Nos. 44-46, April 2008

Nos. 44 - 46
(April 2008):


India’s Runaway ‘Growth’: Distortion, Disarticulation, and Exclusion

India’s economy has seen rapid growth since 2003-04. The scale of this growth was not anticipated by many of the critics of the neo-liberal economic policies.1 In particular the following features were unexpected:

(i) GDP growth has been sustained for five years at high levels, and is widely predicted to continue at high rates well into the future.

(ii) Rapid growth is no longer restricted, as in the past, to the services sector, but has extended to manufacturing.

(iii) There have been unprecedented increases in the rates of savings and investment.

Among the proponents of the current economic policies, these developments seem to prove that India is on its way to join the ‘developed world’, indeed, even become an ‘economic superpower’.

At the same time, the proponents of the present policies have been unable to explain why, amid this extraordinary boom, the following have persisted:

(i) Mass malnutrition worse than that of sub-Saharan Africa prevails, with average calorie and protein consumption actually declining over the period of liberalisation.

(ii) The growth and quality of employment have been abysmal.

(iii) Real wages are stagnant/declining in the economy as a whole.

(iv) Agricultural investment and growth are stagnating/retrogressing.

(v) There is a profound crisis of the small peasantry (highlighted by their suicides).

Thus the present conjuncture poses more sharply than ever the question of the pattern of growth, and the meaning of ‘development’.

In this issue of Aspects, we wish to explore this question. In doing so, we must take account of the conflicting approaches to understanding the economy.



1. Aspects too has been guilty of wasting energy questioning the levels of GDP growth, a red herring, rather than focusing on the nature of the growth. (back)


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