Aug 25, 2016

Will Developing Countries Ever Catch Up With Developed Countries?

R Jayaraman

India is a 2 trillion economy now. Britain is a little higher with Germany being a little further ahead. India still remains an anachronism in that more than 25 % of its GDP is from agriculture, while the contribution from agriculture in all developed economies is around 2 %. Our GDP per capita is one of the lowest. In spite of this, India is ranked number 2 in terms of PPP! It is as if leading economists took pity on developing countries and found out a metric to give some sense of respectability to some of them, at least. How else could India be placed so high ? Scoring high on PPP, in the case of India, indicates that the country may be poor, but the prices of goods are so low that the population – or large parts of it – is able to make do. Should one accept this evaluation of the economy, because based on this, India has been denied concessional loans from the World Bank and other international development banks?

Even after almost fifty years since the world war II ended, many countries are yet to find their feet in changing over to the industrial way of life. While some have made the transition, like some south Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, many continue to be burdened with high poverty levels, steep population growth, plunging currency parity in world markets and an inflation that shows no signs of flagging. African countries are perhaps the hardest hit, followed by many South American countries. However African countries do not share either a nearness or a border with the US, many South American ones do – and that ADDS TO THEIR PAIN. Ask any Cuban.

In all these countries the GDP growth rates required to catch up with the developed countries are so steep that their leaders have given up on the economy and keep themselves busy with other matters. Economy is a losing game and, as per the old adage, “success has many fathers, failure is an orphan”. What will happen to these countries? Isn’t there any way for these nations to give a better standard of living to its people by rapid industrialisation? Or should they choose some other path – a path which perhaps finds no legitimacy in the current capitalistic orientation dominated western model of living? Should they choose a semi industrial, semi agricultural growth path?

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