A Class Profile of India

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mumbai

In Mumbai: builders at work, slums below. [Sthitaprajna Jena / Flickr]

The bankers, software engineers and diamond traders targeted in last week’s Mumbai train bombings are the driving force behind India’s well-documented economic juggernaut, a phenomenon heralded at home by the country’s elites and abroad by the international press.

But the country that is home to the world’s fastest growing middle class is also home to the world’s largest underclass: 380 million people who live on less than a dollar a day.

India’s no wonderland…A quarter of its one billion people live below the poverty line, 40 percent are illiterate, and the child malnutrition rate exceeds that of sub-Saharan Africa. There’s a huge difference between the backwater state of Bihar and the boomtown of Bangalore.

Suketu Mehta, A Passage From India, The New York Times, July 12, 2005

Much of the talk around India’s new economy has ignored these facts. And much of the talk around the Mumbai story this week has focused on the “global war on terror,” possible Pakistani support for Kashmiri separatists, or connections to the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.

We’d like to go back to India and broaden the lens. In the past our show has discussed the tremendous secondary social consequences of industrialization and economic development in China – for example, the migration of 120 million people from the countryside to work in cities. Now we’d like to conduct a similar exploration of the secondary effects of economic change (or lack thereof) in India, and do a kind of class profile of the country. We’re fascinated by the discrepancies between the haves and the have nots, by the real-estate boom in Mumbai and Delhi, by the fact that the Communist Party is stronger and more popular than ever, by the 100,000 farmers who have committed suicide in the last decade.

How is economic growth changing India socially, culturally, politically and physically? Is there tension between the million or so direct beneficiaries of the new economy and the rest of the country? Is there a connection between sectarian violence and the growth of the new economy? Is class replacing caste? Can India pass on to its masses the benefits of its economic growth, as it did democracy and political power?

Update, 7/19/06, 10:17am

This op-ed by Pankaj Mishra has informed a lot of our thinking about this show so far. (I found the last two paragraphs especially interesting, even though it was written before last week’s bombings.) His article, among others, is available for free (outside of times select) below.

Pankaj Mishra

Author,

Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond

Suketu Mehta

Author, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

Thanks DevanJedi for recommending Mr. Mehta.

Atanu Dey

Chief Economist at Mumbai based technology company Netcore Solutions

Contributor to Indian Economy Blog

Guest’s Extra-Credit Reading List

The Hindu, India’s National Newspaper

Everybody Loves a Good Drought, book by P. Sainath (reporter, The Hindu)

Economic and Political Weekly

Extra Credit Reading

Pankaj Mishra, The Myth of the New India, International Herald Tribune (first published in the New York Times), July 6, 2006

Nitin Pai, Puncture Mishra, The Indian Economy Blog, July 8, 2006

Atanu Dey, The Better, Faster Road Development, The Indian Economy Blog, July 12, 2006

Suketu Mehta, A Passage from India, The New York Times, July 12, 2005

Dilip D’Souza, Just Another Suicide, Himal Southasian

Amardeep Singh, Thomas Sowell on Caste Reservations (affirmative action) in India, Amardeep Singh Blog, May 26, 2004

Naresh Fernandes, India’s Indestructible Heart, The New York Times, July 12, 2006

Somini Sengupta, Train Bombers Focused on Mumbai Business Class, The New York Times, July 13, 2006

Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Vintage Books USA, September 2005

Gurcharan Das, The India Model, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2006

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  • Wow! What an endeavour, trying to address such a broad topic in a one-hour radio show. With all the variation that is India, culturally, linguistically, geographically, etc., does it even make sense to take such a macro view, “to broaden the lens” to the point where everything blurs in the distance? I can’t help thinking we would learn a lot more if we zoom in an discuss one aspect, such as the Communit Party or caste in today’s India. Why do it all at once Robin?

  • majime

    I’m eager to get podcasts of recent shows, but as of 11pm PT on 7/18, the latest seems to be 7/13. Is this correct, or am I not using iTunes correctly?

