The triumph of the great free-market liberalization that took place in India in 1991 is stunning, an advancement for human well-being that is one of the greatest stories ever told. Life expectancy has risen from less than 45 years to more than 60. The poverty ratio, still over 50 percent as recently as 1977-78, has fallen to 20 percent. There were only 5 million phones in India in 1990-91; today there are hundreds of millions, with more than 15 million phones being activated a month.
Who could question this dizzying success? Lots of people, it turns out. Including Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, economist-blogger Brad DeLong and the World Bank. All of them and many other prominent theorists harboring suspicions about the marketplace have questioned aspects of the Indian boom, many of them counseling more centralization and less freedom. And all of them get briskly corrected in the new book Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries.
I'm glad somebody is keeping track. --ts