Social indicators eclipse India’s growth: Swraj Paul


New Delhi : India’s high economic growth will be unacceptable if 35 percent of its people continue to merely subsist on less than a dollar a day and children are denied basic education, Swraj Paul said here Monday.

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“India is changing, people are realising their potential, and their demands and expectations are rising. But what is lacking is a serious attempt at alleviating the lot of the poor,” Paul said in a lecture delivered at a function organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

“India must grapple with and find credible answers to problems of educating its masses, proving healthcare to them and tackling the menace of corruption,” he said.

Paul said the number of Indians with higher education was a mere seven percent, compared with 50 percent in Britain and 47 percent in the G-8 countries. India, he added, compared unfavourably with even some African countries.

“Without education and healthcare, there is little chance of productivity going up,” Lord Paul said, and hastened to add: “These are not responsibilities of the government alone.”

Paul, who is also chairman of the diversified Caparo Group, accordingly advised Indian business community to look at these twin social issues seriously and said their businesses stood to gain with higher productivity.

Paul said India needed greater policy focus on education and that the government needed to move away from speeches by politicians to actual delivery. “There is far too much discussion on policy,” he pointed out.

He also said that corruption was another issue that was not being fought hard. “If you are ready to walk out, you won’t have a problem. It is very easy to find a solution that is faster, but in the long run, it doesn’t help.”

On globalisation, he was emphatic in saying that the phenomenon was unstoppable, but added that it would prove meaningless without free movement of people along with merchandise.

“Competition should be of a level that it hurts. That alone will help produce better and cheaper products,” he opined.

Paul also described India’s population as an asset, and said the world today was recognising India because of its good people.

“Let us create confidence in business and trade that it is possible to take on international majors. Let us create the attitude and mindset to make things happen.”