The lack of attention to social sector has grown exponentially under the incumbent BJP government, said Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. The current dispensation has been diverting attention from the core issues despite evident widespread backwardness in India, the noted economist was quoted as saying in an IANS report. He was discussing his new book 'Bharat Aur Uske Virodhabhas' (India and its Contradictions), which he co-authored with economist Jean Dreze.
"Things have gone pretty badly wrong. Even previously before this government, we did not do enough on education and health. But it has taken a quantum jump in the wrong direction since 2014," Sen said.
Sen pointed out the contradiction of prominent backwardness in India while also being the fastest growing economy in the world. "Twenty years ago, of the six countries in this region, India was the second best after Sri Lanka. Now it is the second worst," the Nobel Laureate said.
"And because of Pakistan's problems, Pakistan has managed to shield us from being the worst," he added.
He added that while Indians should take pride in the achievements of the country, they must also be critical of things which are reasons to be ashamed of. "Despite the easy prominence of backwardness in India... now if you try to draw attention to that, the way to deflect it is to say: now think about the great pride of India," Sen said.
Dreze, who co-authored the book with Sen, said while India has become the fastest growing economy in the past few years - "helped partly by slowdown in China's growth and partly by some jugglery of numbers" - growth and development are not the same thing. He said that economic growth is the medium to achieve the goal that is development.
"And it's something to think about that despite 7 per cent GDP growth, the income of the rural labourer has remained the same and yet no one speaks about it," he said.
He added that while economic growth can help in achieving development, it needs to be accompanied by public action.
"If we talk about health, India is way behind even Bangladesh despite being economically ahead of it. And that is because of lack of public action in India compared to Bangladesh. Similarly public action is crucial for education, nutrition, social security, ensuring equality, and environmental protection," Dreze said.