  • majime

    Oops! I just tried again and got the podcast of the 7/17 show, “Israel and Lebanon: Three Views of a Regional War”. Sorry for busting in here.

  • zeke

    I applaud the effort to “broaden the lens,” to look beyond call centers. While recognizing the the principal focus is on contemporary India, I wonder whether lengthening the time frame might not also be helpful. After all, India is a mere 60 years from colonial rule. I agree with sidewalker, this may be a topic for a show of its own, But I wonder, how has the legacy of colonial rule influenced the developments you are discussing? And how does this influence on an English speaking (mostly) country and its consequences differ from the outcomes in different parts of the world, notably Africa and Central America.

  • I recommend you get in touch with Dilip DeSouza, he blogs from Bombay,has appeared on my podcast, and wrote the article for Salon.com describing his first hand observations of the bombing aftermath.

  • Characterizing what happened in Gujarat as a ‘massacre of muslims’ is quite extreme. While a lot more Muslims died than Hindus, the riots many lives on both sides of the religious divide.

  • Correction above:

    “the riots *claimed* many lives on both sides of the religious divide.”

  • Robin

    Hi guys-

    hopefully tonight’s conversation will be somewhat more focused than the post currently suggests, but I’d love your suggestions for ways to focus things. I’d like us to start by talking about class and income disparities that have always existed in India, but which have been exacerbated (if that’s the right word) by India’s economic growth, and see where we get from there. The way these things work, if it seems at the end of the hour that an hour wasn’t enough, we’ll go back and figure out how to tackle another piece of things.

    DevanJedi – is it extreme to characterize what happened in Gujarat as a massacre? You’ll have to help fill me in on how people in India and abroad talk about those events, since most of the pieces I’ve read about that time have referred to them that way. My impression was that while there has been rioting, attacks and targeted killing from both sides, what happened in Gujarat in 2002 was different and significant because of the suspected involvement of the local government. Thoughts? And thanks.

  • One approach would be to look at regional disparities to consider why states such as Orissa and Bihar have not seen the some of the growth of the regional states. Are the infrastructure and educational systems different? Is it a question of state government policies? Is it the resource base? Is it the hold of customs and traditions, such as the caste system?

    I also read somewhere that there has not been a great shift in employment from the agricultural sectors to industrial sectors, the common path of many countries to a stronger middle-class. Yet at the same time agricultural output has decreased, which would put more pressure on wages and lower-class incomes.

    As I said above, there is just too much to discuss, but I’m sure Chris will find a way.

    Thanks for the interaction, Robin.

  • Selvan

    ************

    We’re fascinated by the discrepancies between the haves and the have nots, by the real-estate boom in Mumbai and Delhi, by the fact that the Communist Party is stronger and more popular than ever, by the 100,000 farmers who have committed suicide in the last decade.

    ************

    India is a diverse country with different regions meeting with differing successes and failures.. And, I don’t think you can read too much into the strength of Communist parties by the number of MPs(Members of Parliament) from the last elections.. I think their strength is more or less the same confined to the two states of West Bengal and Kerala, In the last elections they swept almost all the seats in those two states and that’s the reason for increase in numbers.. but they don’t have a widespread base like Congress.. and geographically their base is limited to a few regions.. I don’t think class has replaced caste yet..

  • Robin: A “massacre of muslims” is an extreme phrase. “Massacre” in general may be acceptable. The entire episode began because 58 *Hindus* were burnt alive on a train in the town of Godhra in Gujarat. In some sense, that could be characterized as a “massacre of Hindus”. This event sparked off riots throughout the state- in parts, instigated by people involved with the government and incendiary speeches by people in state government. The *majority* of casualties in these riots were Muslims, but many Hindus died as well. I am far from being an apologist for either side, but I would not want anyone to be left with the impression that only one side had fatalities.

    Characterizing the Muslims as the victims is a popular and understandable stance for us left-wingers- especially when the party in power in Gujarat was the right wing party BJP- but it only tells half the story. People from both religions lost lives- the key fact was that the local government seemed to be on the side of only one of them, the Hindus.

