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“A new star rises” - Part Two

Posted By Rohin On 15th August, 2007 @ 6:47 pm In Current affairs, Culture, Economics, India | Comments Disabled

Sixty years of a free India have passed. Where is it now?

“We have hard work ahead”

Amartya Sen, a man who has watched India change over this time, divided an assessment of India’s progress since Independence into three categories. First, the practice of democracy, second the removal of social inequality and backwardness and lastly the achievement of economic progress and equity.

He wrote this on the 50th anniversary of Indian independence and essentially concluded whilst democracy was intact in India, it was failing on the second count. India’s economy, of which we hear so much today, was beginning to gather pace in 1997, but it is surprising that the monumental leaps and bounds the GDP and purchasing power have made occurred in only the last decade.

Sunny Hundal, another famous thinker, [1] said in response to [2] Part One that “religious minorities in India snort in derision when India is declared as a democracy.” Well, they may scoff all they like, but the democracy central to Gandhi and Nehru’s aspirations for India is standing tall.

Take the example of India’s Texas. Uttar Pradesh is the biggest, most powerful and most backward state (excepting Bihar). It has produced eight Indian prime ministers and has a population larger than Pakistan.

For the best part of twenty years, UP had been ruled by coalitions, most recently dominated by the BJP and the Samajwadi Party. Despite the majority of UP residents being woefully uneducated, the voters turned out in force earlier this year and swept one party, the once insignificant Bahujan Samaj, into power with an absolute majority.

The socialist-leaning party was created in 1984 to empower the dalits (untouchables) but campaigned on a platform of social justice which transcended caste and class. UPians, sick of politicians exploiting caste divides, replaced the old with the new.

“To build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation”

Indian democracy’s downfall has oft been predicted, at no point more assuredly than when Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in 1975. As dissenting voices rose, the government took steps to quash any opposition. Sanjay engineered a forced sterilisation programme and brutally cleared the slums surrounding Delhi’s Jama Masjid. Political dissenters were arrested and tortured.

Ultimately, Gandhi’s contravention against the Indian belief of freedom of the press was her downfall. By censoring newspapers she astonishingly misjudged her popularity and when elections were called in 1977, the Janata Party washed her out of power. Good came from the unfortunate episode, the electorate had spoken.

Democracy, viewed by much of the world as Western hegemony, is alive (but not necessarily well) in India. Parties have won votes and come into power. They have lost and stepped aside. The press is free to criticise.

However a liberal democracy alone does not a successful country make. Corruption continues to pervade every aspect of Indian society (the fairytale story in UP is somewhat spoiled by corruption allegations surrounding the leader of the BSP) and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“The ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity”

Some figures (CIA).

India

China

Population growth rate

1.6%

0.6%

Median age

24.8

33.2

Life expectancy

68.6

72.9

GDP growth rate

9.2%

10.7%

GDP per capita

$3800

$7,700

Literacy

61%

(male 73.4% female 47.8%)

90.9%

(male 95% female 86.5%)

The statistic that leaps from that table is China’s literacy rate. The two Asian powerhouses have a healthy economic rivalry, but China’s overall education rate leaves India’s in the dust. The number of university graduates in India conversely dwarves the number in China, but inequality abounds. Kerala’s life expectancy and literacy surpass China’s, Bihar’s rank lower than Bangladesh.

Today Manmohan Singh said his country will not be truly free until poverty is eradicated. This will not happen for many years. He pledged to put an end to malnutrition by 2012. Whilst this too seems like fanciful thinking, for the first time in most Indian’s living memory, there is a genuine belief good things will happen.

China is not a democracy. But it has succeeded in spreading the wealth to a greater extent than India. Indian commentators may seize upon the fact that China’s growth has created millions of disenfranchised migrant workers and peasants, but poverty (which was on a similar scale to India in the first half of the last century) has been combated far more effectively. Why?

China is a global heavyweight in exporting manufactured goods. Whilst India exports IT and scientific expertise, much of China’s overseas business relies on ‘unskilled’ labour. Unskilled, but not unschooled. Chinese industry employs tens of millions - literate, schooled workers but not university graduates.

India’s higher education establishments have gained deserved worldwide accolade, but studying at IIT or IIM is a dream achieved by a tiny minority in India. Emphasis needs to be placed upon improving India’s schools. If one examines the syllabus at a typical secondary school in rural India, it is truly shocking to see how far ahead Indian schoolchildren are than their Western peers. Or rather, it’s depressing to see how Britain’s schools have dumbed down.

