25 Jun 2005

India - Shining?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:43pm

That India is shining, and that it is all set to become indispensable for the growth of World economy has been so earnestly promoted by Media for the last few years that everybody now seems to be taking it as an absolute fact. Euphoria reigns an entire generation. Consistent growth rate of GDP, becoming the preferred choice of many MNCs for setting up their shops, new hybrid car models, proliferation of multiplexes, and remodeling of shopping habits, attitudes and accents seem to be assurances enough for people to believe that there cannot be any looking back. Everybody appears to sing, "Our time has come!"

Unfortunately, positive growth rates alone do not directly translate to welfare in Economics lingo. Even in a world where nations cannot do without interdependence, development cannot be associated with a country that has not yet achieved the state of economic independence. So, mere inflow of foreign investment does not become the benchmark for measurement of growth. Given the enticing factor of those morsels of currency, it endangers a nation to gradually forget its primary strength. If an agrarian society falls for the lure of industrialisation and, in the process, ignores agriculture, it will become more dependent on secondary income. If its trade gets affected because of War or some international calamity, it won't be left with anything to rely on. It's very important for a nation to remember the focus of its resources.

This is not to suggest that globalisation is a bane. Globalisation is definitely a sign of a healthy, properous economy. Its importance in international relations and world peace cannot be dismissed. But a country's participation in global trade should be based on its principal strength; merely acting as a channel and contributing to other countries' economy, and gaining a meagre share for the same speaks bad of its economic policies and priorities.

Let's face it - India is preferred not because of a dearth of brains in the US, as Media project, but simply because of the dearth of manpower. Barring China, there is no place else where MNCs can find thousands of nice, sincere butts willing to be glued to glittering seats to earn consultancy dollars for them. All that for a pittance when one converts the currency. It undoubtedly is a win-win situation, but it is a situation driven by the motive of exploitation and that fraught with dangerous consequences that will come to light only after a few decades. We are the exploited, dependent, and colonized populace.

If tomorrow the US decides to stop all outsourcing work, close all its shops in India, and send all Indians out of their country, what will happen to millions of us? Do we have the potential to address such a dire situation? If we admit we have, it is merely out of the confidence that such a situation will never arise. This is not the case with Japan or Korea or China. India has too many problems and too many flaws in its political system. Poverty remains a perpetual problem, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is ever widening. These are not signs of a developing economy. If Media persuades people to believe otherwise, it is because of a vested interest. Sadly, people get carried away.

A developing economy is one that is striving to devise policies that, if implemented, would ensure that the percentage of population living below the line of poverty tends to become zero. Today we have 1.2 billion people in the world living in poverty (living on less than $1 a day). So, it reflects impatience and lop-sided view to flaunt a country's economy as developing, going by just the peripheral details.

A consultancy firm devises nice-sounding phrases and sells it because it is a business deal for them. Politicians promote the phrase and make it a slogan because they have to cajole people to win another term. Advertising agencies make impressive campaigns out of the slogan because that'll make their portfolio better and attract more clients. Media sell space and promote the campaign, and assure that it is the greatest thing to happen to the country, because they cannot survive by speaking truth and turning against the political set-up. It's all business for everybody. It defies all logic that people should derive their optimism out of such a manufactured image.

No doubt, the projections, the statistics, the fat pay packets, the IT parks, are all good, and indeed are a reason for rejoicing. Yet, unless India becomes self-sufficient in the first place, I find it hard to subscribe to the optimism that many people of my generation share.

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