UPA II: disconnected from media, middle class

Sometimes it is hard to believe that the UPA government, which lurches from crisis to crisis these days, is the same government that won a triumphant victory after a successful first term. And yet, the principal players are much the same. The few portfolios may have been changed but it is the same men and women who took the UPA through its first term who are in charge today.

So, why has the government which performed well enough to win a second term suddenly begun to seem like the gang that can’t shoot straight?

There are many factors that have contributed to this transformation, many of which are obvious. There is, first of all, the problem of voter fatigue and anti-incumbency. A second-term government usually seems a little tired and unable to cope with the discontent that has built up. A second factor is the recession in the global economy. It is easy for a government to seem well-run when things are going well.

But when people find that prices are rising much faster than their incomes and that their homes have depreciated in value, they tend to blame the government.

But there is also a third factor. And nobody in the government seems to be paying much attention to it. Until around a decade ago, the Indian model of governance differed from the British or American model in one important respect. The majority of our voters lived in the villages, the mass media had a limited role and the middle class, though noisy, was politically insignificant. Take, for instance, the protests over the Mandal proposals, put forward by the VP Singh government in 1990. Those protests were much greater than the ones we have seen over the last week on the rape issue. They were even more widespread than Anna Hazare’s movement at its peak. Students actually burnt themselves alive on the streets of our cities. And yet, the government was able to largely ignore the protestors. Not one policy was changed or modified as a consequence of the immolations.

One significant change over the last decade is that we have entered an era of mass media. Our leaders like to argue that the media do not reach the villages or influence the majority of voters. Even if they are right (and I do not think they are) they still ignore the fact that the middle class has doubled in size over the last several years.
As the middle class has increased and as the consumer revolution has created more advertisers, there are more media outlets across print and TV than ever before. Add to this the influence of social media and you have some sense of how much the media landscape has changed since the days when VP Singh was able to ignore the Mandal protestors.

By itself, this is not unprecedented. The way to look at it is to consider than the Indian middle class is now as large as the population of a European country. So, the answer is for the political class to devote as much time to middle-class media as European and American leaders do. This should be easy enough. There are many time-honoured precedents and practices from the global experience that they can follow.

The problem is that our leaders don’t seem to realise how much the media have changed and how middle-class expectations now shape media coverage. In the early days of the UPA, long before Twitter was a factor and before the news channels settled into gladiatorial combat, it was possible to present the Gandhis as barely-visible figures and to package Manmohan Singh as this kindly uncle who was a bit of a bore but who meant well.

Alas, this no longer works.

We have seen one example of this in the handling of the Delhi rape case. Let’s accept that what happened was shameful. But let’s also recognise that no one individual (apart from the rapists, of course) was responsible. The decades of inefficient policing under various governments and a mindset that caused the system to turn a blind eye to people who molested and teased women were responsible. (Many of these molesters have historically been politicians.)

In some ways, the parallel is with the recent school shootings in America. Nobody there argued that the murders were the government’s fault or that the police could have prevented them. But the public mood was one of hurt, rage and bewilderment. Americans wondered how such a thing could possibly have happened in their country. And they wanted assurances that the authorities would take steps to ensure that it never occurred again.

Look at the way American politicians used the media to empathise with a hurt nation and to provide reassurances. Even non-Americans had tears in their eyes when they heard President Obama talk about the murders. There was a real sense that the nation’s leaders were communicating with the people and addressing their anger, sorrow and insecurity.

Contrast this approach with the way in which our government handled the case. The politicians had a simple policy: throw the Delhi Police Commissioner to the wolves. Yes, perhaps Sheila Dikshit should be put in charge of the police force. But this is hardly the time to get into a public fight with the police. It only has the effect of compounding the feeling of anger and helplessness within the population.

As for the home minister, what can one say?

Perhaps he is a good administrator. But judged as a communicator, he comes off as a prize idiot. Does it really make any sense to compare talking to protestors to negotiating with Naxalites? Should we give him an extra biscuit for coming to work on a Sunday as he seemed to think he deserved?

