July 9, 2006

World Bank says that India is now the 12th wealthiest nation with a GDP of $785.47 billion or Rs 35,34,615 crore in 2005.

Contrast this news with the fact that nearly 380 million Indians live on less than a dollar a day! Huh, we are the 12th wealthiest nation and yet one-third of the Indians live on less than a dollar a day or an annual salary of less than $365!

A few days back, Pankaj Mishra wrote an insightful article for The New York Times entitled “The Myth of New India” (an edited version is available in today’s print edition of Hindustan Times).

Well, perhaps we are facing the biggest paradox of economic growth. On one hand, almost every one is talking about India being the next USA and 21st century being the century of India; on the other hand we have, perhaps, the biggest mass of poverty stricken population on the earth. On one side, our stock markets are shooting past stratosphere creating billions of investor wealth; on the other side, we have 2.5 million children dying every year of malnutrition and debt stricken farmers committing suicide (more than 100,000 farmers in India have committed suicide since 1993).

Is there something wrong with our developmental agenda? Perhaps, yes. Our current model of growth may not be able to bring a change for the better in the lives of majority of our people. With the current agenda, we can only help accumulation of private wealth in the hands of a select few to the detriment of the huge majority. At most we can have is a trickle down of wealth to the masses, not sufficient enough for bringing about the desired change. But the biggest gainers will be a select few whose wealth will grow exponentially while the income of common man will move on at arithmetic progression. Secondly, the current paradigm of growth cannot be sustained, at least in Indian context, with a billion stomachs to feed and limited natural/ manmade resources which are getting depleted faster than replenishment thanks to reckless consumption pattern of a small well to do minority.

So what’s the solution, or is there one at all? As far as my intellectual and thinking horizon permits, there is a solution, though quite radical. No, it is not about coming back to socialism or embracing communism. The solution perhaps lies in getting socialism married with capitalism! It is neither about corporate citizenship nor it is about social responsibility of business; it is about making society an equal business partner. It is about development of society hand-in-hand with the development of a business. The essence is to bring society on the platform of capitalism for betterment of the overall living standards of the society at large and at the same time get an access to a huge market, big enough to create capitalist behemoths, profit from it, and plough back a just proportion of the profit back to the development of society. If this kind of cycle can be created and maintained, then sustainable, win-win development for one and all will turn into a reality.

Perhaps the time has come to teach capitalism with a comprehensive course on sociology.

I will write more on this subject in coming days. Stay tuned in.


  1. Manish // July 16, 2006 at 2:56 AM  

    The post starts off well but the solution you propose is very vague.

  2. Mayank Krishna // July 16, 2006 at 11:49 AM  

    Agree that solution is vague. As I mentioned in the last line - Stay tuned for more - so expect me to turn a vague solution to a crystal clear solution in coming days :-)

    What I have mentioned is just an idea, a thought which needs to be developed before a clear solution will emerge.