Yet these schools are under-funded and in a state of disrepair. Without a basic level of education, a wider interaction with India’s economic success story will not be possible. The ‘trickle-down’ effect will take too long and much of India’s poor will never receive so much as a drop without a concerted effort to equalise the wealth.

It has been demonstrated that China can enjoy the same - if not more - success without the joys of democracy, so should its perseverance in India continue to be a thing of pride? Democracy, at a basic level, acts as a safety check. Leaders have to act decisively in times of crisis, or risk falling from grace. Returning to Amartya Sen, he achieved fame many years ago by reasoning that famines were a political product, not an agricultural one.

India, previously ravaged by famines, has not suffered one since Independence. Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward is regarded as a massive economic blunder, but it’s also one that killed over 20 million Chinese by causing the Great Chinese Famine. Amartya Sen credits democracy for this not being repeated in India.

The Indian entrepreneurial spirit has captured the imagination of the financial media around the world. Lakshmi Mittal is now the fifth richest man in the world and he is one of the faces responsible for Indian business being viewed in a new light.

The West had just grown accustomed to India becoming the world’s back office, but now Indian businesses have developed a bona fide reputation as predatory. Mittal’s acquisition of Arcelor and the biggest Indian takeover of a foreign company, Tata’s buyout of Corus, have worried complacent Western CEOs.

The Reliance Group, divided by fighting brothers Mukesh and Anil, looks set to unleash supermarkets and more mobile phones on Indian consumers itching to spend.

I am conscious that as an Indian-born NRI it is easy to don rose-tinted glasses and turn a blind eye to the widespread suffering ever-present in India. Concordantly, urban Indians can romanticise the lives of their rural compatriots, conjuring a pleasant country life and oblivious to the fact many of their forebears fled those very conditions for the city.

Atanu Dey and Reuben Abraham, Mumbai economists, suggest that the [3] best way ahead for the hundreds of thousands of villages and the handful of teeming, unplanned urban sprawls which live in coexistence now is to reach a compromise. India must create new urban centres to relieve the pressure still exacted upon the major cities by unchecked and overwhelming migration.

Along with education, perhaps India’s two greatest challenges are cementing the equal position of women in society and providing adequate healthcare to the masses.

I follow India’s medical breakthroughs and shortcomings with interest. It is a familiar story, of world-beating advances and horrific inadequacy. It may surprise some that I am realistically considering pursuing a career in an Indian hospital, but the factor holding me back is an uncertainty that I could work knowing that, unless I work in a decrepit public hospital, I will only be treating the rich, be they Indian or visiting health tourists.

Global centres of excellence are built with government assistance, on the agreement they will run a ‘poor ward’ or two. News agencies like NDTV have revealed these wards are routinely empty, treating government ministers’ families or filled with foreign, paying, visitors. India will soon have [4] more HIV sufferers than any other country. Little is being done to prevent this.

“Fullness of life to every man and woman”

Much is made of the ascendancy of women. The new President is Pratibha Patil. She advocated sterilising those with genetic disease. However, she did found a bank to empower women in the 1970s. A good role model for Indian girls. Well, she stole millions not only from her empowered female customers, but also a sugar factory and a charitable trust. Some role model.

In [5] yesterday’s Guardian, Sagarike Ghose, presenter on CNN’s Indian counterpart, worries the Indian women’s movement has lost its way. Perceived early successes have led to a backlash against ‘feminist types’. Young women see individual freedom (to smoke, wear short skirts, get laid) as more important than a collective freedom to express themselves as half the country’s population.

Of course, whilst practices like [6] female foeticide, acid attacks and honour killings continue, women may make up less than 50% of the population.

Ghose states that as Indian feminism failed to have a clear goal, young Indian girls have adopted a beautiful and vapid role model to aspire to. She makes a great point that certainly rings true to me, that of the pseudo-traditionalist:

The heroines of “new India” films were presented not as individuals attempting to create their own lives in a new economy, as millions of women across India were doing. Instead, the films showed young brides following religious ritual down to the last detail - viewing the moon through a sieve, praying before their in-laws’ photographs, and spending their girlhoods working towards getting a husband.

