Well, India indeed happens to be a fascinating nation – the more one sees it, more one gets mesmerized by its sheer diversity. And many of us, Indians who see India closely from within India wonder on the true identity this country should have in the global landscape. 

For a long time, India took the center stage in something called ‘Non-aligned Movement’ (NAM) with many more 3rd world countries from Asia and Africa. I am not sure what has happened to NAM, because I haven’t seen NAM in global media for quite some time, and the word ‘alignment’ also needed redefinition after the collapse of erstwhile Soviet Russia. Those were the days of ‘Nehruvian Socialism’, ‘Hindu-growth rates’ and falsified idealism. 

In mid-70s, there was ‘Garibi hatao’ (Abolish Poverty), and in 2004 it was ‘Aam Admi’ (the common man) campaign that Congress, the party behind present ruling coalition government had during election times. The result of the former, if can be concluded after almost three decades, is for any to see when 70% of Indians live below $2 a day and more than 30% below a dollar a day.  

And incredible India has again shown incredible results with ‘Aam Admi’ government, as India continues shining in global billionaires list published by Forbes recently.  

Japan, with its size of nominal economy more than five times of Indian economy, and population of less than 1/8th has 24 billionaires (combined net wealth $64 billion) whereas India has 36 billionaires (combined net wealth of $191 billion).

 

Let’s look at what Forbes list of billionaires means for India thro’ some simple measures and ratios:

 

Billionaires wealth in India as a % of GDP = 25% (excluding L N Mittal, this would still be closed to 22-23%); and probably the highest in the world.

 

Billionaires wealth in the world as a % of global GDP = 6-7%

 

Billionaires wealth in Japan as a % of Japan’s GDP nd highest populous country with less than 2% of world’s land. Let Government privatize its PSUs, nothing wrong in that; but don’t force – I repeat don’t force to sell someone land that too at a dictated price. 

Our ‘Aam Admi’ government has produced a few more billionaires in our real estate firms at the cost of millions of farmers. Farming land can be taken for industrialization just like a building owner collects rents for his buildings. And there’s been a report of a successful model like this working near Pune where land-owners become leasers and thereby partners than are forced to sell-out their lands. 

What’s more concerning is the fact that politicians, policy-makers, mass-media all needing money again continues to ignore these glaring facts of imbalances, and plays the beats that our rich loves to hear. Rapid growth anywhere leads to imbalances (Gini-coefficient, a measure of equitable growth, is more in socialist China than in Capitalist US, showing more inequality in China). Acknowledging the fact, China lately has embarked into massive equitable-program to sustain social harmony. And the world takes China seriously because it so far did what it promised; unlike Indian Government (where growth is again more external-driven and despite our policies). 

The danger that India has is its vast majority of undernourished, underfed, undereducated, people can very well be forgotten. We know the size of any market with Europe and the US, where 300 million people with some buying power means huge markets. Marketers, with policy-makers aids would address these 300 million Indians than care about another 800 million Indians. And from these 300 million Indians itself, one can make enough money for enough years so that the urge to expand the market in a country like India may not be there. It’s the same ‘low hanging fruit’ concept that market forces have traditionally shown, and expected to show.  

Indian rich and middle-class comprises that low-hanging fruits; whereas rural India, tribal India, poor India lives truly in inaccessible India.

 

Incredible India already presents Manhattan to Somalia in its commercial capital Mumbai; one can only imagine what Incredible India would offer to its own two-classes of citizens when India indeed becomes a global superpower following same set of policies. 

One can sincerely be optimist that India won’t ban its 2nd class-citizens to live in that ‘hypothetical’ Superpower India, because in the end someone needs to be fooled continuously so that they vote, keep faith in democracy, and help the rich grow even richer at the cost of the poverty of the vast majority.

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