Assessing the Reality of the Indian Miracle

India's rapid economic growth has brought it enormous positive attention of the world media, billions of dollars in foreign investments, and new-found status on the international diplomatic scene. Goldman Sachs has promoted it by coining the term "BRIC" which groups India with other major emerging markets like Brazil, China and Russia as an investment destination. Inclusion in G20 has put the Indian leaders alongside the world's richest G7 nations. Indian business leaders in partnership with India's planning commission have mounted unprecedented "India Everywhere" branding campaign at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland each year. Indian writers have been promoting "Chindia" which seeks to put India on an equal footing with China.

Goldman Sachs has clearly contributed to the euphoria about India, by projecting that its economy could be 50 times its 2006 size by 2050, which would make it the world's third largest, after China and the United States. However, Goldman's Jim O'Neill has also said that when he ranked countries by the potential risks to their growth — everything from inflation to corruption — India ranked 97th in the world, behind Brazil and the Philippines. London-based Maplecroft terror risk index based on 2009 data ranks Iraq first, Afghanistan second, with Pakistan and Somalia third and fourth respectively. They are rated at extreme risk along with Lebanon 5, India 6, Algeria 7, Colombia 8 and Thailand 9, according to Reuters.

The UK-based risk advisory group's index tracks the risks of an attack, the intensity of violence as measured by casualties per incident, a country's history of extremist violence and threats made against it by groups such as al Qaeda.

"Media coverage can often skew public perceptions of terrorism risk in a country by publicising mass casualty attacks," said Maplecroft political risk analyst Eva Molyneux.

Having been subjected to a barrage of Indian marketing messages in the last decade, I have been trying to assess how much of it is real, and what part is just pure hype by the western and Indian media. A recent interview given by Dr. Jayati Ghosh has helped me put it in perspective. Dr. Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics and currently also Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Comparing China and India:

Here are the key points Dr. Ghosh makes:

1. Talk of Chinindia is nonsense. China and India are two very different countries with different histories. India has never done the hard work of basic reforms that China did decades ago. Unlike India, early reforms combined with greater state control on the economy have helped China achieve rapid and massive reduction in poverty.

2. Unlike China, India does not run any trade surplus or current account surplus to fund its growth. In fact, India has been running significant twin deficits. India depends much more on foreign investments for its growth than China.

3. Although large number of Indians estimated at 110 million have been the main beneficiaries of India's rapid economic expansion, their numbers are only about 10% of India's 1.1 billion people. The growth has excluded the rest of the 90% of the population, leaving them in abject poverty.

4. Instead of fighting against economic injustice, people are being divided along ethnic, religious and caste lines. There is an increase in all kinds of unpleasant social and political forces in India, where people are turning against each other, against linguistic, caste and faith groups, because they can't hit at the system—it's too big. So they pick on somebody their own size, or preferably smaller.

Comparing India and Pakistan:

There are some arrogant Indians in cyberspace as well as the physical world who contemptuously dismiss any comparison of India and Pakistan. However, the responsible Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in terms of basic nutrition and sanitation.

India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, said India's Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

"There has been an enormous infusion of funds. But the National Family Health Survey gives a different story on malnourishment in the country. We don't know, something is just not clicking," Hameed said.

Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".

"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized in 2008 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's National Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the since 2001.

India might be considered an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country. Lizette Burgers, chief water and environment sanitation of the UNICEF, has said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

While a mere 14 percent of people in rural areas of India - that account for 65 percent of its 1.1 billion population - had access to toilets in 1990, the number had gone up to 28 percent in 2006. In comparison, 33 percent rural Pakistanis had access to toilets in 1990 and it went up to an impressive 58 percent in 2006.

Similarly in Bangladesh, 36 percent of rural people have access to proper sanitation. The corresponding figures for Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were 30 percent and 86 percent respectively.

“This is a huge problem. India has made some progress but there is a lot to be desired. The speed in which we are (India) increasing the toilet usage will not help much,” Burgers told IANS, a day before an international sanitation campaign in Delhi.

She, however, said that the huge population in India is a major challenge. Burgers said that between 1990 and 2006, rural areas of the country has witnessed a growth of 181 million people of which 39 million people did not have access to toilets.

According to the international health and sanitation watchdog, there are at least 2.5 billion people across the globe who do not have access to toilets and 50 percent of them are in the south Asian region.

Pakistan's water quality is not good, but it is significantly better than in India.

