Saturday, December 21, 2019

Dangerous Links between Census and NRIC in India

Dangerous Links between Census of India 20201 data collection and NRIC:

Abusaleh Shariff[1]
US-India Policy Institute, Washington D. C
12th December 2019

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Every ten years, the second year at the turn of the decade, India undertakes population count known as Census. The first synchronous census was held in 1881 and the 16th population count will be conducted during February and reference date March 1st, 2021. Besides population count the 15th census (2011) collected, for the first time after 1931 data on Socio-Economic and Caste Status. This data was never analyzed because the self-reported castes and sub-castes were too many and difficult to aggregate into meaningful categories. The 2021 census (16th enumeration) therefore will be based on a list of pre-determined SCs, STs and OBCs categorization notified by each state.

Census in India is conducted in two phases - ‘house listing’ and population enumeration. The 15th census house listing (2011 Census) for the first time collected additional data that was needed to prepare the National Population Register (NPR) which was used to generate a 12-digit unique identification number to all usual (registered) residents issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). This number is popularly known as AADHAAR[2]. Biometric information was also collected during this phase.

The house listing phase of the 16th Indian census is scheduled between April and September 2020. Data for updating the NPR and biometric will again be collected from all usual residents. It is important to mention that such data and the biometric are essential for modern day developmental and welfare planning of the nation.

There is new effort by the government of India to prepare ‘national register of Indian citizens (NRIC), a mandate anchored on the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. This bill is now passed both in Indian Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, creating such a register for the whole nation of 1.4 billion people is a tall order.

After reviewing relevant Acts, Rules and Directives, it is found that the agency which is empowered to prepare NRIC is the Registrar General and Census Commissioner (RGCC) whose primary responsibility is to conduct census and undertake registrations of births, deaths and marriages. Whether this agency has all the wherewithal to determine ‘citizenship’ of an individual is questionable. Yet the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 has assigned the responsibility for preparing the NRIC to the RGCC.

The Registrar General of Census is also the Registrar General of Births and Deaths (Act 1969), Registrar General for NPR and Registrar General of Citizen Registration (para 2 (m) of the Citizenship Rules-2003). It is clear from the review of acts and rules that the ‘house listing’, population count and NPR will be the primary data base which will be used to prepare NRIC. One needs to investigate the legality of multiple agency data utilization; and what legal provisions allow data collected through census to be used for the purposes of NPR and NRIC.

Further, the NRIC is likely to get support from a surrogate - Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill-2016. Although this bill was lapsed on 3rd June 2019; the current government got it re-introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 9, 2019 and will also be introduced in Rajya Sabha soon. This amendment if passed in the parliament, refugees from minority communities namely Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh. Parsi or Christian coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be eligible for Indian citizenship, excluding people from the Muslim community. It would be most appropriate that this bill included all south Asian nations including Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives. The corollary, however, of this seemingly noble amendment is that only the Muslims living in India but excluded from the NRIC list are susceptible to legal arrest, impounding and extradition.

The local government officials belonging to the census of India, the election commission and district bureaucracy prepare the so-called list of ‘India citizens. Such list is approved by state level authorities, gazetted and published as ‘national register of citizens’ for that state. It then becomes the responsibility of the individuals to check for listing of their own names and names of family members. Should they find their names are missing they can either accept the status as not Indian citizens or approach the ‘foreigner’s tribunals to challenge their exclusion. Although the decision of these tribunals is final, yet one can reach out to the hierarchical system of courts of law the ultimate steps to seek justice and secure right as the Indian citizen. As is already a common knowledge from Assam Experience that this process is not only cumbersome, but also complicated, costly, time consuming and not foolproof.

This author’s observation, that the Muslim community of India is under stress from the official and often irresponsible discourses of extending NRIC to the whole nation. Secondly the citizenship amendment bill, is highly discriminatory, if passed can be misused in a manner that majority of the poor, rural, illiterate and low-income Muslim households will be under the risk of exclusion from the NRIC list. Murmuring that Muslims should boycott the NRIC has begun. However, this author suggests that the people of India can seek the following safeguards at the time of data sharing to the government agencies and functionaries.

