Economy can grow on diversity

Poor schools, health-care, malnutrition, job loss, etc, have shown that India has ignored its rich diversity.

The sinking GDP growth in developed nations was one of the reasons for the establishment of WTO in 1995 which had opened the door for an integrated global market place. It was advocated that globalisation would facilitate free trade among nations, exchange ideas, skill, technology and activate capital inflow to improve the living condition of people across the world.

But the two decade old globalisation has created income disparity, looming hunger, unemployment, wanton destruction of natural resources, massive financial sector scams and a slowing economy.

According to the 2014 Human Development Report (HDR), the human development index (HDI), which measures life expectancy, education levels and income, slithered at 0.002 per cent in 2013.

Multi-dimensional poverty has gripped about 1.5 billion people suffering from deprivations in education, health and living standards across the world. Another 800 million people are at the verge of returning to poverty fold. About half of all workers – more than 1.5 billion – work in "informal sector or seek precarious" employment. Unemployment rate is alarming in the West, European nations and in developing countries.

Series of financial stimulus rolled out by both developed and developing nations has little impact on growth which continues to spew stressed assets. The human suffering perpetuates mainly due to the effort to achieve economy of scale without giving heed to sustainable development.

An aggressive economy of scale amid corruption and manipulative trade practices create only islands of prosperity in the sea of misery. Excessive greed has deeply infested market economy. US President Barack Obama once said greed was one of the reasons for the financial sector collapse in 2008.

Over the decades, politicians, global traders and middlemen have joined hands to maximise profit and convert the world into a killing field of all kinds of diversities: be it in food, festivals, cultural functions, choice of dress, agriculture produce, handicrafts, life style and religion.  Mono culture of any kind always ruins economy and perpetuates human sufferings.  If you ask people to accept one codified religion, many economic activities enshrined in other religion will die along with people’s happiness.

Like other religious communities, the Hindus celebrate large number of festivals which create demand for so many products. For example the demand for applique umbrella, patta paintings and stone carving in the Lord Jagannath temple of Puri, has made those handicrafts popular in global craft bazaars. Majority of the Indian handicraft traditions originate from socio cultural activities. In spite of economic slowdown, the export of Indian handicrafts grows at 10 per cent per annum. Economic diversity is still vibrant in India though many of the diversities have disappeared due to ignorance and lack of political will.

Share in world economy

British Economic historian Angus Maddison noted in his book “The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective,” India’s share in world economy was reduced to 3 per cent in 1950 from 27 per cent in 1700. It happened mainly due to loss of diversity and skill in the field of agriculture and domestic industry. Indian domestic industries, in spite of its high export potential, lost to British products due to lack of patronage. British mass produced textiles at a far cheaper rate and almost ruined fine Indian handloom traditions.

What British Raj did, the Indian rulers are exactly doing the same. Silk sarees mass produced in factories continue to destroy the export quality handloom sarees with all its artistry. Plastic products churned out from factories have ended many classy environment friendly handicraft traditions.

The hand woven Paithani sarees and Himroo shawl of Ahmednagar have huge export potential. But the market is flooded with mill made products which are sold in the name of Paithani and Himroo. The famous handloom Kashmiri carpet is worth gold but are being replaced by mill made carpets. While trying to mass produce silver filigree work, the skill and artistry of handmade silver filigree of Cuttack is destroyed.

Diversity loss in agriculture is the main reason why 50 per cent of Indians are hungry. British scaled up the cultivation of tea, indigo and cotton to maximise profit which had destroyed much of the crop diversity across the country. What happened in British Raj is reloaded now. Cotton, sugarcane and maize dominate the farm scape and endanger food security of the country. Once the food sufficient Vidarbha lost food back up due to cotton crop which has spilled over to 70 per cent of the crop area. 

India is poised to be the third largest economy in the world with three lakh dollar millionaires by 2024. But the concern is, it is ranked at 135, among the 'medium development' countries like Egypt, South Africa, Mongolia, Philippines and Indonesia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

Poor school, health, education, malnutrition, flight of capital, NPA growth in banks, job loss etc, shows that India has ignored its rich diversity. And diversity is always the key to the global economic recovery.
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