Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spreading Wealth

Though IHT thought it fit to write a story on the theme of unequal success in India, it is really quite unnecessary. The contrast being drawn is between a telecom tycoon and a flower seller trying to peddle her wares at traffic signals. Sure, this mode of commerce is uniquely Indian but the contrast in wealth is most definitely not. If IHT were to likewise contrast the life of a pan-handler in inner city Mississippi with that of Rupert Murdoch the effect would be identical.

The same story can transfer across the globe - to any place of where free enterprise is allowed to thrive, corruption is either low grade and pervasive or big ticket and in high places and the survival of a democratic form of government depends on head count and not on the prosperity of individuals or the ability of leaders to deliver on their electoral promises. Singling out India to highlight inequitable distribution of wealth is gratuitous and like they say those living in glass houses should know better than to throw stones. By the way they go on, one would think mainstream Western media is the biggest advocate of Soviet-style socialism.

For a country independent for only sixty years and less than twenty years into its first open market system foray, India has not done so shabbily. This is not to say it does not have many significant issues that indeed appear insurmountable at times. Even so, if being pegged against countries that have enjoyed freedom and the pursuit of happiness for a much longer time not to mention one millionth of the challenges that India has to deal with, it is only fair that credit be is given where it is due.

True, wealth has not percolated as far and as deep as it should have and the process is irksomely slow. But for those of us who have spent our lives in India, the effects of change are undeniable within large swaths of the population. The country has a very long way to go bring the fruits of economic success to its poorest and most marginalized but the same can be said even for the most powerful country in the world.

I never really got the point of this type of reporting on India.

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