When I met students at a prestigious women’s college at Delhi University last month, the majority told me that they wanted to get married to a rich man and have week-long weddings, with all the rituals, because that was part of “Indian tradition”. They didn’t want to be the “feminist type”.

This notion is, no doubt, fuelled by another Indian behemoth, the TV industry. Few realise that television revenues this year will be around £3 billion, double that of Bollywood. I’ve watched the soaps that grip India - it’s an experience I would not wish upon my worst enemy - and every female character is truly depressing.

Masterminding the televisual revolution sweeping India are people like former rice salesman Subhash Chandra, chair of Zee TV. Television sets are becoming more affordable and more ubiquitous. Seasoned industrialist Ratan Tata wants to go even further with his plans to unveil an ultra-cheap car for the masses. The carbon footprint of millions more with a shiny new car will be a crater.

“We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us”

A tumultuous sixty years promises much ahead. India is developing into a great nation, albeit one wracked with problems. As it teeters on the brink of superpowerdom, it is far from the India Gandhi had envisioned. But on this anniversary a genuine hope and optimism drift above a fascinating process of growth. India may be 60 years of age, but looking at the faces that will shape its next 60, it is young.

Picture credits, from top:

Tricolour, [7] artsander
Paperboy, [8] Calamur
KK Menon, [9] gaurang
India economics, [10] TIME.com
Tata truck, [11] Calamur
Demure, [12] Letha Jose


Comments Disabled To "“A new star rises” - Part Two"

#1 Comment By justforfun On 15th August, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

Now this IS an article to get our teeth into. To sum up a continent in one sweep - a good attempt.

Depressing to hear your take on the charitable provison of medicine. I was under the impression that the fees earned by treating foreign patients were being used to treat the poor. But perhaps that is the case in only a few hospitals. If you do decide to go back, you will not be alone. I have three cousins who studied medicine in the US and then after about 10 years practice in the US went back. They have never regretted it. It has aged them though! plus they were never materially minded, so the prospect of Indian infrastucture never put them off.

On the feminism side - there is alot to look at in the field of alcohol prohibition and politics. Its becoming a potent force in politics.

Justforfun

#2 Pingback By University Update - West 8 - “A new star rises” - Part Two On 15th August, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

[…] the Webmaster Link to Article west 8 “A new star rises” - Part Two » Posted at Pickled Politics on Wednesday, […]

#3 Comment By Rohin On 15th August, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

Infrastructure I can deal with. But I had enough difficulty with the two tier system in America - India ramps the inequality up ten notches. I wouldn’t say I’m materially-minded, but no I could not devote my life to working in a public hospital simply because I am into a field of medicine that’s very tech-heavy.

#4 Comment By Don On 15th August, 2007 @ 8:45 pm

That was excellent, best article here in a long while. Stunning photographs.

#5 Comment By Vikrant Singh On 15th August, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

“religious minorities in India snort in derision when India is declared as a democracy.

Which ones Sunny? The Parsis, the buddhists, the Jains? huh? or the Khallis ?

Nice follow up on the last article, even though i felt that you overplayed on numbers a traditional Indian nationalist affliction :P.

#6 Comment By sid On 15th August, 2007 @ 10:58 pm

Like Nehru, I’m dead against the lower orders being allowed make eye contact with the upper classes.

#7 Pingback By ‘Fullness of life to every man and woman’ at Blogbharti On 16th August, 2007 @ 8:02 am

[…] Rohin looks at India at 60- but this is a comprehensive appraisal, covering areas from economy, democracy to women. Definitely readable: Amartya Sen, a man who has watched India change over this time, divided an assessment of India’s progress since Independence into three categories. First, the practice of democracy, second the removal of social inequality and backwardness and lastly the achievement of economic progress and equity. […]

#8 Comment By The Common Humanist On 16th August, 2007 @ 8:03 am

Now that is a great piece. LOve the photos too.

With regards to developing countries, the key to success or at least a good start is to get population growth down to manageable levels and to ensure girls receive education to age 14 or better. If the latter happens then the former tends to follow.

INfact, truth be told if aid goes to women in a society it tends to be better used. Much recent success has been achieved with micro loans to women to start businesses.

Much less likely to be spent on a AK47 you see.

