India Awakens

India Awakens
June 26th, 2006  

Topic: India Awakens

India Awakens

Found this Interesting Edition of Time magazine ... Though Someone Might be Interested ......


World , ... India Awakens

Fueled by high-octane growth, the world's largest democracy is becoming a global power. Why the world will never be the same

Even if you have never gone to India--never wrapped your food in a piping-hot naan or had your eyeballs singed by a Bollywood spectacular--there is a good chance you encounter some piece of it every day of your life. It might be the place you call (although you don't know it) if your luggage is lost on a connecting flight, or the guys to whom your company has outsourced its data processing. Every night, young radiologists in Bangalore read CT scans e-mailed to them by emergency-room doctors in the U.S. Few modern Americans are surprised to find that their dentist or lawyer is of Indian origin, or are shocked to hear how vital Indians have been to California's high-tech industry. In ways big and small, Indians are changing the world.

That's possible because India--the second most populous nation in the world, and projected to be by 2015 the most populous--is itself being transformed. Writers like to attach catchy tags to nations, which is why you have read plenty about the rise of Asian tigers and the Chinese dragon. Now here comes the elephant. India's economy is growing more than 8% a year, and the country is modernizing so fast that old friends are bewildered by the changes that occurred between visits. The economic boom is taking place at a time when the U.S. and India are forging new ties. During the cold war, relations between New Delhi and Washington were frosty at best, as India cozied up to the Soviet Union and successive U.S. Administrations armed and supported India's regional rival, Pakistan. But in a breathtaking shift, the Bush Administration in 2004 declared India a strategic partner and proposed a bilateral deal (presently stalled in Congress) to share nuclear know-how. After decades when it hardly registered in the political or public consciousness, India is on the U.S. mental map.

Among policymakers in Washington, the new approach can be explained simply: India is the un-China. One Asian giant is run by a Communist Party that increasingly appeals to nationalism as a way of legitimating its power. The other is the largest democracy the world has ever seen. The U.S. will always have to deal with China, but it has learned that doing so is never easy: China bristles too much with old resentments at the hands of the West. India is no pushover either (try suggesting in New Delhi that outsiders might usefully broker a deal with Pakistan about Kashmir, the disputed territory over which the two countries have fought three wars), but democrats are easier to talk to than communist apparatchiks. Making friends with India is a good way for the U.S. to hedge its Asia bet.

Democracy aside, there is a second way in which India is the un-China--and it's not to India's credit. In most measures of modernization, China is way ahead. Last year per capita income in India was $3,300; in China it was $6,800. Prosperity and progress haven't touched many of the nearly 650,000 villages where more than two-thirds of India's population lives. Backbreaking, empty-stomach poverty, which China has been tackling successfully for decades, is still all too common in India. Education for women--the key driver of China's rise to become the workshop of the world--lags terribly in India. The nation has more people with HIV/AIDS than any other in the world, but until recently the Indian government was in a disgraceful state of denial about the epidemic. Transportation networks and electrical grids, which are crucial to industrial development and job creation, are so dilapidated that it will take many years to modernize them.

Yet the litany of India's comparative shortcomings omits a fundamental truth: China started first. China's key economic reforms took shape in the late 1970s, India's not until the early 1990s. But India is younger and freer than China. Many of its companies are already innovative world beaters. India is playing catch-up, for sure, but it has the skills, the people and the sort of hustle and dynamism that Americans respect, to do so. It deserves the new notice it has got in the U.S. We're all about to discover: this elephant can dance.

June 26th, 2006  
India is mind numbing. They have rich people now as well as a large middle class but they have a ton of poor people, it just seems so hopeless sometimes. I have faith in them to improve as many lives as possible, but it might just take the rest of the century to get over 90% of them in good shape. Their population might become 2 billion in 50 years, then it'll start declining. At least they have a rich culture, that usually gives people some piece of mind.
June 27th, 2006  
Italian Guy
I have this very strong confidence that India will outdo China in 50 years. Which is what I hope.
India Awakens
July 2nd, 2006  
India: government policies lead to terrible toll in rural suicides
By M. Kailash
28 April 2006

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Indebtedness, crop failure and the inability to pay back loans due to high rates of interest have led as many as 25,000 peasants in India to commit suicide since the 1990s, according to official figures. The systematic neglect of India’s multi-million peasantry, combined with the free market policies implemented by successive governments, are responsible.

On February 19, Alladi Rajkumar, a senior parliamentarian from the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, reported in India’s upper house of parliament that over 3,000 farmers had taken their lives during the past 22 months under the Congress-led state government. The deteriorating conditions of the peasantry were a significant factor in the defeat of the previous TDP administration.

Andhra Pradesh has become one of India’s leading areas for investment by global transnational corporations. Under both Congress and TDP governments, the state has been largely run under budgetary guidelines formulated by the US firm McKinsey, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. While the state has been flung open to the activities of transnationals, the rural poor have been ignored. Andhra Pradesh has recorded among the highest number of peasant suicides in the country. From 1997 to January 2006, over 9,000 peasants took their lives due to the failure of cotton crops. In 2000, 22 peasants in the Kundoor district sold their kidneys to settle their debts.

The Punjab has also recorded a high rate of farmer suicides. According to state government claims, there were 2,116 cases between 1998 and 2005. Non-government organisations argue that this figure is a gross underestimate. Inderjit Jayjee of the Movement Against State Repression told the Indian Tribune on April 2: “Andana and Lehra blocks of Moonak subdivision in Sangrur alone have reported 1,360 farmer suicides between 1998 and 2005. If all of Punjab’s 138 blocks show roughly the same level of suicides, the number would exceed 40,000 for the given period.”

