Thursday, November 01, 2007

India: Between Hopes and Despair...

As individuals, we all go through our own internal contradictions between the reality and the aspirations - so, apparently does a country...

The following are some of the headlines I could pick up during last one month, showing the internal struggles/ contradictions of the contemporary India:

  • India’s GDP to cross trillion dollar mark in 07-08
    Speaking at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo on ‘India’s Socio Economic Agenda: Development with Democracy’, the Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that GDP at market prices has increased from US $20 billion in 1950-51 to US $912 billion in 2006-07 and is expected to cross the trillion dollar mark in the current year.... in terms of purchasing power parity, India’s GDP at US $4 trillion in 2006-07 accounted for 6.3 per cent of global GDP.

  • Global Hunger Index 2007: India ranks 94th in global list, trails behind China...
    Despite averaging over 8.5% growth since 2000, India has achieved less than half of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal targets in hunger and is 94th on the Global Hunger Index of 118 countries, a report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said.

  • Sensex hits 20,000
    After a three-day hiatus, FIIs became net buyers on Monday at Rs 688 crore... The Sensex surged above 20,000 for the first time on Monday in tune with other Asian markets, as traders priced in another rate cut by the US Federal Reserve this week.

  • World Toilet Summit lays down sanitation as a human right
    In 2007, 50 per cent (Indian) homes have access to a toilet.... Manual scavenging is banned in India but is still practised as large numbers of toilets, specially in semi-urban and rural areas, are not connected with sewage systems... An estimated 50,000 manual scavengers in India still clean toilets and toilet pits with their hands and carry the human excreta to dumping sites...

  • Mukesh Ambani is world's richest man
    Billionaire Mukesh Ambani today became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run in the stock market.

  • Caste and faith first in companies, merit next
    Liberalisation and a free market economy have not changed traditional biases in companies.... A study conducted by American and Indian scholars... responded to 548 job advertisements in over 66 weeks and sent about 4,800 applications were sent.... The results were shocking: For every 100 upper-caste candidates who received calls for interviews, only 67 Dalit and 33 Muslim candidates were called. Upper-caste candidates who were not well qualified got better responses than Dalit applicants with higher degrees.

  • Tenth Fortune Global Forum begins in New Delhi

    Top CEOs, head of states, academics and leading thinkers are gathering here to discuss the most pressing issues facing global business at the 10th Fortune Global Forum.... This year’s Forum is centered on ‘Mastering the Global Economy,’ a theme in which leaders will discuss the market realities that companies face in the midst of global integration... Speakers at the Forum include Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Richard D. Parsons; Finance Minister P. Chidambaram; Chairman of Wipro Ltd, Azim H. Premji; Chairman and CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, Lloyd Blankfein; Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers and Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Treasury Department.

  • Recovering the lost plot
    While India saw unprecedented prosperity in the last 15 years, its foodgrain intake declined — millions more of its people now live in hunger.... A major source of the trouble in the countryside is the erosion of land rights. Traditional land rights of adivasis and small farmers are denied either in the name of development or through manipulations of the land mafia. More and more people are becoming landless.

  • India's high net worth population holds $350 billion in financial wealth
    The number of 'high net worth individuals' (HNWIs) in India at the end of 2006, grew by 20.5 per cent to 100,000... HNWIs are people with net financial assets of at least $1 million, excluding their primary residence and consumables... Indian HNWIs held a combined $350 billion in financial assets at the end of 2006.

  • Farm-led growth strongest weapon against poverty
    GDP growth originating in agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating outside agriculture, according to the World Development Report 2008, which focuses on ‘Agriculture for Development’. It suggests that South Asian countries, with about 60 per cent of their labour force employed in agriculture, should place importance on agricultural growth to reduce poverty as “the transition of people out of agriculture and rural areas is not keeping pace with the restructuring of economies away from agriculture”.

    ... or as,in a different context, TS Elliot wrote (The Hollow Men):

    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow...


    Santhosh said...

    I always am a big fan of different ways in which you bring out the story - This is a great post. I could not stop myself from thinking the same when I read some of the popular headlines...

    gaddeswarup said...

    Related post "Inequality-a threat to India's boom" at

    bombay dosti said...

    "Caste and faith first in companies, merit next" - This was shocking!Just today some debate on affirmative action in organisations was happening at office.Dont think that reservations should happen, but to keep track of how inclusive a corporate is, how do we do that?
    Because asking one's caste would also lead to discrimination as above study shows.

    Madhukar said...


    @Prof Swarup
    yes, thankfully, the issue of inequality of now gaining some focus in both the mainstream and alternative media. Happy holidays!

    the startling fact is that in the study, the candidates were not discriminated because of their castes; rather they were discriminated because their name reflected their caste or religious background. The EPW study which you have linked to in your blog mentions in the methodology:

    "For each advertised job, the matched applications differed only in terms of the name of each male applicant. No explicit mention of caste or religious background was made in any application..."

    As for reservations (or reservation about reservations, on the ground of dilution of merit), I think Indian corporates and educational institutions are quite comfortable with reserved/quota categories. There are people who came through management quota, NRI quota, Sports quota, state quota, etc., and this issue of dilution of merit was never raised. It is only when the OBC quota was talked about that "merit" became an issue!!

    Apparently, the socio-cultural dynamics of discrimination is far more subliminal than it seems...