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Rapid progress made but poverty still remains visible: Paul Krugman on India

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 17 March 2018, 17:09 IST

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman on Saturday said India has made rapid progress on the economic front but economic inequality in the country remains an issue.

Paul Krugman said, "India has become a much better place to do business than it was earlier, though the bureaucratic obstacles have not gone away completely buy reduced enormously."

"India achieved as much economic progress in the (last) 30 years as the Great Britain did in 150 years. It is a very rapid space of transformation....why does there still seem to be visible poverty in India?

"One problem is high degree of economic inequality," Krugman said at the News 18 Rising India Summit, adding that India has made "enormous strides" in economic progress but the wealth has "not been evenly distributed".

"There is this concept called artificial intelligence that you should be wary of. In future, while diagnosis may be outsourced to a doctor in India, it could also go to a firm based on artificial intelligence. Things like this could be a cause for worry for Indian services sector," Krugman said while speaking at a News 18 event.

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On rising income of middle-class in emerging markets globally, he said: "People, when (they) mostly talk about the story, understandably focus on China, but India is part of the story as well. ...India is still poor, but not in the same level at all. Indian GDP per capita is about 12 per cent of the US level now, which sounds low but that is up from 4 per cent not that long ago.

Terming India's economic growth progress as "extraordinary", he said the country has become (on purchasing power) the world's largest economy overtaking Japan and while being behind the US and China, it is far bigger than any European country.

Attributing factors that played a role in the economic "progress", Krugman said there was a dramatic change in India's policy including liberalised policies taken in early 1990s.

"I am on the Centre-Left, but I do not think the government should have a heavy hand on economy. India used to have License Raj, where bureaucratic obstacles were immense and that has not gone away completely but enormously reduced. India has become a much easier place to do business that it was. The PM said India moved from 148 to 100 in the rankings. That is not a badge of distinction, but it is better than it was," he observed.

According to Krugman, the transformation of policy came at a good time and the country opened up at the right time.

The infrastructure is still a problem but it is better than before, he said.

"India brought policies that opened up possibilities of doing business and made India attractive place for international companies to do business. There has been a real transformation of policies," he said.

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First published: 17 March 2018, 17:09 IST