1.      The house listing will be undertaken during March to September 2020. The census takers will visit each house/household. The respondents often the household head should seek a ‘clearly written statement of purpose and promise’ that the data collected during ‘house listing’ and for NPR, and subsequently at the time of enumeration will be used only for the purpose of Census Counts, Data Aggregation and Policy Analysis. Ideally this statement must be signed by the President of India. It is a generic promise like the one Reserve Bank of India governor does on the printed bank currency notes.

2.      That the Census officials issue an acknowledgment to the fact that personal data was collected after serving the written promise and that the data will not be shared or used for any other purpose. This acknowledgment should record time, date and place of data extraction.

3.      That a printed copy of all the data collected is issued to the individual for her own data file and future use. This data can also be made available through an online system of data retrieval by the individual.

4.      Since the overall foreign-born residents in India according to earlier censuses are minuscule[3], it does not make sense that every Indian resident is made to prove her citizenship through an unmanageable and expensive process which is for example adopted in Assam last year. The government must change the methodology to identify hot-spots and living areas where illegal residents most likely live.  It is instructive to state that similar effort in the USA to incorporate a question asking the citizenship in the Census was shot down by the Supreme Court of the USA.

[1] Views expressed in this article are personal. Contact email:

[2] It is not clear however whether the NPR data was satisfactorily and correctly used to generate AADHAAR IDs.
[3] The USIPI is currently processing data on residents born out of India as documented from the Census of India 2011; and results can be shared as per requirement of the policy initiatives and for academic purposes.

Feasibility of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC)

National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRIC) – 
Does the Assam Experience help Mainland States? 

Abusaleh Shariff (
Chief Scholar at the US–India Policy Institute, Washington DC;
and Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi and Bengaluru.

Read and Download Full Article  Click Here

The preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam is now a reality. The procedures conduct of preparation of a register and the due process utilized in the state of Assam is a precursor to similar exercise in other states to cover the whole nation. Ideally all democratic nations should hold a register of citizens especially those whose national economies are built through sustained and organized immigration policies. However, Indian economy which is growing mostly based on domestic demand and indigenous resource exploitation has no record of major immigration excepting those crossing border due to socio-political reasons.

This paper articulates possible execution of the design and manufacture of the ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRIC) by the ruling party coalition - a preview of things to come. It is utmost important that people at large ensure reconciling key documents with respect to the names, date of birth and other vital information so that a consolidated evidence is presented should such opportunity is warranted. This paper argues that the national and state government must amend the complicated and exclusionary methodology used in Assam to prepare NRIC across the nation. The NRIC exercise will cost the nation an amount which  is even higher than current level of defense budget and the cost to the nation is estimated to be two percent of GDP.

Read and Download Full Article  Click Here

English Language Augments Lifetime Income in India

Strange as it Seems - Knowledge and fluency of
English augments lifetime income and reduces inequity in India

Abusaleh Shariff and Asrar Alam

In India, the knowledge and fluency of English language generates better incomes over the lifetime. Empirical research of a recent all India household survey suggests that knowledge and fluency of English language is a most ‘secular income augmenting and inequality reducing’ factor in the nation. It benefits all types of Socio-Religious communities (SRCs) of India. Note that the fluency in English provides an opportunity to earn within a narrow band of income for all communities. Surprising enough, English language has a huge role to play to augment and effect income equity in India.

Demographic Dividends can be reaped mostly through access to better quality higher-level education and proper implementation of a well-conceived pan-Indian education policy framework. Since, education sector development is the responsibility of state governments, there is a wide diversity in medium of instruction policy; such as choice of early education in mother tongue, regional languages and Hindi as the national language. This situation is the result of India’s diversity, multiple languages and dialects, and the very foundation for the formulation of the States was based on languages. There is no country on this planet which has such a large diversity of languages and associated literature and culture leading to unique social value systems. Yet English, considered a foreign language is the most sought-after medium of instruction without which youth cannot make it to the higher levels of learning and associated higher levels of earnings.

It may not entirely be the legacy of the British Raj that in contemporary India imparting literacy and education in English has become a mechanism to overcome serious socially differentiated (motivated) economic differentials; and that contemporary globalizing economic system is anchored in this language. Today’s internet revolution, supported by technological innovation, is largely anchored upon the English language.

