Regional Disparities in Contemporary India: Concerns and Policies for Development


  • Tariq Ahmad Sheikh


India has had a glorious past.  Our cultural heritage is comparable to that of China or Egypt.  We had great kings and kingdoms.  Half of the major world religions had their origin in India.  We had produced great thinkers and philosophers who contributed to several branches of knowledge. But most of our history before 1500 AD is in oral traditions.  Indians, by and large, were not good at record keeping.  This is especially true about hard facts and data relating to various aspects of life.  Even for the period 1500 to 1750 AD data are rudimentary.  Regional disparities are an alarming issue in India, and it has been widening in spite of various policy initiatives by the government to develop backward areas. The fruit of high growth have not been distributed fairly across India's different regions and have given rise to the threat of regional inequality. Disparities in social and economic development, employment, and infrastructure amenities across the regions and within regions have been a major challenge to policy makers and economists. This paper is an attempt to understand the recent picture of regional imbalance in India across its states. The paper tries to analyze the existing regional disparity in India in terms of macroeconomic aggregates, social and economic infrastructure, and human development. The paper also examines the various policy initiatives taken by the government of India to achieve the regional balance in development.