Persistent malnutrition, stemming from tardy progress in the social sector and on the human development front, remains the “biggest disappointment” of the post-reform period in India, S. Mahendra Dev, economist and Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), said on Friday.

Delivering the millennium lecture as part of a series being organised by The Hindu Media Resource Centre, Prof. Dev said that in spite of fair performance in macro-economic terms on the GDP growth rate or Balance of Payments fronts, India still faced poverty and stubborn malnutrition in the Eastern and Central rain-fed regions.

While the poor record of social sector development and human development indices was one of the “five disappointments” of 22 years of the reform period, the others were the slow manufacturing development, labour intensive manufacturing development, failure to leverage the demographic dividend and governance deficits, said Prof. Dev, author of a series of ‘India Development Reports’.

He said the economic growth advocacy focussed only on rising income and the human development approach was about enlarging people’s choices.

While proponents of the Kuznets Curve would support the hypothesis (by Simon Kuznets) that economic inequality driven by market forces rises as a natural cycle in the development of a country, but declines on the attainment of a certain level of average income, he said “growth and equity had to be simultaneously pursued”.