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How much does India spend on Social Sector Services?

March 23rd, 2011 · 4 Comments

During one of my recent trips to Delhi, I picked up a copy of the Economic Survey 2010-11. While browsing through it, I was struck my one figure: the amount of money we spend on social services. Page 294 of this report has the answer. Between the centre and the states, we spend about 25% of all our money on education, health and other related sectors. That figure is Rs 5,22,492 crore for 2010-11. Which comes to about $115 billion dollars, or about $100 per person per year.

I could not find a detailed break-down other than the fact that education accounts for 45% of this and health for 19%.

Given the quantum of corruption that we know of,  what’s needed are ways that this money can be spent more efficiently. This is an important question because not only is the quantum very large, so is its growth rate. That expenditure has more than doubled in the past 4 years.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MS // Mar 23, 2011 at 6:16 am

    hmm, so we spent about half of what UK/Canada/Germany (and a third of US) spend on healthcare…sometimes numbers dont tell all…things like access to healthcare is highly uneven in India; you have got pockets of zillion choices and absolutely none in other places…

    I agree with you: every paisa of this money (and future) must be spent efficiently…would be interesting to know where the waste lie (well, apart from the legendary corruption, that is!)

  • 2 FirstBallSix // Mar 23, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Do we have an equivalent of the US’ Congressional Budget Office in India?

  • 3 Wrenj // Mar 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Gandhi had a very useful idea when he returned to India. He was of the opinion that the power for real change lay with the ordinary people even if they were largely poor and illiterate. So his message went out to them in terms they understood. The rest is history.

    This I think is a useful principle for any initiative seeking lasting change in India. It must include the active participation of the whole India, both those who have and those who don’t.

    The spending for social services is often in the name of the needs of the poor. It hardly gets to them. They being the customers, need to be able to demand better service and powerful enough to get it. To a limited extent, it takes place in elections. But many other institutions exist which need reform by becoming more subject to the power of their customers. Often their customers don’t know it and don’t exercise it.

    I appreciate the intentions behind the United Voters of India initiative and the PGP. With the middle class estimated at 30% and the rest of India being poor, a good initiative might be what I call “1 plus 2”.

    If every Indian who had, could invest in the education of 2 others who didn’t, in basic literacy, numerical skills and civics to begin with, we might be just a generation away from lasting change.

    This may be a way to spread more power to all Indians. The quality of our democracy is bound to improve.

  • 4 Som Karamchetty // Mar 24, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Abraham Maslow defined human needs in terms of a Hierarchy, which goes with his name. At the bottom of the Hierarchy are the basic needs, namely, water, food, and shelter. Every civilized society strives to satisfy these basic needs of all people. Either we help people with skilled jobs so that they fend for themselves or we provide social sector services (charity). When these services are run from cities like Delhi, their cost will be high and effectiveness miniscule. When you add the inefficiencies of bureaucratic layers, the costs escalate. In a corrupt system, the costs go up and services go down further.
    In response to my suggestions, a Delhi based philanthropic organization invited me to visit their projects several years ago. I spent a day and found that the staff were commuting from Delhi to villages, a five hour round trip, and telling the villagers some farming methods. I was reminded of the saying, “Carrying coals to Newcastle.” I am still friendly with the group but have not been involved in any projects. I am now convinced that panchayat level planning is essential to address the problem of rural poverty; that is where the lack of development problem lies.
    The 600,000 villages grouped into some 60,000 panchayats and each panchayat looks at the basic needs of their people. The panchayats have to be assisted to develop plans addressing total development including the basic needs. Such plans should show that after a certain number of years, basic needs are satisfied through jobs, i.e. no more charity programs. In order to get there, the targeted people will have their own individual plans to gain employable skills. As the citizens of the panchayat, these people are the electorate, the planners, plan executors, and the beneficiaries. The resource aspects of their plans will show the revenue and expenses. Some revenue might come from the higher levels (state and center) of government.
    I had sent a white paper (http://home.comcast.net/~somk/Planning/PanchayatPlanning.doc) on the plan to Indian leaders. I will be glad to work with interested people to make it implementation ready.

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