Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Indian development: What is going on?

Being one of the most important figures both living and dead in international development and economics circles, Amartya Sen has again teamed up with Jean Dr├Ęze to release a book on the status of "India's defective development". In an interview with Guardian Global Development, Dr. Sen emphasizes his use of comparison to other countries as a wake-up call to the apathetic middle and upper classes in India.  The relevance of the release couldn't be more apt in light of a tragedy in an Indian school which resulted in the deaths of 22 children because of a tainted free meal, followed by local protest of burning police vehicles and tearing the school kitchen down. With the largest slums in the planet within and around all of its cities, and rural poverty levels equivalent to the poorest countries in the world, it's hard to believe that India is one of the largest emerging markets in the world, with an ever-increasing GDP per capita. Growth without equality continues to be one of the most pressing issues the world is facing in the 21st century, and countries in the North and South need to acknowledge the importance of spreading wealth evenly. Regardless of where you live or how your countries' overall economic standing is, wealth redistribution needs to occur at some level or other not only as a means of increasing healthcare, educational and economic standards, but as a tool for stemming corruption and increasing citizen involvement in local and national affairs.

Think about it this way: how do you expect someone in Canada to participate in society in the slightest ways if they have to work two part-time jobs to cover living expenses alone? It's the same inequality faced by the rural poor known as being "time-poor"; needing to spend hours getting water, or walking to school, or to a market... it is an inequality that is inherited unless state actors take part in ending the cycle. In India the state has not been nearly as active as its powerful neighbor to the North in changing the circumstances of its' poorest population, and by not adequately providing for the future India may just be setting itself up for problems that will be much more difficult to solve in 20 years then they can be today.

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