My writing is in response to the following article by an ex-Pakistani general. In his sharp article, published in The Daily Star newspaper of Bangladesh, he tried to put some weird logic to show the backlogs of Indian growth picture. He pointed out the growth disparity, the overpriced market and Hindu-domination in Indian success as main Indian drawbacks. You can read this article here.
My response :
I am an Indian Bengali and read The Daily Star regularly on the internet. It is a delightful experience for me to read a newspaper from our neighboring democratic country. I am specifically interested on the analytical articles published in your newspaper. These are really great works from the people around the world.
On December 8, 2005, I came across an article by Ikram Sehgal, on the backlogs of shining India. The loss of direction mentioned in the article is good, but I cannot but protest the wrong figures quoted in the article. It is a truth that only 30% of Indian people are reaping benefits of booming Indian economy, but the picture is not as bleak as he mentioned.
Firstly, he points out that an amazing figure of 700 million below poverty line population and also went on to say that Pakistan has a better picture in that field. I don’t really understood how he is defining the “Below Poverty Line”, but UNDP (United Nations Development Program) figures show that population living below poverty line is 28% (almost 300 million) in India and 32% in Pakistan. Similarly, they ranked India in 58th place, ahead of Pakistan (68th) among developing countries on Human Poverty Index. The measurer of income inequality, named as Gini co-efficient, ranked India ahead of Pakistan. The UNDP figures are not the resultant of Indian rhetoric, but of a successful grass-root development and sustainable democracy.
Next, he mentions that a person having income as high as 45000 a month cannot afford a flat in a passable location. I do not understand how he distinguishes between a passable and a non-passable location, but inside Kolkata or Hyderabad ( where I stay ), there are many “passable” locations where people are buying flats at 1 million Indian Rs, and that too with incomes as low as 15000 a month. This has triggered a boom in housing construction in India, and a competition among the banks moving them towards reducing the housing loan interests. He mentioned about rich getting richer by IPOs. But who are buying these IPOs and shares? The middle class people only.
At the end, he mentioned that non-Hindus do not have their representation in Indian rich class. I would like to mention, that the richest Indian citizen, Azim Premji, the owner of Wipro, is a Muslim. He is the richest South Asian as well. Had he been discriminated against his counterparts, like Narayan Murthy of Infosys or Tatas of TCS, he would not have reached the place where he is today.
The author possibly overlooked the biggest success of India in last couple of decades, the primary enrolment ratio. 87% of Indian children get themselves admitted in Primary schools, compared to only 59% in Pakistan. Higher literacy at lower costs, and a huge number of graduates triggered Indian knowledge based industry, which now helps India earn $20 billion a year.
It is definitely true that Indian growth is marked by disparity. The growth of city and villages are not the same, nor is the growth comparable between South Indian and the North India. But, this is only the initial effect of liberal economy, which is faced by many developing nations. The countries those are rich today, also faced this situation when they started to industrialize. The effective democracy can always absorb this disparity shock, and strengthen the equality among citizens. It will be good for India, and also for the entire South Asia.