India having lowest Per Capita Income among the G-20; Size of economy misleading


By Dr. Javed Jamil

Our leaders are not tired of repeatedly keeping boasting about India achieving the “distinction” of becoming the fifth largest economy of the world, and that it will soon become the third largest. And the media too does not care to tell the nation that the size of the economy of a country is a highly misleading indicator of the real economic conditions of the country and its people. Becoming 5th is hardly worth being proud of for a country which has now the biggest population in the world. “Size” of economy only is being used by the world market and political forces for their own interests because, for foreign markets, the size of population is important from the point of view of the possibility of exporting their products to that country.

We have just finished holding the G-20 summit and declared it a big win for our country. Of course, there are some points worth being admired. But what is not being told is the darker side of our achievements. G-20 is mainly about economy and not about politics. Now, it will be interesting to see where these 20 members stand in terms of the per capita income. See the following table, which gives the names of the 20 participants along with their per capita income as according to latest IMF figures:

GDP (in USD) per capita by country (IMF report)

 Argentina,           13,709

Australia,            64,964

Brazil,                 10,373

Canada,              52,722

China,                 13,721

France,               44,408

Germany,           51,383

India,                  2,601

Indonesia,           5,016

Italy,                    36,812

Japan,                35,385

Mexico,               12,673

Russia,               14,403

Saudi Arabia,      29,922

South Africa,        6,485

South Korea,      33,393

 Turkey,              11,931

U.K.                    46,371

U.S.,                   80,034

European union  39,940

When I was compiling this table, it really shocked me that in terms of per capita income, India stands last among all these member countries. India’s per capita income of 2,601 US dollars is significantly less than most other countries, the nearest one being Indonesia with around double our figures. How can then we be proud of our economy?

This becomes still more depressing when we understand the fact that even per capita income is only an incomplete reflection of the real conditions of the people because of the prevailing income inequality in the country. According to reports, the richest 1% of Indians own 58% of wealth, while the richest 10% of Indians own 80% of the wealth. This trend has been consistently increasing in recent years, which means that the rich are getting richer much faster than the poor.
As far as the poverty is concerned, according to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) programme, “80 million people out of 1.2 billion Indians (in 2019), roughly equal to 6.7% of India’s population, lived below the poverty line of $1.25 and 84% of Indians lived on less than $6.85 per day.”  Still, we are feeling proud of spending huge sums on the bonanza of G-20.

Interestingly, the Opposition too hardly raises these basic questions. Where the whole world economy is dominated by market forces, why should any politician bother about these figures? They too want to keep the market forces happy. They would never take a pledge to reduce the percentage of the wealth held by top 1 percent. And why should media bother when it is the same market forces that pamper them.


  1. Congratulation to the author for writing plain truth.Leaders of the ruling party talk about the rank of our economy in terms of GDP because it is comparable to that of developed nations like UK or France. But they avoid to talk about the rank of our economy in terms of per capita GDP because it is comparable to that of the poorest nations.

  2. A very good point. Per capita and income inequality are the two key parameters to
    Judge the success of an economy,
    India will automatically become 3 rd largest by sheer population size. Modi or the govt can take no credit for this achievement.

  3. India has huge useless Madrassas educated population. This population brings down per capita income and is a burden to society at large.

  4. Rahul Gandhi and mamta benerjee are the main contribution to the lowest per capita income because of Muslims are encouraged to make just more population…… only no income

  5. G20 love the Indian model of modern slavery. Previously they made money off slavery so why wouldn’t they want to return to those days? I wouldn’t want to be amongst the immoral “elite” when it’s time to meet our maker. Imagine screaming in pain for eternity.


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