To capture the prevalence and impact of the English language, the authors estimate income earning differentials associated with the ‘knowledge’ and ‘fluency’ according to SRCs. A rare data from a national level sample survey of the NCAER is the source of estimates in this article.

‘English language ability’ is measured in two categories - ‘little’ and ‘fluent’.  Over all, only 4.8 per cent of individuals in India are fluent and another 20 per cent know English a little. The High caste Hindus (HcHs)’ are twice the level of average fluency and they constitute 43 per cent of all those who are fluent in English while their share in population is around 20 percent. Communities with low levels of fluency are the SCs/STs and the Muslims.

English and augmented Income: As indicated earlier, highest annual income per capita is earned by fluent English with Rs. 62,306 (2011-12 prices) compared to little knowledge with Rs. 31763 and with no English knowledge with a meager 19214.  Thus, earning amounts to a 40 per cent jump in income with little English and another 50 per cent when the fluency is achieved. Compared to no knowledge of English the fluency increases incomes by 69 percent. The virtuous side of this income growth is the fact the knowledge and fluency of English affects uniformly at similar scale within each of the SRCs considered in the analysis.

It has become clear that the knowledge and fluency of English is one the most dominant discriminatory factor in India in terms of the ability to earn higher incomes. Yet such discriminatory incomes get compounded when distinctions are made about its impact according to SRCs. At any level of English education, ‘all others-(HcHs)’ category earns considerably more than any other category. For example, the OBCs earn 36 percent less compared to this group even when English is not a factor. When the fluency of English is introduced an additional 25 per cent income increase for the ‘all others-HcHs); that is a total of 74 per cent increase in income.

These relationships for the SCs/STs are of similar levels and scale which suggest that it is only the ‘all others-HCH’ who gain substantially from the relative advantage of English language. First, they are the one who have better access to English education and on top of that they also have better access to English-favored labour market in India.

Interestingly for the SC/STs and Muslims, the income growth from ‘none’ to ‘little’ and ‘little’ to ‘fluent’ is a secular increase suggesting the fact that providing English education among these communities will bring considerable income growth which will even help them to come out of poverty.  The dominant finding of this research is that English language has emerged as the most secular factor that benefits all youth irrespective of SRCs. Surprising enough, English language has a huge role to play to both augment and effect income equity in India.

Quality English Educational Infrastructure: Let us consider these findings in the backdrop of a statement made by the current Vice President of India Mr. Venkaiah Naidu on the Hindi Divas-2018 - “the English language is a ‘disease’ left behind by the British”, stressing that Hindi was the symbol of ‘socio-political and linguistic unity’ in India. It is unfortunate that national as well political leadership of the nation shows hatred and callousness against English language, whereas English is also a constitutionally recognized language of governance and business. Further, while English has always been a well-respected and most sought-after medium of instruction in South India; the trend is catching up in the north Indian states in the recent years. The absence of government support in promotion of English at elementary and high schools has resulted in proliferation of unscrupulous English language educational institution all over India.

A fresh understanding of the role of English language in India is urgently needed and only through this process will the Indian youth be able to reap the demographic dividends on which the economic growth of the nation is so dependent on. In this context it is useful to mention creation of quality school infrastructure with an emphasis on English in the states of Telangana and Karnataka. Telangana has built 204 residential schools during 2016-17 for imparting quality education to the Minorites. Similarly, there are 64 Morarji Desai Residential Schools, 4 Minority Model Residential School, 9 Pre-University residential colleges and 5 Muslim residential Schools are in operation in the state of Karnataka. Other states especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat can emulate creating similar modern educational institutions which will generate higher income and bring equity amongst the youth of India.
Shariff is with the US-India Policy Institute, Washington D. C and Alam works at the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Why Demonetisation Will Not Eliminate Black Money or Corruption / published in ''