#9 Comment By Natty On 16th August, 2007 @ 9:04 am

“Sunny Hundal, another famous thinker, said in response to Part One that “religious minorities in India snort in derision when India is declared as a democracy.” Well, they may scoff all they like, but the democracy central to Gandhi and Nehru’s aspirations for India is standing tall.”

If democracy is unable to advance the quality of peoples lives then people will scoff at democracy or any form for government that is unable to advance the quality of their lives.

It may not have been your intention but it appears that the scoffing is lightly dismissed. Yes India has been a democracy and made advances but equally many problems remain. Highlight the successes by all means but no-one should dismiss lightly the many issues facing India.

Nehru himself questioned India’s ability to look after it’s minorities and said that India’s democracy would stand or fail by this test. So if they scoff is it the success implied.

What good is democracy to Palestinains, Chechens, Kashmiris (India and Pakistan), Sikhs (India), Tamils (Sri Lanka) etc. when it won’t allow them self determination?

Democracy is great when one is successful and able to fulfill ones aspirations but democracy also denys other people their basic rights and freedoms, their self-determination and their right to security and advancement. Why because democracy is also used to control nations, people and resources. It is prone to lobbying, bribery etc. to influence elected politicians to go against the will of the people. We see this everyday in democracies.

Hindu Extremism is a growing problem to the stability of India and is largely going un-noticed.
[13] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6946430.stm

Although India can be proud of it’s achievements much work remains to pull minorities and low castes out of the poverty in which they live.
[14] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6940966.stm

In reality with so many poor and illiterate people, do they really know who they are voting for in a democracy and does the democracy serve them? That is the question that remains answered.

If democracy is a key to India then surely India itself should allow states to cecede from India as many wish to do but are forced to stay part of India.

#10 Comment By Storm from the East On 16th August, 2007 @ 9:33 am

“democracy is a key to India then surely India itself should allow states to cecede from India as many wish to do but are forced to stay part of India.”
Like Manipur forcibly incorporated into the Indian Union
Manipur’s Bloody Conflict
On August 15th this year, India will celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence but in the remote state of Manipur, a boycott will be in place.

Ironically, it is the Indians themselves whom many in this former kingdom see as the colonizers.
listen again / podcast
[15] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/6930091.stm

#11 Comment By The Common Humanist On 16th August, 2007 @ 9:48 am

Natty,
The point about democracy - a universal franchise, open and transparent government, civil cosiety and the rule of law - is that these are by far the best conditions for humans to progress. No, its not perfect but its light years ahead of any other form of government.

Would you prefer India had a Chinese or Iranian style of Govt?

#12 Comment By The Common Humanist On 16th August, 2007 @ 9:50 am

That should have read ‘civil society’.

Can you develop dyslexia in your thirties?

#13 Comment By Sofia On 16th August, 2007 @ 10:32 am

I do like this piece as it highlights areas for further discussion,such as the Nehru legacy (through his children) and also the rise of the BSP ( a party with many Muslim supporters) in UP. I think there is a certain mindset of many in UP due to it’s historical positioning pre partition.
Regarding education and womens’ rights, firstly although academic education in India is great, I find many people from the Indian “middle class” view education as some sort of one-up-manship. On countless occasions I have discussed this matter with Indians who have had both a western education and an Indian one, who look down on those without, and often have a very black and white perspective. Maybe this is due to studying of black and white subjects like IT..and not sociology, history or the arts which do not have the same kudos. For me, education is multifaceted, not just about bettering work prospects, although this is a logical assumption and necessity, but also to “liberate” the mind and to explore the other, whatever that may be…I don’t find this is happening…or maybe I just haven’t met any arts students…
Regarding women, again a reflection on society and collective culture and imagination. As long as Indian women perpetuate this myth of mother,wife, daughter as all sacrificing, they will not be able to allow themselves even in their thoughts to be anything but. Thank you for highlighting most bollywood trash and soap operas that do nothing to further the human rights of women or to view them in any way different to the existing stereotypes. And also for perpetuating the widespread opinion that light coloured women are somehow prettier than dark skinned women, even if the former looked like a dog’s behind. Do any Indian actresses actually have brown eyes…not according to the crap that is coming out of bollywood.

#14 Comment By Jayantilal On 16th August, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

As an Indian living overseas I think to sustain the progress made thus far the big issues that need to be tackled both in the short and long term are quality education, non-poilitical measurable programmes for the relief of poverty, carefully designed infrastructure and street scene improvements in villages and small towns, the older politicians making way for younger and more energetic decision makers who are bound to have fluent communication skills in both English and Hindi.

