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‘Middle class pushing the nation into a debt trap’

Special Correspondent
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Gujarat Vidyapeeth visiting professor Mark Lindley and former member of Maharashtra Planning Board H.M. Desarda at a press conference in Vijayawada on Tuesday.—PHOTO: V. RAJU
Gujarat Vidyapeeth visiting professor Mark Lindley and former member of Maharashtra Planning Board H.M. Desarda at a press conference in Vijayawada on Tuesday.—PHOTO: V. RAJU

Former Maharashtra Planning Board member and noted ecological economist H.M. Desarda and visiting professor of Gujarat Vidyapith Mark Lindley have invited Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and his co-author Joseph Stiglitz to come clear about what they mean (the composition) of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The two experts — Prof. Desarda and Mr. Lindley, addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, said the two economists and stalwarts had admitted in 2009 that GDP “mismeasures” the lives of people.

Recalling the different positions of Dr. Sen on income and living, they said in the 1990s he had said that people in their quest for “more income and other means of good living” were not obliged to leave behind for future generations. “We do not know what the taste and preferences of future generations will be, and what they will do,” were the words Dr. Sen used, they said.

Mr. Lindley and Prof. Desarda said in the 1990s, the preference of the future generations was not known. But today, everyone knew that the great Indian middle class, because of its taste for cars and air-conditioners, was pushing the country into a debt trap by importing six times as much crude oil as was being mined domestically. More than a fourth of the power being used in Mumbai was being used for running air-conditioners. Unfortunately, the lower classes that were in a majority did not even have the vitamins and minerals they required. Ironically, India had become a country of traffic jams and malnutrition, they pointed out.

The statement of Dr. Sen appeared as if he was not concerned about the poor and therefore he should clarify, they said. The experts said that Mr. Stiglitz was another highly respected economist who seemed to be concerned about the people, but was ignoring the “deep ecological causes of India’s economic problems.” They said the prevailing growth and governance models of the country were not equitable and ecologically sustainable. This could be changed by influential economists such as Dr. Sen and Mr. Stiglitz, they said.


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