"Recent accounts of the alleged rise of India barely mention the 
fact that the country's $728 per capita gross domestic product is 
just slightly higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa and that, as 
the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report puts it, even if it 
sustains its current high growth rates, India will not catch up with 
high-income countries until 2106.

Nor is India rising very fast on the report's Human Development 
index, where it ranks 127, just two rungs above Myanmar and more 
than 70 below Cuba and Mexico. Despite a recent reduction in poverty 
levels, nearly 380 million Indians still live on less than a dollar 
a day.

Malnutrition affects half of all children in India, and there is 
little sign that they are being helped by the country's market 
reforms, which have focused on creating private wealth rather than 
expanding access to health care and education. Despite the country's 
growing economy, 2.5 million Indian children die annually, 
accounting for one out of every five child deaths worldwide; and 
facilities for primary education have collapsed in large parts of 
the country (the official literacy rate of 61 percent includes many 
who can barely write their names). In the countryside, where 70 
percent of India's population lives, the government has reported 
that about 100,000 farmers committed suicide between 1993 and 2003. 

Feeding on the resentment of those left behind by the urban-oriented 
economic growth, communist insurgencies (unrelated to India's 
parliamentary communist parties) have erupted in some of the most 
populous and poorest parts of north and central India. The Indian 
government no longer effectively controls many of the districts 
where communists battle landlords and police, imposing a harsh form 
of justice on a largely hapless rural population. 

The potential for conflict — among castes as well as classes — also 
grows in urban areas, where India's cruel social and economic 
disparities are as evident as its new prosperity. The main reason 
for this is that India's economic growth has been largely jobless. 
Only 1.3 million out of a working population of 400 million are 
employed in the information technology and business processing 
industries that make up the so-called new economy. 

No labor-intensive manufacturing boom of the kind that powered the 
economic growth of almost every developed and developing country in 
the world has yet occurred in India. Unlike China, India still 
imports more than it exports. This means that as 70 million more 
people enter the work force in the next five years, most of them 
without the skills required for the new economy, unemployment and 
inequality could provoke even more social instability than they have 

For decades now, India's underprivileged have used elections to 
register their protests against joblessness, inequality and 
corruption. In the 2004 general elections, they voted out a central 
government that claimed that India was "shining," bewildering not 
only most foreign journalists but also those in India who had 
predicted an easy victory for the ruling coalition. 

Among the politicians whom voters rejected was Chandrababu Naidu, 
the technocratic chief minister of one of India's poorest states, 
whose forward-sounding policies, like providing Internet access to 
villages, prompted Time magazine to declare him "South Asian of The 
Year" and a "beacon of hope." 

But the anti-India insurgency in Kashmir, which has claimed some 
80,000 lives in the last decade and a half, and the strength of 
violent communist militants across India, hint that regular 
elections may not be enough to contain the frustration and rage of 
millions of have-nots, or to shield them from the temptations of 
religious and ideological extremism. 

Many serious problems confront India. They are unlikely to be solved 
as long as the wealthy, both inside and outside the country, choose 
to believe their own complacent myths. 

To subscribe, send a message to:

Or go to:
and click 'Join This Group!' 
Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Reply via email to