    Thankfully, the right wing BJP lost parliamentary seats and the prime ministership in the next national elections and it is largely believed that the Gujarat riots turned the rest of the country away from that party. BJP is still in power in Gujarat, though.

  • Selvan

    To backup my earlier comments on the strength of communist parties, refer to the election commission of India website for the percentage of votes polled by different parties in 1999, 2004

    http://www.eci.gov.in/ElectionResults/ElectionResults_fs.htm

    The Communist parties (CPI and CPM) voteshare is more or less the same around 7%.

  • Also, Suketu Mehta would be a fantastic guest on the show. And his Maximum City a great companion book to read.

  • fanOfChange

    Robin,

    The link you have mentioned has the following

    Over 2000 people were killed, tens of thousands maimed,

    Which is a grossly overstated number (by more than 100%). The UPA governments probe concluded that the final toll was 710 muslims and 260 Hindus died in the riots. Hardly a Muslim massacre.

    I grew up in this western state of Gujarat for most part and spent my high-school and college years. I will tell you one thing from personal experience that there is a deep mistrust between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. Its not as simple as some politician commanding Hindus to riot and kill Muslims, but due to past “scores to be settled” (sic) and inherent mistrust and hatred makes people do things that are unimaginable. This is not to say that the state government of Gujarat state was blame-less. In my view, the state government is guilty of inaction in the beginning stages. Later on they were overwhelmed with the enormity of the situation.

    I want to point out one thing that most people miss. Muslims of India cant be called “minority” in the western sense of the word. The western “minorities” never were ruling class in the west, where as Muslims were a ruling class as early as 19th century.

  • Hi folks,

    I think the Godhra/Gujarat question isn’t necessarily the main question being asked with regards to tonight’s show.

    The focus appears to be on social class rather than communalism: in light of farmer suicides; the flight from rural areas and the rapid growth of the cities; the ongoing problems of building adequate housing, electricity, infrastructure; the broad transition to free market thinking at the local level.

  • Amardeep (love your blog!):

    The only reason I brought in the Gujarat issue was that it was characterized as a “massacre of Muslims”. And also, because the bomb blasts are bound to come up on the show, the issue of retaliatory ‘riots’ is relevant.

    In any case, I am happy to ‘broaden the lens’, as Robin put it and look forward to the discussion tonight. I hope you (Amardeep) are a guest on the show and also hope you can track down Suketu Mehta as well.

  • Hey, thanks.

    For the record I think your correction is valid. Since the event is widely disputed, it is probably more neutral to speak of it as a “communal riot in which a disproportionate number of Muslims were killed.” But I think it was mainly brought up by ROS simply to suggest that communalism is still a problem, not to take a particular stance. (It’s very difficult to be completely “objective” on the subject of communalism.)

    I’m not a guest on the show for tonight, though I gave the producers some suggestions on how to approach the topic. I think it’s a great idea — rare to see radio doing topics that aren’t simply an extension of “promoting someone’s book.”

  • Robin

    I know the politics of language and labeling are tricky and important, so thanks for helping sort through them in this situation. Even though the starting point for tonight’s show is class and economics, I’m sure you’re right, DevanJedi, that the bombings will come up.

    And special thanks to Amardeep, who is a valued and trusted source/friend of our show. He definitely helped me get my head into this subject, and is obviously still helping now frame the conversation on this thread!

  • yeti

    I think this is a timely and necessary discussion. With regards to the question of class replacing caste, I think that in the South Asian context we will always find a far greater complexity of interaction between varying levels of status and power. Class, caste, and religion all play a key role in who is marginalized and how. Indeed, these are not separate categories, and often relate to one another reciprocally and affect each other’s position on the South Asian “food chain”. I think the commenter who pointed out that we are barely three generations out of colonialism is on point, as well. The ravages of colonialism, not to mention the institutions created by the colonizers, remain strong, and the systematic looting that took place over two centuries has hardly been restituted or corrected. I look forward to hearing the show.

