Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Futile Attempt to Rationalize Inequity in the Modern World.

It breaks my heart to criticize the USA. My experience here has been that the average American is probably the most polite and caring person in the world – perhaps because I have not been to Canada – but I really don’t think Canada is a separate country. But this country, though extremely benevolent and kind at a personal level is the source of almost all the world’s problems.

Well, let me change what I said here. It isn’t this country that is guilty for all the world’s problems. It is the segment of society that this country represents: The rich and the resource hungry.

For the middle class in this country (which, according to Lou Dobbs, an Editorial Member of CNN’s news team, is being waged a war against by the administrative classes of this country) has a standard of living comparable to the richest of the rich in India.

In all economies with capitalist tendencies, the rich screw the poor. The lesser the resources a nation has, the poorer the poor of that Nation – and the more screwed they get by the rich. The US has a lot more resources than India – the poor are in a pretty good shape – financially. Physically, the American poor tend to be more rotund – for they can afford only Taco-Bell or McDonalds. The Indian rich eat at joints like the latter – and the poor often don’t eat at all. Wheras the poor in the US are covered under layers of fat, hundreds of thousands of Indians die of hunger every year.

And who is screwing the poor in India? Why can’t they afford to eat? Why the extreme poverty? Is the extreme poverty a consequence of under-regulated capitalist policy, rampant corruption and impotent family planning (note the oxymoron here?

Capitalism is said to empower the common people. But the current Indian capitalism seems to be partial to larger corporations (which are better equipped to deal with corruption by bribing their way through). It is corruption that is favoring the larger corporations, little else.

If there is even an iota of pro-poverty ideology in the (CPI)-Marxists, they must train their energies against corruption; not capitalism. A significantly lower level of corruption is probably the only thing that will uplift the poor: state largesse (socialism) will send the economy into a state of atrophy and utter-unproductivity.

Three Exciting Possibilities

Nobel Laureate Mohammed Younus, one of the few bright lights in Bangladesh has the right Idea. Micro-credit. Lend money to the poor – but at reasonable interest rates – not a foully high interest rates. Lend intelligently, and they will pay you back. They will become wealth generators. Capitalism will come to the rescue to the poorest of the poor in the world. And, yes, it will do so in a sustainable manner.

However, in India, micro-credit (one of Dr. Singh’s economic policies as of now) has only a few success stories. I believe the main reason for this, is corruption. Corruption is so rampant in India that failure rates are very high. Dr Singh’s government has passed the RTI Act, - an act that has proven to be quite a boon to fight against corruption. Though RTI success stories abound (Magsasay awardee Mr. Arjun Kejriwal deserves special mention here), the government is trying to clip its wings – under pressure from beauraucracy. It’s a “yes-prime-ministeresque” drama happening in New Delhi, the policy makers under pressure from the all powerful Beauraucracy

Media watch-dogs in India have started to emerge of late. Sting operations are conducted almost on a daily basis. Corruption – from Bollywood casting couches to high-level defense deals has been exposed. Before asking for a significant bribe, the corrupt official has to think twice. Is there a hidden camera somewhere?

Will these change India? They will. After all, India is a hugely successful democracy. The people don’t like corruption. They will boot the corrupt ones out. I remain optimistic.

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