The world calls us a developing country.
Because we have a low standard of living and are not significantly industrialised relative to our population.
Because we are a country in transition, moving away from our traditional ways towards the modern lifestyle begun by the Industrial Revolution.
Economists say we ought to move away from agriculture and natural resource extraction (called primary sector) and manufacturing (called secondary sector), towards what they call tertiary and quaternary sectors of the economy. Because that’s something developed countries do.
Please be patient while I explain a bit here.
The tertiary sector offers services instead of end products. It provides services to other businesses and consumers, like transport, distribution and sale of goods from producer to consumer. Restaurants and the entertainment industry also belong here.
The quaternary sector offers knowledge-based services such as education, consultation, research and development, and financial planning.
More of the last two makes a country ‘developed’. Having agriculture and manufacturing in addition to these two make a country nearly perfect, because the people in the tertiary and quaternary sectors can then rely on the people of the not-so-grand primary and secondary sectors to put food on their tables (after constructing the tables and chairs), leaving them free to concentrate on making serious money.
For this to happen, two conditions have to be satisfied: low population, and high education. This is never going to happen in our country.
So, what do we have?
- Primary sector: We produce plenty of food – enough to feed the whole country – but let it rot in government granaries. We have plenty of natural resources too – illegal mining is always in the news.
- Secondary sector: We manufacture just about everything, but due to insufficient quality control we’d rather buy stuff made elsewhere.
- Tertiary sector: We have services – businesses, restaurants, the movie industry and all of that. However, most of the population has nothing to do with these.
- Quaternary sector: We have these too, plenty of them, but mainly in cities.
Like I said before, this is from the standpoint of Economics, based on my limited understanding of the subject.
The way I see it, we are not a developing country even in the literal sense of the word.
Our country started developing thousands of years ago and was quite developed by the 6th century CE. For the past thousand years though, it has been disintegrating. Colonized, plundered, ravaged, brutalized – finished. A spent force.
Things don’t always get better after they get bad. Some things are terminal. Like we know that our sun will one day stop producing energy by fusion, and become a huge red giant, an incapacitated star, before it collapses inwards due to gravity. It will then be a white dwarf.
That’s what our country is now, a pale little dwarf, after the red-giant years of being battered by intruders. It exists as a dull entity, bereft of energy, each day a struggle for most of its citizens. India is not shining, and may never do so, unless we figure out who we are and what we need, and formulate an inclusive idea of ‘development’ that works for all of us. I mean all billion-plus of us.