  • It is good that you are discussing about class relations in India. Before I go into my arguments, I want to state that I am from the same privileged class about which I am going to bitch now. Even though, on paper, India is out of the 3000+ years of racism practised in the form of caste system, there is an undercurrent of racism present even now. It is exhibited by the opposition to affirmative action kinda laws. The education and job sector is fully monopolized by privileged sections of the society who form only 12% of the population. If you go to institutes of Higer leraning like IITs, you will find 75 – 80% of the people from the privileged sections inspite of their 12% representation in the population. If you take IT jobs, you can find 65-70% (though these are not official figures, it is easy for anyone to see it by visiting any IT company in India) of the people over there from this 12% segment. Any affirmative action laws to level the playing ground is met with widespread protests from these guys and the media (as 90% of the media contains people from this 12% segment). There is widespread inequality among different sections of the society. The benefits of economic liberalizations are mainly reaped by the 12% segment leaving a huge chunk of people under poverty. However, the world gets a rosy picture because 95-98% of Indians who live in different countries belong to this 12% segment. Do you think we can get a correct picture from the PR war unleashed by the 12% segment? I suggest that you guys check out the blog http://www.theotherindia.org/ to learn more about the issues faced by the other under privileged Indians.

  • “A quarter of its one billion people live below the poverty line”

    I would say that this is an understatement.

  • Selvan

    I don’t know how one can get the 12% elite and 88% non-elite calculations.. I just know my personal story and the stories of my friends.. Again I think the stories are different for different regions.. In South India reservations / affirmative action programmes in education and state government’s jobs have been in place for decades for the so called “lower castes”…. The results are for all to see. There is a marked improvement in the standard of living of so called “lower castes”.. There is a substantial “elite” / “creamy layer” in the “lower castes” now. I don’t know if they come under the 12% elites / 88% non-elites..

  • Sandeep

    Since we are talking of class and affirmative action in general, I would like to comment on the recent legislation for reservations in India. I completely agree that affirmative action based measures are important in India and that the education of many in India is heavily and undeservingly subsidized.

    But I take issue with the notion that a broad-brush quota system is the only solution to the problem. From my reading of Jayati Ghosh’s arguments for reservation in India, it seems that a very strong ‘economic’ case emerges, as opposed to reservations based on caste. So why would we stick to a caste based reservation system? Doesn’t a wealth based system matter more? Or perhaps, wouldn’t wealth be a better indicator for affirmative action?

    While I agree that “caste” as a social notion is still a reality in much of rural India, I would like to believe that in the current reality of India, economy-based social mobility would trump caste any day — and as such, the real “historical debt” belongs to the traditionally poor as opposed to the traditionally marginalized based on caste. Yadav’s, long marginalized as the “backward classes” in Bihar control much of rural Bihari politics and have formed the ruling classes there. And this accrual of power has brought with it the concomitant lapses into corruption. Bihar is also among the most corrupt states in the country.

    In my understanding, class as a social indicator is not very different from one’s economic power. Hence the issues about “creamy layer” are very complex since such “creamy layers” straddle both upper and lower classes. Further, class is very mutable — and is affected by time, whereas a policy decision that is likely to stay with us for decades to come should be impervious to such dynamics.

    No one can possibly deny that the underprivileged get very little attention in India. But to classify lack of privilege merely in terms of caste seems much more problematic to me as opposed to classifying it in terms of economic power.

  • jdyer

    looking forward to the show tonight.

    I hope the guests address the issue of Islamic rage at any ountry whose economy is performing better than their own. This means of course that they are angry at most countries in the world but use imagines (and a few real) grievances to try and destroy them in the name of Islam.

  • I wrote a series of posts on changes that India is going through in May-June. During May-June, 2006, I was in India and I tried to look at the society with the lens of economic and social changes it is currently going through.

    Do visit my blog, and in archives look for May-June-July posts, it might give your some talking points. I have recent pictures of India on flickr that tell more about class than words would. Some contribution from my behalf.

    Best of luck in your endeavor.

  • Selvan

    krish,

    I see that you are directly mapping 12% upper caste with the “class” that dominates the “education and job” sector..

