The haves and have-nots

Written by Raj Kumar Ray | Updated: Nov 13 2013, 08:42am hrs
With the elections nearing and the debate over development and governance getting intense, various surveys are being carried out to show which states have done better in terms of economic and social parameters. The latest one in the series, from Crisil, based on ownership of consumer durables among households, once again underlines the notion that faster growth might result in prosperity but not necessarily lead to equality. The survey on 16 general category states ranks Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat among the three best performing states in terms of both prosperity and equality.

Interestingly, some of the richer states such as Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu rank low in terms of equality. In contrast, poorer states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh rank better in terms of the equality index. Other states such as Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh rank low both in terms of prosperity and equality.

Crisils prosperity index gauges the standard of living of households on the basis of census data on the ownership pattern of consumer durables such as TV, mobile phones, bicycles, computer and laptops and automobiles while the equality index measures the differences in living standard between the capital city and the rest of the state. Although Maharashtra has the highest per capita income in India as it houses Indias commercial hub Mumbai, 20% of its households have none of the durables. The gap between Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra is huge. While 15.7% of those living in Mumbai have all the durable assets, only 7% in the rest of the state can claim the same. Only 2.2% of the households in Mumbai have no durable assets while the figure is 19.4% for the rest of the state.

Coincidentally, most of the states that ranked high in the Crisil study are also those having a low ranking as per the Raghuram Rajan committees under-development index, which means faster economic development has its trickle-down effect on the weaker sections. There are exceptionsGujarat and Haryana rank high in the Crisil index but are categorised less developed in the Rajan index. The deviations between the two ranking may be due to the choice of parametersRajan panel took 10 economic and social parameters such as monthly per capita consumption expenditure, education, health, household amenities, poverty rate, female literacy and percent of SC/ST and population to draw up the underdevelopment index. But as the saying goesexceptions prove the law. Whichever way we look at it, all these surveys point to one thingeconomic growth hasnt been inclusive enough even after six decades.