Ringside View of an Economist at Washington D. C -2016

Mr. Trump Triumphs; against all odds and against own expectation; a spectacular win indeed! With traces of racial undertones and hordes rural white-supremacists voting in vengeance to eight years of the so called ‘black rule’ of America. Mrs. Clinton is a victim of anti-incumbency -third straight Democratic rule in Washington D.C. The vote has been a close, although Mrs. Clinton has counted more of the poplar votes, the US electoral process has a unique arithmetic specific to each state which gave the coveted the winning total of 270 electoral votes to Mr. Trump. Over all Mr. Trump shifted the electorate to political right and towards the right side of American map. In real political terms this nation is split in the middle the Rural (dominantly Republican) versus the Urban (dominantly Democrat) divide. The urban concentration across the US are characteristically unique due to pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multicultural concentrations in city centers and working spaces.
There are racial undertones of white supremacy; will this fade away or consolidate during Mr. Trumps presidency is yet to be seen.

The major difference between the two candidates beginning the primaries through national election canvassing was ‘predictability’. The case of Mrs. Clinton was most predictable often branded as the third-term of Mr. Obama; whereas almost no one including the media and political pundits could understand what Mr. Trump was talking about; excepting the fact that he clearly knew who was his electorate - rural, predominantly white, relatively more men and less educated. A quick compare -Mrs. Clinton a long time political activists, politician and know the tone and tenor of Washington DC for over 30 years of her professional life; where as Mr. Trump had never been to this place, excepting last about a year when he rehabilitated the old post office headquarters in to Trump-luxury hotel.

Now that a political novice Mr. Trump is the President elect, what can one expect his government, policies and governance looks like. At the moment his ‘Idea of America’ is rhetorical and policies at best opaque. Issues are complex and the answers lie in his desire, ability and competence to control and maneuver the established democratic, economic and social ‘institutions’ of America. Note that there has never been a President placed as powerful, given that both the Senet and House are now in control of the Republicans. Will Mr. Trump be positively guided by both these houses or will he try to subvert and at odds with these legislative institutions is yet to be seen. At the moment predictability quotient on this count is low.

A contrast is in order - in India Mr. Modi did won his office in a somewhat similar style yet the additive arithmetic in Rajya Sabha is in opposition due to lack of numbers. Mr. Trump on the other hand has the advantage of having both houses on the same side as his own. Yet these legislative institutions may become functional in opposing radical and reckless initiatives should Mr. Trump decides to unexplored and uncharted spaces on his own. The separation of power between the executive, legislature and judiciary in the USA is strong and easy to comprehend than in India.

For Mr. Trump, his decision to jump into the race is akin to taking large bets in the expanse of Trump Taj Mahal Casino at Atlantic Ocean (closed since a couple of months). This bet he took and won just like it; does not even know what has he won - a fortune called America, a nation in the forefront since the second world war and an economic power house hosting almost one-fourths of the global market and GDP. Trump jumped in the political bandwagon as if on a bet after exhausting all poker machines at Taj Trump and then has hit a jackpot! All the way during his life he has learned to take risk and overcome it often with the manipulation of laws and utilizing fiscal incentives through insolvencies. Now, will he know as to do what with the booty - the whole of United States, will it be on the betting table? As this Presidency sets in and days go by pertinent questions will be - who is the President Trump? Will his presidency take off at all? (there are protest all over the USA and some are violent). There is also tendency among the winners of the jack-pots to lose almost at the same it was won. A windfall found and lost at the same time.

Predictability of the un-predictable - how will the Trumpism deal with issues of immediate concern, for example, entitlement reforms relating to government administered funds; federal minimum wage policy or differentiated state minimum wages and so on. If deportation of illegal migrants is hastened the real wage rates will blot to unsustainable levels affecting small business and enhancing unemployment rate. Is it possible to achieve a balancing point; building a wall may not be economical in the complex interaction of labor demand, supply and wage rates. Reducing direct taxes specially to favor large business may also impact precarious fiscal balance while the public debt is almost equal to the level of the GDP, about $18 trillion.