    I can confidently say that, it is not TRUE atleast in the state of Tamilnadu (and a few other southern states). We have mandatory reservations of 69% in academia for the Backward castes and Dalits for the past 30-40 years..( give or take a few percentage points). It would be a stretch to say 12% upper castes dominate the whole of India.. A few regions maybe.. but not whole..

  • jdyer

    So is the glass half empty or half full?

    It seems to me that what Pankaj Mishra is describing are growing pains.

    Yes, Indian economic growth is still uneven, but at least it is a beginning. Does Pankaj Mishra think that Indians would have been better off if the high tech burst of economic energy had not taken place?

    If so, why?

  • Matt E

    It seems that every day that goes by the have-nots of the world are becoming increasingly willing to do violence upon the haves. Perhaps this is a sign that we need to reevaluate our priorities as a species.

  • It seems that beyond the race problems, I think India is and will be facing growing class divides. When I first went to India ten years ago, the rich were poor in my western eyes, and now Bombay is exploding. This past winter, clubbing around Pali HIll, I felt out of my league with my ftiends theere. They even went so far as to buy me a more up to date cell phone as mine didn’t, scandalously, recieve text…But the divide is growing between rich and poor and the divide, more importantly, is becoming more visible. Rickshaw and chai wallahs have cell phones and can download on some of them the web. The images of the west are flooding India and with that the claim of the west, that anyone can get anything. They are becoming a society of consumers and those who can’t consume, become angry and resentful. Not everyone can belong to the elite!

    What happens when the chai wallah realises he can’t join the west in its consumption? The street will rise, no doubt. The VJP and the muslim extremists take their players from the disgruntled!

  • Like Pankaj Mishra says… who is in on the shift (thanks chris…)

  • fiddlesticks

    This was another program in Chris’ continuing Jihad against capitalism and globalization.

    Blaming India’s problem on imperialism is pretty desperate move.

  • Selvam,

    I am also from Tamilnadu and I agree that the situation is better there due to better implementation of reservations. However, if you consider the overall situation in India, it is quite pathetic. Even with respect to tamilnadu, the number of people who get a chance to go into institutions like IITs are still not on par with the population distribution. India has not done enough to remove the race inequality. We need to do more. The percentage of people in the high flying careers and people in IITs are not in sync with the population distribution. India is not doing enough to correct this. It is my point.

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  • Kumar N

    Interesting attempt to ‘broaden the lens’. All the best !

    Some thoughts:

    1.I am not sure how relevant Gujarat riots are for a discussion on class profile in today’s India. What happened in Gujarat (both Godhra and Post-Godhra) do not necessarily have a linkage with the changing class profiles due to economic liberalisation, and politicing of hitherto backward castes. And if ‘massacre of Muslims’ in Gujarat is relevant, so will be the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kashmiri Pandits who have not received appropriate support from successive governments, and mainstream media attention. In the same vein, the massive conversions of tribal and mainstream Hindus into Christians in the North Eastern states for the past couple of decades and what this has meant to the civic tensions there, could also be relevant. We need to draw a line somewhere and scope this discussion appropriately.

    2. I read some where recently (need time to find the link again) that the economic disparity in India seen as an index of diff between the rich and the poor, is in the high-40’s (46 or 48). Contrasting this with a similar Index for US, UK and other ‘developed’ countries, I was surprised to note that wealth seems to be more equitably distributed in India than in the US. However, I agree that due to the sheer size of the population, it would still mean that around 250 million people are below the poverty line. What we need to note here is that India has been ( inspite of all the implementation issues), able to lift around 1-2% of its population above the povery line every year since the 1980’s.

    3.Infrastructure (both social and physical) is the main problem.And in regions where we see positive developments in this area, the class profile seems to have changed for the good.

    Well, there are more thoughts, but I guess I will stop here and take a breather. More later, hopefully.

  • Selvan

    Krish,

    Though I agree with you on India needs to do more especially in a few regions, I don’t agree with you that the 12% upper castes dominate everything in India.. They may have in pre-Independence India and in the few decades after that, but not anymore..

