India as a Developed Nation by 2047


    In Context

    • Recently, the Prime Minister asked Indians to embrace the “Panch Pran”(five vows) by 2047 when the country celebrates 100 years of independence. 
      • The first vow, he said, is for India to become a developed country in the next 25 years. 

    What is a “developed” country?

    • Different global bodies and agencies classify countries differently. 
    • The ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects’ of the United Nations classifies countries into three broad categories: 
      • Developed economies, 
      • Economies in transition, and 
      • Developing economies. 
      • The idea is “to reflect basic economic country conditions”, and the categories “are not strictly aligned with the regional classifications”. 
    • To categorise countries by economic conditions, the United Nations uses the World Bank’s categorisation based on Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (in current US dollars).
    • Criticisms:
      • The UN’s nomenclature of “developed” and “developing” is being used less and less, and is often contested.
        • It can be argued that the UN classification is not very accurate and, as such, has limited analytical value.
      • Developed:
        • There are 31 developed countries according to the UN in all. 
      • Developing:
        • All the rest — except 17 “economies in transition” — are designated as “developing” countries. 
          • Even though in terms of proportion, China’s per capita income is closer to Norway’s than Somalia’s. 
          • China’s per capita income is 26 times that of Somalia’s while Norway’s is just about seven times that of China’s.


    India’s position

    • No more a ‘third world’:
      • India was classified as a ‘third-world’ country at the time of independence from British rule in 1947. 
      • But over the past seven decades, its GDP has grown from just Rs 2.7 lakh crore to Rs 150 lakh crore.
    • India as a developing country:
      • India is currently far behind both the developed countries, as well as some developing countries
      • Often, the discourse is on the absolute level of GDP (gross domestic product). 
        • On that metric, India is one of the biggest economies of the world — even though the US and China remain far ahead.
    • To be classified as a “developed” country, 
      • The average income of a country’s people matters more. 
        • And on per capita income, India is behind even Bangladesh. 
        • China’s per capita income is 5.5 times that of India, and the UK’s is almost 33 times.
    • The disparities in per capita income:
      • It often shows up in the overall quality of life in different countries. 
      • A way to map this is to look at the scores of India and other countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite index where the final value is reached by looking at three factors: 
        • The health and longevity of citizens, 
        • The quality of education they receive, and 
        • Their standard of life.
      • India has made a secular improvement on HDI metrics
        • For instance, the life expectancy at birth (one of the sub-metrics of HDI) in India has gone from around 40 years in 1947 to around 70 years now. 
        • India has also taken giant strides in education enrolment at all three levels — primary, secondary, and tertiary.


    • When compared to the developed countries or China, India has a fair distance to cover. 
    • A 2018 diagnostic report on India by the World Bank said: 
      • Even though India is the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, most Indians are still relatively poor compared to people in other middle-income or rich countries. 
      • Ten percent of Indians, at most, have consumption levels above the commonly used threshold of $10 (PPP) per day expenditures for the global middle class.”
      • Food share of consumption:
        • Other metrics, such as the food share of consumption, suggest that even rich households in India would have to see a substantial expansion of their total consumption to reach levels of poor households in rich countries.
    • Inequality:
      • India also faces the issue of deep-rooted inequality which has climbed steadily over the last few decades, making room for inclusive growth smaller.
    • Illiteracy:
      • India is also home to the largest number of illiterate people in the world with over 25% of the population still uneducated.
    • Women:
      • One of the bleakest spots is the Female Labour Force Participation Ratio. It has dropped sharply and steadily in the last decade.

    Way Ahead

    • India’s potential to achieve to become a developed country by 2047:
      • One way to make this assessment is to look at how long other countries took to get there. 
      • For instance, in per capita income terms, Norway was at India’s current level 56 years ago in the year 1966.
      • China reached that mark in 2007. 
      • Theoretically then, if India were to grow as fast as China did between 2007 and 2022, then, broadly speaking, it will take India another 15 years to be where China is now. 
    • India’s current HDI score:
      • It is much lower (0.64)than what any of the developed countries had even in 1980. 
        • China reached the 0.64 level in 2004, and took another 13 years to reach the 0.75 level — that, incidentally, is the level at which the UK was in 1980.
    • The World Bank’s 2018 report:
      • The report had made a mention of what India could achieve by 2047.
        • By 2047 — the centenary of its independence, at least half its citizens could join the ranks of the global middle class
        • By most definitions this will mean that households have access to: 
          • Better education and health care, 
          • Clean water, 
          • Improved sanitation, 
          • Reliable electricity, 
          • A safe environment, 
          • Affordable housing, and 
          • Enough discretionary income to spend on leisure pursuits.
      • But it also laid out a precondition for this to happen: “Fulfilling these aspirations requires income well above the extreme poverty line, as well as vastly improved public service delivery.”
    • The new clarion call given by the Prime Minister will call for all levels of government, both Centre and state, and all sections of the citizenry, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, to work hand in hand. 

    Source: TH