The agenda for inclusive growth was envisaged in the Eleventh Plan document which intended to achieve not only faster growth but a growth process which ensures broad-based improvement in the quality of life of the people, especially the poor, SCs/STs, other backward castes (OBCs), minorities and women and which seeks to provide equality of opportunity to all. Bringing these excluded sections of the society into the mainstream of the society so that they are able to reap the benefits of faster economic growth is the kind of ‘inclusion’ which is being envisioned in the concept of inclusive growth.
Inclusive growth means economic growth that creates employment opportunities and helps in reducing poverty. It means having access to essential services in health and education by the poor. It includes providing equality of opportunity, empowering people through education and skill development. It also encompasses a growth process that is environment friendly growth, aims for good governance and a helps in creation of a gender sensitive society. Special efforts to increase employment opportunities are essential as it is a necessary condition for bringing about an improvement in the standard of living of the people. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), one of the largest social safety network in India, has improved the standard of living of people and has been able to check migration to a great extent. Apart from this, the Government has launched various flagship programmes like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Bharat Nirman etc. to bring about improvement in the area of education, health and infrastructure thereby making growth more inclusive.
The growth story of Indian economy has been remarkable in the recent years. During 2005-06 to 2007-08 it has achieved an average growth rate of 9.47%, though declined somewhat afterwards in the wake of global financial crisis. Even then it was able to maintain a decent average growth rate of 7.76% for the period 2008-09 to 2010-11. Further, it is expected that the growth is likely to average 8.2% for the Eleventh Five Year Period (2007-12) which is less than the targeted 9% but above 7.7% achieved during the Tenth Five Year plan. India has comfortable level of investment and savings rate to steer such a growth rate.
But in terms of Human Development Index, India is lagging behind China, Sri Lanka and many other African and Latin American countries. India has a rank of 119 in the HDI ranking done by the UNDP (Human Development Report 2010). Similarly in terms of other indicators like poverty, unemployment and regional disparities India has lot more to do. The HDR 2010, has also come up with a new parameter to measure poverty called Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) replacing Human Poverty Index (HPI). India’s performance is dismal in this regard poorer than China, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Indonesia as about 41.6 per cent of India’s population (in terms of $ 1.25 a day) lives below the poverty line. Thus, there is a need to broadbase the economic growth, increase participation of people and share the benefits of the growth process in order to make it more inclusive. Reducing rural-urban gap, gender discrimination and achieving higher level of human development will also bring about inclusiveness. Inclusive growth can hardly ignore the environmental concerns. India’s effort in this regard is commendable as India is one of the lowest Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitters in the world and still India has announced that, by proactive policies, it will reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 20-25 percent over the 2005 levels by the year 2020. India’s Twelfth Five Year Plan (to be launched on 1st April, 2012) will also focus on achieving a low carbon inclusive growth as one of its targets.