The policy watch points and economic emphasis seems to be on restoring crippling infrastructure, followed internal security, trade and environment. major watch points. There will be symbolic pressures for domestic capital to return, for example, the Ford’s Mexico investment; but that will be a kind of end to it; because international capital flows are determined by a very rules of money that Trumpism may still not mature enough to know. Today the US international investments bring in huge profits back home and also create jobs for Americans abroad. Will the coal pits begin to spew carbon, looks like the competition between coal and shale extracted gas will continue?  But the real issue will be revolving around harnessing the Sun that is now mired with state level political corruption. It would be in the interest of the Presidency and the nation that he calls on talent from all across the board irrespective of party leaning. The policies during 2017-2020 will be as good as Mr. Trumps advisers and cabinet selects.

Someone who pass over twice on Constitution Av at the back side of the White House and Pennsylvania Av from in front of the Trump Hotel, to this author, it is clear that Mr. Trump will face serious issues of ‘Conflict of Interest’ with the Presidency and his business interests with potential to destabilize his position in office. Now that the democratic President Mr. Obama and even the failed competitor Mrs. Clinton has offered unconditional support to Mr. Trump; he has to think wise. There are thousands on the street affirming ‘not my president’. This has never happened in the USA before, protest against President Elect. And this will not be the only type of resistance in during the next four years of Trump Presidency.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Population Imbalance Dangerous to Economic Growth and Social Cohesion:

Demographic Transition:
Records of demographic transitions across the globe have shown almost irreversible trends leading towards low fertility, low mortality and high living expectancy regimes.  Last about two thirds of century, especially period after the Second World War has seen revolutionary trends in population growth, stabilization and falling fertility. Most of the countries in Europe, Japan, USA, Australia and Canada have been recording lower than replacement fertility, low levels of mortality and high life expectancy.  It takes at least two child births in the life of a married couple, or 2.1 births per woman to sustain the human population.     
China and India have been two large economies that experienced unprecedented high levels of fertility during the mid-period of 20th century. Yet the data below suggests that China achieved a lower than replacement fertility by 1995 itself although its had much higher fertility than India’s in 1970 (see below). In India the ‘total fertility rate’ is still far too high at 2.5; thereby the projections suggest that by the year 2030 India’s population will cross that of China to occupy the top spot of the most populous country in the world. Now that one child policy is relaxed in to two-child policy in China it is expected that the population stabilization can occur somewhat earlier and by 2030 it is expect to have a population of 1.45 billions.

Population in Millions of China and India over years
(with 2 child policy)

Multiple Sources and Projections
Average number of births per woman over the years
China –‘late, long, few’ policy
China- One Child Family (urban) Rural exceptions
China-Urban 1.3 | Rural <2 o:p="">

Multiple Sources
China’s One Child Policy:
China has withdrawn its controversial one-child policy due to the realization of imminent prospects of an ageing society and a growing shortfall in the workforce. According to UN estimates, nearly 440 million people in China would be over 60 by 2050, signaling a sharp decline in the labor pool. Recently the working population between the ages 15-59 slid by 3.71 million in one year alone.

Three strong implications of the population imbalance are : (a)  labour shortages; (b) lower sex ratios affecting women’s status and increasing family stress; and (c) increase in the ratio of old-age dependency.
The rapid decrease in the birth rate, combined with an improving life expectancy, has led to an increasing proportion of elderly people and an increase in the ratio between elderly parents and adult children. In the absence of old-age pensions, approximately 70 per cent of the elderly are financially dependent on their offspring. In China, this problem has been labelled the "4:2:1" phenomenon, meaning that a couple (two) are responsible for the care of one child and four parents. The government has eased access to government pensions and has launched schemes to encourage saving for private pensions in an attempt to reduce the burden of the 4:2:1 phenomenon. In addition, urban couples who are themselves both only children are now allowed to have more than one child.  Yet the recent policy liberalization allows only for two children!

The sex ratio (male: female live births) is 1.03 to 1.07 in industrialized countries. In China, this ratio has increased from 1.06 in 1979, to 1.11 in 1988 and 1.17 in 2001, with even higher ratios in rural areas. In rural areas, the sex ratio is 1.05 for the first birth and rises steeply subsequently. In urban areas, the sex ratio is 1.13 for the first birth and peaks at 1.30 for the second birth showing that some urban Chinese make the choice to perform sex selection with the first pregnancy, since they are allowed only one child. In rural areas, most couples were permitted to have a second child, especially if the first is female. So if the second (or subsequent) child is female, the pregnancy often ‘disappears’, allowing the couple to have another child in an attempt to have a son.

