Uneven development in India

Although India has undergone rapid economic development in the last 20 years, it has great variations in wealth within the country.

The regions of India with the greatest GDP are Delhi and Goa. Assam, Manipur, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are the poorest.GDP per capita in Indian Rupees

Generally, the states in the south and west (with the exception of Rajasthan) have a far higher level of development than the states in the north and east.

These disparities are due to several reasons:

  • Coastal locations such as Mumbai (in Maharashtra) historically benefitted from being linked to trade routes with the rest of the world. This is in contrast to landlocked states such as Bihar. This gap increased further when coastal locations allowed the south and the west to develop large container ports, which linked these states to an increasingly globalised world.
  • The south and the west also had the lowest rates of natural increase compared to the high rates of natural increase in the north and the east. In Kerala, in the south, fertility rates are now 1.7 - the same as in the UK.
  • The Green Revolution (and also the increase in food exports) was greatest in the south and the west compared to the north and the west. Rajasthan, which separates the rich states of Gujrat and Haryana, is often affected by drought and crop failure due to the failure of the monsoon.

These reasons led to the positive multiplier effect in the south and the west where a high level of development created a well-educated work force. This then attracted foreign investment from transnational corporations, further increasing the wealth of the south and the west. In contrast, the north and east of India are landlocked, therefore cannot directly trade internationally. This deters foreign investors from these regions. This can result in a lack of schools, transport networks and employment opportunities causing young people to move out of the region towards successful cities. This is known as brain drain.