  • As I had thought, the bomb blasts did come up. Unfortunately, the show itself was not as interesting as it could have been. I think that can be chalked a lack of focus on what they really wanted to talk about. There was an attempt to link the bomb blasts to class inequality and to contrast the bomb blasts with the India, inc. image. Both attempts fail- and both attempts ring untrue. The bomb blasts are too fresh to link to anything yet, other than the usual suspects of Islamic terrorism and if one is to consider the bomb blasts as tarnishing the India, inc. image then September 11th should have tarnished the US image a few times over.

    In fact, the opposite is true- September 11th humanized the US around the world. The bombings in India indicate that we are all in the same boat together. If anything, the our (US) image was tarnished by our imperialistic reaction to the attacks of 2001 and India’s image will similarly be shaped by its action or inaction in the face of this tragedy.

    The class inequality and economic inequality issue is much older and deeper than anything forged in the modern IT age. The class inequalities have existed for thousands of years and the economic inequalities for a few hundred. The results of growth in prosperity and the middle class will not be immediately visible- it will take a generation for the children of the current growing middle class to demonstrate whether they still carry the burdens of class with them.

    As an aside, there is one indirect indication that class barriers are coming down. Traditionally, Indians have arranged marriages. To have your marriage arranged by your family with someone in your caste is the norm; a “love marriage” is the exception. In my grand parents’ generation, a ‘love marriage’ was unheard of. In my parents’ generation, it happened but it was rare. In my generation- I am 26- it is a lot more common in India.

  • Greta

    Hi everyone,

    We got an email from Subramanian Ramachandran this morning. Subramainan said I could pass it along to the commenting caucus:

    “Dear Mr. Lydon and all the production staff of Open Source,

    As a native of India, I was very delighted to finally hear a thoughtful piece on India, after being inundated by ‘ sensational and stereotypical’ news items. Many thanks !

    May I share the following humble thoughts…

    One of your speakers referred to India being ‘shackled by Nehruvian style socialism’ till 1991, but one should bear in mind that India got independence only in 1947 and was perhaps too young and weak to adopt a free market system. Hence I believe, the public sector industries and government run educational institutions were established to provide employment, a protective net, and also to provide (subsidized, good quality education) for future generations. This had laid the foundation for a vast pool of talented human resource that has been instrumental in putting India on the IT map and few other fields as well.

    Regarding social equality..

    The system of ‘affirmative action’ (reservation system) that was introduced soon after independence was supposed to provide equal opportunity for the under previleged so that they won’t be left behind. Despite not everyone has benefited from the ‘trickle down’ effect of IT boom in India. Even those who are educated but not associated with high tech/ IT are vulnerable.

    While this (reservation) may be one way that was thought of to bring about social equality, the other way seems to be through the ballot. Majority of the population didnot agree with the assertion that ‘India was shining’ and had opted for a change in the government, in the hope that there lives would become better.

    The point I am trying to make is, there are instruments in place to bring about social equality even as India is, in a calibrated manner, trying to open-up its economy and become more capitalistic.

    I was alarmed to learn from your program that the frustration has set in already resulting in some people resorting to violent means to bring about equality.

    Many thanks, once again!

    Subramanian Ramachandran”

  • I really don’t understand why Atanu Dey is being called to understand the true India. If you read his blog, anyone can know that he spews venom at the founding fathers of the country. If you are going to bring hin into any show, he is going to use it as a platform to spew further venom on Nehru and other leaders of India. It is a shame that he couldn’t give a balanced view like either Pankaj Mishra or Suketu Mehta. I am inviting people in the west to travel to India and see the two Indias firsthand.

  • Mr. Ramchandran brings up a key point- in a newly born India, “Nehruvian socialism” may have provided the necessary platform and stability for capitalism to thrive on now. It is possible that the socialist policies lasted longer than they should have, but as an early equalizer that made sure the inequalities of British rule and old India would not persist in the new India.