China and India:
China and India are experiencing rapid economic growth. Both have huge poor as well as rural agrarian populations. Neither country provides an effective social security net for the elderly. Both realized that population control is essential to increasing per capita GDP. In both societies there is a strong cultural preference for sons. Both are facing declining sex ratios through use of sex selective abortions.

Labor needs for an economy growing fast are immense. In today’s world when life expectancy is growing to higher levels, there has to be fare balance between the able bodied labor with the aging people on the one hand and the children and adolescents on the other. A well-educated and skilled labor force is the necessity of a nation which is experiencing fast pace of development such as India and also China.  But as one can see below India has still been experiencing high fertility and huge child and youth population compared with China. Note that China has relatively far too lower proportion of child population upto the age of 20 years and also has huge older population above the age of 50 years. Thus a lower proportion of able bodied middle aged has to take the brunt of meeting the essential needs of both the young and the old.  At this juncture it is difficult to say which of the two age distributions are virtuous; the seemingly better age structure in India can be curse if the huge population created additional pressure on resources and public services.

However, not far from now, just two generations ago, both India and China were poor and population growth was phenomenal caused by decline in diseases of the masses such cholera, plague, smallpox, polio as well as almost no deaths caused by famines. There has also been a slow but certain reduction in infant mortality which has caused the life expectancy to reach about 65 years even in India.

Just as the less coercive Chinese  ‘late, long and few’ policy was slowly but steadily reducing fertility, similarly an Indian policy of a mix of incentives and dis-incentives, such as family ration for the female child attending school; monitory incentives for girl child enrolled in higher school grades may impact fertility decline in the long run.

The importance of population size of India has specially significance to the economics in the west including the USA.  Given below replacement level fertility in most of Europe and high dependence on migrant labor in the USA; it is extremely essential that English speaking skill labor is available for the world to draw upon. While China could use its labor force during the past four decades of high economic growth rates; its future growth is dependent upon the sustained supply of youth and skilled workers. In spite of fast pace of technological innovations and applications to labor saving manufacturing and services; there are a certain minimum amount of labor demand which is difficult to be domestically sources in the European economics.  Thus the so-called curse of high population and high fertility in India seems to be turned to be a virtue but not for the Indians – but for the western world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

India’s Pink Gold: an Ocean of Nutrition and Protein

Meddling with the well established Bovine Economy will be a drag on India’s Development 


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hindu Rate of Growth! BJP’s Social Ideology a drag on Economic Development?

India’s efforts to race in the league of the economically developed and politically matured countries of the world look somewhat premature. There is a lot of hype mostly emerging from relatively higher levels of growth rates during the last decade and half; as this happened due to low absolute levels to begin with. It is the large population count, a basic multiplier that leads to grand GDP estimates, real opulence that could generate sustained demand, promote economic activity and spiral up further growth is limited. At best the consumer-heroes of India are the middle and lower middle class who must engage the market to meet their basic needs such as food, energy, transportation, education, health and technological essentials. While affordability and appropriate technology is still the issue, the relatively higher inflation is leading unexpected race to achieve affordable living.

A considerable social and ideological baggage has sprung-up since the BJP assumed power which potentially can pull down and derail the economic growth and social development prospects of India. Note that India has come a long way overcoming the drag of the socialistic ideology, since about 1985 the GDP grew to increasingly higher levels continuing until now. Although the recent global downturn has only marginally depressed India’s GDP growth, it will be the only large economy in the globe expected to register a relatively high growth of around 6-7 percent during 2016 and 2017. Such a higher rate of growth if sustained for a decade and more, can then enable India register a place in the ‘new league of nations’ that will propel global economic development during the best part of 21st century.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Now let us ponder over the conditions that are necessary for India to register a sustained higher growth rate during the immediate to medium term. Firstly, India’s natural advantage of harvesting and exploiting vast natural resources will yield higher growth only when it has access to investible funds and appropriate (green) technology. Both these inputs are available to India from abroad through the process of foreign direct (FDI) and foreign institutional (FII) investments. Secondly, the relative advantage of having a youthful population which will continue for at least another two to three decades can sustain only when they are educated and skilled appropriately; which in tandem with increasing investments get worthwhile rates of return through enhanced productivity in essential sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, services and agriculture.  Lastly but not the least, India must exhibit social cohesion and societal peace in the manner that it becomes the preferred destination for foreign investors and technological flows assisting the economy to progress through improved financial efficiency and reduced cost of production.  The structure of modern labour supply in India is uniquely lopsided favouring the high castes who are socially and economically better-off, keeping away large proportions of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, the Muslims and selected ‘other backward classes’  from the modern labour market. This scenario needs to be calibrated towards socially inclusive labor market, which amounts to no less than a paradigm shift.

