Irrelevant news: India’s population is 1.21 billion. It adds an Australia every year. It will overtake Chinese population by 2030. It is the fastest growing economy after China. It is a future superpower. An amount equivalent to 13 times the national debt is hidden safely in Swiss banks — people call it “Black Money”.
Relevant facts: India is a polarized democracy; election is the only proof of democracy in India. Its relevant population is only 250 million. Indian economy is only meant for them; rest of the 950 million are irrelevant, or at time unwanted numbers. They are important just for their votes once in five years. It is home to most of the poor of the world and will remain so. Indian firms are counted among the most corrupt in the world. You are officially not poor if you can stay alive on 32 rupees (64 cents) a day in Delhi or Mumbai!
Governance in Independent India
India became independent in 1947 through a transfer of power agreement with the British. Indians never won any war of independence. War with the Nazi Germany weakened the Great Britain so much that they were left with no other choice but to relinquish control of their colonies –India was one of them. In order to justify the word “Great” in their name they divided India into two –Secular India and Muslim India (Pakistan). However, religion could not keep Pakistan intact. After a dispute over the outcome of a general election in 1971 it entered a civil war. The widespread genocide, atrocities and rapes by the Pakistan Army invited Indian intervention. Over 93,000 Pakistani Troops surrendered, and the east Pakistan became a new state – Bangladesh. Now whatever is the leftover as Pakistan has become a terrorist breeding center of the world. God bless Pakistan and its religion.
The British left but their system of governance was left behind. Therefore, in reality August 1947 only brought change of faces, as far as the common man was concerned. The system was designed to rule the colored Indian subjects and exploit the resources so that the “Great Britain” prospered and become greater. The new Indian rulers began ruling and soon found them performing the same tasks that the white’s did. The police force was meant to protect the rulers from the masses, the bureaucracy remained duty bound to serve its masters, and the ordinary folks stayed where they always had been – in neglect and insignificance.
Elections became the proof and symbol of Indian democracy. No one cared to make it participatory despite Gandhi’s suggestion to empower village Panchayats; the common man and his interests remained confined to election talks. Once elected, the representatives started applying their own fanciful ideas, at best borrowing ideas from the West – any home grown ideas were always frowned upon as old fashioned and inferior. This tradition of looking down upon ideas coming from within the cultural heritage of the people, or from the poor masses, and giving preference to Western or westernized brains still prevails. It is unlikely to vanish any time soon. Enough tribute to Indian culture in India.
The separation of the elite ruling class and ordinary people has continuously increased since 1947. If someone stopped Indian elections all together, nothing will change on the ground. Elections only change faces of the rulers. Governance in India is for the rich and powerful by the politicians and bureaucracy.
New Poverty LINE in India
Just days ago, a Western educated ruling elite responsible for national planning gave a convenient definition of poor – he actually defined non-poor. Anyone living in the urban areas and spending 32 rupees or 26 rupees in rural areas per day can not be counted as “poor”. One US dollar currently exchanges for almost 49 Indian rupees. It means someone who can spend 64 cents daily (and survive!) in cities or stay alive on 52 cents per day in a village is not poor, as far as the government is concerned.
This brilliant elite of Indian government has a human name too – Montek Singh Ahluvalia. With this fanciful mathematics, he even was able to count the poor souls living within the Indian borders and gave a precise number, 407.4 million, which is precisely 33% of the 1210 million Indians. No marks for guessing that Mr Ahluvalia has never met any “poor” Indian in flesh and bones in his almost 7 decade old human life.
Compare Ahluvalia’s magic number with what others say about Indian poverty: The World Bank estimate of 2005 indicated that 42% people were surviving on less than 1.25 dollars a day; compare it with Asian Development Bank’s estimate of 55% based on the 1.35 dollar benchmark. Incidentally, a 2 dollar a day poverty line makes over 75% Indians poor. A Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) analysis of India also put proportion of poor at 55%, which means 665 million.
On the very same day when Ahluvalia disclosed his brilliant research on poverty line the Maharashtra government allowed its ruling elites to buy expensive vehicles up to Rs 14 lakhs (Rs 6 lakh was too insufficient for their royal status). [Where is poverty for the elected representatives of the country?]
No wonder India is home to the largest number of poor in the world and their count shows no sign of decreasing. In fact, the poor don’t matter in India. It is crucial that the rich and the power sustain their stature. This is real India.
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