Socio-economic issues in India

Socio-economic issues in India

Since India's Independence in 1947, country has faced several social and economic issues.



India suffers from the problem of overpopulation. The population of india is very high- 1.2 billion approx. [1][2][3] Though India ranks second in population, it ranks 33 in terms of population density below countries such as The Netherlands, South Korea and Japan. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, had implemented a forced sterilization programme in the early 1970s but the programme failed. Officially, men with two children or more had to submit to sterilization, but many unmarried young men, political opponents and ignorant, poor men were also believed to have been sterilized. This program is still remembered and criticized in India, and is blamed for creating a public aversion to family planning, which hampered Government programmes for decades.[4]

Economic issues


Percent of population living under the poverty line

One-third of India's population (roughly equivalent to the entire population of the United States) lives below the poverty line and India is home to one-third of the world's poor people.

Though the middle class has gained from recent positive economic developments, India suffers from substantial poverty. According to the new World Bank's estimates on poverty based on 2005 data, India has 456 million people, 41.6% of its population, living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 (PPP) per day. The World Bank further estimates that 33% of the global poor now reside in India. Moreover, India also has 828 million people, or 75.6% of the population living below $2 a day, compared to 72.2% for Sub-Saharan Africa.[5][6][7][8]

Wealth distribution in India is fairly uneven, with the top 10% of income groups earning 33% of the income.[9] Despite significant economic progress, 1/4 of the nation's population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of $0.40/day. Official figures estimate that 27.5%[10] of Indians lived below the national poverty line in 2004–2005.[11] A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) found that 25% of Indians, or 236 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day[12] with most working in "informal labour sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty."[13]


Lack of proper sanitation is a major concern for India. Statistics conducted by UNICEF have shown that only 31% of India’s population is using improved sanitation facilities as of 2008.[14] It is estimated that one in every ten deaths in India is linked to poor sanitation and hygiene. Diarrhoea is the single largest killer and accounts for one in every twenty deaths.[14] Around 450,000 deaths were linked to diarrhoea alone in 2006, of which 88% were deaths of children below five.[14] Studies by UNICEF have also shown that diseases resulting from poor sanitation affects children in their cognitive development.[15]

Without proper sanitation facilities in India, people defecate in the open or rivers. One gram of faeces could potentially contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1000 parasite cysts and 100 worm eggs.[16] The Ganges river in India has a stunning 1.1 million litres of raw sewage being disposed into it every minute.[16] The high level of contamination of the river by human waste allow diseases like cholera to spread easily, resulting in many deaths, especially among children who are more susceptible to such viruses.[17]

A lack of adequate sanitation also leads to significant economic losses for the country. A Water and sanitation Program (WSP) study The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in India (2010) showed that inadequate sanitation caused India considerable economic losses, equivalent to 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP in 2006 at US$53.8 billion (Rs.2.4 trillion).[18] In addition, the poorest 20% of households living in urban areas bore the highest per capita economic impacts of inadequate sanitation.[19]

Recognising the importance of proper sanitation, the Government of India started the Central Rural Sanitation Program (CRSP) in 1986, in hope of improving the basic sanitation amenities of rural areas. This program was later reviewed and, in 1999, the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was launched. Programs such as Individual Household Latrines (IHHL), School Sanitation and Hygiene Education (SSHE), Community Sanitary Complex, Anganwadi toilets were implemented under the TSC.[20]

Through the TSC, the Indian Government hopes to stimulate the demand for sanitation facilities, rather than to continually provide these amenities to its population. This is a two-pronged strategy, where the people involved in this program take ownership and better maintain their sanitation facilities, and at the same time, reduces the liabilities and costs on the Indian Government. This would allow the government to reallocate their resources to other aspects of development.[21] Thus, the government set the objective of granting access to toilets to all by 2017.[22] To meet this objective, incentives are given out to encourage participation from the rural population to construct their own sanitation amenities. In addition, the government has set out to educate its people on the importance and benefits of proper sanitation through mass communication and interpersonal communication techniques. This is done through mass and print media to reach out to a larger audience and through group discussions and games to better engage and interact with the individual.[23]

Extent of corruption in Indian states, as measured in a 2005 study by Transparency International India. (Darker regions are more corrupt)[24]