Recent interferences by the ultra right-wing groups who fantasise India to be a Hindu state often identify themselves as a form of social-civil society have thrown off-gear the policy frameworks, legal and civic institutions regulating economic and social domains of millions of citizens. They are able to effect policy reversals in selected states and even at the centre, such as withdrawal of quota-reservations to Muslims (a case in Maharashtra), banning the culling and consumption of livestock and so on. Even many compelling legal cases with respect to police excesses and motivated political threats are being withdrawn. There are changes and revisions being made in school curriculums promoting right wing Hindutva ideology. The scientific temper among the students and the population at large is being challenged in a manner that unsubstantiated beliefs are used as citations and theories to the dismay of modern thinkers, practitioners of reason and science.

Establishing links between religion and levels of GDP across the nation is taboo. It is instructive, however, to learn that, unlike the Christians, the Muslims and the Buddhists who constitute much of the population of the globe and spread around a large number of countries across the continents; the Hindu religion is confined within shores of India from three sides and the imposing Himalayas in its north.  Note also that over 95% of the Hindus live in India and only small numbers in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan; all these countries have registered low levels of per capita GDP of less-than USD 1500, India being on the top.

Over 61 per cent of the Buddhists on the other hand domicile in countries which have high levels of GDP including Japan, South Korea and China.  Incidentally it is a matter of historical fact that Buddhism emerged in the Indian sub-continent yet it did not survive on these lands to the extent that only about two percent of India’s population is Buddhists. Similarly, practically all Christians with the exception of Congo and Ethiopia (about 124 million out of 1.5 billion) live in countries with very high levels of GDP, such as the USA, most of European nations, Brazil, Mexico and Russia.  Even over 55% of the Muslims live in countries which have relatively higher per capita GDP although the most numerous of the Muslims live in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with meagre GDP. This simple association between religion and GDP summarizes the broad parameters of religiosity and culture and its influence on the economy and Hindu-radical groups need be better informed about this association.

On another plain, it took a President of another country - the USA to preach lessons on diversity, tolerance and creation of equal opportunity during his visit to New Delhi in January 2015. Mr. Obama even invoked Mahatma Gandhi, the icon of religious tolerance during the ‘63nd annual national prayer breakfast’ speech in Washington D. C, to point out that ‘looking at what is happening in India even Gandhi would have ashamed’.  Politically though, at the moment in India, the presence of minorities especially the Muslims are of no significance excepting as a historical fact. They often are of entertainment value for the general masses and not welcome co-patriots.  However, the Muslims constitute the backbone for a number of traditional manufacturing; the structure and growth of modern industry especially in the areas of textiles, construction, leather, garments, gems and jewellery and iron and steel and have been based on the artisanal skills they carry to this day. A recent estimate undertaken by this author suggests the Muslim labour force contributes relatively higher value added compared to all other socio-religious categories at all levels of education excepting the topmost which is affected by labour market and employment distortions caused by quota system.

The state governments in India wield a substantial independent power in many areas of governance especially those affecting the basic needs and human development. The public police are implemented mostly through state bureaucracy the solutions for the social and also many economic issues have to be found at the local level. It is in this context that India and its states need to establish institutional arrangements to ‘equal opportunity a cherish goal and institutional mechanism to be found and executed. Prudent economic and social policies both at the national and state levels can yield higher economic growth lets India falls again in the trap of the so called ‘Hindu (Low) Rate of Growth’.