Given that a large number of non resident Indians have honed their skills overseas with proven abilities and resources need to be encouraged to partake in specific national/local programmes in a positive way.

#15 Comment By soultrain On 16th August, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

Just to add to the other comments, todays and yesterdays article have been very informative reads. Good stuff.

#16 Comment By Ravi Naik On 16th August, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

Having lived in China, I have been following very closely both countries. It is difficult not to be impressed by Chinese cities and their infrastructure… you would think that you are in a developed western country. India, on the other hand, is a qualified mess, pollution everywhere, everything you would expect of a third-world country.

However, I am still confident that India will prevail over China in the long term. China’s progress is due to its government. India is what it is despite its own government. This can only mean that India’s development is slow, but sustainable.

#17 Comment By justforfun On 16th August, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

Ravi - well put - most progress is inspite of the the government.

What is China like once you are out of the cities - deep in the hinterland?

Sofia - As you say , the lack of the Liberal Arts in India will slowly become a problem as a nation cannot develope by technology alone.

Justforfun

#18 Comment By sonia On 16th August, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

yeah a huge sweep rohin ,well written, many good points.

i was wondering about the fact that China not being a democracy at all, and that because of the massive centralisation of state control - the government can do what it likes, no community consultation, no lip service to pay, which is why they can go and build an eco-town, get rid of everyone who was there, first, etc.

{i’m suprised more people who are convinced they know what’s best for society aren’t trying to emulate the Chinese government. cynical of me i know, im sure that’s what tony was secretly thinking}

#19 Comment By AsifB On 16th August, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

Rohin: I second and third all the compliments. Your article covers lots of issues in a very informative way.

Thanks, I enjoyed the read.

(ps; i hope my response to Kismet covered your query yesterday. I was simply saying there were Bengalis as well as non-Bengalis involved in murduring intellectuals, not just the ‘departing Pakistani troops.’ Of course, the vapid yet deeply politicised way in wich Bangladesh’s poltical parties tend to talk about the the 1971 Liberation War, with ever-multiplying accusations and counter accusations doesn’t help discussion of these matters.

I’m afraid that until Bangladesh gets some form of Truth Commission, the undoubted War crimes that were inflicted on the people of Bangladesh risk being a can of worms that divide us rather than a lesson to learn from.)

#20 Comment By Ravi Naik On 16th August, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

“What is China like once you are out of the cities - deep in the hinterland?”

These areas are mostly out of reach from foreigners, since they don’t present the image that China wants to show to the world. I also don’t take the literacy and poverty figures very seriously, as they are based on figures produced by the chinese government who controls the image of the country.
Interesting as well, is that people cannot move freely between the poor and richer parts of China. There is definitely not one China.

#21 Comment By Sofia On 16th August, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

i think the whole of the sub continent needs a truth and reconciliation committee..maybe something similar to south africa..although it may be too late?

#22 Comment By Vikrant On 16th August, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

Yeah yeah Natty. Whatever… Punjab has had its highest voter turnout in last state assembly elections.

SEE: [16] http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/3095/56/

Also Sikhs donot form an absolute majority in Punjab. 40% of Punjabis are Hindu.

#23 Comment By sonia On 16th August, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

i think ravi makes a very good point - there is no reason to trust those figures actually, and plus they’re probably not counting god knows how many people there are out there. they’re probably counting all the kids they send to LSE.

and they do a much better job at brainwashing their citizens than India manages..

#24 Comment By sonia On 16th August, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

can’t see what a truth and reconciliation committee would do in india really - they would simply be the people who would get paid bribes to!

#25 Comment By Sofia On 16th August, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

lol @ kids they send to lse…you mean the ones that learn all about international relations then go back and take up where daddy/mummy left off

#26 Comment By Sofia On 16th August, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

i wonder if they do indo-pak school exchanges?

#27 Comment By Jai On 16th August, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

Brilliant, brilliant article, Rohin. You’re a superb writer.

Love the photos, too.

#28 Comment By Natty On 16th August, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

Vikrant - Yeah Yeah whatever.

>Also Sikhs donot form an absolute majority in Punjab. >40% of Punjabis are Hindu.
So you are absolutely sure that all Hindus will also vote to stay in India?