On page 288 of his book "Water management in India" the author P. C. Bansil quotes a UN study that says India ranks a poor 120 on a list of 122 countries in water quality.

India's neighbors Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan rank much better at 40, 64, 78 and 80 respectively.

Growing Poverty in India:

Part of the problem fueling anger and insurgencies is the growing number of the poor in India. Here's a recent Reuters report:

"India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released Sunday.

The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.



The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

"The Planning Commission has accepted the report on poverty figures," Abhijit Sen, a member of the Planning Commission told Reuters, referring to the new poverty estimate report submitted by a government panel last December.

India now has 410 million people living below the U.N. estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day, 100 million more than was estimated earlier, officials said.

India calculates how much of its population is living below the poverty line by checking whether families can afford one square meal a day that meets minimum nutrition needs.

It was not immediately clear how much more the federal government would have to spend on the poor, as that would depend on the Food Security Bill when it is presented to the government after the necessary changes, officials say.

India's Planning Commission will meet the food and expenditure secretaries next week to estimate the cost aspects of the bill, government officials said.

A third of the world's poor are believed to be in India, living on less than $2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, experts say".


Here is the entire transcript of Dr. Ghosh's interview:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Joining us again from Amherst, Massachusetts, from the PERI institute, is Jayati Ghosh. She's a professor of economics at the Center for Economic Studies and Planning at the School of Social Sciences at JNU in India. Her recent book is After Crisis. Thanks for joining us again, Jayati.

JAYATI GHOSH: Hello.

JAY: So there's a lot of talk about the growth and expansion in India and China, and especially India these days. We're hearing again about the Indian miracle. Whose miracle is it, anyway? And is it such?

GHOSH: No, it's not actually a miracle. In fact, I think—first of all, let me clarify. India and China are very, very different. We really can't compare them. And all this talk about Chindia and so on, it's nonsense, because China is a fundamentally different country. It's not just that it has had much more rapid growth for a longer period and been more successful in poverty reduction, but it's a whole different institutional system. It still has much more substantial state control, especially over finance. It is still able to manipulate the nature of the growth of the economy more directly through the central state than India is. And because it had a revolution and because it had land reform and egalitarian income distribution it was operating on a much more equal asset base, which then allowed economic policies to have different effects. India is different. In India we never did the hard work in terms of the major transformations, like asset redistribution, land reform, and so on. We still have a very unequal society, of course, income distribution as a distribution.

JAY: Well, before we go to India, let's just back up to China for a second, because we'd been hearing that a lot of that income distribution, land reform, and a lot of that's been undone over the last 10, 15 years, and this kind of rise of state-managed capitalism in China is going back the other way. Is that not the case?

GHOSH: To some extent. But remember that the base on which it was operating was still fundamentally more egalitarian. And that's important because, you know, the major episodes of poverty reduction in China, if you look at it, are the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, and these were periods when agriculture prices rose and benefited the farmers. Now, that helped poverty reduction and income distribution, because there was egalitarian land distribution—it was the peasant households that benefited and became less poor and all of that kind of thing. So poverty reduction had been closely related to that feature of China, which is very different from India. But you're right that the pattern of growth from the early 1990s has been in equalizing, has been one which has, you know, focused on this export-led growth paradigm in the coastal region, neglected the west and the central regions, you know, brought in migrant workers, often in terrible conditions, by suppressing growth in the countryside. All of that did happen. Again, I think the difference is that from about 2002 you find that the Chinese state is more aware of this, so there's a shift in terms of public investment towards the central and the western regions. The latest stimulus package disproportionately they're spending in the west and the central regions of the country. There was an attempt to give more rights to migrant workers who are normally denied all the rights that are available to urban workers. There is now the attempt to revamp the health system and make it once again something which is affordable for all Chinese citizens. So there has been a shift in the recent past in China.

JAY: So in India you're saying there never was major reforms and it's getting worse.

GHOSH: Absolutely. If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it's really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it's a peculiar success story, because it's really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don't run trade surpluses. We don't even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don't really run current account surpluses. So we've been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world. They hit the Fortune top-ten index. All of that kind of thing. This capital inflow comes in, it makes our stock market rise, it allows for new urban services to develop, and it generates this feel-good segment of the Indian economy. Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let's say. It's a small part of the population, but it's a lot of people, it's about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we've had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.