Corruption is widespread in India. India is ranked 72 out of a 179 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, although its score has improved consistently from 2.7 in 2002 to 3.5 in 2007.[25] Corruption has taken the role of a pervasive aspect of Indian politics and bureaucracy.[26]

In India, corruption takes the form of bribes, evasion of tax and exchange controls, embezzlement, etc. A 2005 study done by Transparency International (TI) India found that more than 50% had firsthand experience of paying bribe or peddling influence to get a job done in a public office.[24] The chief economic consequences of corruption are the loss to the exchequer, an unhealthy climate for investment and an increase in the cost of government-subsidised services. The TI India study estimates the monetary value of petty corruption in 11 basic services provided by the government, like education, healthcare, judiciary, police, etc., to be around Rs.21,068 crores.[24] India still ranks in the bottom quartile of developing nations in terms of the ease of doing business, and compared to China and other lower developed Asian nations, the average time taken to secure the clearances for a startup or to invoke bankruptcy is much greater.[27]



Since the Indian Constitution was finalized in 1949, education has remained one of the priorities of the Indian government. The first education minister Maulana Azad founded a system of education which aimed to provide free education at the primary level. Primary education was made free and compulsory for children from 6-14, and child labour was banned. The government introduced incentives to education and disincentives for not receiving education – for instance, the provision of mid-day meals in schools were introduced. Many similar initiatives echoed, and the largest of such initiatives is Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which actively promoted “Education for All”. In line with this, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) aimed to increase their expenditure on education to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from values fluctuating about 3% through their National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) in 2004. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was also imposed in 2009. Despite these initiatives, education continues to persist as an impediment to development.

linkage between education and economic growth

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There is a direct linkage between education and economic growth. This was given by Theodore W. Schultz.[28] Here labour plays a very important role.[29]

Measurement of returns to school

Measurement of returns to school (r) is measured by: Y*= wages of illiterate people Y= wages of people after education C= cost of education

r= (Y - Y*)/(Y* + C)

Where Y - Y* is benefit.

Now this is only for 1 year


Y - Y*/(Y* + C)x

Where x is the number of years.

For developed countries Y* is higher than the developing countries. But the leap from Y* to Y is greater in developing countries. Therefore in developing countries the rate of returns to school is much much higher. In developing countries the rate of return of investing on human capital is much higher.

There is a difference between the rate of returns for boys and girls. The returns is very less in comparison to boys. The rate of return for boys is much greater.

This mathematical formula was given by Psacharopoulos. He was a Greek economist.[30]


While many schools were built, they had poor infrastructure and inadequate facilities. Schools in the rural areas were especially affected. According to District Information System for Education (DISE) in India in 2009, only about 51.5% of all schools in India have boundary walls, 16.65% have computers and 39% have electricity. Of which, only 6.47% of primary schools and 33.4% of secondary schools have computers, and only 27.7% of primary schools have electricity.[31] Learning in poorly furnished schools was not conducive, resulting in poor quality education.

Furthermore, the absence rates of teachers and students were high, while their retainment rates low. The incentives for going to school were not apparent, while punishment for absence was not enforced. Despite the government’s decree on compulsory education and the child labour ban, many children were still missing classes to go to work. The government did not interfere even when children missed school.

Also, online country studies publications by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress stated that “it was not unusual for the teacher to be absent or even to subcontract the teaching work to unqualified substitutes”.[32] This exacerbates the problems of the lack of qualified teachers. Currently, the student-teacher ratio remains high at around 32, which is not much of an improvement since 2006 when the ratio was 34.[33]

Economic and social disparities also plague the fundamentals of the education system. Rural children are less able to receive education because of greater opportunity costs, since rural children have to work to contribute to the family’s income. According to the Annual Status of Education in 2009, the average attendance rate of students in the rural states is about 75%. Though this rate varies significantly, states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had more than 40% absentees during a random visit to their schools. In the urban states, more than 90% of the students were present in their schools during a visit.[34]


Religious violence

The 16th Century Babri Mosque,was destroyed by the members of VHP and Bajrang Dal in 1992,[35] resulting in nationwide religious riots

