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Ghosts of Development, Since 1947


Ghosts of Development, Since 1947

At the stroke of the midnight hour when India awoke to life and freedom, she carried a huge load on her shoulders which came from the just over colonial legacy. It’s been almost 65 years. And now, we can’t really blame colonial rule for our ‘developing country’ status.

Some issues have returned from the dead… to haunt us again. These are the always-seem-to-be-present ghosts…ghosts of development. Ghostly issues, that scare us and tie us in despair.

The scariest of them all is the ghost of Low Literacy. It roams about our dreams of rising socially, and equally. The colonial rulers were passive towards the spread of education amongst natives and wanted to produce learned Indians with just enough education to serve the British rule in India. So rate of growth of literacy was very low then. In 1944, the Government of British India presented a plan, for the educational reconstruction of India, with a goal of producing 100% literacy in the country within 40 years, i.e. by 1984. The literacy rate then, in the 1947-India was 12.2%.

According to the 2011 census, literacy rate in India is 74.04%...a value, well below the world average literacy rate of 84%.         

The second ghost is the ghost of Poverty. It roams around our aspirations of becoming a superpower. Colonial economic policy of British rule totally disrupted the traditional structure of the Indian economy. Thus the British conquest, by imposing heavy taxes led to an increased dependence of people on agriculture, one of the biggest reasons of poverty in the beginning. With such heavy taxes, and the risks involved in business, hardly were people able to think of new ventures…which worsened the situation. After independence India’s economic development was dominated by the socialism-influenced policies. The Country slowly began to open up its market through economic liberalisation. Today too, we can’t get very assuring statistic about reduction in the poverty level in India. The planning commission has accepted the Tendulkar report which clearly states that 37% of people live below the poverty line and the Arjun Sengupta report says that about 77% of Indians live on less than ₹20 a day. Such reports act as comestibles for the ghost of Poverty.

The third ghost is the Ghost of Unemployment. It roams about the idea of progress. In 2011 estimated unemployment rate was 3.8% and the growing population rate is adding to the difficulty.

The fourth ghost is the Ghost of Corruption. It feeds on the minds of those, who are discontent and have some power in any form. It won’t be wrong to say that the corruption played a vital role in the imposition of foreign rule on Indian soil. It was used well by the foreign rulers to maintain their supremacy.  But now, it seems as if have we have accepted it as a part of the system. Corruption is an issue which being fought against and defended for at the same time presently.

In 2011, Transparency International, ranked India at 95th place amongst 183 countries in perceived levels of public sector corruption. 

Our walk towards a ‘developed country’ is obstructed by these unresolved ghosts of developmental issues.  Generations which have fought for an independent India…have not done so to handover their homeland to such iniquitous evils. It is our responsibility…to rid our motherland from these ghosts…and bear in mind that by no voodoo will these go... it is only by our will, to bring about a change, and not just sitting idle and cribbing, can there be a change.

If we want to use our independence as a window of opportunity, leading India towards a change, by acting on our ideals, is what we must do. It is high time we make this happen!


Manasi Deshpande

I like to discuss current affairs and issues with people who also care enough at least to think about those. I am more interested in social aspect of everything. So as they say exchange of an idea doubles it. I look forward to that....

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