JAY: So I guess part of that's part of the secret of what's happening in India is that the middle, upper-middle class, in proportion to the population of India, is relatively small, but it's still so big compared to most other countries—you were saying 100, 150 million people living in this, benefiting from the expansion. And it's a lot bigger. It's like—what is it? Ten, fifteen Canadas. So it's a very vibrant market. But you're saying most of the people in India aren't seeing the benefits.

GHOSH: Well, in fact it's worse than that. It's not just that they're not seeing the benefits. It's not that they're excluded from this. They are part of this process. They are integrated into the process. And, in fact, this is a growth process that relies on keeping their incomes lower, in fact, in terms of extracting more surplus from them. Let me just give you a few examples. You know, everybody talks about the software industry and how competitive we are. And it's true. It's this shiny, modern sector, you know, a bit like California in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. But when you look at it, it's not just that our software engineers achieve, it's that the entire supporting establishment is very cheap. The whole system which allows them to be more competitive is one where you are relying on very low-paid assistants, drivers, cooks, cleaners. You know, the whole support establishment is below subsistence wage, practically, and it's that which effectively subsidizes this very modern industry.

JAY: What's happening politically? Do you see a reflection of resistance as a result of all this, coming from the impoverished people?

GHOSH: Well, you know, unfortunately, I think that there is a tendency now in India for these very major income distribution shifts and this very significant increase in exploitation and destitution not to have a political voice. It's surprising to me. Food prices have been going up by 20 percent now for two years. When this was happening in the '70s, you had food riots all over the country. You had major social instability. You don't have that today. You don't have that same outcry. We've had a big crisis where lots of workers lost their jobs, people's money wages are falling. You don't find the outcry. What you do find is the increase in all kinds of unpleasant social and political forces, where people turn against other linguistic groups, they turn against other caste groups, they turn against other religions, you know, because you can't hit at the system—it's too big. So you pick on somebody your own size, or preferably smaller than you so you can actually bash them up.

JAY: But why is that in a country like India, which is one of the few countries that has had a kind of left political tradition that has more or less remained intact?

GHOSH: Well, I wish I could say it's intact. I think the left also, in India, it's still, I think, a very vibrant and very important political force, but it is under attack and it's under attack from both the right and left. It's under attack from imperialist forces who want to suppress a genuine left movement in India. And it's been queried by a lot of confusion by all kinds of conflicting, you know, political groups that are based on caste or on religion or on other kinds of identity politics. I do believe, though, that the future of the left is integral to the future of India as we know it, which is to say a secular democracy. So it's absolutely critical to keep that left voice not just alive but expanding in India.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Jayati.

GHOSH: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


Here's the complete video of Dr. Ghosh's interview:



Related Links:

Comparing India, Pakistan in 2010

Western Myths of Peaceful, Stable, Prosperous India

100 Million More Indians Slide Below Poverty Line

No Indian Miracle

UNESCO Water Ranking of Nations

India Worse Than Bangladesh, Pakistan in Nutrition

India Trails Pakistan, Bangladesh in Sanitation

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised

Escape From India

Reflections on India

After Partition: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The "Poor" Neighbor by William Dalrymple

Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

Access to Improved Water Sources Rankings HDR

Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?

India Worse Than Pakistan, Bangladesh on Nutrition

UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17 Percent

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

Asia Gains in Top Asian Universities

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

India-Pakistan Military Comparison

Goldman Sachs' Investment Risk Ranking of Nations

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Energy Crisis

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting commentary by Sudha Ramachandra about India's future prospects:

The populations of Europe and Japan are already graying, and the working-age populations of the United States and China are projected to shrink too in the next two decades. By 2020 the US will be short 17 million people of working age, China 10 million, Japan 9 million and Russia 6 million. However, India will have a surplus of 47 million people, giving the country a competitive edge in labor costs, which will be sustainable up to 2050, according to a study by Goldman Sachs.

Economists say India will catch up with the Chinese economy beginning in 2030, when the latter could cool off as the result of an aging population. "The window of opportunity offered by a population bulge has clearly opened for India," points out noted economist C P Chandrasekhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. After decades of evoking despair, India's demographic profile is finally beginning to stir hope.

But not everyone views the population bulge with such optimism. Some analysts say it is not enough to have a young population. The working-age population needs to be healthy and literate.

