Inside shining India

Everyone cannot hope to become ‘crorepatis’ but every individual deserves a life of dignity and an assurance for basic means of livelihood. Once this is achieved, a nation becomes a welfare state. India is far from being so. Nothing goes to show there will be light at the end of the tunnel. For, among other things, the latest State of Inequality Report that has reached Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s table from the government’s Economic Advisory Council says the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. The income of the bottom 10 per cent is “shrinking” while 90 per cent of the population earns less than Rs 25,000 a month.
In other words, those who breathe easy in this country are just 10 per cent of the population — comprising the government employees/teachers, banking sector staff and those of the semi-government and public sector undertakings apart from the business/trading class. The corrupt politicos are also a sizable army enjoying the fruits of life. The rest, the ordinary citizens, are struggling to make ends meet. If the Narendra Modi-led government in its two terms did any good, this is not on record in real analysis. While a World Bank report states that extreme poverty in India declined by 12.3 percentage points from 2011 to 2019, this happened at a “slower rate” than was observed between 2004 and 2011 – the period under Dr Manmohan Singh, who had propounded the trickle-down theory. The theory meant, if the national economy grows, everyone would benefit from it. Even in Singh’s last phase, the economic growth showed a downward trend, which accentuated during the Modi rule. The blame now can partly be on the Covid-related hits the economy took.
No government can spoon-feed its people or give employment to everyone. But it can oversee things in a way justice is done to one and all. This, though, is a gargantuan task every leadership is not necessarily capable of or has the will to do so. Salaries at lower levels are stagnant without noticeable increase in this country for several years now, while those in the white collar segments, through pressure and collective bargaining manage to get more than their due. Pension for government staff reaches up to a lakh or more while in India’s metropolises like Mumbai or Kolkata, 80 percent of the people live a hand-to-mouth existence. The scenario is worse in the rural sector. The splurge in super markets or hi-fly eateries is done by just about 10 per cent of the population. This is shown as an example of shining India.

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