  • pradeep

    I not surprised why Mr. Mishra gets so much air time or why his books does so well in west. His contents are what one would like to hear in the west. Once exposed to the west, its kind of cool to travel the dirt roads of India and report to western audience. I am not sure which part of Bihar or UP did he travel. My parents are from rural Kerala and I am born and brought up in a remote town in Bihar (now Jharkhand), two extremes of Indian cultures. Still, they all seems to be rising with the tide. Simply speaking, my Dad did better than his Dad, and I guess, I am doing much better than him. I am sure that’s true for majority of the Indian population. The problem is, the Mishra’s of this world forget where India started off. In last 50 years, the so called “untouchables” can cast a vote to elect a leader, itself is an achievements, what would you say if he/she happens to move around with a mobile phone. I agree, their is a divide, but its getting closer. We got to wait for the money to trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid.

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  • momos

    India’s leading development journalist is P. Sainath, who writes with deep humanity about India’s rural poor. For an overview of the challenges such people face and the incompetence of well-intended government development efforts, read his outstanding book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. Sainath’s scathing rebuke of the complacent top 1% rings true; when I was in India it struck me that amongst the elite, especially younger IT yuppies, the abandonment of social responsibility seemed nearly total.

    A concrete example came in May when students at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi among other elite universities went on strike, wearing t-shirts that read “Kill Me Before You Kill Merit.â€? They were opposing quotas for lower castes and “Other Backward Classes” in higher education.

    There is a serious argument to be had about whether quota systems are an effective way to achieve social equality. But in what spirit are the opponents of quotas making their arguments? The same week of the debate, when it was occasionally suggested that the government should persue equality at the lowest levels of education first, Parliament passed a bill removing quotas from primary schools.

    The agricultural sector, which accounts for roughly 60% of the workforce, is seeing about 2% growth. Just when India needs to bolster primary education to shift vastly more workers to the high-growth services sector, the government takes this regressive step.

  • Crazyfinger

    In the light of this radio show, I am announcing a friendly blogpost contest and offering a free copy of Stephen Miller’s new book “Conversation: A History of a Declining Art” to “winning” blogposts. I have put up the details of this blog-post contest on my blog. Come on over, read up and participated if it’s sounds interesting to you…

    Thanks a bunch!

    http://www.crazyfinger.org/2006/07/win_a_free_copy.html

    Regards,

    Crazyfinger

  • unknown

    I am afraid India cannot ‘succeed’ without implementing ‘basic income guaranteed system’

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

    and ‘inheritance taxes’.

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estate_tax

    Can you point me to a nation that has ‘succeeded’ without having the above systems in place?

    As a famous poet said: “A country is not made of land; a country is made of its people.”

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurazada_Apparao

    The root cause of all issues in India is desperation and collusion among people.

    DESPERATION

    85% of people are working poor in an informal economy to earn $2 a day so that they can feed a meal for their family. Their lives oscillate between fear and frustration. As of today, sex, movies and democracy aka ‘voting in elections’ is the only respite for them.

    source: http://in.rediff.com/money/2005/dec/01guest3.htm

    COLLUSION

    The remaining 15% well to do people are even ‘more’ desperate. They ‘prefer’ not to pay taxes. The only ‘professional’ relation between individuals is collusion .

    India has the potential to become superpower provided the government empowers its people.

    Ensuring a credible basic income guaranteed system for every one whether they work or not will bring in dignity instead of desperation for the working poor.

    And imposing inheritance taxes will stimulate compassion instead of collusion among people living in India.

  • zeke317

    Here is an interesting little postscript to the show–and a flash back to the India-China show. Frankly, I’d expect something a bit more substantive from BBC than this but, for a short bit, it captures the same flavor that the writer guests on ROS were explaining and leaves some of the rosy picture painted by the economist in question.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5181024.stm

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  • yvnkishore

    What exactly does My.Lydon mean by “business class commuter trains”? That basically says a lot for his knowledge of India and Mumbai. What the hell have class inequalities to do with the train bombings? All along, he tries to establish a link between economic/class issues with the bombings. What a pathetic discussion! Pankaj Mishra has a lot of phrases to describe the so-called elite who he says are creating an image of an India that is far from reality. Truth is, as with many nations, that part of India is as real as the part that is still shackled by desperate poverty. I have only phrase for him though – BLOODY IDIOT.

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