India’s digital and green thrusts will help, as will geopolitical factors, but job generation and the state’s role need sorting out
Much has been written this past week about our achievements and failures of the past 75 years. It is a mixed picture. After stagnating for nearly 150 years during colonial rule, the standard of living started rising rapidly after independence. The average Indian is nearly 700% better off today than s/he was in 1950. Life expectancy has also doubled to 70 years during this period and literacy has gone up from just 18% to 74% (see charts). However, we have fallen behind many neighbouring Asian countries, including Bangladesh, in terms of per capita income and many social indicators. Globally, India is the second most unequal country. Sad news just this week tells us that social inequality and untouchability are still entrenched. Finally, our biggest failure is high unemployment. Ajit Ghosh, an authority on employment issues, has estimated an unemployment backlog of 79 million workers including 50 million in disguised unemployment.
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