Not all States in India are similar in terms of level of development. We can classify States on the basis of per capita income between developed and underdeveloped States. Punjab was at the top with highest per capita income in 1990-91, whereas Orissa was at the bottom. By 2002-03, Maharashtra had reached the top and Bihar had taken the bottom position. By 2005-06, Haryana occupied the top slot. Of the Union Territories, Chandigarh was at the top.
Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are undoubtedly developed States, while Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh etc are backward States. Economic analysts try to name these backward States as BIMARU by joining the first letter of names of these backward States. They are called backward, as not only their per capita income is low, even the rate of economic growth is very dismal. We find that between 1990-91 and 2002-2003, Bihar’s domestic product, instead of rising, declined at the rate of about one per cent per annum. During this period, the GDP growth rate of the country was 5.4 per cent per annum, while the rate of growth of State Domestic Product (SDP) was only 0.4 per cent for Madhya Pradesh, 2.1 per cent for Uttar Pradesh, 2.6 per cent for Assam and 3.5 per cent for Rajasthan.
At the aggregate level, the rate of growth of backward States was only 1.7 per cent per annum. But the situation has changed since 2002-03. Data indicate a much better position for these States. The rate of growth of Rajasthan’s SDP has been about 12 per cent per annum between 2002-03 and 2006-07. This rate has been 11 per cent for Orissa, 10 per cent for Madhya Pradesh and 6.5 per cent for Uttar Pradesh during the same period. Bihar has also started showing signs of improvement since 2005. It may not be a pure coincidence that after the new government took the reins of Bihar, the rate of growth of its economy not only turned positive, but it has also become one of the fastest growing States of the country and achieved a rate of growth of 11 per cent per annum during 2006-07 and 2007-08. But it is also a fact that Bihar’s per capita income is still the lowest in the country. On the other hand, the per capita income of Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand is lower by 25 to 40 per cent as compared to the national average. This is a cause of major concern.
Reduction in regional inequalities is imperative not only from the point of view of improving living standards in the backward States but also for faster economic development of the country as a whole. The importance of contribution of our vast manpower, especially youth, in the development of the country is well established. If any of the States remain backward, it affects the overall development in education, health and other public utilities. In such States, infrastructure development is also adversely affected. Educational development index, too, goes down. According to statistics, Bihar is educationally the most backward State.
Once a State misses the train of development, it is caught in the web of backwardness. Whereas developed States get all kinds of investment proposals, backward States lag behind in investment. They get less support even from financial institutions as compared to developing and developed States. Living standards in backward States are very low with no signs of improvement. Developed States enjoy maximum utilization of national resources. According to the Planning Commission, the per capita consumption of electricity in backward States is less than half as compared to developed States. Backward States lag behind even in terms of expansion of roads, telecom, agriculture extension services, irrigation etc. They lag behind in terms of all types of indicators of human development. Life expectancy and literacy level are low, and birth rate and death rate both are very high.
We heave a sigh of relief when we note signs of development in these backward States, and it seems that they are coming out of the web of underdevelopment. Now it becomes the bounden duty of both the central and State governments to completely eradicate the menace of illiteracy, lack of health facilities, poverty and unemployment, and infrastructural bottlenecks, all arising due to underdevelopment, and place these States on the right track.
Today, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India stands at 132nd position in terms of human development. But if we make a comparison of human development index (HDI) of developed States, we find that they are comparable with the HDI of countries between 60th to 100th rank. But due to the backwardness of some States, we are pushed to the 132nd position. Thus even to push the nation up in international ranking, it is imperative to accelerate the economic, human and infrastructure development of our backward States.