Sunday, July 23, 2006

India's Middle Class - Truly worthy or living in misconception.

The great Indian middle class comprising of approximately 300-million population, has been featured in the 7th spot alongwith that of China, Brazil and Russia, in a list of "Top 50 People Who Matter Now", that is published in the July edition of the Fortune group's Business 2.0 magazine. The magazine justified it's ranking by quoting a Goldman Sachs' study which says that more than 800 million people in these countries --outnumbering the populations of US, Western Europe and Japan, will qualify as middle class in the next decade. Sounds good!!!

But the biggest question is "Can our middle class match the might of the top US and European corporations?". The answer is "Still a long way to go".

The idea of creating a critical group of people, who will drive the economy, started during the Rajiv Gandhi years( somewhere in 1991). The first consumer boom was created by handsome payouts to public sector and government employees. However the boom ran out of steam by 1997. A lot of industries were plagued by overcapacity. The manufacturing sector faced a demand crisis and slowdown due to lack of growth of rural economy.

An economy cannot sustain a growth of 8% for a longer duration on a restricted base in proprotion to the size of its population. True, India has serious economic potential, but plenty of that remains to be realised. Though agriculture accounts for 25 % of our GDP, it provides a livelihood to around 57 % of the population. Agriculture needs to improve its productivity to sustain more people. Reforms must be brought about to augment the purchasing power of larger sections of the population, which are not part of the middle class.

Only then, would we be able to say that our middle class has arrived.

Signing off...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Let merit not reservation win

Hi All,

It is such an irony, that my first post has to start with this controversial issue, that has engulfed our nation in the last 4 months. Well I am not going to express my opinion on this issue and waste precious words, since there have been uproars on the same in blogs, orkut and other online communities (though in vain :( ).

This post is to highlight one of the most hilarious albeit frustrating comment from Mr. Veerappa Moily, Chairman of the Oversight Committee, to implement OBC quotas in institutions of higher education. In an interview to TOI on June 20th, he was quoted saying "The soccer World Cup selection goes to show that when weaker sections are given equal opportunity and access as other sections of the society, hidden talent emerges. It also broadens talent base and facilitates diversity". This argument, definitely deserves a huge round of applause, because he has tried to compare apples and oranges and more importantly, has convinced our news reporters to print it in the Front Page of every newspaper.

The FIFA format is for gaining entry to the World Cup, football's most prestigious competition. Even at the entry stage, within a particular region, the rich compete against the poor and people of different castes compete against each other. Poverty-stricken Albania competes against powerhouses Germany, while smaller city-states like Fiji compete with Australia. The teams which qualify, then play with the same rules, without any quota for "backward" or "poverty-stricken" countries. These teams progress in the tournament just because "they performed better than their opponents". In fact, the SOCCER WORLD CUP as pointed out by an "FT columnist" is charming since it is "witness to the brotherhood of merit", between and within teams.

Mr. Moily's argument is severely flawed and it's very sad that our country is in the hands of such politicians, who have made the caste issue a political football, with the goalpost being some fraction of the OBC vote.

All this just adds to my frustration on the decisions taken by this government. But I'm too small to do anything about it. The only way to vent my frustration (like many others have already done), is to write a post.

Signing off....