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Meaning of Economic Growth

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Kerala has limited population growth through the tools of higher literacy rates of women and higher participation of women in the workforce. Lower population means higher GDP per capita. More than the economic growth ( rate of growth of GDP), it is GDP per capita that is the main driver and indicator of development. Development means more freedom and more freedom means more development. The unleashing of the human potential through more freedom is the very objective and raison d’ etre of economic and social activities. The formation of social values and the evolution of social ethics are important aspects of the evolving process of development.

A wide variety of social institutions contribute to the process of development. These include the market regulators, administrators, judiciary, media, non-government organizations, the political parties, legislatures etc. An integrated and holistic analysis of the respective roles of these social institutions in the process of development is needed. This integrated analysis will go a long way in making these institutions more effective in promoting the process of development. Economic needs and economic growth are considered by some to be more important than political freedom.

According to Amartya Sen, this opposition is illusory. It is political freedoms which drive the social responses to economic needs. Political freedoms are also central to the conceptualization of economic needs. Economic growth has a positive impact on a larger portion of the population when there is political freedom and democratic and social institutions are in place and function independently and effectively. Take the case of many African nations. Economic growth in the form of GDP growth has been high on the back of their immense natural resources. But this economic growth is not translating into development for the major section of the population because of the lack of political freedoms. Dictatorial regimes in these countries, pocket the chunk of the national income for themselves, leaving little for the citizens.

Freedom is a necessary condition for human development. Without effective democratic and social institutions, economic growth cannot translate into development for the citizens. Amartya Sen (1990) in his work Development as Freedom places a large amount of empirical evidence to prove that the worst famines in the world have not been caused by food shortages.

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