Friday, April 13, 2007

Modern Indian Socio-Economic Mythologies - Part 2

NOTE: This is a enlargement of an earlier posting, a few months back. Since then, off and on, many (though, not all) of this information has appeared here. So in a way, it is also a consolidation of content to get a wider picture...

Every age and generation in a society (and the dominant class/caste therein) have their own mythologies to live by. These cherished beliefs often don't match with the reality/facts. Nevertheless, they become ingrained in our psyche as "facts", because they are repeated and echoed by media, politicians, consultants, academics, and various interests and lobbies...

...In any case, they do help people to remain engaged with their lives - and feel meaningful with whatever they are doing...

These are some of the "mythologies" of our age:

M1: Pre-91/"liberalisation" was the period of "dark ages"

Perhaps so (or not so - depending on how you want to interpret these figures)

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M2: Last 15+ years have created a "boom" in jobs

Actually, no!... If one looks at the figures/data. According to Planning Commission, post-mid '90s, the rate of job creation has become negative...

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...and more jobs are created in the unorganised sector than in the organised sector.

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M3: India has a "huge" professionally qualified manpower

Yes and no!...

It is definitely huge, no doubt.... But then, everything in India is HUGE, when it comes to head-count. Ours is, perhaps the only country, where a population of 120mn people (twice the population of 50%+ nations) becomes a "minority"!!!

Even if one defines "qualified" as any graduate and above degree-holder, even then the total "stock" is actually miniscule.

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This, incidentally, is the overall status of our economically active manpower

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... and among those ecoomically active, this is the %age of those who have "marketable skills"

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Lest one gets an incorrect (and exaggerated) meaning of "marketable skill", here is the listing of such skills:

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M4: India has the advantage of "demographic dividends"

Oops, yes!... India is demogaphicaly the youngest country in the world... Which gives us a tremendous economic advantage

But actually, it was always a young country - at least, by the Census figures since last 3 decades... not sure is it gave us an economic advantage then.

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M5: Urbanisation is a pre-requisite for economic growth and employment creation
Perhaps so, though I am not sure, why this should be so.

In any case, according to the 2005 Economic Census, the reality is like this:

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M6: India is becoming a "Rich" country

In a way, yes!... India has the 2nd largest number of billionnires - after, of course, US - in the world.

If a Billion is written as $1,000,000,000, and $1=Rs.45 approx, then the following figures are instructive:

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M7: "Capitalism" - or whatever is its modern versions (notwithstanding the fact the Adam Smith has been kidnapped, gagged, and mis-quoted gossly and widely!!!) - is the best option to have a healthy society and economic prosperity

The following is a comparison of countries on 5 indices (Color coding: the red is the paragon of free-market "capitalist model" and the yellow are the ones who are considered to be following the "socialist model"):

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GCI (Global Competitive index); HDI (Human Development Index); Gini Index (measures income disparity); IDC ISI (IDC's Informational Society Index); QLI (Quality of Life Index)


confused said...


You have compared 1950/51 figures to 1991 figures. Good.

But the real test would be to compare 1991 to 2005/6 figures and then see the change vis-a-vis 1950-1991 figures.

Otherwise, your data is largely meaningless.

Sumeet said...

I agree with confused, your data is largely meaningless.

I am not sure if you can ask us to ignore all non-nordic europe, japan, US & canada and then tell us that socialism has been more successful than capitalism. Other than nordic nations almost all countries on top 40 would be capitalist. & btw gini index thing is kinda not so ideal way to measure distribution of income, & a really bad way to measure prosperity rawanada is no.13 on gini index list, u want us to have that as our ideal.

This post is good for CPM election campaign, useless for serious economic discussions.

Madhukar said...

all data gets its meaning from the frame of reference that one has. Your frame of reference, I guess, is that only a comparison between 1950-91 and 1991-now figures will show whether 1950-1991 was as good as looks or not.

Which is fair enough!

My frame of reference in looking at these figures is mentioned in two earlier posts in Indian History trivia series:

Legacy of the Raj
A Nation in Making

if you read the post again, you will notice that I always put "capitalism" and "socialism" in inverted commas.... for the simple reason that these are as meaningless terms as saying all all Librans, or Virgos are identical. There are as many variety of "capitalist" or "socialist" countries, as perhaps the number of countries themselves. There are different paths and models for development and prosperity, depending on the unique conditions of the country... and that is all that the figure shows.

As for your pointing out about Rwanda (for that matter many other countries among the top 20 in the Gini index list), obviously the measure is only that of the "income disparity" - not of prosperity!... the income disparities will be low, if all are equally poor or equally rich. It is just a measure of equitable distribution of resources the country has.