Even accounting for 40% Hindu that leaves 60% who possibly want to leave. You don’t know till you hold a referrendum which is what democracy is all about which is what this thread is all about.

#29 Comment By Natty On 16th August, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

“Natty,
The point about democracy - a universal franchise, open and transparent government, civil cosiety and the rule of law - is that these are by far the best conditions for humans to progress. No, its not perfect but its light years ahead of any other form of government.”
Democracy is as perfect as the elected representatives are willing to represent the views of the majority of their electorate. If they represent personnal views or lobby views what good is democracy?

Don’t forget that Democracy brought the Nazi’s to power.

>Would you prefer India had a Chinese or Iranian style >of Govt?
Would you consider America a good style of democratic govt given the fact most people are disillusioned with their politicians?

Also democracies subjugates many people and enforce their will through distinctly undemocratic processes and force.

Isn’t it mainly democracies fighting over resources in the Artic and Antartic regions? Shouldn’t the rest of the world have a say? Is that democratic.

The UN set-up mainly by democracies is hardly democratic with veto power etc.

Powerful democracies rarely do anything to help democracies it doesn’t like.

So the system is far from perfect.

It’s biggest flaw is that elected representatives do not do the will of their constituents. Does Jack Straw represent the will of his electorate regarding Palestine? Nope.

Did Tony Blair represent the will of the people in calling for a halt to fighting in Lebanon, in going to war in Iraq, in charging top up fees? No

So what good was democracy there?

Democracies fall down is that it is mainly self-serving politicians who serve the system.

#30 Comment By Soso On 16th August, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

Sunny Hundal, another famous thinker,

You craven butt-kisser!

There’s so much to comment on, but I’ll limit myself to the quote by university women expressing their desire for a huge traditional wedding because it’s very telling.

That tendancy among women, at least educated women, is an undeniable sign of success.

Here in N. America we have a similar phenomenon known as the “bridezilla”

Bridezillas are highly educated, successful young women who compensate for their success by having over the top, lavish, fairytale weddings.

Their marriage ceremonies are loaded down with EVERY friggin’ marital prop one could possibly think of.

I was at one just a few weeks ago…a young financial analyst. The train on her wedding dress was damn near as long as Lady Di’s.

India is endlessly fascinating. And you know, as a westerner the mental image I have of the country has undergone an enormous transformation over the past 15 years.

It was once one of poverty, hunger, slums and Mother Teresa, but now when I think of India images of computers and high-tech geeks are what comes to mind.

There’s still lots of poverty and inequality for sure, but things are really looking up nonetheless, aren’t they?

Congratulations to all Indian nationals on your 60th!

#31 Comment By douglas clark On 16th August, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

I noticed that CiF has linked to this article in their ‘Best on the Web’ sidebar. The article deserves it too.

#32 Comment By Sofia On 16th August, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

Soso, your previous image of india is about as two dimensional as your current image of india…no offence but if india is so fascinating, why not try getting past “mental” images based on stereotyping…

#33 Comment By Ravi Naik On 16th August, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

“no offence but if india is so fascinating, why not try getting past “mental” images based on stereotyping……”

I get his point. There has been a shift in western perception of India. And Mother Teresa does epitomise a spirit that existed in India not long ago.

#34 Comment By Adnan On 16th August, 2007 @ 11:39 pm

Please could you give could somebody provide references to the syllabus in a “typical rural Indian secondary school” - that was an interesting comment about how superior the education is compared to the UK.

#35 Comment By Sunny On 17th August, 2007 @ 12:57 am

I was just going to add to this article the Shiv Sena’s attack on Outlook magazine.

A good article, as everyone has said, despite that cheeky dig! lol…

I think here are a list of priorities for India:

1) More equality and empowerment for women.

2) Dealing with overcrowding in cities by building new ones.

3) Education, education, education.

4) Dealing with the Hindu nationalists

In yesterday’s Guardian, Sagarike Ghose, presenter on CNN’s Indian counterpart, worries the Indian women’s movement has lost its way. Perceived early successes have led to a backlash against ‘feminist types’. Young women see individual freedom (to smoke, wear short skirts, get laid) as more important than a collective freedom to express themselves as half the country’s population.

I think this is sort of traditional feminist thinking that I’m not entirely comfortable with.

