should help those who only wish to read half of the story. The other half is out in the open anyway!

India: The Emerging Giant
By Arvind Panagariya, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 514 pages, Rs 595


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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