Bhagwati (Economics/Columbia Univ.) and Panagariya (Indian Economics/Columbia Univ.) collaborate again (co-editors: India's Reforms: How They Produced Inclusive Growth, 2012, etc.) in this rebuttal of critics of India's present economic performance.
The authors seek to lay to rest the views of some who disagree with them about poverty, malnutrition, health and mortality, and education. They seek to show, for example, that while caloric consumption seems quite low on average, the numbers don't point to the extensive malnutrition their opponents claim exists and need not have much to do with the prevalence of stunted growth and other continuing evidences of persistent poverty. Their arguments, however, are occasionally undermined by the evidence they provide and may not convince non-Indian readers. Among the most dramatic indicators are those concerning per capita income, life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, deaths from malaria and childhood stunting. While India's performance is comparable to Bangladesh, it differs markedly from China. India's women, as well as their children, do indeed appear to be in a class apart. The authors leave many unanswered questions about the continuing influence of India's caste system in its struggles to achieve what they identify as necessary growth—nor are institutions of higher education the hoped-for panacea. Bhagwati and Panagariya show how India's food-subsidy system becomes perverted as supplies are sold into private distribution channels to raise cash that can be spent on nonfood items. The authors seem to undermine the view that India can successfully compete with China.
For students of Indian affairs or global economics, particularly in the East.