Economic disparity widening: UN  

Global gap between haves and have-nots is widening according to the United Nations Human Development Report 1999. While a fifth of the people living in the highest income countries has 86 per cent of world GDP, 82 per cent of world export markets, 68 per cent of foreign direct investments and 74 per cent of world telephone lines, the bottom fifth, in the countries have about 1 per cent in each of these sectors.  

Only 33 countries achieved a sustained 3 per cent annual growth in GNP per capita during 1980-96. For 59 countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, GNP per capita declined.  

Information and technology are major tools for development and can open a fast track to knowledge based growth. But many of those who need access cannot obtain it. Internet access separates the educated from the illiterate, men from women, rich from poor, young from old and urban from rural. The well connected have an advantage over the unconnected poor, whose voices a concerns are being left out of global conversation. Market forces alone will not rectify the imbalance, the report warns. Governance of the Internet should be widened to bring in the needs and concerns of developing countries. A "bit tax" on data sent through the Internet is suggested.  

"The aim of the report is to put human concerns at the centre of the globalisation debate and to end the polarisation between the connected and the unconnected", according to Richard Jolly, the principal author of the report.  

India up on human development  

A spurt in national income has pushed up India's global ranking by six places in the Human Development Index (HDI) for 1999. It now ranks 132nd and has entered the `medium' human development' category for the first time ever, as per the Human Development Report (HDR) for 1999 released on 12. 7.99.  

Billionth Indian  

It is believed that billionth Indian was born on around the 52nd anniversary of independence, thus trebling our population since the day we attained freedom. This is a grave situation which confronts the country. Restraining population growth is a top national priority. However that alone is not enough. We require not only low population growth rate but also high economic growth rate. There are countries, no doubt with high population density and low per capita income; but there are also others with low population density and also low per capita income. The examples of both categories are given in the table below:  

The Highest Population Densisties, 1997 The lowest Population Densities, 1997
Country People (sq km)  (GNP per head ($) Country People (sq km)  GNP per head ($) 
Bangladesh 935  360 Mauritania 172
South Korea 461  10,550  Australia 2 20,650
Netherlands 457  25,830 Namibia 2,110
Lebanon 399 3,350  Canada 19,640
Japan 334  38,160 Botswana 3,310
India 318 370  Gabon 4,120
Belgium 310 26,730 Central African 320 
Sri Lanka 283 800  Republic
Mauritius 553 3,800 Chad 6 230
Israel 269 15,810 Kazakhstan 1,350 
Lebanon 391 3,350 Niger 200 
The lesson to be learnt is that there should be no let up in our efforts to increase productivity, particularly through rapid industrialisation. South Korea is an outstanding example of how a country can achieve high per capita income despite high density of population.