Constitutionally India is a secular state, [36] but large-scale violence have periodically occurred in India since independence. In recent decades, communal tensions and religion-based politics have become more prominent. .[37] Although India is generally known for religious pluralism, [38] the Hindutva ideology propagates that India belongs to the Hindus, and the Christians and the Muslims are "aliens", [39] and many proponents of this ideology portray violence against Muslims and Christians as a form of "self-defence" against "invaders". [40] The Hindutva ideology is at the core of Sangh Parivar politics and its expression in violence against religious minority. [39] Throughout the history of post-Independence India, more religion and communal violences were happen. [41] As the Hindutva ideology has grown more powerful over the years, many Hindutva activists have partaken in riots against minority communities. [42] Over the last decade, religious violence in India has increasingly become what academics believe to be organized pogroms to eliminate minority communities. [43] [44] [45] Some state governments in India have been accused of not effectively prosecuting those who attack religious minorities. [46] Major religious violent incidents include Ayodhya debate, Bombay Riots, 1993 Bombay bombings, 2002 Gujarat violence.

Many Ahmedabad's buildings were set on fire during 2002 Gujarat violence

Although related, Hinduism and Hindutva are different. Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political ideology. The Hindutva movement is not supported by majority of Hindus. Some tolerant or "secular" Hindus use the term "Hindu Taliban" to describe the supporters of the Hindutva movement.[47] Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize-winning Indian sociologist and cultural and political critic Ashis Nandy argued "Hindutva will be the end of Hinduism."[48]

In Jammu and Kashmir, Since March 1990, estimates of between 250,000 to 300,000 pandits have migrated outside Kashmir due to persecution by Islamic fundamentalists in the largest case of ethnic cleansing since the partition of India.[49] The proportion of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley has declined from about 15% in 1947 to, by some estimates, less than 0.1% since the insurgency in Kashmir took on a religious and sectarian flavor.[50] Many Kashmiri Pandits have been killed by Islamist terrorists in incidents such as the Wandhama massacre and the 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre.[51][52][53][54][55]

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in violent attacks on Christians in India, often perpetrated by Hindu Nationalists.[56] The acts of violence include arson of churches, re-conversion of Christians to Hinduism, distribution of threatening literature, burning of Bibles, raping of nuns, murder of Christian priests and destruction of Christian schools, colleges, and cemeteries.[57][58] The Sangh Parivar and related organisations have stated that the violence is an expression of "spontaneous anger" of "vanvasis" against "forcible conversion" activities undertaken by missionaries,[57][59][60] a claim described as "absurd" and rejected by scholars.[57] Between 1964 and 1996, thirty-eight incidents of violence against Christians were reported.[57] In 1997, twenty-four such incidents were reported.[61] In 2007 and 2008 there was a further flare up of tensions in Orissa, the first following the Christians' putting up a Pandhal in land traditionally used by Hindus and the second after the unprovoked murder of a Hindu Guru and four of his disciples while observing Janmashtami puja. This was followed by an attack on a 150-year-old church in Madhya Pradesh,[62] and more attacks in Karnataka,[63]


The regions with long term terrorist activities today are Jammu and Kashmir, Central India (Naxalism) and Seven Sister States (independence and autonomy movements). In the past, the Punjab insurgency led to militant activities in the Indian state of Punjab as well as the national capital Delhi (Delhi serial blasts, anti-Sikh riots). As of 2006, at least 232 of the country’s 608 districts were afflicted, at differing intensities, by various insurgent and terrorist movements.[64]

Terrorism in India has often been alleged to be sponsored by Pakistan. After most acts of terrorism in India, many journalists and politicians accuse Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence of playing a role. Recently, both the US and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan of carrying out terrorist acts in Afghanistan.[65]


Map showing the districts where the Naxalite movement is active

Naxalism is an informal name given to communist groups that were born out of the Sino-Soviet split in the Indian communist movement. Ideologically they belong to various trends of Maoism. Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, they have spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist).[66] The CPI (Maoist) and some other Naxal factions are considered terrorists by the Government of India and various state governments in India.[67]

Caste related violence

Over the years, various incidents of violence against Dalits, such as Kherlanji Massacre have been reported from many parts of India. At the same time, many violent protests by Dalits, such as the 2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra, have been reported as well.

The Mandal Commission was established in 1979 to "identify the socially or educationally backward",[68] and to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. In 1980, the commission's report affirmed the affirmative action practice under Indian law whereby members of lower castes were given exclusive access to a certain portion of government jobs and slots in public universities. When V. P. Singh Government tried to implement the recommendations of Mandal Commission in 1989, massive protests were held in the country. Many alleged that the politicians were trying to cash in on caste-based reservations for purely pragmatic electoral purposes.

