It is a fashion now to talk about China & India in year 2050. Whether it is a political meeting, economic forum, seminar, symposium, workshop and conference or by whatever name you call of public gathering, everywhere one talks about possible size of two economies after half century, irrespective of level of gathering whether local, national or international. If the miracle leads and India supercedes developed nations to become largest economy, it will be pleasure for all. But all projections that have taken place so far considered deteriorating social health of the nation? And can economic growth be independent of individual efforts & social health? Do one agree that better psychic & social health improves economic efficiency?
Here, I want to bring few observations to the audience that seems to be very relevant for projected economic growth of India. If planners are convinced they should take review of the projections in this directions, or the rulers who are helm of affairs should take serious measures to mitigate them. It implies therefore, that projections are not impossible to achieve, but to be super economy; India has to do lot more on social front. India is lagging behind on several (all most all) socio-economic global indices.
I am just narrating few of my observations that need to be musing seriously. The number of suicides particularly by farmers, in Maharashtra has raised from 1083 in 1995 to 4,147 in 2004. Total suicides in 2001, Maharashtra (14618), Karnataka (11881), Tamil Nadu (11290), Andhra Pradesh (10522) have highest suicide rates respectively. According to Emile Durkheim, this kind of suicide falls within the purview of ‘Anomic Suicide’ – one of the classifications of suicide. In fact, anomic suicide results from normlessness or deregulation in society. Suicide per 100,000 population in Kerala, 27.7, Goa, 21.4, Tamilnadu, 20, AP, 17.2, Maharashtra, 14.5, Gujarat 8.9. If we go by Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist says that suicide is a social fact and not simply an individual act but a product of social forces external to the individual. A survey report conducted by the agency of the Govt. of India that reveals most developed states have more suicide rate as compared to the most backward states. Does it means that it is the side effect of reform therefore? Carry out projections by 2050 without ignoring these facts.
The another front, as a teacher I see that during this academic year, at least six of my students comes in the class with bandage, plaster or walker in the class. There are approximately 400,000 road crashes causing injury in India each year, resulting in 85,000 deaths and 1.2 million seriously injured. The World Health Organization (WHO) has projected that by 2020 road accidents will be a major killer in India accounting for 546,000 deaths and 15,314,000 disability-adjusted life years lost. Vehicles are increasing at accelerated growth but road does not commensurate with that rate. 70% of the fuel is imported by India. Carry out projections by 2050.
11 thefts in my city every day, 1000 accidents, 500 death by accident, 600 murders in the city every year, 1 dacoity in a day and all type of crime on high growth rate. This is scenario of Ahmedabad, a peaceful & prosperous city. In my neighboring three marriages took place in last one year. All broken. My brother visited me few months back, narrated story of my village like this, 32 marriages took place in the peak season and by Diwali 28 were broken. Carry out projections by 2050.
800 female per 1000 male in many districts of state of Gujarat and even same scenario in other state like Hariyana. Replication through out the country in more or less in the same proportion and carry out projections by 2050 carefully.
According to recent media reports, some three crore cases are pending in all courts. There are many other international survey that has taken place, on corruption front, as some time back in a corruption index India was ranked 83 among 133 countries, India’s low health spending means India ranks an abysmal 171 out of 175, doing business India is ranked on very low preference on different number on different criterions. India’s Human Development Indicator rank is 127. India’s literacy rate is around 65% and only 12 out of 1000 are able to complete higher education.
Since last decade there is no single party government at the center, and in foreseeable future it seems to be unattainable. There is continuous friction between constituents of the ruling parties at center & states, legislation & judiciary and fluctuations in various state policies. In the name of name of reforms many are made homeless, evacuated from houses to build roads and to satisfy builders. In a week 5000 families’ houses were demolished. Houses are evacuated because they were possessing ‘illegal’ land. I have put the word in italic, because slums dwellers were staying there since 148 years! Law is like wheat flour, you can make bread or chapatti or pudding as you like. By merely interpreting land may become ‘illegal’. What I propose here is reform without social concern, without human face may no succeed in long run. And the serious problem in the country is no body is bothering about the pain of society.
India is peaceful & generous society, ancient & since time memorial. Family system is considered one of the reasons of robust economy status by many authors. India brought Domestic Violence Act to prevent crime against women by relatives. Now the government is likely to propose Act that ensures Parents’ welfare by the children. Can society be build by intervention in household affairs? And is it really so bad situation in family widely that government need to bring series of law to curb family disruptions?
There are many fronts where deteriorating social health is a great concern and creates doubt whether economic growth is possible without healthy society? And whether economic performance at macro level is not depending upon micro level? There is no interdependence? And if it is so, whether the projections have taken care of very essential elements of development at social & economic front? To achieve 5-7% growth rate for half century require power supply at same or higher growth rate. Automobile & Mobile industry is growing at fast rate, is it possible to accommodate produced vehicles on the roads? Is it possible to import fuel even if fuel prices goes up internationally? I must say, I am not pessimistic, but would like to be cautious and as a torchbearer, would like to bring the facts to the notice of thinkers. I conclude by saying that, the detail survey of the household problems be conducted nation wide, inviting social activists, educationists, psychiatrists, economists, engineers, environmentalist and other intellectuals.
Keywords: Economic Growth, Social Health, India
JEL Classification: A00, Q17