If India discards religious beliefs that perpetuate caste and gender inequalities, it could more than double its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the last 60 years in half the time, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of a new study.
Secularisation precedes economic development and not the other way around as is commonly believed, said the study, Religious Change Preceded Economic Change In The 20th Century, published in the journal Science Advances. The study used data from the World Values Survey, which mapped people’s changing values and beliefs, to stimate the importance of religion in the 20th (1900-2000) century.
India stood 66th among 109 nations ranked by secularisation. China was first, Pakistan 99th, Bangladesh 104th and Ghana last.
India’s per capita GDP per annum grew 26 times between 1958 and 2018. “This increase could have been higher if Indians were less rigid in their religious views,” co-author Damian Ruck, a post-doctoral researcher at the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences, University of Bristol, told IndiaSpend.