Saturday, February 03, 2007

India: the next great power?

300 million Indians live on less than US$1 a day, compared to only 85 million in China, which has a bigger population. Forty-five per cent of Indian children under the age of five are malnourished. Less than a third of India's homes have a toilet. Less than half of its 500,000 villages are connected to the electricity grid. Despite the explosion of consumerism and capitalism in India's booming cities, more than half of all Indians still live in rural areas. Farmers are committing suicide because they can't compete in a globalised market. BBC

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India, as this article I'm quoting from the BBC points out,"has an increasingly consumer-oriented middle-class twice the size of the population of Germany?". Is that the future. Are social relations irrelevant?

Let me tell you an American in India story to give you some perspective. An American I heard speak, was telling of a spiritual trip he made with a group of young American students to India to visit ashrams. Among the young people was a young woman, a university student, who happened to be a dark complected, African-American. She was thrilled and excited to be going to India. When she got there, however she received a terrible shock, despite being an affluent American, because of her dark skin, she was refused entry into many holy places and also refused service in many restaurants. This story underlines the fact that India's caste system is in fact an
age-old, color based, apartheid. Think Alabama, 1955.

We saw what happened in Birmingham Alabama. The irony of the Indian "civil rights" struggle is that India's masses don't have to fight for the right to vote as southern blacks did: India's "blacks" vote massively and the "new middle class" is well aware of it. Another ironic comparison with Alabama is that the resistance techniques that Dr. Martin Luther King taught the American civil rights activists were lifted directly from Mahatma Ghandi's play book. Indians are past masters of the general strike, slowdowns, sit-ins, road blocks and demonstrations. They are sophisticated and experienced politically, in short

The English speaking, computer savvy "new" middle class detests and fears these people much as Bull Conner doted on his "nigras". What I think we'll see before too long is some attempt at a coup d' etat, on the Chilean model, some General Chandra Pinochet. The US government will probably be "understanding". All hell will then break loose.

I have great faith in India's people... all of its people and if a small minority of them, although they number "twice the population of Germany" tries to leave the majority behind, there will be much blood and strife, unless, of course, the new middle class chooses to finally leave India, just as the English did. DS


Will India make the breakthrough? - BBC News

Abstract: How do you summarise a country which is home to one in six members of the human race, which contains a third of the world's poorest people and yet has an increasingly consumer-oriented middle-class twice the size of the population of Germany? And which - according to predictions by the CIA and investment bankers Goldman Sachs - could, along with China, come to dominate the global economy in the next few decades?(...) The question now, as one long-time observer puts it, is whether India will emerge as a major power, or whether it will remain "forever arriving". Despite endemic problems of poverty and disease, major changes have already occurred. Unshackled by the economic liberalisation of the early 1990s, India is already poised to overtake Japan as the world's third largest economy. It is also strutting its stuff on the world stage. Its nuclear status has now been formally acknowledged by the US. And, when the UN is finally reformed, it's likely to land a permanent seat on the Security Council. All this adds up, to use the slick advertising slogan coined a couple of years ago by the then governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a new India: India Shining. But hang on. Wasn't that slogan exposed as an empty boast, when - despite presiding over a period of unprecedented economic growth - the BJP was decisively rejected by India's have-nots at the last general elections? Amidst all the buzz about the vibrant, new India getting ready for take-off, is the old India still capable of dragging it back, aborting the countdown? Consider a few statistics: 300 million Indians live on less than US$1 a day, compared to only 85 million in China, which has a bigger population. Forty-five per cent of Indian children under the age of five are malnourished. Less than a third of India's homes have a toilet. Less than half of its 500,000 villages are connected to the electricity grid. Despite the explosion of consumerism and capitalism in India's booming cities, more than half of all Indians still live in rural areas. Farmers are committing suicide because they can't compete in a globalised market. "India doesn't live in its villages," says author and activist Arundhati Roy. "It dies." Having shed its old commitment to state-directed socialism, critics argue that the Indian state is failing to provide the most basic necessities to its poorest citizens: health care, education, drinking water. As the gap between rich and poor widens, Naxalite militants have spread their doctrine of Maoist revolution, now making their presence felt in more than a quarter of the country. Maoism, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India.
READ IT ALL

5 comments:

marcyincny said...

From what I've read about the rate of depletion of their aquifers, the question may be moot in the not-to-distant future.
http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=8534

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Will India dominate the globe? Perhaps not, certainly the route to social stability is not via the failed Sth American models of lower-class marginalisation and supression. This is how the British ruled there and it failed too.
And though Manmohan is in; the left is always waiting in the wings and are not nearly as weak in India as the left are around the globe.
In fact the relationship is more like that of France, with a wide ranging left; from Leninist, Trotskyist commies to traditional socialists making up a large enough bloc to prevent middle class tyranny.
India itself is not alien to such rule, afterall the Mughals were not exactly the kind of people that would have gone to the ComIntern.
Marx's 'forces of history' are pushing humanity again; I think that before all these middle class dreams of a helot class to produce their property come about, either they will have to spill rivers of blood or else they will have to share.
I suspect they will share.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Great comment! Couldn't agree more.

RLaing said...

Hmmm... Share the wealth, or shed the blood. The path rather depends on just how much wealth there is. In the specific case of India, we see aquifers rapidly falling, glaciers rapidly shrinking, and rainfall down. I cannot believe that a billion humans, themselves mostly made of water, are going to calmly and peacefully share the resource when there is suddenly next to none of it available, simply because the alternative is violence, on whatever scale. It is a truism of biology that the biggest competitor any organism has, is simply other members of the same species. Because we're a highly social animal, we tend to forget that, only to be sharply reminded when conditions change.