India's score on this, while improving, is certainly not inspiring. About 50% of all Indian children are undernourished, a large percentage of them born with protein deficiency (which affects brain development and learning capacity, among other things). This is hardly the ideal foundation for a productive workforce, as the likelihood of a malnourished child growing up to be an able adult is rather dim.

There is also the question of whether the population has the skills and knowledge to take on India's future work. Literacy has improved dramatically over the years - just 14% of the population was literate in 1947 versus about 64.8% today - but many who are classified as literate can barely read or write. And 40% of those who enroll in primary schools drop out by age 10. The curriculum in the schools, especially the government-run ones, does not prepare the child for the domestic job market, let alone the global one. The huge "workforce" might not be qualified to do the work.

Moreover, India's rich and educated classes are preferring to have small families, so the additions to the population are coming largely from the poor, illiterate sections in society. Nicholas Eberstadt, who researches demographics at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, points out that while India's overall population profile will remain relatively youthful, "this is an arithmetic expression averaging diverse components of a vast nation. Closer examination reveals two demographically distinct Indias: the north that stays remarkably young over the next 20 years, and a south already graying rapidly due to low fertility."
Riaz Haq said…
In a recently published book "Superfreakonomics", the authors cite two American economists' finding that cable TV in 2700 households empowered Indian women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughter in school. Here are some more highlight from the book about India:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not a wise choice to be born.

2. In spite of recent economic success and euphoria about India, the people of India remain excruciatingly poor.

3. Literacy is low, corruption is high.

4. Only half the households have electricity.

5. Only one in 4 Indian homes has a toilet.

6. 40% of families with girls want to have more children, but families with boys do not want a baby girl.

7. It's especially unlucky to be born female, baby boy is like a 401 K retirement plan, baby girl requires a dowry fund.

8. Smile train Chennai did cleft repair surgery. A man was asked how many children he had. He said had 1, a boy. It turned out that he had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives paid $2.50 to kill girl with cleft deformity

10. Girls are highly undervalued, there are 35 million fewer females than males, presumed dead, killed by midwife or parent or starved to death. Unltrasound are used mainly to find and destroy female fetuses. Ultrasound and abortion are available even in the smallest villages with no electricity or clean water

11. If not aborted, baby girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn,

12. 61% of Indian men say wife beating is justified, 54% women agree, especially when dinner is burned or they leave home without husband's permission.

13. Unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen when 15% o the condoms fail. Indian council of med research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small by international standards.

14. Indian laws to protect women are widely ignored. The government has tried monetary rewards to keep baby girls and supported microfinance for women. NGOs programs, smaller condoms, other projects have had limited success.

15. People had little interest in State TV due to poor reception or boring programs. But cable television has helped women, as 150 million people between 2001-2006 got cable
TV which gave exposure to world.

16. American economists found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughter in school.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Op Ed by Soutik Biswas of BBC.com on India's "black money" stashed away in foreign banks:

One analyst calls "black money" or illicit money India's curse. He's not off the mark - I have been hearing of and reading about this scourge ever since I was in junior school. Several decades later, the problem has only worsened. The government reckons there are no reliable estimates of "black money" inside and outside the country - a "study" by the main opposition BJP in 2009 put it at anything between $500bn to $1.4 trillion. A recent conservative estimate by the US-based group Global Financial Integrity Index pegs illicit capital flows between 1948, a year after Independence, and 2008, at $462bn - an amount that is twice India's external debt. India's underground economy today is estimated to account for half of the country's GDP.

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Strong words indeed. But they may not be enough to uncover India's biggest and longest-running scandal. This week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee unveiled what critics said was a laundry list of tedious platitudes and obscure, non time-bound plans to check the "menace of black money". This includes joining a "global crusade" against it, creating appropriate legislation and institutions to deal with such funds and imparting skills to officers tasked with detecting such funds. In effect, what the government is saying is that after 63 years of independence, India has no institutions or trained people available to curb a brazen and thriving underground economy which rewards tax evaders, humiliates tax payers and widens inequity.

