The following points highlight the eight major problems of the Indian economy. Some of the problems are: 1. Low level of national income and per capita income 2. Vast inequalities in income and wealth 3. Predominance of agriculture 4. Tremendous population pressure 5. Massive unemployment and Others.
Indian Economy Problem # 1. Low level of national income and per capita income:
Economic growth of any country can be viewed from its level of national income and per capita income.
It is said that higher the level of national income, higher is the rate of economic growth.
India’s net national product (NNP) at factor cost in 2007-08 at 1999-2000 prices stood at Rs 27,60,325 crore. Population during the time stood at 1124 million.
This amounts to saying that per capita NNP came to Rs 24,256 or Rs 2,021 per month. Standards of living of masses are miserably low. Even the basic necessities are beyond the means of the majority of population. Comparing India’s per capita income with the other countries of the world, one comes to the conclusion that India is one of the poorest nations of the world.
Indian Economy Problem # 2. Vast inequalities in income and wealth:
Not only per capita income is low, but Indian economy is also marked by great inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. In India, as years roll on, inequalities are on the rise. The logical corollary of this inequality is mass poverty. Nearly 60 p.c. of the total population share one-third of India’s national income while only rich 5 p.c. of the total population enjoy the same amount of national income.
This inequality widens the problem of poverty. Even in 1972-73, more than 50 p.c. of the total population lived below the poverty line. Thanks to some economic progress it has come down from 36 p.c. in 1993-94 to about 27.5 p.c. in 2004- 05, poverty estimate based on Uniform Recall Period. In short, Indian economy still reels under the vicious circle of poverty.
Indian Economy Problem # 3. Predominance of agriculture:
Less developed countries live mainly upon agriculture and extractive industries, like mining, fisheries and forests. Predominance of agriculture is explained from the viewpoint of sectoral composition of national income and occupational pattern.
In India, in 1950- 51, more than 55 p.c. of our GDP came from the agricultural sector or the so- called primary sector. In 2007-08, however, the contribution of this sector toward GDP came down to 19.4 p.c.
The contributions of the secondary and tertiary sectors were 24.9 p.c. and 55.7 p.c., respectively. Thus, even after 58 years of planning, agriculture alone contributes less than one-fifth of our national income. Occupational structure also tells a story of predominance of the agricultural sector and the backwardness of the industrial sector.
In India, 52 p.c. of the total population was engaged in agriculture in 2004-05. Though agriculture occupies a predominant position in India, it is still backward.
Indian Economy Problem # 4. Tremendous population pressure:
In LDCs, the rate of growth of population is very high. So far as the size of population is concerned, India ranks second next only to China (1312 million in 2006). India’s population is now 1110 million in 2006- 07. During the decade of 1991, the growth rate of population in India was 1.61 p.c. per annum, as compared to 0.7 p.c. growth rate of population of developed countries.
High birth rate (23.5 per 1000) coupled with low death rate (7.5. per 1000 in 2005-06) is the genuine cause for population explosion in India. In the 20th century, India’s population went up by 5 p.c. as against 3 p.c. increase in the world’s population as a whole.
Indian Economy Problem # 5. Massive unemployment:
In LDCs, not only natural resources are under-utilised but also a massive wastage occurs in the case of manpower resources. Slow economic growth rate on the one hand, and rapid growth of population on the other hand, has accentuated the problem of unemployment in India.
Between 1971 and 1999, the number of unemployed in India increased by 10 times though the number of job-seekers increased by 2.5 p.c. annually; but the employment possibilities increased by a modest rate of 1.8 p.c. Number of registered job-seekers in 2006-07 stood at 40.7 million. Unemployment rate has been rising persistently since the days of economic reforms began. It rose from 1.96 p.c. in 1993-94 to 2.39 p.c. in 2004-05.
However, employment growth in 2004- 05 that stood at 2.89 compared to 0.98 p.c. in 1999-2000 is an encouraging development. But employment growth in recent decades is not commensurate with the labour force growth rate. What we experience now is the ‘jobless growth’.
The rate of growth of employment in the organised sector came to a negative of 0.31 p.c. during 1994-2005 as compared to 1.20 p.c. in 1983-1994. Some people call it ‘job loss growth’.
Not only this, Indian agriculture exhibits a considerable amount of underemployment and disguised unemployment. In the urban areas also, we find disguised unemployment. It is somewhat tragic as well as paradoxical that, despite massive investment made during the plan period, unemployment problem has assumed a gigantic proportion. This amounts to huge wastage of human capital.
Indian Economy Problem # 6. Scarcity of capital and low rate of capital formation:
As people in LDCs are poor, their capacity to save is low. This results in a low rate of capital formation. That is why development economists suggest that to break the vicious circle of poverty it is necessary to push up the rate of investment. Since India is a capital-poor country, capital per head is low. This scarcity of capital causes overall backwardness of the Indian economy.
In 1950-51, net savings and net investments stood at slightly more than 6 p.c. and these two increased to 14.8 p.c. and 16 p.c., respectively in 2001-02. The position, however, in recent times has improved a lot. These two figures increased to 27.1 p.c. and 28.4 p.c. of NDP in 2006-067. This is an encouraging development for the Indian economy.
Along with the low volume of physical capital, human capital formation is also low. As per 2001 Census, 34.62 p.c. of the total population at that time was illiterate. The literacy rate has gone up to about 64.8 p.c. by 2001—of course, by mathematical jugglery.
Mass illiteracy acts as an impediment to India’s economic development. India has the dubious distinction of having largest number of illiterate population (304 million) in the world. India has an adverse sex ratio with only 933 women per 1,000 men in 2001.
Indian Economy Problem # 7. Underdeveloped infrastructure:
Being an LDC, India’s infrastructural facilities or economic and social overheads of capital are inadequate. It consists of (a) transport and communications, (b) energy, (c) finance, housing and insurance, (d) science and technology, and (e) health, education, etc.
Availability of these infrastructures creates the conditions for favourable growth. The superstructure of an economy largely depends on the availability of infrastructural facilities.
As far as social and economic overheads are concerned, India is poor. It is indeed true that her railway and road networks are comparable to the developed nations. But her demand for infrastructural facilities and services outpace their supplies. Per capita energy use (oil equivalent) of an Indian in 2004 was 531 kg vis-a-vis USA’s 7,921 kg. Even China’s per capita energy use was higher (1,242 kg.) than India’s.
Compared to other countries, India is poor in information technology. In 2005, the use of personal computers per 1,000 Indians was as low as 16 as against 762 per 1,000 US people. India’s health expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 1.39 p.c. in 2007-8 over the USA’s 15 p.c. of GDP.
Thus, India’s social infrastructural facilities are not only inadequate compared to the needs, but also awfully low compared to different countries of the world.
Indian Economy Problem # 8. Low level of technology:
Due to illiteracy, use of advanced or sophisticated technology is rather an exception in India. Because of the limited growth of technological institution, we are forced to use primitive methods of technology whose productivity is low.
Though modern industrial sectors employ advanced technology, village industries still employ old and hackneyed methods even in the age of modern science and globalized world. This is nothing but technological dualism that persists in LDCs like India. Truly speaking, low productivity of Indian labour is explained in terms of low level of technology.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that all the characteristics of LDCs are found in India. No doubt, during the planning era, she has made progress in different directions. Still, considering the needs of the country, it is inadequate.
Indian economy is characterised by low per capita income, widespread poverty, massive unemployment, gigantic rise in population, and so on. So, India is an underdeveloped country. India is one of the poorest nations of the world. Her position is worse compared to even some African countries!