Quality of Life: India vs. The rate of economic growth in India is steadily rising, and there is much speculation about whether and when India may catch up with and surpass China’s growth rate. Despite the evident excitement that this subject seems to cause in India and abroad, it is surely rather silly to be obsessed about India’s overtaking China in the rate of india is great essay of GNP, while not comparing India with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy.
Economic growth can, of course, be enormously helpful in advancing living standards and in battling poverty. But there is little cause for taking the growth of GNP to be an end in itself, rather than seeing it as an important means for achieving things we value. India may catch up with and surpass China’s over 10 percent growth rate. Despite the evident excitement that this subject seems to cause in India and abroad, it is surely rather silly to be obsessed about India’s overtaking China in the rate of growth of GNP, while not comparing India with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy. It could, however, be asked why this distinction should make much difference, since economic growth does enhance our ability to improve living standards. The central point to appreciate here is that while economic growth is important for enhancing living conditions, its reach and impact depend greatly on what we do with the increased income.
The relation between economic growth and the advancement of living standards depends on many factors, including economic and social inequality and, no less importantly, on what the government does with the public revenue that is generated by economic growth. Some statistics about China and India, drawn mainly from the World Bank and the United Nations, are relevant here. Life expectancy at birth in China is 73. 230 per 100,000 live births in India and thirty-eight in China. The mean years of schooling in India were estimated to be 4. 4 years, compared with 7.
China’s adult literacy rate is 94 percent, compared with India’s 74 percent according to the preliminary tables of the 2011 census. 80 percent, whereas in China it is 99 percent. Comparing India with China according to such standards can be more useful for policy discussions in India than confining the comparison to GNP growth rates only. China’s rate of GNP growth is still clearly higher than India’s. Higher GNP has certainly helped China to reduce various indicators of poverty and deprivation, and to expand different features of the quality of life.
GNP per capita is, however, not invariably a good predictor of valuable features of our lives, for those features depend also on other things that we do—or fail to do. 590 in Bangladesh, in comparable units of purchasing power. This difference has expanded rapidly because of India’s faster rate of recent economic growth, and that, of course, is a point in India’s favor. But we must ask how well India’s income advantage is reflected in other things that also matter. I fear the answer is: not well at all.
Life expectancy in Bangladesh is 66. 9 years compared with India’s 64. Mean years of schooling amount to 4. 8 years in Bangladesh compared with India’s 4. While India is ahead of Bangladesh in the male literacy rate for the age group between fifteen and twenty-four, the female rate in Bangladesh is higher than in India.