June 02, 2007

Take flight

  • Headline in Hindustan Times (June 1): "9.4%". This figure is "India's growth rate in the last financial year, making it the world's second fastest growing economy after China. ... India convincingly entered the club of the world's hottest growth economies ...". [etc]

  • New McKinsey report titled The 'Bird of Gold': The Rise of India's Consumer Market. A few lines from its "Executive Summary":
      India's economic growth has accelerated significantly over the past two decades and so, too, has the spending power of its citizens. ... [A] new Indian middle class has emerged. ... [I]f India continues on its current high growth path, over the next two decades ... income levels will almost triple. ... During the first millennium AD, merchants referred to India as the "Bird of Gold" due to the glittering dynamism of its market. Over the next two decades, that bird may take flight once again.
    Good news India, of course.

    Now consider this short list of some other events in India over the last several weeks.
    • Nandigram violence
    • Baroda attack on a student artist, various fallouts
    • Punjab violence over Dera Sacha Sauda; Sikh jathedar calls for head of sect to be killed
    • Karunanidhi sons attack a newspaper office, leaving two (?) dead
    • Arrests of civil rights activists
    • Riots in small towns over erratic power supply
    • Farmer suicides continue in Vidarbha, now also reported in cotton-growing areas of Gujarat
    • Cops arrested for fake encounters
    • Rajasthan (and spreading) violence over Gujjar demands to be categorised ST; full-blown caste war erupts between Meenas and Gujjars, plenty dead
    Not-so-good news India, maybe.

    When I read all this, I wonder: Are there two sides to India? Many sides? And if so, how will India live with them and resolve their varied contradictions and implications?

    Raj said...

    So, what's the point you are making? You name any country in the world and I will give you something positive and something negative about it. Every country is a 'package'deal.

    Philip said...

    Oh cmon boss. Earlier we had only Bharat. Today at least we have an India and a Bharat. India is maybe 10% and Bharat is the rest 90%. Give some time for the transition to take place. We are not talking about a 650 sqkm and 2.5 million population Singapore here.

    Bade bade desh mein aisi choti choti cheez hoti rahti hai.

    Remember the dialogue? ;)

    People complain as if all the problems of India can be solved with one snap of the finger. The monsters created over the past 50 years is not so easy to sort out. Wait for one generation (the current oldies) of Indians to be wiped off.

    Sorry if that line appears too harsh. But honestly, one generation of Indians (the current troublemakers) have to die for all these things to subside and for some real progress to happen.

    Its upto you if you want to see the glass half empty or half full.


    Anonymous said...


    The McKinsey report also says:

    "But in order for India to achieve these positive results, the country must continue to reform and modernise its economy, as well as address significant shortfalls in its infrastructure and education system."

    Fair to quote this too, no?

    Important to list the shortcomings and dark sides, as you have done. The list runs longer, actually. The point is that the dark side has existed for most of India's existence; it's the bright side is new.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Raj, of course every country has something positive and something negative about it. So? I just wonder about how my country, where I make my life, will resolve its own list of such. It's something I've wondered for at least the last 3 decades, if not more.

    Philip, I have no idea what you mean by your Bharat/India mention. I am not in the least trying to suggest (or even hoping) that we can or should solve our problems with one snap of the finger. As for your wanting to wipe off the oldies, here's something for you to think about: they were youngies once.

    Nitin, what's "fair" or not here? I just offered one quote from the report; I didn't suggest, nor mean to, that McKinsey had not addressed such things; that doesn't even interest me. As I say above, I have wondered for a long time how we will resolve our particular list of +ves and -ves.

    Which leads me to say, I don't believe that "dark" applies to "most of our existence", nor that "bright" is new.

    Philip said...

    Oops, my mistake...

    What i was trying to say about India was the section of population that is currently benefiting from the 9% growth and the Bharat as that section of the population which is yet to see any tangible benefits of the growth that we are seeing today.

    As for my comment on the oldies, yup they were young once. But as of today, they are nothing but impediments to the growth of the newer generation. Its not easy to change the mindset of a person so easily. There is a conflict between the new and the old as the new wants to race away and on the other hand the old wants to hang on to its own idea of what it feels is right.

    So, any positive growth for India without all the irritants will happen only over a period of time. Till the time we'll see a lot of Nandigrams, Singurs etc.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Philip: If you are truly saying that only 10% of India is benefiting from the 9% growth (which I don't agree with), I wonder why that doesn't raise questions about that growth in your mind in the first place. In any case, I am still not able to understand why you call the remaining 90% "Bharat". What's the point?

    I see I should have been clearer about what I meant about oldies being youngies. It's this: if we see a whole section of this country as an "impediment", if we presume to think that only some of us know what is right and what is wrong, we'll end up digging our own grave (see next para). I am yet to meet anyone -- present company included, yes me included -- who does not have their own idea about what's right and wants to hold on to it.

    Seems to me progress is what takes everyone along, what views everyone as a productive asset. Seems to me progress is not about waiting for a whole section of the country to die, or be "wiped off" -- partly because that's a wait forever, partly because every country that has had such ideas and tried to act on them has ended up destroying itself.

    Seems to me a country has to learn to manage competing interests and visions without the pretence that one or the other of those is completely deluded.

    Philip said...

    Dilip, what i just took the Bharat/India analogue that the media so often likes to coin to talk about the disparity in the growth. Also, my taking 10% was just an example. Anything more is only good news.

    Am not saying that we wait till everyone dies off and then we can start afresh. Over a period of time, the old keeps dropping off and the new keeps talking its place and new ideas come into play. Iam speaking of an equilibrium.

    Taking everyone along is a good thought but that will never be achieved and lets not harbor any illusion about it.

    Assuming that India is a fully developed nation by 2050, it will still have large pockets of poor people who are probably as poor as they are now. Or maybe even poorer.

    Only the percentage of well off (financially) will be higher than the less well off.

    So, assuming that we can pull the whole 1 billion odd people towards a better future simultaneously is something i believe might never happen. Instead what we might rather have is people prospering at different levels. Life is not fair. Lets accept it. To think that the whole of India will prosper equally is something that will never happen. It hasnt happened in a small country like Singapore too.

    and over a period of time as prosperity spreads, more and more people would rather work and try to make money than maybe spend their time formenting trouble.

    Everyone has the right to their own ideas and ideals. If you keep listening to everyone, i dont think you can reach anywhere. Do what you think is right. People might not agree with every idea of yours, but then do you care?

    I dont.

    km said...

    A great question, there, Dilip.

    And aren't there as many Indias as there are Indians?

    Harman said...

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    zap said...

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    karma said...

    First time to your blog. About this particular post - when I read it, I get the impression that you are blaming the economic policies, globalization etc. for our current misery , even though you have not explicitly mentioned so. It is easy to come to such a decision since our media, mostly writes/comments like that. It seldom objectively criticizes our Government’s policies. Further, like many have pointed out here, we always have had problems. Solutions to these are not simple. India is a complex interaction of religion, class, politics, poverty, past and the present and oflate, hope for the future.

    Anonymous said...

    Can't agree more with your sentiment Dilip. When will these blood sucking capitalists realize that the only way to get rid of poverty is the tried and tested method of giving power to us progressives, who'd take money from the non-progressives, and give it to the progressives, which are ourselves. This would allow us -- the only people with the right minds -- to sit down and think about all the people dying in poverty and how we could save them.
    All those economists with their elitist theories and so called empirical evidences of the past fifty years are clearly blood-sucking capitalists.