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Socio-Economic Development in India: A Regional Analysis

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Das, Abhiman

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Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Development and Society, Vol.28 No.2, pp. 313-345
Development is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Some of its major dimensions include: the level of economic growth, level of education, level of health services, degree of modernization, status of women, level of nutrition, quality of housing, distribution of goods and services, and access to communication. In India, the progress of socio-economic development among major states is not uniform. This study examines the existing variability of inter-state development and thereby identifying the indicators responsible for the diversity in development. Instead of studying the variability of a particular variable across states, a composite index based on several indicators has been developed using principal component analysis and states are arranged according to the indices derived using four broadly accepted components: (a) economic production and economic condition or in other words level of economic development; (b) common minimum needs; (c) health and health-related services and (d) communication. The findings of the analysis support the general perception about the states. The states in India are marked with wide disparity in socio-economic development. The factors, which are found out to be more important for the overall development process, relate to basic needs like education, availability of food, minimum purchasing power and facilities like safe drinking water, health care infrastructure, etc. It is also found that enrollment ratio cannot be raised unless minimum needs of the common people are satisfied. Therefore, true development requires government action to improve elementary education, safe drinking water facilities and health care, and to remove barriers against social minorities, especially women. The role of social development such as literacy (and particularly of female literacy) in promoting basic capabilities emerges as the prerequisite to overall development. These results clearly emphasize the role of well-functioning public actions in improving the overall living conditions of the people. Although economic growth in the sense of expanding gross national product and other related variables is one of the most fundamental input to the overall development process, the basic objective of development should focus on the expansion of human capabilities which has been neglected for long in India.
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