Swaminathan Aiyar is insensitive – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Swaminathan Aiyar is insensitive – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar is considered a champion of open economy, which—as a natural corollary—also implies great concern for respect for individual liberty. And since liberty is inextricably linked with individual self-esteem and the rule of law, one expects Aiyar to promote these concepts. He has, however, done quite the opposite in a recent article with self-explanatory title, ‘Slums are hubs of hope, progress and dignity’ (The Times Of India, March 31). “Yes, slums are dirty, but they are also entrepreneurial hubs where India’s poor are climbing up the ladder of opportunity and income,” he wrote. “The census report shows that 16.7% of slum households are factories, shops and offices. These are humming commercial centres, not dead-ends.” He derives a specious conclusion: “filthy slums” are the “entry-points of the poor into the land of urban opportunity. See them as havens of dignity for dalits and shudras. See them as hubs of rising income and asset ownership, which have already generated several rupee millionaires.”He goes on to show how conditions in slums are better than those in villages: “No less than 70% of slum households have TVs, against only 47% of total Indian households. The ratio is just 14.5% in Bihar and 33.2% in UP. Even Narendra Modi’s shining Gujarat (51.2%) and Pawar’s Maharashtra (58.8%) have a far lower rate of TV ownership than our slums!” That somebody should see squalid habitats as the havens of dignity for the poor is not just in bad taste; it also smacks of egregious insensitivity. In slums, men and women live like cattle, bereft of the basic civic amenities. Privacy is practically non-existent. There is scarcely any plumbing; toilets are either very dirty or in the open. The smell of garbage and excreta is all-pervading. Children have no place to play; many of them are forced to earn a livelihood; a large number of them are abused. It is a tribute to the fortitude and enterprise of slum-dwellers that many of them become rupee millionaires. But this is in spite of living in slums, not because these dwellings are entrepreneurial hubs. Slums numb human sensibilities, degrade all feelings, and create an ecosystem in which all but animal instincts are...

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to achieve many goals at the recent rally in Delhi, but the portrait of the ambitious leader that emerges is not very flattering. As we shall see, his objectives, statements, and demands lack any novelty; any chief minister of any state could have said similar things 10, 20, or 30 years ago. It is an open secret that Kumar aspires for the office of Prime Minister, something that is being viewed with expectation by ‘secular’ parties, including the Congress. There were enough hints of Kumar’s ‘secularism’—many Muslim supporters sitting in the front row, an Urdu prayer, a placard thanking the Bihar government for providing land to the Aligarh Muslim University, and so on. The dominant theme, however, was his reiteration of the demand for the special status for Bihar. Unsurprisingly, histrionics were the hallmark of his address: “We are not begging for special status. It is our right.” In a bid to elicit support from Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan—the states which have earlier sought special status—Kumar said, “We are happy that UPA government has agreed in-principle to grant our demand. But now we want it to be implemented soon. Do it now or it will be inevitable after 2014 elections. Only he who holds the hands of backward states will sit in Delhi.” Kumar’s bombast and symbolism emanate from his dirigiste ideology. The basic premise of this ideology is that only a few divinely ordained Wise Men and Women in New Delhi know what is good for the country and the people. They are in-charge of all the resources; in their wisdom, they distribute or redistribute these resources to states which, in turn, have their own Wise Men and Women. Growth, development, progress—everything is a function of the wisdom of these divinely ordained beings. Problems do arise because of the differences among Wise Men and Women, despite their divinity. But these problems, according to the dirigiste canon, can be resolved by fine-tuning the terms of engagement. The fundamental flaw of this ideology is that the supposedly Wise Men and Women happen to be politicians, bureaucrats, and hangers-on; and one has to be gullible to expect wisdom...

Awakened from a deep slumber- is it enough to hold the ship up in bad weather? – Abhimanyu Naruka

Awakened from a deep slumber- is it enough to hold the ship up in bad weather? – Abhimanyu Naruka

At the dawn of the 20th century India moved briskly towards a free market economy and increased financial liberalisation. With these initiations things have improved in our country, especially sectors related to infrastructure, medical, education and services. Now the question here is, are these actions good enough to stand with world top economies, considering the fact that globalisation has increased the interdependence among all the major economies. The global economy is presently going through some rough phase post the American recession and the on going Euro zone crisis has had its effect on our economy, especially on our exports. This in turn is reducing the income of our nation and putting a counter effect on our Balance of trade. In simple words our nation’s income is reducing, but on the other hand side we just cant let the expenditure fall on important sectors in our country, thus presently our country is facing the problem of Fiscal deficit. Since august it seems the finance ministry team has woken up from deep sleep because we have seen a barrage of economic reforms in last three months, the most debated one FDI. Obviously these reforms seems to provide a fresh lease to our economy and as far as the FDI decision is concerned it is the responsibility of  the administration to look after the interests of the retailers specially in the rural and small town sections. But as the saying goes we need to work on these reforms and get the interest of the Investors going on our country otherwise we are going to leg behind China and Brazil. In past decade or so our country has seen massive urbanisation, though standard of living in urban areas has improved, on the same side there is little difference in the life of rural population. Rural issues are dying day by day, we still have infrastructure scarcity in these areas and a lot of agricultural issues are still unresolved. Government needs to take some dire actions with regard to this problem. One another trend which seem to have emerged in past decade or so is our rate of saving is going down, Urban India is playing a major role...

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