And finally, what of Manmohan Singh? Contrast Obama’s magnificent response to the crisis with Manmohan Singh’s decision to hide inside 3 Race Course Road. When a public outcry forced him to scurry out of his hole, his speech was so depressingly flat that the only thing it achieved was to turn him into a social media joke because of the ‘Theek Hai’ that a sloppy television crew included in the telecast.

Eventually, the message that went out was this: forget about running an effective law and order machine, these jokers are so incompetent they can’t even put together a Prime Ministerial telecast without turning the PM into a joke.

I use the rape crisis as an example because it is the freshest in our memory. But if you go back over the last three years, you will find that nearly every time there has been a crisis or a controversy, the UPA has alienated the media, and their growing middle-class audience.

I don’t think Manmohan Singh and his colleagues do this because they are bad people or because they are arrogant. They do it because they are simply out of their depth in the new age of media and do not realise how much India has changed since they came to office.

Because all of us admired Manmohan Singh so much when he took office it is particularly sad to see what he has become. He started out as the liberalising lion of the new India. Now he seems like a little mouse who is unwilling to face his own people.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/indiantopblogs Kaypee Endee

    During Abhishek-Aish marriage, there was a rumour that some advertisers had bought time over channels for live webcast, and Bachans were a party to it. The underlying story of consumerist India is to make money, make merry and live like [not kings but] Americans and spoiled Punjabis [no racialism intended].


  • Abu Ahmed

    When somebody in the family dies, do we book huge halls to place his/her body therein for relatives & friends to pay their respects to the departed soul? No. May be a tent is erected in the courtyard or on the street outside the house / flat, chairs are placed for visitors and simple food is served after the last rites. That should be the bench-mark for a wedding celebration too. It will be, if the economic downturn continues for some more time in the country and the world – people would smell coffee sooner than later.


  • SL Rastogi

    Very well written article…80% of brides and grooms returning the rented marriage attire even in Delhi is quite revealing… but it makes sense to do so because it avoids some kind of wastage. I wonder how many people would like to keep it for emotional reason or wear it again and on what occassion. Perhaps 20% who do not rent the dress are the one in later category.

    Surely emotional bonds and family togetherness is missing not only in marriages but in every day to day life as well.Mechanics of day to day life and ecnomic pressures are taking its toll on every one.
    with best wishes
    SL Rastogi


  • patriot

    Looking to wards past experience nothing worked out good by reviving cricket with Pakistan.Pak players do not come to play just sport but win the war.Pakstani team can lose with any country but it matters most to them if they lost from India.As per past news Mr. Zia the past military dictator sent several spy agents along with team.So for we have been harmed by this country several times and i hope reviving relations this time may come out some thing good.


  • Brown American

    There is never a bad time to do something positive. Looking for the perfect time is like for a perfect spouse. Both are elusive. To do something positive in face of such animosity takes courage. One has to admire the courage of BCCi and PCB to take right step in such hostility, mostly from Indian side. Admire it, move on and if you have reservations that it will bring the two nations closer, then just watch it for the Cricketing Rivalry and enjoy it. Those who are negative about it in my view are just born losers.


  • http://twitter.com/StuartLarner StuartLarner

    But this is nothing compared to some of the farcical tricks and antagonism that is documented betweeen English village clubs in the new ebook novel, “Guile and Spin” by Stuart Larner ,available on Amazon Kindle.


  • The Shaft

    Sunil Gavaskar opposed – he should be involved in decision-making processes so that he remains a part of the honchos of BCCI. I mean, his ego would be satiated – after all he was the greatest before Sachin.


  • bluewrox

    nice…see a marked change in Congress pro media now a days…or is it that rajdeep, vir , barkha and the likes are smelling regime change and they want to be in the right side of the new regime? or are they finding it difficult to support this uselessgoverment?


  • Dee

    Seems the rats are leaving a sinking ship.


  • truth

    vir? what’s wrong, are the checks from the congress party no longer coming? the Italian maid no longer your hero? so sad….we “were” so secular…no?


