Indian economy is an underdeveloped economy because almost all important features of an underdeveloped economy arc still present in Indian economy. Some of these features are discussed below:
1. Low Income:
In India GNP (Gross National Product) per capita was $1,180 in 2009 at current prices, roughly one third of the population is below the poverty line. On world scale, income inequalities between the developed and underdeveloped countries arc very large.
According to the World Hank estimates, in 2009 the average GNP per capita of the high income economies was $38,139 whereas it was $503 in low income underdeveloped countries.
2. Predominance of Agriculture:
In India agriculture and allied sectors contribute nearly 14.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the 2010-11 estimates released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Moreover, in India agriculture provides employment to around .50 per cent of the workforce.
The share of income in agriculture is however, considerably less than the share of employment in agriculture which clearly reflects the relatively low productivity per labour unit in the agricultural sector.
3. Rapid Population Growth Rate and High Dependency Ratio:
High population growth rate is also an indicator of underdevelopment. India’s population growth rate was 1.93% per annum and 21.34 % per decade during 1991-2001, which is still very high as compared to developed economies. Dependency ratio refers to ratio of dependent population (non-working) to total population. In India dependency ratio is around 60% which is very high. This is because of high birth rate and social circumstances.
4. Mass Poverty:
According to United Nations Development Programme’s (IJNDP) Global Human Development index 2011. India is ranked 134th among 187 countries. The report says 53 per cent of Indians suffer from multidimensional poverty. The Planning Commission released the second India Human Development Report (HDR) 2011.
The report claims that poverty, unemployment and child labour are declining. According to this report the absolute number of the poor (27 per cent) stood at 302 million as compared to 320 million in 1973. Poverty is widespread in the underdeveloped countries, liven though major progress has been registered over the past 25 years, the absolute number of poor has in fact increased.
5. Unemployment and Underemployment:
Unemployment is a phenomenon of all economies whether developed or underdeveloped. But nature and degree of unemployment is different in developed and underdeveloped economies.
In developed economics most of the unemployment is cyclical which arises because of fluctuations in business cycles. In underdeveloped economies like India, chronic unemployment is found which results from the structural defects in the economy.
Moreover, underemployment is widespread in underdeveloped countries. Underemployment is a condition in which a person is getting work but not according to his/her capacity and qualifications.
The 64th round (2007-2008) of NSSO survey on employment- unemployment indicates a creation of 4 million work opportunities between 2004-05 and 2007- 08. The Eleventh Five Year Plan aims at generating 58 million work opportunities in twenty- one high growth sector.
Inequality in distribution of income and wealth is found in every country but this is wider in underdeveloped economies. In India bottom 40% of rural population possess only 5% of rural assets while 8% top households possess 46% of total rural assets. This disparity is more intensive in urban areas.
7. Scarcity of Capital:
Capital is considered as the most important factor in the development of an economy. In underdeveloped economies like India, capital availability per person is very low which results in low productivity and low per capita income. Low per capita income again results in low savings, low investment and low capital formation.
Thus Underdeveloped Countries (UDCs) are caught in the grip of vicious circle of poverty. Lack of capital does not allow an economy to introduce the latest technologies. Thus, economy becomes technologically backward and internationally in competitive.
The CSO’s Quick Estimates for 2009-10 placed gross domestic savings at 33.7 per cent of the GDP at current market prices. With private-sector savings more or less static, ii was the savings of the public sector that went up from a revised level of 0.5 per cent in 2008-09 to 2.1 per cent in 2009-10. In the investment sphere the ratio of gross investment came down to around 36.5 per cent in 2009-10 from 38 per cent in 2007-08.
8. Low Level of human Development:
Human Development Index (IIDI) constructed by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has become an important indicator of development. IIDI is a composite index of three important parameters of development- education health and income. Every year, in Human Development Report (HDR) value of IIDI is calculated for each country and then they are ranked and classified into three categories high, medium and low human development countries.
According to the UNDP Global Human Development Index (IIDI) 2011. India is ranked 134th among 187 countries.
9. Balance of Payments (BoP):
BoP is the systematic record of all economic transactions like trade of goods, trade of services, unilateral transfers, foreign investment, etc. between a country and rest of the world. BoP of a country is also an indicator of development or underdevelopment of the country.
BoP of UDCs like India shows that these countries export primary (agricultural) products and raw materials and import final products and technologies from developed countries.
They invite foreign capital to fill their investment deficiency. India’s BoP is generally unfavourable i.e., it faces deficit. To fill this deficit it has to borrow from other countries and international organisations like IMF, World Bank, ADB, etc. In lieu of loans, these organisations interfere in important policy matters and impose their terms and conditions.
10. Social Peculiarities:
High illiteracy rate, male dominated society, joint family system, fatalism, lack of entrepreneurship, casteism, communalism, widespread child labour, etc. are some characteristics of Indian society which distinguish it from developed societies.