Saturday, 8 May 2010

India's Economic Segregation

As India continues to emerge as a superpower, we have to address how far has the country come in terms of aiding its rising population. As a recent Guardian article highlights that “the subcontinent’s elite have a huge market all to themselves – and a vast gap is opening up between rich and poor,” referring to India’s booming mobile telephone and energy markets planted on the FTSE 100 index.

Essar Energy now owned by the Ruias family, one of India’s most powerful dynasties is another name that prominently appears on the league tables of the wealthiest people on the planet. With a country that possesses 47 billionaires compared to 35 in Britain, it would be hoped that the entire population were reaping the benefits of India’s economic boom.

On the contrary, as West Bengal props up as a prime example; ruled as the world's longest-running democratically elected communist government by Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM, a significant part of the state is still economically backward. West Bengal has the third largest economy (2003–2004) in India, Kolkata being a major hub for the Information Technology Industry; however, the rapid industrialisation process has given rise to debate over land acquisition for industry in this agrarian state.

This has resulted in a greater amount of exports, having a first-come first-serve system catering to the West’s agricultural provision requirements whilst a rise in prices for locals on products that is regionally grown. Consequently, the already destitute can hardly afford food grown locally thus poverty rapidly increases; a little contradictory for a communist state-run government. More than three-quarters of the country's 1.2 billion people have to get by on less than £1.30 a day, double the level of poverty seen in China.

Kolkata’s skyline now fashions an uncomfortable and quite obviously discriminatory image. With the rise of property purchases by the elite in West Bengal, there comes a growth of shopping malls, high rise apartments and even English-styled complexes that are safeguarded from the ailing poverty that resides outside the barriers. The government have not stopped the construction of this new mangled city, despite riots occurring in recent years to protest it.

So the fact that India is a key member of the ostensible "BRIC" nations – representing Brazil, Russia, India and China as emerging superpowers according to Goldman Sachs – we shudder to think how much further can the rich get wealthier and the currently deprived become even more impoverished?

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