Inclusive growth - why, what and how |
Even if the rates of economic growth are high, that is, even if the cake is growing rapidly in size, nothing will trickle down to those who are not involved in the growth process either as entrepreneurs or employees, because of lack of appropriate capabilities. This is why the state has to intervene and orchestrate an inclusive growth path.
Building human capabilities as part of an inclusive growth strategy calls for measures aimed at ensuring that each person has a healthy and long life and 12 years or more of world-class education. With good health and education, most will gain the capacity to derive reasonable purchasing power and stay out of poverty.
In addition to health and education, inclusive growth requires a reasonable degree of equality in housing. A dwelling unit – minimum one room, toilet and kitchen – is critical for providing water and sanitation on a sustained basis and ensuring a healthy living environment.
Health: The first priority should be to ensure a fair degree of equity in maternal and child care across the population. Much can be accomplished if a significant number of deliveries take place in well-equipped hospitals. There is a need to build world-class polyclinics in place of the existing primary health centres, with sufficient provision of wards/rooms for deliveries, while ensuring they are well staffed with incentives for employees to stay put at the workplace. As for curative medical care, the best option is to move slowly but steadily in a time-bound manner towards universal national medical insurance.
Education: First, minimal inequality in schooling promotes cohesion, order, security and peace in society. That is not possible if from age six to 18, majority of children are condemned to study in less-endowed schools.
Second, owing to inter-linkages to the rest of personal achievements, school education (12 years) provides the basis for individual progress over the full life span and for development to be spread widely.
Third, quality education for all up to class 12 (and more) would imply an exceptionally well-informed and participative electorate, a major pillar of a vibrant democracy, which, in turn, is the grand finale of our political liberties.
Finally, all the caste-based and other reservations in tertiary education would mean very little unless each child is educated in an identically well-endowed school-setting to begin with.
India should aim for the highest possible level of equality in school education, with a high degree of uniformity of standards and just one national examination at the end of class 12, results of which are globally accepted, and which allows for a dignified exit to all and sundry entrance tests.
In education, an urgent need, therefore, is to launch a programme to build brand new and identically well-endowed government schools. For instance, we could go for vast numbers of Mahatma Gandhi Primary School (MGPS) and Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School (JNSS), with distinguishing standard architectural design across the country. One recognises a