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Satellites at Night Can Understand Regionwise Economic Condition of India. See How

Satellite pictures taken from outer space are more revealing than we think. From an image acquired from the US Air Force Defence Meteorological Satellite Programme, Economists Praveen Chakravarthy and Vivek Dehejia have found interesting information that tells you about the current economic divide of our country. The image captured by the satellite was superimposed with a map depicting India’s districts and they have developed a set of data based on the luminosity values.

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The data encompasses 387 out of 640 districts in 12 states. These districts amounts to about 85 percent of India’s population and 80 percent of India’s GDP. About 380 districts in 12 states were on average just a fifth as bright as the big metros like Mumbai and Bangalore. Add to it the fact that ninety percent of all the districts are just a third as bright in the night as the top ten percent of all districts. The luminosity is indicative of the economic prosperity of the region a it suggests more economic activity in the place.  

The ratio has worsened since 1992, the year which saw the economic reforms set by Manmohan singh who was finance minister then. The years before 1991 shows a trend of convergence of income between different states while the years later show that the Gap is widening. The data shows that an average person in richer states like Maharashtra or Kerala is three times richer than an average person in poorer states like Bihar or MadhyaPradesh.

“What we find is that both across states and across districts with each state, this is a wide, and widening disparity in economic activity. No, it is not that the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but that the poor are not getting richer fast enough to close the gap with the already rich,” says Dr Dehejia, a senior fellow at the Mumbai-based think tank IDFC Institute

The economists find this trend worrying. In a large country like aindia disparity in income “could easily lead to social disharmony as populous, poorer regions attempt to extract greater redistribution from less populous, richer regions – whether within or across states” said Dehejia.

Why the disparity is going up will continue to remain a puzzle although a variety of causes can be attributed to it. The fruits of many yojanas the Central government have introduced may not have reached the correct hands in it’s intended form. The recent innovations introduced by Narendra Modi to directly transfer the benefits might bring about a change.


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