    Anonymous Reply:

    No. He just thinks people are idiots to have forgotten about him and Radia et al. And, the Hindustan Times (the Company) is like the rest of India – corrupt people and corruption are just ways of life for them. No more!


    bobg123 Reply:

    Oh…its another “Rat” who is abandoning the sinking ship…..no wonder. Then you never know he is trying to give a sincere advice to his “Masters”


  • Manik

    Wow Mr Sanghvi…..What a surprising article and for a change a journalist was talking….Hope your reporting will be unbiased as this one….


    geekay09 Reply:

    It will be naive and too early to conclude this as unbiased. He has to write advice to the govt coated not in sugar which is what is making you feel he has become unbiased. He has to reason and plead that pretend like Obama – show your tears and empathy. Wao. He is not advising nothing beyond. No genuine criticism of this govt.


    Manik Reply:

    Agreed but at least it’s a start and hope he can bring out ills of dynasty politics of India..


  • PPrasad

    How about discussing HT’s disconnect with the middle class ??
    During the ant-corruption movement, some of English Print Media’s “intellectual” journos termed the middle class as “intellectually handicapped” , “cattle class” etc..
    Instead of taking on the ruling establishment on issues of Governance, HT kept dishing out meaningless articles on non-existent “secular”/”minority” issues, anti Modi articles and projecting Rahul G as the next PM candidate !!


    Har Gobind Bhukkal Reply:

    They will all fall in line in due course of time. Most of them have been feeding for a long time on the discharge of 10 Janpath sewers and have got scabies as a result. The itch doesn’t let them see the truth around them.


  • Krishna

    UPA II is a GONE CASE.

    They are a failed corrupt gang of goons. They want to rule India like in medieval times thinking that the Indians can be taken for granted and India is a banana republic.


  • lalit bagai

    the problem with this govt is that its top leadership eg sonia gandhi is corrupt,
    and completely uninterested in the well being of the indian people. sonia,s main
    interest is skimming of the cream, liveing as a empress, and planning for her
    retarded son to take over. this was indira,s way of ruleing the country.and leaveing her job to rajiv gandhi.

    sonia is now stricken with cancer, and the congress is knee deep in scams.
    it is faceing nemesis. the graceful thing would be for her and her brood to
    leave politics and india. india should be governed by patriotic and nationalist
    leaders, eg narendra modi, shiv raj singh chauhan and others like them.

    as for mmdingh. he is 80 years old. he should prepare to meet his maker to
    express regrets for the shameful betrayal of his country.


  • Har Gobind Bhukkal

    What happened Sanghvi? Not a favourite baby of CONgross anymore. Or Is it a break to breathe the fresh air. I hope that it’s an enlightenment as to the reality around us nowadays (of an awakened India). I hope Queen Maino and her motley gang won’t reprimand you for calling a spade a spade as You are used to calling it a spoon. Anyways, Best of luck. I hope you come out with more articles like this one that expresses public sentiments and eventually connect to them. Tell Barkha also past is past and not to eat any morsels thrown off by politicians. An unbiased Media is the strongest pillar of democracy. More than the problem of – voter fatigue and anti-incumbency, it’s the problem of arrogant rulers looting every resource of this country and then behaving atrociously with public if they protest. R@pes may happen but the protests shouldn’t, it is dictatorial attitude and not democratic.


  • Tvk

    Vir Sanghvi is as usual pretending.He talks of anti incumbency and voter fatigue as reasons for middle class anger instead of corruption and corruption and corruption and the politics of reservations and the police raj of UPA for the uprise.As for Hidustan Times ,I pity the News Paper for its highly biased editorials and journalists who come on TV Channels trying their best to support the UPA and the Italian colonists in Delhi ruling class


  • Mauren

    Excellent analysis! Thank you.


  • ram

    let see how neutral VIr can be..


  • Kokila

    Mr Prime Minister, you the leader of the country and your people solace in times of distress. Needless to say ,you disappoint us. You have nothing to loose,just go after the corrupt and goonda politicians. Do you read the newspapers? or you are barred from knowing what is happening in you country? Please ,wake up.