There is enough evidence to show that there is little political or administrative will to curb "black money". India has double taxation treaties with 79 countries. But 74 of these treaties need to be tweaked significantly to include exchange of banking information between the countries. (Letters have been issued to 65 of these countries to initiate negotiation, says the minister.) India has apparently chosen 22 countries and tax havens for negotiating and signing exchanging tax information. Last year, a law to prevent money laundering was given more teeth - but laws are often flouted with impunity in the world's largest democracy. The government says it plans to hone direct tax laws further to begin taxing deposits in foreign banks and interests in foreign trusts.
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Independent economists believe that despite the government's recent noises, "black money" will continue to blight India and its economy. For one, it is a systemic problem. Those who don't pay taxes or stash away illicit money overseas comprise the political and professional creme de la creme - politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, judges. That the government is not keen upon cracking down on illicit capital flows was evident, analysts say, when, in 2008, it refused to accept a compact disc from Germany containing names of account holders in a Liechtenstein bank. Last year, under opposition pressure, the government accepted the CD, but refused to disclose the 26 names of Indian account holders in it. Many believe that a year is enough for the account holders to move their money out of the bank. "Unless there is political will to dig out black money, nothing will happen," says Arun Kumar of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has investigated India's underground economy in detail. And the humiliation of the honest citizen will continue.
Riaz Haq said…
Chandran Nair argues in his book "Consumptionomics" that the Asians need to rethink the whole idea of western-style consumer-driven capitalism to ensure a better, more sustainable future for their massive population.

Here are some excepts from Financial Times review of the book "Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet":

, -- Life might not be as much fun in his world as it is for the lucky ones who become wealthy under liberal capitalism. “Golf and car racing might be out but badminton and social dancing are more popular,” he suggests in his vision of leisure time in a Nairian society. But the benefits of development would be spread more widely, damage to the earth’s resources would be controlled and people would probably spend less time working.

Nair’s starting point is that the world simply cannot survive the consequences of the growth of highly populous Asian economies to levels of development reached by industrialised countries if that is to be achieved on the same resource-guzzling terms as western development.
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Throughout the book, Nair evinces an angry disdain for western-style capitalism, which he regards as setting the world on a path to destruction by its devotion to the ideology of markets and its voracious appetite for finite resources. He’s none too complimentary either about its media cheerleaders, including this newspaper.

“The biggest lie of all is that consumption-driven capitalism can deliver wealth to all,” he writes. “In Asia it can only deliver short-term wealth to a minority; in the long term, it can only deliver misery to all. This is the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the model the west has peddled to Asia.”

Nair points to the familiar issue of energy use, saying that if Asia’s population was to use as much energy per person as Europeans do today (relatively modest compared to Americans), then it would use eight to nine times as much energy as the US currently consumes. Perhaps more startling is an estimate he uses for poultry consumption. Americans will eat 9bn birds this year, apparently. If by 2050 Asians ate the same amount per person, they would swallow more than 120bn. That’s a lot of battery chickens.

Nor is Nair impressed by arguments that technology will ultimately solve issues such as energy shortages and climate change, allowing economic growth and consumption to go on expanding. He dismisses the notion that Asia should concentrate on growth and then, when it is rich, clean up afterwards. What he demands is a radical change in the prevailing global economic model and its governance.
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But the shape of a Nairian Asia does emerge. It would be made up of strong nation-state governments willing to take unilateral action on issues such as controlling natural resource exploitation and domestic agriculture and industry. Governments would get bigger and spend more with an emphasis on sustainable infrastructure such as public transport. Carbon, natural resources and financial transactions would be taxed – possibly allowing for a reduction or elimination of payroll taxes. Agriculture would be deindustrialised, with a drive to return to labour-intensive farming to ensure sufficient output and stop mass migration to cities.

What would life be like for the individual? They would be expected to forgo owning a car, would pay high prices for meat and restaurant portions would be restricted. But income differentials would be minimised and access to the benefits of technology widely shared.

He doesn’t say it but Nair is describing a kind of Asian Norway, with the benefits of natural resources controlled and socialised to a high degree, rural communities subsidised to keep people on the land, fisheries protected, a high commitment to energy efficiency and high taxation to support high levels of social welfare.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Times of India report on lagging research in India:

DHARWAD: India may not compete with other countries in the field of science and technology (S&T) if our scientists fail to make serious efforts to improve the track record in the field of scientific research and development (R&D), said VTU vice-chancellor H Maheshappa.

Inaugurating a six-day workshop on `Graph algorithms' jointly organized by the department of Computer Science, Karnatak University, and VTU here recently, he said India's track record in the field of scientific R&D has remained insignificant when compared with countries like China. This trend has to be changed if we really wish to emerge as successful competitors and carve a niche for India in the field of S&T, he said.