The suicide toll is by no means confined to these two states. The western state of Maharashtra witnessed over 250 farmer suicides in Vidarbha district during the six-month period from June 2005 to January 2006. The agriculture minister in the national Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Sharad Pawar, told parliament last month that cases of suicide have also been reported from Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Orissa.

In an interview on November 15, 2005, with the Indian Express, Pawar stated: “The farming community has been ignored in this country and especially so over the last eight to 10 years. The total investment in the agriculture sector is going down... You will be surprised in the budgetary provision, not more than 2 percent has been allocated for agriculture, where more than 65 percent of the population works... In the last few years, the average budgetary provision from the Indian government for irrigation is less than 0.35 percent.” This neglect of irrigation, he said, forced 60 percent of agricultural areas to “depend totally on the erratic monsoon.”

During the campaign for the 2004 national elections, Congress leaders such as party president Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, who became prime minister, shed a few crocodile tears over farmer suicides. The Congress election manifesto promised to “liberate the country from poverty, hunger and unemployment”. In practice, however, the UPA government has proven that its attitude toward the peasants is no different from its predecessor. The allocation for the agriculture in its February 28 budget was just 1 percent.

The UPA’s main policy in rural areas is the cosmetic National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The government has pledged that one member of every rural household will be provided with 100 days of work per year, paid just 60 rupees ($US1.33) per day. Although the scheme was part of the UPA’s so-called Common Minimum Program (CMP) during the 2004 election, its inauguration was delayed until February 2006. Moreover, while the initial estimate for the scheme was 400 billion rupees ($US9 billion) a year, the allocation in the national budget delivered on February 28 was just 117 billion rupees.

Rising debts

In 1928, a Royal Commission report on the plight of farmers under British colonial rule in India stated that the peasant lives and dies in debt. The same basic rule holds for most Indian farmers today.

The indebtedness of Indian farmers rose markedly in the 1990s following the turn by successive Indian governments to market reforms and the opening up of the Indian economy to foreign investors. Prior to 1991, 25 percent of Indian peasants were indebted. Now, according to figures provided in January by P. Sainath, the rural affairs editor of the Hindu, 70 percent of farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh are in debt. In Punjab the figure is 65 percent, Karnataka 61 percent, and Maharashtra 60 percent.

Government actions have directly triggered the rise. According to a Reserve Bank of India report in 2003, World Bank dictates resulted in a steady decline of rural credit to small and middle peasants from government banks and cooperative societies. Lending declined from 15.9 percent in June 1990 to 9.8 percent in March 2003. This shift in government policy compelled small and middle farmers to turn to private moneylenders for loans—at exorbitant interest rates of 40 percent or more per annum—to purchase seeds, fertiliser and other agricultural inputs.

“The banks have given no loans in the past seven years,” Malla Reddy, the general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Ryuthu Sangham (APRS), explained. “So many farmers are forced to depend on sources like these for credit. The same man advises them on what to buy and then sets the rates for the purchase.” More and more farmers have failed to earn enough to pay back their loans and so have fallen deeper and deeper into debt.

Across India, over 43.4 million Indian peasant families are deeply indebted. Small and medium peasants are the worst affected. The number of rural landless families increased to 35 percent between 1987 and 1998 and soared to 45 percent between 1999 and 2000. Between 2003 and 2005, the figure jumped dramatically to 55 percent.

At the same time, farmers have faced declining incomes. According to a Ministry of Agriculture report, the income for West Bengal paddy farmers has fallen by 28 percent since 1996-97. During the same period, the income of sugar cane growers in Uttar Pradesh had dropped 32 percent, while in Maharashtra, cane growers have lost 40 percent.

A steady decline in infrastructure investment and cuts to state subsidies, together with droughts, floods and insect infestations have contributed to the growth of rural social misery.

According to New Delhi-based agriculture economist Rahul Sharma, the cost of rural production has gone up by 300 percent since the 1990s, in large part due to government policies. In Andra Pradesh, the power tariff was increased five times between 1998 and 2003. As governments have withdrawn support for rural farmers, prices for farming equipment have skyrocketed.

Due to deregulation, the quality of seeds has declined. In the past, the Indian government regulated that the minimum germination rate for seeds had to be at least 85 percent. Following corporate pressure, the minimum rate was reduced to 60 percent.

Indian peasants have faced greater global competition due to the deregulation of agricultural markets. In 1999, the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led Indian federal government signed a pact with the United States to grant US producers import permission for 1,429 agricultural products that were previously prevented from entering the local market.

The UPA government of Prime Minister Singh is continuing the free market restructuring of the economy. During US President George Bush’s visit to India in early March, Singh signed an agreement that further opens the agriculture sector to firms such as Monsanto.

These measures will further exacerbate the already intolerable conditions of Indian farmers.
the reality is really tough. there is nothing wrong with keeping optimistic attiude about future, but only really really hard work and very realistic attiude can help develping country become better and better under such competitive globalization. one of problems the indian government will face is the huge number of population which will keep increasing instead of decreasing. because of poor educational backround, majority of indians will not get the benefit from hig -tech economy , office work and film industrys. people have to keep clear minds that economic reform is not easy, because reform can help a country solve some of their problems, but reform also can bring some new problems to this country. a lot of pain, struggle and suffer will accompany economic reform which is really hard to predict what direction will go. it should be really cautious for government to operate economic reform.

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