However much of a growing consensus there may be against continued economic growth in the global north, there is much less clarity about the topic when it comes to the global south. For many critics of northern growth, when it comes to the global south, the ‘need’ for continued economic growth is often taken as self-evident. Economic growth, it is assumed, is still needed to achieve justice, and to vanquish poverty and raise living standards for all. Hence opposition to further growth, let alone promotion of degrowth, in the south, is seen as tantamount to supporting poverty and injustice.
This paper problematizes this stance, showing how, in the case of India the discourse of ‘growth in the south’ is being mobilized by elites as a cover behind which to aggressively pursue conventional developmentalist/industrialization policies that principally benefit the rich while sidelining increasingly extreme inequality. Far from alleviating genuine material deprivations and delivering justice, growth in India today, by its displacements and its incredible environmental-health costs, inter alia, is exacerbating poverty and diminishing well-being. Growth critics who shy away from critique of growth in the south, or even argue for its continuing necessity out of a sense of justice, betray contradictory belief in ‘trickle-down’ economics that they rightly denounce in the north.
In this context, I explore the question: is it time to consider the relevance to India of degrowth? With robust degrowth policies, could the genuine needs of people could be better secured by economic degrowth, even as it is incontestably needed for arresting and reversing further environmental breakdown?
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „On Degrowth in the South: The Case of India“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.