In 1990s, many parties Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal started claiming that they are representing the backward castes. Many such parties, relying primarily on Backward Classes' support, often in alliance with Dalits and Muslims, rose to power in Indian states.[69] At the same time, many Dalit leaders and intellectuals started realizing that the main Dalit oppressors were so-called Other Backward Classes,[70] and formed their own parties, such as the Indian Justice Party. The Congress (I) in Maharashtra long relied on OBCs' backing for its political success.[69] Bharatiya Janata Party has also showcased its Dalit and OBC leaders to prove that it is not an upper-caste party. Bangaru Laxman, the former BJP president (2001–2002) was a Dalit. Sanyasin Uma Bharati, former CM of Madhya Pradesh , who belongs to OBC caste, was a former BJP leader. In 2006 Arjun Singh cabinet minister for MHRD of the UPA government was accused of playing caste politics when he introduced reservations for OBCs in educational institutions all around.

See also


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  5. ^ "One-third of world's poor in India: Survey". The Times Of India. 2008-08-27. 
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  8. ^ Schifferes, Steve (2008-08-27). "World poverty 'more widespread'". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  9. ^ "In Pictures – Middle Class, or Upper Class? ". India Together. Civil Society Information Exchange. August 2003
  10. ^ This figure is extremely sensitive to the surveying methodology used. The Uniform Recall Period (URP) gives 27.5%. The Mixed Recall Period (MRP) gives a figure of 21.8%
  11. ^ Planning commission of India. Poverty estimates for 2004–2005
  12. ^ This figure has been variously reported as either "2 dollars per day" or "0.5 dollars per day". The former figure comes from the PPP conversion rate, while the latter comes from the official exchange rate. Also note that this figure does not contradict the NSS derived figure, which uses calorie consumption as the basis for its poverty line. It just uses a more inclusive poverty line
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  19. ^ "The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in India". Water and Sanitation Program Publications. p. 6. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
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  40. ^ Basu, Tapan Kumar (1993), Khaki shorts and saffron flags: a critique of the Hindu right, [New Delhi]: Orient Longman, pp. 20, ISBN 0-86311-383-4 
  41. ^ Hindu Extremists Attack Indian Churches, Torch Home of Prominent Christian
  42. ^ Paul Brass, The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, University of Washington Press, 2003: p 1144.
  43. ^ Bhatt, Chetan. "Majority ethnic" claims and authoritarian nationalism", in Eric Kaufman (ed.) Rethinking Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities, Routledge, 2004.
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  48. ^ Ashis Nandy (1991-02-18), Hinduism Versus Hindutva: The Inevitability Of A Confrontation, The Times of India,, retrieved 2008-11-10 
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  52. ^ Migrant Pandits voted for end of terror in valley, The Tribune, 27 April 2004,, retrieved 2007-11-30 
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  55. ^ Phil Reeves (25 March 2003), Islamic militants kill 24 Hindus in Kashmir massacre, The Independent,, retrieved 2007-11-30 
  56. ^ Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India, 
  57. ^ a b c d Anti-Christian Violence in India, 
  58. ^ Anti-Christian Violence on the Rise in India
  59. ^ Low, Alaine M.; Brown, Judith M.; Frykenberg, Robert Eric (eds.) (2002), Christians, Cultural Interactions, and India's Religious Traditions, Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, pp. 134, ISBN 0-7007-1601-7 
  60. ^ Subba, Tanka Bahadur; Som, Sujit; Baral, K. C (eds.) (2005), Between Ethnography and Fiction: Verrier Elwin and the Tribal Question in India, New Delhi: Orient Longman, ISBN 81-250-2812-9 
  61. ^ Ram Puniyani (2003), Communal Politics: Facts Versus Myths, SAGE, p. 167, ISBN 0-7619-9667-2 
  62. ^ "150-yr-old church set afire in Madhya Pradesh". The Times Of India. 2008-09-20. 
  63. ^
  64. ^ India Assessment – 2007
  65. ^
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  67. ^ Diwanji, A. K. (2003-10-02), Primer: Who are the Naxalites?,,, retrieved 2007-03-15 
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