The current state of India’s development story in ten charts Deepanshu Mohan is Assistant Professor of Economics and Executive Director, OP Jindal Global University, and Richa Sekhani is a Researcher at ICRIER and Senior Research Analyst at the Centre for New Economics Studies, OP Jindal Global University With the 2019 Lok Sabha election less than a year away, the current Indian story of development deserves to be a top priority for all contesting political parties. During the absolute majority electoral win in 2014, the Narendra Modi led NDA government promised development for all (Acchhe Din) as part of its top governance priority. Over the last few months, rivers of ink have been spilled debating the extent to which such claimed promises of development are actually realized or not. Our analysis here, from a national perspective, seeks to offer a comprehensive picture on India’s development narrative, highlighting the key governance areas meriting greater attention from political groups across states. Employment Keeping aside some of the debates surrounding the methodology, validity or discreteness of employment data in and across India, the aggregate employment growth numbers paint a mixed picture (as seen in Figure 1). If we take employment elasticity as a measure here to understand the current employment scenario across different occupational areas, we see current employment intensity levels to be at its lowest (across sectors) when compared with the corresponding rate of economic growth. Employment elasticity, simply, measures the percentage change in employment across a given occupational sector from a 1 per cent point increase (or decrease) in economic growth. Overall, improved trends in employment elasticity for an economy, reflect a better growth in employment opportunities (within a sector) for its population as a percent of its growth (development) process. Figure 1 demonstrates an improved overall employment growth situation (in terms of creating formal, regular-wage job opportunities) since the year 2000. However, an increase in overall employment growth (as debated as it may be) does not necessarily improve employment intensity within sectors (seen in Figure 2). Figure 2 reflects the weak extent of employment intensity growth across sectors (except in Construction and Utilities), observable over the last two decades. Sector-wise levels of employment elasticity are seen to be in the negative zone for the agriculture sector, indicating a transition in employability of people (with high levels of urbanization) who continue to move out from farming related activities to other areas of work for higher wages. Since the year 2000, employment elasticity is the highest for utilities, followed by construction sector (explained by high private and public investments in infrastructure). The manufacturing sector, however, witnessed negative employment elasticity in the second half of 2000s, during the period of 2009-10 to 2013-14, employment elasticity within manufacturing continues to be dismally low (around 0.3-0.4 %), reflecting how the conditions of higher growth in other areas have hardly affected the employment intensity within India’s manufacturing capacities. Gendered distribution of labour The rise in sector-wise levels of gender inequality within India’s rapidly expanding female-male labour market continues to be a deeply troubling phenomena. If we simply observe the labour force participation levels (gender-wise) over the last few years, the disparity seen in the number of women participating in regular-wage (formal) jobs as against men, remains overwhelmingly high. In the World Economic Forum Global Gender Report 2015, India was ranked 139 among 145 countries on the Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index while in rankings by indicator, its rank on Female Labour Force Participation Rate is 136 among 145 countries. On a state-wise trend for this indicator (seen in Figure 4 below), one observes a huge gendered variation in performance between states of the North-East and the South with the North Indian states (with exceptions of Chhattisgarh and Union territory of Chandigarh). Some possible reasons explaining these geo-spatial trends have been discussed here. Access to social opportunities (education & health) Public funding and support in areas of education and healthcare has drastically reduced in the last few years. In healthcare financing, for example, the total share of Union Government in the overall budget allocation continues to be dismally low in the range of 1.5-2% (seen in Figure 5.1). A dismally low level of public funding not only increases the overall out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure for those with limited capacity to afford medical treatment, but also affects the overall capacity to meet healthcare needs of the population. One way to monitor some of the supply side constraints (on access to public healthcare) is by studying the trend in total number of professional doctors across publicly funded medical establishments (seen in Figure 5.2). Figure 5.2 extracted from the data provided by Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), depicts the total number of doctors available (as per different areas of medical expertise) across the country. At this point, on an aggregate level, India has 1 million doctors of modern medicine (ie. allopathy) to treat a population of 1.3 billion population. Out of these, only 1.1 lakh work within the public health sector, which caters to more than 900 million of the population (from rural areas) that remains entirely dependent on publicly funded medical establishments. A previous analysis discusses the extent of India’s national level public health crisis. In the area of education, public funding and support, across primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education continues to decline. Figure 6 below reflects a substantial cut in budget allocation for higher education (by the Union Government), with the expectation for states to increase their own share of education spending, at the same time, substituting higher education capacity needs by pushing for increased private-sector spending across different educational levels. However, in terms of accessibility, affordability and learning outcomes (of students within public-funded educational facilities), the evidence remains highly uneven across states. The systemic crisis in India’s public education sector remains further exacerbated by the rising extent of teaching vacancies, evident within elementary and higher secondary schools across states. Figure 7.1 and 7.2 below reflect the state-wise number of teacher vacancies within elementary schools (Figure 7.1) and government secondary schools (Figure 7.2) including data from both, rural and urban areas. At elementary level of schooling, 17.51% posts for government teachers were vacant, while for secondary level schools, 14.78% posts were vacant. Jharkhand and Bihar feature the highest number of (government) teacher vacancies (at elementary school-levels). In case of secondary schooling, India remains short by more than 1 million teachers than the sanctioned number. The situation in case of ensuring a minimum number of special educators (seen as teachers to children with special needs or physical, mental disabilities) remains particularly poor across states. There are about 65% posts vacant for such special educators, where, states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Meghalaya feature not even a single special educator. Similarly, in case of higher university level education, over a third of the total teaching positions across 40 central universities in India are lying vacant (seen in Tables 1 & 2), with Allahabad University (in UP) and Delhi University amongst the worst affected. Access to justice One of the basic features strengthening the social contract between any government and citizens remains rooted in government’s capacity to ensure an environment of safety and protection for all citizens. In terms of access to basic law and order establishment (ie. the police force), Figure 8 below shows the state-wise distribution of police force available to ensure citizen safety and/or enforce law and order to minimize instances of crime. While instances of rising crime (including crime against women) continue to be reported, what remains often understated is the limited availability of police force within/across states to address citizen needs. As per the data released by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) in 2017-18, there are 15,579 police stations in the country. The police-to-population ratio (according to BPR&D) must be around 222 police personnel for one lakh citizens, whereas, in India this ratio is 151. Further, poor state-level funding for developing policing infrastructure add to the concerns of low police(wo)men available. Many police stations lack basic utilities of vehicles, phones and wireless communication. As per BPR&D statistics, there are around 273 police stations without a single police vehicle for transport; around 267 without telephone lines and 129 without wireless sets; while, 51 of overall police stations neither have a telephone line nor wireless sets available. In the case of resolving legal disputes, the need for a higher number of judges to resolve pending judicial cases (across different levels) continues to rise further. According to TS Thakur (an earlier Chief Justice of India), at a national level, courts require more than 70,000 judges to clear pending cases. In terms of judges-per ten lacs population ratio, there are 18 judges per 10 lakh people as compared to a ratio of 50 to 10 lakh people, as recommended by the Law Commission in an earlier report. Going into election mode, it remains vital for all contesting political groups to attach greater importance to the concerns highlighted here and more importantly debate to discuss measures that can help mitigate the developmental challenges (across states) in realizing better conditions of economic and social well-being for all.
... it remains vital for all contesting political groups to attach greater importance to the concerns highlighted here