india’s common people: Who are they, How Many are they and How Do they live?
Arjun Sengupta, K P Kannan, G Raveendran
This paper attempts to define the common people of India in terms of levels of consumption and examines their socio-economic profile in different periods of time since the early 1990s with a view to assessing how the economic growth process has impacted on their lives. The findings should worry everyone. Despite high growth, more than three-fourths of Indians are poor and vulnerable with a level of consumption not more than twice the official poverty line. This proportion of the population which can be categorised as the “common people” is much higher among certain social groups, especially for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. There is also evidence to suggest that inequality is widening between the common people and the better-off sections of society.
t is always the endeavour of any democratic government to ensure that its economic and social policies lead to an accelerated improvement of the welfare of the common people. Economic growth taken as the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) is highly desirable in this context as it will establish the pre-eminence of the country in the world economy, provide a large market for goods and services, increase investment and technology inflows from all over the world and allow improvement in income and employment to the people, even if not uniformly for all sections of the population and not evenly for all regions of the economy. It could also, with proper policies, facilitate a substantial and rapid improvement in the living conditions, and promotion of livelihood of the masses whom we consider the common people. Economic growth alone, however, cannot ensure such an objective unless supplemented by other policies and complimentary measures targeted directly at promoting the welfare of the masses. The trickle-down effect of growth would be often too meagre and too...