The India Report: State of the nation 2012
India is the world’s second fastest growing economy, and the 10th largest (World Bank 2011). Of sub-continental dimensions, India can be described in many ways, all of them reflecting a part of reality—so much so that DfID (Department of International Development, Government of UK) has termed it three Indias: developed, developing and under-developed India. The India that exports food is also home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world. The India of IT coexists with the India which practices manual scavenging. Space-faring India is home to 626 million who practice open defecation, more than the rest of the world combined (474 million). The lower middle income country India is also one with the largest number of poor and illiterates, but producing 700,000 engineering graduates and 35,000 doctors per annum. India has 287 million illiterate adults, the most in any country in the world, equivalent to almost four times the population of France (UN, 2012). India is the world’s largest importer of arms, accounting for 10% of global arms imports between 2007 to 2011 (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, 2012).
India is the world’s second most populous nation with 1.21 billion citizens, 48 of whom are billionaires and 400 million who live in absolute poverty (World Bank 2011)—more than the combined population of 50 countries in Africa, almost 80% of the entire population of the EU (503 million). Only the richest 10% of Indians have an average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of Rs 3,459.77 (rural, $63) and Rs 7651.68 (urban, $140)—meaning the ‘richest 10%’ in rural areas live on $2 per day, and the ‘richest 10%’ in urban areas live on $3 per day. The per capita annual income is just $3,500 (PPP rates, OECD 2011). The high ‘rate’ of economic growth hides the low base of calculation. India will take 40 years at 6% compounded growth to reach the present per capita income of the UK ($35,000). If the long term average (LTA) growth is factored in, India (LTA=3.69) will take 65 years to catch up with the present UK per capita income and 170 years to catch up if UK’s LTA growth, (2.29%) is factored in.
Despite strong economic growth, the incidence and extent of poverty in India is severe and extensive. The UNDP’s multidimensional poverty index (MPI, 2010) reveals the persistence of acute poverty in India. There are more MPI poor in eight Indian states (421 million in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (410 million). The intensity of the poverty in parts of India is equal to, or worse than, that in war torn Africa (MPI, UNDP).
At the peak of India’s economic growth (2004-05 to 2009-10) fewer than 2 million jobs were created, though 55 million joined the work force. Even in areas of Indian ‘dominance’ such as information technology, India has a broadband (≥ 256 Kbps download) subscriber base of 14.5 million—meaning just about 12% of the Indian population is covered at extremely slow speeds —an indicator of the deep digital divide that accentuates the India development paradox in virtually every development indicator. Broadband speeds of over 4Mbps are available for just 8% in India, compared to 90% in the UK, and is ranked 112 among countries in internet speed in 2012. The digital divide is stark in telephones too (overall coverage (79.58%), with urban coverage (169.03%) far outstripping the rural (40.66%).
India fares poorly on governance and development indicators. India ranks 129 of 183 countries (2011) in per capita GDP (PPP terms). India ranks 112 out of 141 countries in the Child Development Index (CDI, 2011), lower than Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and the lowest among the BRICS nations. India ranks 129 of 187 countries in the Gender Inequality Index 2011 (0.617) the lowest ranked country in South Asia, and BRICS—the world’s fastest growing economies, comprising Brazil (0.449), Russia (0.338), India, China (0.209) and South Africa (0.49). Bangladesh (0.55), Bhutan (0.495), Pakistan (0.573), Nepal (0.558), and Sri Lanka (0.419) all have a lower GII than India (0.617). In comparison, UK’s GII is 0.209. India is ranked 94 of 176 countries with a score of 36 on 100 (2012) in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, below Sri Lanka (ranked 79 with 40 marks) and China (80, 39) and, but above Nepal and Pakistan (rank 139, 27 marks) and Bangladesh (144 with 26 marks). India was ranked 8 of 150 countries in illicit (black) money outflow, losing US$ 1.6billion in 2010 alone and US$123 billion from 2001-2010.
Almost any composite index of indicators of governance, equity, health, education, and nutrition would place India very close to the bottom in a ranking of all countries outside Africa. India is ranked 134 of 187 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index 2011, above Bhutan (141), Pakistan (145), Bangladesh (146) and Nepal (157) but below Sri Lanka (97), China (101), and even Iraq (132) or Palestine (114) and the lowest amongst the BRICS. India is ranked 66 of 105 countries in the 2012 Global Food Security Index lower than China (39) and Sri Lanka (62), but better than Pakistan (75) and Bangladesh (81). Only five countries outside Africa Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Yemen) have a lower youth female literacy rate than India. Only four countries (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Myanmar, and Pakistan) do worse than India in infant mortality rate (48 deaths/1,000 live births, UNICEF 2010); only three (Bolivia, Cambodia and Haiti) have lower levels of access to improved sanitation than India (31%); and none (anywhere—not even in Africa) have a higher proportion of underweight children (46%).
Despite improved incomes and increased production (from 50.8 million tons of food grain in 1951 to 241.6 million tons in 2011), per capita availability and per capita intake of most food items (except milk) declined during the last decade. Per capita food grain availability rose from 468.7 grams per day (GPD) in 1961 to 510.1 GPD in 1991 and then fell to 438.6 GPD in 2011. Availability of pulses has more than halved—from 69.0 GPD in 1961 to 31.6 GPD in 2011. With India expected to be the most populous country in the world by 2025, feeding the population is likely to be one of the more serious challenges that the country will face in the coming decades.
Calorific intake figures from the National Sample Survey Organisation NSSO consumption surveys point to a continuing decline, except in the case of milk. The decline is simultaneously seen in food such as eggs, meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. The decline in calorie intake during 2005-10 is the highest in any five-year period. The India Human Development Report 2011, prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower research, a Planning Commission body, admits that ‘by WHO standards, India is in a state of famine’. The poor nutritional standards make Indians susceptible to various infections. HIV has been brought under control and stabilised to a degree with new infections down by more than 50%—from 270,000 in 2000 to 120,668 in 2009 (NACO Fact Sheet-2011)—though the risk of opportunistic infections (especially TB) remains high.
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