  • dm

    One thing this article shows is that the UPA and the PM have become soft targets for the middle class media, and let us not even go into the Sanghi trolls whom they seek to placate with ever stupider columns. Dude, the rape incident has little or nothing to do with the govt and everything to do with India as a society, as a handful of intelligent persons writing in Indian newspapers have already pointed out. But as usual most of the media likes to stick to lazy and false assumptions and doesn’t really want to dig deep. so journos like this one take the easy and lazy way out, since it offers yet another easy opportunity to hit out at the govt. As for the govt not being media savvy, frankly nothing can satiate the nasty, partisan, and lying monster the Indian media has become. Taking digs at the govt. may win lazy journos brownie points with the Sanghis, but it does terrible disservice to that poor victim who just died, since it does nothing in terms of discussing the root of the rape problem in India.


    kanishka Reply:

    Have you ever heard the hindi phrase, YATHA RAJA TATHA PRAJA.

    Fish rots from the top. Law and order is the responsibility of the government. Children easily learn what works and what does not. Greed and dishonesty works in India so does blatant violation of the law, whether financial (corruption at the top like 2G, CWG, COALGATE and no accountability of the government), legal (misusing CBI and bribing to manipulate the votes of MPs to stay in power at the center) or ethical (Vadera Gate or veerbhadra gate).

    Why no reforms has been brought in police and judiciary despite stricture from the Supre Court of India.

    Why some parties are still opposing 33% reservation of seats for women who constitute 50% of the population?


  • kanishka

    Any objective analyst would blame Sonia, the super PM and Raul, the duper PM for their extra-constitutional seat of power and the media who does not raise the real issues that affect the real people.

    No media person talks about exponentially exploding population, lives of 70% population living under less than a dollar a day (almost 50% of the population still def@cate in the open in India, a shame for the entire nation) and deteriorating law & order situation in cities and villages while a section of the society is getting richer and richer using corrupt and dishonest means at the cost of average Indian.

    The UPA II has not vision, no direction, no game plan except coopting the media in their attemp on how to indulge in corruption and malign opposition especially Modi.

    Neither Sonia/Rahul duo nor MM Singh has ever given an open press conference and interview to the national and international journalist for objective assessment of their state of affairs. No journalist has courage to seek an interview with Sonia/Rahul who manage the seat of power with some hidden character. All three are used to read the written speeches so is coward Indian voters.

    UPAII must go along with attitude of english media if India has to progress.


  • raju shah

    Italian bar maid has not paid dec check to Vir. that is why he is barking


  • Ramesh Kumar

    What has gone wrong with Vir Sanghvi,has been commented by many.But what has changed with mmsingh,whom probably some admired , in his own words,is as he admitted during his speech in debate on Nuclear deal that left parties have made him “BONDED LABOUR”. That check has gone.Now he is in control of rival forces.Afterall slavery is a mental concept.
    Bonded is not a free soul.The action are in tune with like a string instrument, whose sound depends on tightening of wires.


  • raj

    Hi Vir, you are like a wind sock, change your political direction based on where the wind is blowing from…haha..MMS is a joke and so are you….everyone knows that sometime back you were defending the fake gandhis and MMS and now that tables have turned back on them, so have you…what next, you will start praising NaMo ?


  • tbr

    That is why the Americans crack a joke for the rest of the world–That by wearing American Jeans- you can not become a American. That hawker as part of the gang rape team was probably wearing jeans-but he was a Indian idiot by brain. True or False ??


  • tbr

    The other very well noted point in this article is greatly appreciated –UPA did bring in fresh and young faces in the Govt. but it is the same 70-85 year olds running the top Govt policy directive!! Worth noting a point. I have a closed relative at 93 who does not want to go away and very stubborn to use a mobile device! What are you going to do?? Wait for them to disappear or do something for the mess we are in !! Advani in the waiting for becoming a PM???? A point to be noted.


  • JB

    All that Vir Sanghvi has stated is true. And there is a moral of the story: you cannot run a a government in a democracy through a hired CEO: it just does not run.


  • tbr, USA

    CEO is a very-American Corporate world acronym –somehow it does not fit in the Indian culture. Just a point.


