Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives

Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives

Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives

Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives


India is a country of great diversity. The commonly used indicators of `quality of life' (such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy) vary tremendously between the different states, rivalling international contrasts between very low performing countries and very high achieving ones. This volume of essays reflects an attempt to draw lessons from the disparate experiences within India, rather than from contrasts with the experiences of other countries. It supplements Dr¿ze and Sen's India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity, which studies what we can learn from international comparisons of policies, actions, and achievements. The essays challenge exclusively economic judgements of the development process. The first task is to identify the ends of economic and social development in order to have a basis in which to found the means and strategies. The second task is to understand a wider range of means than those related simply to the use or non-use of markets.The first two overview essays study the issues at the national level, focusing on policy debates and district-by-district demographic indicators, respectively. They are followed by detailed case studies of three very different states: Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and West Bengal.


The studies in this volume focus on the lessons that emerge from the diversity of regional experiences within India. They supplement what can be learned from international comparisons of successes and failures in economic development. The work is motivated by the general approach of looking for lessons for India from the diversity of its own experiences.

The experience of rapid economic development in many developing countries, especially those in east Asia, has recently engaged the attention of development economists in general and those concerned with the Indian economy in particular. In our monograph, published last year, India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity (Drèze andSen, 1995), we have examined the lessons to be learned both from abroad and from the variety of experiences within India. This companion volume of essays scrutinizes the diverse experiences within India at greater depth. The studies include successes as well as failures, since there are lessons to be learned from each.

In chapter 1, 'Radical Needs and Moderate Reforms',Arnartya Sen presents an analysis of the persistence of endemic deprivation in India, and of the role of public action in addressing that problem. This essay, which draws on the companion volume (Drèze and Sen, 1995), stresses the need to go beyond the narrow focus of current policy debates on the issue of market-oriented reforms aimed at accelerating the rate of economic growth. These reforms can contribute to the elimination of basic deprivations in India, but they need to be supported and supplemented by a far more active involvement in the provision of basic education, health care, social security, and related fields.

Chapters 2-4 present case studies of particular states in India, focusing on their respective experiences in improving living conditions. Chapter 2, by Jean Drèze and Haris Gazdar, discusses the problem of economic and social backwardness in Uttar Pradesh and its causal antecedents. Among these are the disastrous functioning of public services in rural areas, the persistence of widespread illiteracy, and the suppression of women's agency in society. The . . .

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