Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Independence Day: The numbers show

There is nothing like reviewing the numbers on the 66th independence day. Political and celebration speeches apart, the numbers tell the real story. I updated one of the tables (Table 1.1, page 2) in my book with the latest figures below. So here's how India is doing after 65 years of independence.

Despite India's population quadrupling, its per-capita GDP tripled since independence. Infant mortality has dropped to a third, life expectancy has more than doubled, and the literacy rates have steadily increased 5 times, where 3 out of 4 Indians are literate as opposed to 1 in 10 at independence.

There are notable improvements in the last 5 years. Infant mortality has dropped, literacy has gone up, the number of patents filed at the US PTO has doubled - impressive numbers from an inward perspective. The real measure is how India is doing globally. China, for example, filed three times the number of patents at the USPTO in 2011. For the comparable size China has in terms of population, it scores on every parameter that I have listed. Smaller and war ravaged countries like Korea, Japan and Israel at the time of India's independence dominate the world in several fields, notably in science & technology.

I added India's Olympic rankings to illustrate my point on global benchmarking. India won more medals in the London Olympics than the Beijing Olympics or perhaps any Olympics in the recent past, but that didn't improve its global ranking. Goes to prove that many other nations also did extremely well in the Olympics - global benchmarking is critical. Where can India differentiate itself as a nation globally? If not, India is still playing catch up. As with most G7 countries, 100 years of independence is a reasonable length of time for a nation to achieve these benchmarks. India has less than 35 years to fix itself.
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