Macro Economy

Jairam Ramesh points to irony of reforms: poverty down, but inequalities elsewhere

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on July 29, 2016

The reforms story Jairam Ramesh (right), Rajya Sabha member, in conversation with Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor, The Hindu, at a public discussion organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy in Chennai - Photo: M PRABHU

Reduced poverty but increased inequality in health, access to education and public services. This, said Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Sabha member, is the paradox of the reforms since 1991.

“Poverty has declined significantly since 1991, while inequality has gone up significantly during this period, said the former Union Minister for Environment and Forests during a public discussion on ‘25th year of reforms — A retrospective of what happened in June-July 1991,” organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy.

Discussing the positive and negative developments of reforms with Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor, The Hindu, Ramesh said: “If you have to do a full balance-sheet of what happened after 1991, on the positive side, the consumption part of life has become much better as people need not wait for weeks to get a phone or gas connection or buy a car or book a railway ticket. But on the negative side, inequality has increased and there is a collapse of public health system and in education, quality has suffered though enrolments have increased. “India’s private health system has become world class. But public health system has completely collapsed. A city like Hyderabad is the best in the world in terms tertiary healthcare. But, if you travel half an hour outside the city, you will find public health care in shambles. This is one of the most significant things that we have not paid attention to,” he observed.

In public education, the achievements have been mixed. There is a huge increase in enrolment ratio and huge increase in infrastructure – be it number of universities, IITs or IIMs. The gross enrolment ratio in higher education in India was nine per cent in 2004, i.e, nine per cent of India’s college going population was in college. In 2014, it became 20 per cent. So, in a space of 10 years, the ratio has doubled.

Earlier, while introducing Jairam Ramesh, N Ravi, former Editor of The Hindu, presented some highlights from the former’s book To the Brink and Back.

Published on July 29, 2016
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