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)
Saudi Arabia, 29,922
South Africa, 6,485
South Korea, 33,393
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?
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.