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Will Developing Countries Ever Catch Up With Developed Countries?

R Jayaraman

Author: R Jayaraman

Date: Thu, 2016-08-25 13:04

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?



The writing correctly summarize the dilemma faced by developing countries. In the era of increased global pressure and connectivity, they are trying to match the developed countries on progress parameters but miserably fail to do so. Many developing countries are facing problem very different from that of the developed countries. Countries such as Japan, Germany are facing depleting population whether on the other side countries like India, Indonesia are facing severe resource crunch due to population explosion. In such situation measuring the progress of the countries on the same scales decided by developed industrialized world is injustice to these countries. Developed world have achieved there parameters after journey of around 200-250 years post industrialization while many developing countries are in their 60s-70s after getting freedom from crutches of colonialism. In such cases developing countries should formulate their own parameters for growth and development and continue their progress. Bhutan is enlightening example in this context. Instead of running around fancy figures of GDP,GNP they have started to measure GNHI (Gross National Happiness Index) which was enshrined in the country’s 2008 constitution which states that “the State shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.” Such country specific independent measures of progress should be promoted as every country is unique and has it’s sets of unique problems and opportunities. Design thinkers has way to go in this field!!

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