North India's lead

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 January, 2004, 12:00am

I refer to the article headlined 'India's hi-tech faultline' (December 28), by Amrit Dhillon.

None of the five Indian states with the highest per capita income are in the south - in fact, three are located in backward - as described in the article - north India (Delhi, Punjab and Haryana). And interestingly, Dhillon's much-despised Gujarat is fourth.

Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were placed eighth and 10th respectively by India's leading political magazine, India Today, in a recent ranking of states according to different criteria, including education, health and infrastructure. Even in social sectors such as education and health, north and west India do not trail the south. In education, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi from the north and west are in the top five along with Kerala and Tamil Nadu from the south. And in health services, the top four states are all from the west and north; only Kerala in the south is in fifth position.

Even in investment, the five top-ranked states are all in west and north India - again, Gujarat is fourth. In terms of the best infrastructure, four states in the west and north are in the top five.

Of course, certain big states in north and east India are far behind and have a lot of catching up to do. And as far as information technology is concerned, the south is far ahead. But it is not just the IT sector (though it might be the most visible) that is driving India's economic boom.

Economic disparities between regions in a country are common; a notable example is China (a prosperous south and east versus an impoverished west). However, that has never interfered with patriotic and national feelings that the Chinese have for their motherland.

What binds a nation together is not just economic or social. Despite what our adversaries might think, the feelings of love and loyalty that Indians have for their country are too deep to be pushed aside by mythical divides such as north and south. It is also a fallacy to say the cultures between the north and south are different.