  • Anonymous

    Finally, Vir has written a piece that resonates with what every Indian (except Robert) feels. Sonia should resign from the Chairperson of UPA and President of AICC posts and join us in the streets. Ofcourse, please leave those SPG guys with their Israeli guns at 10J.


  • Javed Mian

    These guys like Veer now feel Congress’s days are numbered. Clearly evident from Rajdeep Sardesai’s, Burhkha Dutt’s and this id$$iot’s wrtings.


  • insideeye

    Why no word on the role on the heir apparent Rahul Gandhi? Being the face of the Congress, he should be articulating the party’s position on the gang-rape. Bot time and again, when he needs to stand up and be counted, he goes underground.


  • H.Mani

    Vir saheb,I’m not in the habit of kicking a fallen guy.I will try my best not to be mean spirited.I will just ask you to buy a globe of the world.Just a cheap one.Take a look at the size of China,Russia,Canada,USA,Brazil,Australia even Saudi Arabia and compare with the size of India.You do not have to be rocket scientist or even have all 52 cards of deck.What do you see.?And then get the census figure from UN.You will see,why and how India has all the trouble?Has any news paper or Jouranlist or any politacal heavy weight starting from Nehru ever showed any concern for exponential explossion population??.I will tell you what,rapes,murder,people’s problems are no longer real people or concern,they are just numbers,numbers do not have faces.Why should Sonia or Rahul or MMS acknowledge these faceless numbers and address a open press confrence or give interview?More than the Congress,I’m more disappointed by guys like you and Indian media,you have failed the sorry unfortunate countrymaen.That is the real tragedy.I can say a lot,for I was once your fellow countryman,I wept when my President wept in Newtown when innocent kids were mowed down.He has asked Vp Biden to prepare gun control of assult weapon,legislation.Where was need to send this commotose girl to Singapore?You guys are a sorry lot.I’m ashamed to be once part of India by birth,I can not change that.I weep as I type this.With malice towards none,nice day ,STILL.H.Mani,NJ,USA


  • mms

    Hello Hello I am Nira Wadia…Vir, my darling, what are you talking all this?…I just talked to Sonia madam and Rahul baccha and they are sending cheque to you through their sweepers MMS and Shinde. Pls stop writing against your beloved party. Love you darling. Bye – yours Nira.


  • Deep

    Vir, there is hope for your rehabilitation after all. Keep in mind that the UPA won a second term due to the lethargy of the Indian voter rather than their brilliance in the first term. Keep on taking your daily dose of reality and truth and it will all work out!


  • Seema Sangra

    I have always been a Vir Sanghvi fan,but this one is an extremely well written piece. It’s a good insight about changing scenario and the need for the political parties to consider it.


  • Vinod

    So, you say that UPA is lurching from crisis to crisis because of voter fatigue? And a global recession causes them to have crises and lurches? And finally, both crisis and lurch are caused by mass media! Brilliant.

    I thought I just saw a 1.76 Lakh Cr elephant, a 75K Cr Gorilla, a 1.4 Lakh Cr Godzilla, etc. etc. zip by. Must be my imagination.

    UPA1 was just as bad as UPA2 – they simply sailed on the winds of a well managed economy that they inherited – look at the economic figures like the Current Account ratio. UPA 1 didn’t get caught until UPA 2 happened. The crookery was well in place, despite the communists fighting against it.

    Manmohan is not a badly sold image, neither are the rest in the Congress’ management. They ARE bad at governing this country, they are collusive in the loot and plunder that we have had to bear for the past 9 years.

    And people like you are guilty of protecting them and hiding the truth.


  • Bhaskar Bhattacharya

    It’s not that UPA can’t handle the media. There are no LEADERS like Obama who have won their positions by campaigning the length and breadth of the country. In other words they are afraid of peopkle, forget about engaging with them. Contrast this with Obama who is ever ready to talk directly with the people, be it town hall meeting, or in a school or auditorium or just an open field. They are not afraid to connect directly with their own citizens. Obama does not think that he is in any way superior to the ordinary citizen. He feels that it is his responsivility to serve them. Unfortunately such values are not imbued in our politicians.