Pointing out the progress achieved by China in this regard, he said China is far ahead of India in the field of scientific R&D. "While the researchers from China file hundreds of patent applications everyday, India stands not even nearer to China in this respect. He said India has potential, including talented pool of teachers and researchers, state-of-the-art research institutes and financial investment by the government for the promotion of scientific R&D.

Expressing concern over the lack of teachers with research background in technical educational institutes, he said though the state has nearly 200 engineering colleges, the number of teachers with research degrees is minimal. "This scenario has to be changed. VTU has plans to tie up with universities like Karnatak University to assist engineering college teachers on understanding of basic science and research methodology," he added.
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on growing disconnect between mass media and mass reality:

•The mass reality in India (which has over 70 per cent of its people living in the rural areas), is that rural India is in the midst of the worst agrarian crisis in four decades. Millions of livelihoods in the rural areas have been damaged or destroyed in the last 15 years as a result of this crisis, because of the predatory commercialisation of the countryside and the reduction of all human values to exchange value. As a result, lakhs of farmers have committed suicide and millions of people have migrated, and are migrating, from the rural areas to the cities and towns in search of jobs that are not there. They have moved towards a status that is neither that of a ‘worker' nor that of a ‘farmer.' Many of them end up as domestic labourers, or even criminals. We have been pushed towards corporate farming, a process in which farming is taken out of the hands of the farmers and put in the hands of corporates. This process is not being achieved with guns, tanks, bulldozers or lathis. It is done by making farming unviable for the millions of small family farm-holders, due to the high cost of inputs such as seed, fertilizer and power, and uneconomical prices.
•India was ranked fourth in the list of countries with the most number of dollar billionaires, but 126th in human development. This means it is better to be a poor person in Bolivia (the poorest nation in South America) or Guatemala or Gabon rather than in India. Here, some 83.6 crore people (of a total of 110-120 crore) in India survive on less than Rs.20 a day.
•Eight Indian States in India are economically poorer than African states, said a recent Oxford University study. Life expectancy in India is lower than in Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
•According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, the average monthly per capita expenditure of the Indian farm household is Rs.503. Of that, some 55 per cent is spent on food, 18 per cent on fuel, clothing and footwear, leaving precious little to be spent on education or health.
•A report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations shows that between 1995-97 and 1999-2001, India added more newly hungry millions than the rest of the world taken together. The average rural family is consuming 100 kg less of food than it was consuming earlier. Indebtedness has doubled in the past decade. Cultivation costs have increased exorbitantly and farming incomes have collapsed, leading to wide-scale suicides by farmers.
•While there were 512 accredited journalists covering the Lakme India Fashion Week event, there were only six journalists to cover farmer suicides in Vidharbha. In that Fashion Week programme, the models were displaying cotton garments, while the men and women who grew that cotton were killing themselves at a distance of an hour's flight from Nagpur in the Vidharbha region. Nobody told that story except one or two journalists, locally.
Is this a responsible way for the Indian media to function? Should the media turn a Nelson's eye to the harsh economic realities facing over 75 per cent of our people, and concentrate on some ‘Potemkin villages' where all is glamour and show business? Are not the Indian media behaving much like Queen Marie Antoinette, who famously said that if people had no bread, they should eat cake.
No doubt, sometimes the media mention farmers' suicides, the rise in the price of essential commodities and so on, but such coverage is at most 5 to 10 per cent of the total. The bulk of the coverage goes to showing cricket, the life of film stars, pop music, fashion parades, astrology…
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some excerpts from a Businessweek piece titled "India, Interrupted":

For much of India’s post-independence history, the country was an economic basket case—a textbook example of financial mismanagement, wasted potential, and stunted growth. Then, in the 1990s, after India embarked on market reforms and began opening its closed, semi-socialist economy, the narrative changed. As native companies aggressively acquired international brands, and as growth rates approached double digits, the media was full of triumphalist rhetoric about impending “economic superpowerhood.”

Over the last few months the narrative appears to have shifted again. Growth has slowed from more than 10 percent in 2010 to around 7 percent today. Inflation is persistently high, agricultural productivity has declined, and foreign investment and the stock market are down. Social unrest and deteriorating law and order in many parts of the country have potential investors spooked. Corruption is estimated to cost India at least $18.4 billion a year.

