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Why is India poor? What can be done to change this?

I am looking to go beyond the obvious reason which is quality of institutions (including corruption) and infrastructure. For a nation of 1.2 billion, even if the institutions aren't that good, it should be possible to fix things, right?

I think we can learn a lot from history and evolution of distribution of wealth in the world. Look at this chart: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-V_zsRrVZd4w/T_B-rIF6v7I/AAAAAAAAGhE/JdlSo4iwtGU/s1600/Economic+history+of+world.png

This shows a shocking shift of wealth off India in only as much as past 300 years. Caste system and all have been here since ever, so there has to be a deeper reason. Also, as much as I agree with Technology being the reason, I don't really see it as the reason, unless we want to be developed EXACTLY in the way as the west is - there CAN be multiple other ways of being wealthy - and the tech way of using minimal human capital and mechanization while may be the best for the west where humans resources are scarce, it may not be the best way for our human-capital rich society - wonder how much we can do with sooo many hands! And still, we are just struggling to feed those mouths :(

So I guess the question is calling for a critical analysis of what has brought about the condition shown in this graph, where India houses the max poor in one country: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cXku0S7O-N0/UA1lK_DhtbI/AAAAAAAAAgE/0FduwIJQhZ4/s1600/regional-ineq.JPG

By the way, a disclaimer here is a must on my background so that you do not think this is coming from a very narrow mind - I am not casteist, am highly educated, and am IIT B.Tech. grad - so a big promoter of tech (tech I think is awesome for me and the likes who like it, but still don't see mechanization as the solution to human state).


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    Apr 8 2013: Hey Divya,

    India is a very complex country and you cannot compare it to any other country. What ever succeeds in India will not work elsewhere and Vice Versa. And I know its very easy to blame the Brits, Politicians, Bureaucrats, Corruption etc. But the culture and diversity of India itself is the reason why it takes long time to bring solutions and implement them effectively.

    It is not easy to bring change in a country with 200 languages, So many Cultures, Castes, Religions. And with the kind of democracy the people have been habitual to...It will make it even more tough.

    The only way you can fix things in India is to wait for people to respond and force the laws, force the change they want. The good news s that its begun now. The history says it all Divya. If you observe the history and how the technology merged with Indians today...There is a definite pattern.
    • Apr 8 2013: Well said. Let me add an observation - technology adoption in India is super high - I guess that's because tech is applicable in the same way to and does not clash with any religion or caste or linguistic or regional considerations. I guess other changes take time mostly because of the 'unruly' diversity, if I may add to what you say. What do you think, Chaitanya?
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        Apr 9 2013: Absolutely Divya. Technology adoption is very high and also very fast. The most amazing fact is that people who don not know how to read whats in the gadget still use it very efficiently. They are just laymen. I am not sure if this kinds adaptability happens elsewhere. So the country doesn't lack anything. It has everything what a developed nation needs to have, I mean the talent, the intent and the resources. The only thing needed at the moment is a push.And that push is what technology can help with.
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      Apr 8 2013: you understand india, and it makes you believe it is special. the thing is, every other country is special too. and despite all the differences, the way to prosperity is the same everywhere.

      you present diversity as an obstacle. i claim diversity is more an asset. only from a wide variety of ideas we can pick the ones that work.
      • Apr 9 2013: Diversity slows decisions, that's the only way it hampers growth.
        But it is an asset in countless ways. We Indians cherish that. If anything else, it makes life so much fulfilling because of the constant variety of ideas and thought schools.
        There is a saying about India - Whatever is true of the place, the exact opposite is also true :D
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          Apr 9 2013: on the contrary. diversity speeds up growth. the reason for that is this: if we know what is good, obviously diversity hurts, because it means that some solutions will not be the good solutions, hence the average is lower. but we don't, and we can't know what is the good solution. the only way to find it is trial and error. and in such an environment, the sheer number of ideas is what matters.

          btw that is how evolution works. and it came up with some crazy good stuff.

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