  • shame

    see who is writing this. our own congressman Vir


  • shame

    Hey Vir, just read all the comments written on your article and if you feel a bit of shame then stop writing


  • Anil Sharma

    Mr. Singhvi, I raced through your fluent article imagining there would be a line or two about the failure of “Gandhis” to connect with the masses, to address the protesters or assure the people of India. And you singled out MMS? Someone always controls a puppet’s strings, or will you have us believe otherwise.


  • kabir awadhi

    how can a rape in a city show ineffeciency of our national government ?? vir sanghvi and most of d commenters here have just politicized it when in fact its a social and law n order issue.


  • Guest

    The biggest change is in the state of the economy. The world is no longer a rising tide that lifts all boats.


  • Manish Kumar, Patna

    Why blame Dr Singh alone when UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the de facto leader of the government…Vir Sir why no mention of the Gandhis? They are always there to take credit for a NREGA and Right to Information or a Right to Education Act but when it comes to real governance issues like the ongoing Delhi protests or inflation or the economic crisis you will never find them taking any responsibility!


  • Kedar

    I disagree on many counts, Vir.

    1] The Congress is not behind when it comes to media-savviness. Whenever I watch any TV debate on any topic, I always find their representatives – Manish Tiwari, Renuka Chowdhury, Kapil Sibbal, Digvijaya et al very well prepared, aggressive and far more confident than they ought to be. Contrast this with the ever-fumbling BJP spokespersons. Have you ever wondered that whenever the Congress is in troubled waters, Digvijaya comes to the rescue with his carefully crafted, digressive and diverting two penny comments? Besides, folks like Sibbal, Tharoor, Montek and many others come across as suave yet fierce orators, what with their superb English and presence of mind, even when they are lying through their teeth.

    2] I’m no fan of the BJP and her sick, bronze age ideology, but let’s give credit where it is due. The NDA rule was way, I repeat waaaaayyyyyy better and progressive than even UPA-I and in fact the UPA-I bore many fruits of the former’s policies. And I see you only going ga-ga about one of them that too when it is not required here.

    3] The Delhi rape case is in no way the fault of the Government, or even our laws. It only stems from our sick, misogynistic and hypocritic society. It is only the pathological liars or the incorrigible fools who would blame the Congress for that! And I don’t think any one else in the shoes of Sheila Dikshit, or Shinde or Manmohan or Sonia would have handled the aftermath of the rape any better. The damage had already been done and the Congress was merely unfortunate.

    4] I am astonished to find that you can only see the so-presumed media disconnection being the cause for the alienation between the Congress and the common man. As if the multitude of record breaking corruption scams, clear inefficiency, nepotism, sycophancy, arrogance, power-misuse and numerous other ills as epitomized by the ruling party carried no weight at all! And please, voter fatigue, anti-incumbency and global recession come across as pigmies when the above mentioned players are in gear!


  • pankaj#1

    I can not understand, why you refuse to see or acknowledge the obvious.
    Everybody knows that UPA II came to power on the shoulders of Urban middle class but continued to look for its voters amongst rural people, and muslim vote bank. Nothing wrong in looking after your underprivilaged populace but it was done so much shoddily that, majority started feeling discriminated in place of being a partner. for this progressive step. Like, MMS saying -muslims have first right on national resources, What???? Howcome????
    Then, you are not pointing out this glaring fact, admitted indirectly by even congressis. MMS was never given full freedom to work as Rahul was being foisted on UPA II and Indian population brazenly. Digvijay was always snipping at MMS’ heels. For your information, Digvijay has caused considerable harm to Congress apart from other contributors, including Sonia.


  • ruchi

    Sir, we have read so much about the UPA-II’s direct benefits scheme. Last Minister Jairam Ramesh was heard giving statements about it with reference to what Rahul Gandhi was talking about it. Oddly Gandhi is not an office holder but a Congress Party member. The scheme (with its positives and negatives is just now a supposed trump card for the Congress in the name of the UPA where tax payers’ money is being used.


  • Anonymous

    The Congress survives becasue the BJP messes up its chnvces by promoting a baby elephant called Gadkari, who will never win he hearts of the youth and masses.

