Saturday, August 25, 2007

Over Indulgence

How often have we heard of a big boom in Indian economy? That India is Shinning, and that India is gonna be a super power in 2010, 2020 etc? Dont we know that Infosys is hiring so many fresh graduates from engineering colleges around the country? dont we know its raining big salary packages all over? IIM graduates can expect a hefty package even before they leave the campus? Reading Times of India and Economic Times gives me a feeling that i m in this golden age where people know no deprivations. We are all prospered, we all draw a five figured, at times 6 figured salaries, we go to PVR spend 250 on movie tickets, 100 on popcorn, come back by auto thats a cool Rs 500 per person, and we go out and have dinner at a 'decent' restaurant an we run a bill of Rs 3000 per couple and tip the waiter @ 15% of the bill..nice cool we are contemporary Indians we are having a great time, booming markets, great jobs, great money, we wear branded outfits, look down up on indian unbranded stuff as cheap, sasta...and we ape the western consumerism.. we no longer care about 10 20 rupees that get washed in the pocket of our jeans while we care less of a 500 rs bill (note in indian english) pronounce schedule as skedule.. an attribute earlier common among NRIs... we also say "o" for "zero" the TV jingles say "O", "zee" for zero and zed! So what are we trying to do. Of course we pay our domestic servants high as well.. 3000 for a cook cum maid servant, housekeeper gets a similar pay.. what not. We are in boom time so lets enjoy...

The news covered in ET and TOI, paints everything rosy..ok lets accept for a while that india is booming.. so what percent of population are we talking about? 80%? no cos we are talking mostly of the urban prosperous population, and 60% of our population still lives in villages. Ok so we are a talking about the 40% population. But then not all urban dwellers earn over five figured salaries. There is a huge segment thats unorganised... the man in suit wearing a tie who sells u vaccum cleaner is not being paid a six figured salary, nor is the receptionist in one of the fancy hotels..Only 8% of them actually belong to the organised workforce... the rest are unorganised.. including your electrician, ur mason, painter, vegetable vendor, kabadi wala, man servant who does errands for you.. all our assorted maid servants, waiters at the hotel, and the much less know agricultural and non agricultural labour...Ever wondered about them? What is shining for them?
Lets see...
We read in the new papers that poverty has decreased in India by 10% ..from 36% to 26% during the last decade.. what not.. How do they even come to this figure? It is defined on the basis of per capita consumption expenditure to acquire food that gives a calorie count of 2400 and 2100 in rural and urban areas respectively. So they also come to a conclusion of Rs 5007 per annum per person based on this benchmark. SO anyone who is earning more than Rs 5007 is not supposed to be poor.. Imagine there are still 26% of our population still unable to make Rs 5007 per anum. And in absolute numbers it translates into not 1 or 2 persons but millions, more than 200 million, that is 20 crore people are barley managing to keep themselves alive. And we are thinking of the Lamborghini show room in one of the five star hotels in the heart of our capital. We are celebrating the success of a minuscule minority.. should not we feel ashamed.
All the figures show that, there in a rising indebtedness amongst our farmers, There are so many documented farmer's suicide, and more undocumented, there is many villages where basic potable water is absent, women walk miles and miles to get a pot of water. Just travel once from Kerala to new delhi and beyond on a train by second class, and we will be forced to change our point of view! goodness me! There are so many villages without which we will die.. water, electricity, health care,, and of course schools. and what are doing? we are creating SEZs by robbing our poor farmers to make some established corporate house even richer. Mind you all the protests that you hear associated with SEZs are the voices of the relatively better of farmers.. the interest group thats strong enough to Voice its opposition, where as the genuine voices, die down with a whimper.. how true was Elliot he had said "this way the wold ends, not with a bang but with a whimper" yes the world ended for those who lost their lands and livelihood long time back and their whimper remained unheard. We see a vegetable vendor sporting a mobile phone, but come on, he is no poor, he belongs to the urban middle class by definition. Where are the poor..Have they become invisible? Not quite.. Travel any distance out of you city, for say as far as 100 kms on a road thats least taken.. i m sure you will notice the kind of privilege we are all enjoying.. the laptop i m typing with, the electricity the Internet connection all becomes a farce.. What matters is food, you dont eat your laptop, your latest model cell phone! basic clothing, health care, primary school! do we have these .. a big no..
There are just 0.6 doctors for every 1000 population. and how many of these doctors are ready to serve in areas where they are badly needed? every one of them dreams of opening a super speciality hospital... according to figures there is over 100% enrollment in primary schools! my goodness that means no child is out of school these days.. but we all know thats a big big joke.. we see young boys cleaning tables at hotels, dhabas, working as shop assistants in the numerous shops all around us... we will be employing children to do our own domestic work. so how is that these children vanished from statistics.. Hm another big joke is if we could capture the quantity a person gets to eat everyday and conclude if the person is poor or not, and say "India is Shining"
After having written all this i should confess i m not leftist, Definitely not. I dont know a thing about Marx, and lenin, and i dont give a damn to them, there is past, there is no solution reading century old theories. i dont belong to the old fashioned chappal-kurta clad idealist. I m not a pseudo either.. i dont belong to any where... and i m is a observer.. just like R.K.Laxman's "common man" I cant do anything, but i cant stop observing and i cant stop pondering on it either..What is simply absurd is the way we take our life, our indulgences for granted. When do we learn to appreciate our privilege better! just little things go a long way.. like switching off lights before leaving room, office, home.. make sure that taps are closed tight even when they are dry so that water is not wasted, use everything in moderation, and dont ever employing children to work for us... little things but the impact will be huge..

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