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Is India’s prosperity helping the poor?

Iin Earth Where labor is cheap, the man who drives the most luxury cars is not a billionaire. It is valet parking. For a small salary, he must park double and triple car parks in tight spaces, and then dump them. In India, where car sales have increased by 16% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – a trend driven in part by the growing popularity of large sports cars – this difficult task is made even more difficult.

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For many, India’s automobile boom symbolizes the country’s skyrocketing economic rise. On February 28, new figures revealed that India gross domestic product It grew 4.4% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from 6.3% in the previous quarter. Although slow, the imf India is expected to be the fastest growing major economy in 2023, and to account for 15% of global growth. ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)bjp) believed that the country in the middle Amrit Kalwhich is an auspicious period that will bring prosperity to all Indians.

Not everyone was convinced bjp‘s reinforcement. To the skeptics, the rise in car sales is actually indicative of the troubling imbalance of India’s economic growth. In fact, purchases of two-wheeled vehicles, such as scooters and motorcycles, have plummeted since the virus hit, and are down 15% since 2019. These are the vehicles of the masses: half of households own a two-wheeler; Less than one in ten own a car.

There are not many questions more central to Indian politics than the welfare of every man in the country. The problem is that answering the question is fraught with difficulties. Official statistics are incomplete. Ministers have not published a poverty estimate in over a decade. Thus, assessments and inferences must be made using surveys and other data sets, such as car sales.

These indicate that poverty reduction has stalled, and may even be reversed. According to a survey of 44,000 households conducted by the Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy (Named), a research organ, just 6% of India’s poorest households — those who bring in less than 100,000 rupees ($1,200) a year — think their families are better off than they were a year ago. Recovery from the pandemic, when harsh lockdowns hit the economy, has been appallingly slow.

The World Bank estimates that the lockdowns have pushed 56 million Indians into extreme poverty. Since then, inflation has further eroded purchasing power: real wages in rural areas, where most of the poor live, have stagnated, and annual inflation jumped to 6.5% in January. Poor families, for whom food makes up 60% of family spending, felt the strongest crisis. Food costs in rural areas have increased by 28% since 2019; Onion prices increased by 51%.

The labor market data also influences India’s impressive headline growth figures. Engagement in the Rural Employment Program, which guarantees low-paid work for participants, remains above pre-COVID-19 levels. Named Surveys show that the unemployment rate is also higher, averaging over 7% over the past two years. Many people have given up on the search: Labor force participation rates have fallen since the pandemic.

There are a lot of problems with the Indian economy, from poor primary education to an inability to grow a limited manufacturing sector. But these existed even with previous growth spurts that lifted millions out of poverty. Thus, the recent pains are likely to reflect the aftereffects of the pandemic. Construction companies in cities, for example, are complaining about a shortage of labor, as many workers who went to villages during the lockdown have not yet returned.

These may finally be starting to wear off. The latest data releases suggest that wages in rural areas may rise. Deposits in bank accounts for the poor are also on the rise. Even sales of two-wheelers are slowly creeping up. More improvement will be required, however, for claims Amrit Kal for correct ringing.

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