Why shouldn’t women be also enjoying themselves how they wish? Should they constantly be on the streets agitating for something? There’s no doubt women need more legal and economic power there, but the freedom to live their life how they want is paramount too.

#36 Comment By Matt On 17th August, 2007 @ 1:51 am

>it is surprising that the monumental leaps and bounds the GDP and purchasing power have made occurred in only the last decade.

No it isn’t - it’s a no-brainer.

India opened up to (relatively) free market economic policy in the early 1990s, and the benefits took a few years to work through.

I’m stating it baldly - but that is the history.

If they had done it 25 or 30 years ago, the benefits would have come through sooner.

#37 Comment By Rohin On 17th August, 2007 @ 4:13 am

Not saying it’s astonishing it happened a few years after Licence Raj was taken apart, but astonishing as to how fast it happened.

Sunny I’m with you 100% when it comes to saying that women shouldn’t have to be active protestors and should be free to live how they want. I agree individual freedoms are important. But I’m saying, and I think the point Ghose meant too, is that women may be bucking traditional trends on dress or drinking, but they are very happy to accept subordinate roles in society. They are pushing some minor boundaries whilst ignoring the really big ones.

Soso, think I was serious about Sunny’s thinking? Sometimes you can hear the gears creaking into action!

OK, no more Sunny-bashing. For now.

#38 Comment By Sunny On 17th August, 2007 @ 4:35 am

lol, bastid.

But I’m saying, and I think the point Ghose meant too, is that women may be bucking traditional trends on dress or drinking, but they are very happy to accept subordinate roles in society.

On the contrary I think their actions are perfectly logical. They live in a society where men had way much more personal freedom then they did, with all their actions regulated.
That is not to say some of them are not trying to break through the glass ceiling either. But for women to be able to have fun without being chastised for it has also been a battle (that they are now winning). I think Ghose is being too traditionalist.

#39 Comment By Vikrant On 17th August, 2007 @ 6:23 am

4) Dealing with the Hindu nationalists

Well India need to deal with forces of intolerance which include scum that bashed up Taslima the other guy or the SGPC idiots who went rioting in Punjab in May.

#40 Comment By Vikrant On 17th August, 2007 @ 6:25 am

Sagarika Ghose? U mean that bimbo who used to be on NDTV?

#41 Comment By KSingh On 17th August, 2007 @ 7:33 am

Another priority is to include human rights in the national framework. A person in UP was shown being shot dead on Indian TV by the police while he had is hands up.
Thousands of people have been killed in ‘false encounters’ or have gone missing from all community groups in India Amnesty and HRW state. In particular Kashmir, Punjab and the North East states have suffered the most.

Giving justice to the victims of the 1984 and 2003 pograms is another priority.

#42 Comment By Rohin On 17th August, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

No idea Vik, I can’t remember her from NDTV and I don’t get CNN IBN. I hadn’t heard of her till I read the piece.

#43 Comment By Soso On 17th August, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

Soso, your previous image of india is about as two dimensional as your current image of india…no offence but if india is so fascinating, why not try getting past “mental” images based on stereotyping…

Because I’m simply not as enlightened, as broadminded, as sophisticated and as urbain as you, Sophia. :o)

Have you never encountered a bridezilla?

And since when aren’t they a stereotype?

At the wedding I attended SHE practically marched HIM down the aisle.

#44 Comment By Peter On 17th August, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

India is well behind China in all aspects. We should make our self strong,and achieve the independent economy status. But it shouldn’t be possible until we relay only on service industry.
[17] Churchill Recovery Insurance

#45 Comment By Sukhi On 17th August, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

Even accounting for 40% Hindu that leaves 60% who possibly want to leave. You don’t know till you hold a referrendum which is what democracy is all about which is what this thread is all about.

The Dal Khalsa got about 2% of the vote in the last Punjab elections. That means 98% of the Punjab does not want anything to do with separatist politics in any form whatsoever. For overseas religious nationalists preaching secession from the comforts of their comfortable, protected, secure homes in the West, this grates intensely. But these are the facts that make their hypocrisy and redundancy even more plain.

#46 Comment By Sukhi On 17th August, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

Well India need to deal with forces of intolerance which include scum that bashed up Taslima the other guy or the SGPC idiots who went rioting in Punjab in May

Why the thin skin? Does Hindu extremism need to be addressed or not? Given that the levers of the state have been used in recent history to carry out pogroms of minority groups, in magnitude, effect, impunity and importance the strains of Hindu nationalism and intolerance are of the highest concern for everyone.

