September , 2022
India at 75
23:02 pm

Buroshiva Dasgupta

When the British left India after 200 years, it drained the country of resources worth according one
statistics (Utsa Patnaik) $ 45 trillion. Today, after 75 years of its independence, we are struggling to
become a $5 trillion economy.
In 1950, the per capita income of an average Indian was $60; today it is $2200. We still hold a lowly 158 th
position in the global 205, in terms of per capita income. Yet, we must admit, we are back in the global
race. According to another series of statistics (Ruchir Sharma) India is ungoing a “V shaped recovery” in
its economy. India’s riches in terms of resources are phenomenal. That’s why it attracted so many
‘invaders’ down the ages. Even in 1950s, just a few years after its independence, India with its depleted
economy, in terms of GDP growth, stood at 6 th position in the world. In the 60s, 70s, 80s its position, in
terms of GDP growth, was down to 13. In 2020, it’s back to 6 th position. India’s rupee value, which was
Rs 4 against one dollar in 1950, fell by Rs 75 in 75 years. But it’s still competitive and cheap and
continues to boost exports.
In terms of human development, life expectancy in India has increased from 40 in 1950s to 70 today.
Death rate of infants which was 140 per 1000 in 1950, has come down to 25 per 1000. Literacy rate has
shot up, and the schooling years have gone up from 7 to 12 years. Without going into the blame game
and without comparing which ruling political party did better, we must generally admit, human
development conditions in India have been steadily improving. We have tided over several crises (the
latest being Covid) and have moved from a period of ‘rationing’ to an era of ‘choices’.
Unlike many of the East Asian countries, India’s political freedom came early, but its economy remained
in shackles for a long time and is still ‘unfree’ to a great extend. The liberalisation of the 1990s did set
free India from the ‘socialist’ growth rate of 3%; but the incentives towards real growth are still not
forthcoming. In 1990s, India and China were economically almost on the same plane; but post 1990; the
growth of China has been parabolic. Communist China ‘fired’ 90 million people from its near stagnant
public enterprises. There was large scale migration to coastal China where new cities were built.
Economy was set free; there was huge boost to manufacturing and exports. Such radical steps are
impossible in democratic India; but certainly, the government needs to be less interfering. A business
environment should be created for more private enterprise along with more efficient and less corrupt
public vigilance. It’s not a question of public private competition but cooperation.
The stock market is India’s strength. The market capitalization is impressive and can be tapped for much
needed capital for enterprise. Prejudices about the stock market among the middle class Indians are

disappearing much of the elusive foreign investment in the stock market is being offset by domestic
investors today. The predictions are that the present sensex of 58,000 will reach 130,000 in 10 years.
India is criticized for its increasing number of billionaires – from 55 in 2010 to 140 in 2020 - against its
slow increase in per capita income. But a closer look will reveal that 50% of the older billionaires are
absent in the list. Many of them are self made. New areas in healthcare, manufacturing and technology
are opening up and these need encouragement.
India is growing the fastest in the world in digitalization. Apart from its other benefits, digitisation is
changing the welfare system of politics of the country. The political parties are aware of it. The subsidies
are reaching the last mile much better today. The trend in elections regarding anti-incumbency is being
replaced by pro-incumbency, because people are reacting positively to this subsidy politics.

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