    They can get a charismatic guy as party president, who is not afraid of taking on Vadra and the congress crony capitalism.


  • Rahul010

    India needs to become a part of OECD and then we will have tremendous amounts of fact based data to benchmark our progress against other OECD countries and ensure policies have measurable results. Who will get us into OECD before this Brookings India institute is born?


  • http://twitter.com/Farrukhabadi Praveen Saxena

    Do you plan to join Brookings India ?


  • vijay !

    HOw about doing an article on the latest Chinese incursion. I have a feeling that the Chinese have heard the speeches of both our PM hopefulls and especially sending a message to Rahul that you cannot make fun of us.


  • RickP

    What are you, dude? A pessimist or does not believe in your own country? Get informed and more importantly get out of your 300+ year old slavery attitude of “We can’t do it.” Not only we are doing it, we are leading in a lot of defense technologies. Yeah, Believe it and oh BTW, I am an American!


    Guru Reply:

    India does not lead anybody in any technology. Indian officials
    get HUSH money (kickback) and buys these inferior weapons

    and kickback money goes to Swiss banks. Do you have any
    American weapons???


  • Jai-Hanuman

    Another Indian born/educated cab driver or working in Walmart


  • Probhat Raha

    India does not have any coordinated Nuclear Policy. It has back-fired in the case of Pakistan. Pakistan with its wholesale imported war equipment is having the upper hand in deployment. DRDO is showing off new hardware but most of them cannot be deployed with India’s poor infrastructure.


  • vijay !

    The logic of nuclear deterrence can be understood in terms of China.


  • ruchir

    Higher GDP does translet into higher tax revenues which allows government to spend on social programs. Government on its own has no income and depends upon the constituents for taxes. Poor constituents can not lift the heavy burden of taxes and social development. So richer constituents pay and share the burden by paying taxes. This is a classic rationale behind taxation. So in this sense Bhagwati is absolutely correct in saying that higher GDP is the only solution that works as catalyst for social development. Gujarat does not really fare that badly on social front as it is made out to be. Gujarat’s spending on social programs is better probably than many states its size and population. Comparing spending as a percentage of GDP could me very misleading due to a very high GDP of Gujarat. Cost of social programs does no T go up merely because of higher GDP. Market growth should and does take precedence over social growth which is a byproduct of market growth.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Farah-Taneja/1469212644 Farah Taneja

    Lots of misunderstandings! Let me try and clarify a few points. It is beyond ridiculous to suggest that Bhagwati believes all human development can be collapsed to a number called Gross Domestic Product. Why Bhagwati – almost no economist believes that. His co-author Panagariya has written extensively on social development and education and health and how India can improve on those areas. We can criticize other’s positions, but hopefully we don’t do that through distorting what they are saying. (I am not saying the distortion is intentional).

    What then are the differences between Sen and Bhagwati/Panagariya? Sen believes (as he explained in an article in The Hindu) that economic growth doesn’t directly help poor people – it primarily helps only the rich and the middle class. Let me point out this is contrary to what most economists believe. Sen’s views on this issue are therefore outside the mainstream of the economics profession. Of course, Sen is not against economic growth because he argues that economic growth will lead to much faster increases in tax revenues and these higher revenues can then be used by the government to directly fund social programs for the poor. Therefore economic growth is a good thing. This argument is correct. But (as I said) economic growth is important not JUST because it leads to higher tax revenues which can be spent on anti-poverty programs BUT also because it directs leads to lower poverty through better employment opportunities for the poor. In India’s case, the social programs are often very poorly implemented leading to massive corruption and wastage of resources. But we find India still reduced poverty impressively in the last decade – that seems to be primarily because of the poverty reducing effects of economic growth (which Amartya Sen unfortunately discounts). I can cite dozens of papers and studies on this, but please look at just this one http://cacp.dacnet.nic.in/Farm_Wages_in_Rural_India.pdf.