#47 Comment By Sukhi On 17th August, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

By the way, why no articles reflecting on Pakistan’s 60 years?

#48 Comment By Rohin On 17th August, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

Good point Sukhi in #45: it is invariably those (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim) who live in the West that bluster and moan about their particular brand of extremism more than those in India. Especially Sikhs - whilst Hindu and Muslim extremism is not hard to find in India, I rarely ever hear Sikh fundamentalism/separatism from those IN India, they’re usually in the UK or Canada.

As for 47 Sukhi - Bahrain also became independent on the 15th of August, so?

#49 Comment By Sukhi On 17th August, 2007 @ 6:11 pm

Well Rohin, fundamentalism is as common amongst British/American/Canadian Hindus as amongst any other diaspora community. Inviting Narendra Modi to Wembley then treating him as a conquering hero in the salons of Wembley and Leicester a few months after he oversaw the Gujarat genocide is just one example of this. Funding and support for various extremist organisations, the destruction of Babri Masjid, and other incidents are manifold. It’s incredible that you are not aware of this.

Regarding Pakistan; well, Pakistan and India have an intertwined history I just thought it would have been interesting to read reflections on that nation’s 60 years by a Pakistani along the lines of what you have done. As much as a comparative study as anything else.

#50 Comment By Rohin On 17th August, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

Writing about Pakistan would involve a lot of guesswork for me. Nowadays I don’t think any article about India or Pakistan needs to mention the other. But yes, the last 60 years have been intertwined.

I never meant to imply that there are no fundas amongst British Hindus - believe me I know a bunch - but with Muslims and Hindus there are nuts here and in India. The Sikh nuts seem to live on only OUTSIDE India (give or take a few). I hope I’ve made it clearer.

#51 Comment By KSingh On 17th August, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

This is the BBC coverage of the fake encounter in Uttar Pradesh. Many in India actually try and defend this sort of thing.

[18] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6949194.stm

#52 Comment By Rumbold On 17th August, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

This is not the right thread for it, but rest in peace Lord Deedes. People might not have agreed with everything he said, but he always offered a view shaped by nearly a century of experience, and approached most news stories as nothing more than flashes in the pan. He was still the best journalist at the Daily Telegraph at the age of 94.

#53 Comment By KSingh On 18th August, 2007 @ 8:26 am

An interesting development in the Punjab Assembly elections was the number of hardline BJP/RSS candidates that won in the Doaba area (21 MLAs in Jalandar and Hoshiarpur) this is area has the most number of Punjabis settled abroad. Have Hindu fundamentalists taken over where the Sikhs have left to go abroad?

#54 Comment By sunray On 18th August, 2007 @ 11:02 am

Both your articles were really good and the pictures that went with them conveyed another 1000 words. People who criticise India FORGETS that only 60 years have elapsed since being Independent. Out of those, 30 years have been just settling in period for the NEW India. In the last 30 years India has moved mountains and achievements are monumental.
The achievement in the last 60 years far out weighs any criticism thrown at it.
In 60 years even our own families and relatives do not change to the expectations of the world, then why ask this of the nation!

#55 Trackback By Popular Science On 25th August, 2007 @ 12:19 am

Popular Science…

I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting…


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1316

URLs in this post:
[1] said: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1315#comment-76330
[2] Part One: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1315
[3] best way ahead: http://nationalinterest.in/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/pragati-issue5-august2007-communityed.pdf
[4] more HIV sufferers: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/166
[5] yesterday’s Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/india/story/0,,2148302,00.html
[6] female foeticide: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/235
[7] artsander: http://flickr.com/photos/artstander/
[8] Calamur: http://flickr.com/photos/gargi/
[9] gaurang: http://flickr.com/photos/gaurang/
[10] TIME.com: http://www.time.com
[11] Calamur: http://flickr.com/photos/gargi/
[12] Letha Jose: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lethajose/
[13] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6946430.stm: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6946430.stm
[14] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6940966.stm: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6940966.stm
[15] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/6930091.stm: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/6930091.stm
[16] http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/3095/56/: http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/3095/56/
[17] Churchill Recovery Insurance: http://www.breakdown-cover.net/churchill.htm
[18] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6949194.stm: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6949194.stm