A recent Economist headline on the nation’s growth prospects read: “Slip-sliding away.” At the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, India’s trade minister, Anand Sharma, was questioned by journalists about everything from corruption to inflation to social inequality. “Why are you picking on India?” the minister was reduced to asking. “What is going wrong with us?”

The truth is that India’s prospects were never quite as bright as they were made out to be—nor are they quite as dire as they are held to be today. Instead, the recent swings in the Indian narrative are another reminder of the role of sentiment in investors’ perceptions and decisions. Nations, like markets, are subject to often irrational (and certainly ill-informed) cycles of boom and bust.
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Over the last few years, I’ve had occasion to spend considerable time in the Indian countryside, in villages and farms in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. These places are important to understanding India. For all the hype about the cities and their technology industries, some 70 percent of the population still lives in the countryside.

What I’ve seen is considerably more nuanced than is suggested by either the optimistic or pessimistic narratives of modern India. The villages around here are layered with stories of triumph and hardship, success and failure. Farming is dying, a reminder of the nation’s declining agricultural productivity, which threatens food security and rural livelihoods. The environmental damage wrought by India’s rapid growth is apparent in polluted bodies of water and steaming mounds of uncollected waste.

But for all these problems, there are also signs of India’s promise. People who have quit farming become entrepreneurs; they open cell-phone stores and restaurants and other small enterprises that drive an emerging new rural economy. Young men (and increasingly women) go to college; their horizons are far wider than their parents could have ever imagined.


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-01/india-miracle-interrupted
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Reuters' blog post on lack of hygiene in India:

My Indian friends and I joke around a lot about me as the typical white American guy visiting India. Cows! Con men! Colors! Most people I’ve met in India have restricted their reactions to my westerner-in-the-east experiences to gentle teasing. When I stuck a picture of a man urinating in public on my Facebook page, calling it one more picture of what you see everywhere you go in India, people weren’t as patient. What was I doing? Insulting the nation? Focusing on the ugly because it’s what all the westerners do when they visit India? Why does India provoke such visceral reactions in visitors?

Public urination, public defecation, dirt, garbage, filth, the poor living on the street — talking about these things, even acknowledging that they’re in front of your face, risks making your hosts unhappy, and possibly angry. It’s the third rail of India, and the voltage can be lethal. That’s why I was surprised when B.S. Raghavan decided to touch it with all 10 fingers.

Raghavan’s column in The Hindu Business Line newspaper begins with this headline: Are Indians by nature unhygienic?

Consider these excerpts:

From time to time, in their unguarded moments, highly placed persons in advanced industrial countries have burst out against Indians for being filthy and dirty in their ways of life. A majority of visitors to India from those countries complain of “Delhi belly” within a few hours of arrival, and some fall seriously ill.

There is no point in getting infuriated or defensive about this. The general lack of cleanliness and hygiene hits the eye wherever one goes in India — hotels, hospitals, households, work places, railway trains, airplanes and, yes, temples. Indians think nothing of spitting whenever they like and wherever they choose, and living in surroundings which they themselves make unliveable by their dirty habits. …

Open defecation has become so rooted in India that even when toilet facilities are provided, the spaces round temple complexes, temple tanks, beaches, parks, pavements, and indeed, any open area are covered with faecal matter. …

Even as Indians, we are forced to recoil with horror at the infinite tolerance of fellow Indians to pile-ups of garbage, overflowing sewage, open drains and generally foul-smelling environs.

There’s plenty more that you can read in that story, but I’ll direct you to the article. I’ll also ask you some questions:

Some people say you shouldn’t point out these problems, and that every country has problems. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
Does anyone disagree with Raghavan’s descriptions of these sights and smells?
Is this even a problem? Or should people get used to it?
Should visitors, especially ones from countries where people are generally wealthier, say nothing, and pretend that they don’t see unpleasant things?
As for me, I can say this: I got used to it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it. Indians notice it too. Otherwise, people wouldn’t suggest public shaming campaigns against people urinating in public, they wouldn’t threaten fines for doing it, and they wouldn’t respond with relief to plans to finally make sure that toilets on India’s trains don’t open directly onto the tracks. Of course, these are people in India. It’s a family, taking care of business the family way.

As for me, the message usually seems to be: “If you don’t love it, leave it.” It would be nice if there were some other answer. Acknowledging problems, even ones that are almost impossible to solve, makes them easier to confront.


http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2012/11/17/indians-inherently-unhygienic-indian-writer-touches-third-rail/

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