    Bystander Reply:

    Let us distil this a bit. I don’t mind sounding reductionist here but let me pose you a question.
    Do you see State intervention and “free market growth” in conflict ? At what levels ?
    You have a choice – a choice of nit-picking on my point and saying it never was your argument.
    Your other choice is to try and parse what I am saying here. Dig deeper in its semantics and continue this discussion.


  • Praveen

    The concept of secularism should best be taught in states like ” Pakistan” and ” Bangladesh” by Prof Sen.
    The idea of Hinduism coming before Nationalism is a new concept and has wrongly been used by Mr Modi ( I am not defending him neither the concept)
    But the idea of religion before nation has been the core ideology of religions other than Hinduism for sure. ( No points for guessing )
    The so called pseudo secular credentials have already been tested long in the name of Mulayam and Manmohan without getting any dividends the nation deserved.
    If u can just give the fish to poor and not teach him how to catch it , the scenario is never going to change. The 60 long years of Congress rule has not been successful in thwarting the concept of religion in politics and still has kept us divided. They have failed miserably and we need a change for sure .
    Am least interested with what Prof Sen preaches or what his detractors has to say . I am a common Indian and i want to see a common man getting the opportunity (Certainly not on the basis of religion) to fulfil his dreams . We need good infra , jobs , education and opportunity for ALL.


  • Rohan

    In 1947 when my grandfather was killed on the way, rest of his family (four sons and four daughters)reached by their first international travel by the train, totally pauperized to celebrate India’s independence in India. All of them lived below Prof Tendulakar’s Poverty Line for about five years. By the sixties, 29 children were born to all eight siblings.They just got above the poverty line by the seventies. But in the meantime all of them received their basic entitlements of:

    1. Food and Nutrition (PDS ration + market supply including occasional fruits); 2. Government school education; 3. Government sponsored medical care; 4. Books from the libraries- free issue.

    But: they were always poorly clad till they started earning income;
    They did not go for well-priced entertainment;
    Their English has not been at par with the wards of the their middle class peers who went to English-medium schools; and,
    None of them is highly religious; none of them ever visits any godman; though they do normal Hindu rituals. None is fanatic about religion.

    16 of the thirty kids received higher education (Engineering, Law; Higher Sciences, Humanities, Accounts,but none in economics). They paid only between Rs. 5 to 20 per month for their higher education in institutions like IIT,DCE,DU-North campus, and some other universities.

    Now in 2013; all those thirty kids are between 52 and 65. Their families have moved on to still better positions but some of them (WHO DIDNOT RECEIVE GOOD EDUCATION BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN CHOICE) have remained relatively poorer.

    Now as per statistics: families of

    2 of thirty grand sons of my slain grandfather have reached Upper Middle class;
    1, potential Upper middle class (he didn’t take bribes even when he worked for the government on a `lucrative’ post). So he remains MM class.
    5, Middle Middle income class;
    8, middle class ( Group A -middle management or lower management officer type income);

    11, Lower middle class; and
    3 remain poor ( a foot or two above Prof. Tendulkar’s P line).
    The last 11+3 kids didn’t go for much education; for that alone was the emancipating factor for the rest of them.
    This is a miracle. A family living in a totally pauperized state makes in 60 years, a segment of population that in its totality of about 60 wards of these thirty people is poised for further– economic, cultural, governmental, corporate and self-employment sectors of income earning.

    This has happened much largely because,
    1. the phenomenon of their growth has been urban;
    2. They took full advantage of the government funded facilities/ entitlements;
    3. They were given a global outlook and socialisation right in the fifties, sixties and the seventies when they were studying or preparing for jobs, in cultural, educational and modern terms;
    4. They all believed in small, patient savings. Got Public sector interest on them and made the small savings big;
    5. They were all, without exception, ready to forgo the taboos, cultural drags, traditional bondages, and caste restrictions.
    Now what economics is this one? This economics has created the great middle class of India. This phenomenon is the Unique Indian Rebuilding Phenomenon that touched fringes and contents of various economic theories including the one that Karl Marx founded. It’s hightime we put our heads together and got ourselves rid of the shackles of freedoms that the markets and their economics promised. let those be part of the discussions but let us discover and not fritter our talent away with the taboos, stigmas and religiousity attached to various economics theories.