The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday 31 August 2012

The Other 'I's

The Other 'I's - Alter egos

A Mix Media painting by Ragini 

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©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Thursday 30 August 2012


Johnny Depp has signed Pirates of the Caribbean 5 for 60 million pound, the highest ever in the world cinema history. Back home, in Indian currency that corresponds to around Rs. 500 Crore, and still we gloat about some Indian movies earning Rs. 200 or 300 Crore.

Now you would be thinking why I am gloating about this silly comparison. I accept there is no valid parameter-dependent base to this hypothesis, even if I am given the liberty to use the term here.

You can dismiss it as some whim of my thought process but what has been happening on the wonderland of the yore is full of vagaries of whims and impulses of those who come to impose and exercise their will on over a billion of democratic deaths.

Chief-minister of one of India’s most industrialized and hence prosperous states justifies high rate of malnutrition in his state saying it is due to the beauty and health conscious large middle class of the state. Thus Mr. Narendra Modi shifts the malnutrition blame to the middle class subjects of his territory in an interview given to the Wall Street Journal.

A report by the Gujarat government last March pointed out that 40 per cent of the children up to 5 years of age in the state were malnourished. Registrar General of India says Life Expectancy in Gujarat is two years shorter than the national average of 66.1 years.

A senior and respectable person like Asha Bhonsle said today she had respect for Raj Thackeray and she could (easily?) tolerate Thackeray’s ‘scolds’. Thackeray’s political outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is targeting Asha for being judge on a TV show that hosts artists from Pakistan.

What I mentioned while beginning this write up should in fact be a slap making us realize our position and ambitions to become a global force to reckon with.

We might have become the world’s 4th largest Economy but our social and economic indicators that affect the day to day lives of the majority are nothing better than even some of the worst performing countries.

And in place of working to rectify this anomaly of big mouth but small morsel, they find silly, ridiculous, outrageous and blasphemous-to-human-existence reasons to show us that everything is fine and on the way to take us to the developed league of the nations.

Sometimes, in doing so, they cross the limit of verbal assurances to land in the realm of practical executions. But here lies the catch.

They do work incessantly to bring prosperity, but this growth is highly targeted to the very few, inhabiting the corridors of India’s political theater of the absurd. The operation has been efficiently smooth except few consistent aberrations. If you bother to look back, you can find history of corruption and scams in India right after Jawahar Lal Nehru’s emphatic ‘freedom-at-midnight’ speech. Tryst with the destiny is still continued and things look skewed up as things go.

But as the size of the Economy has swelled up to such a great extent giving more than enough for the political and the bureaucratic class (read the largest neo-rich class of the Indian society) to grab shamelessly from the both hands, both feet, in fact, with whole body, that, sometimes, aberrations do happen. In such cases, efficiency norms get a slip here and there letting the information come out in the public domain.

It results in eureka-moment revelations on scams like the CWG Commonwealth Games (CWG), 2G Spectrum, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Coal blocks allocation (read Coalgate), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and many more. Listed here some of the biggest unearthed yet. They account for almost Rs. 7-8 Lakh Crore. Black Money is said to be in the scale of hundreds of thousands of crores. Then there are innumerable smaller scams.

Such huge figures could single handedly life hundreds of millions out of poverty. But the political class would never allow it to happen. At least it can be said with the present breed. Parliament is not functioning at all. Everyone is busy defending respective goalposts with shameless audacity.

Theaters are being drawn and redrawn. Big mouth, small mouths, polished mouths, gentle mouths, slappy mouths, cracky mouths, whammy mouths, slammy mouths, all are getting full exposure to demonstrate the copious flow of their wisdom.

So top on the agenda becomes all the concerns of the celebrity world, then comes the highly verbose and dramatic political sham, below that comes the ever-green guns and roses balustrade. That is all.

Did you say social responsibility? Go get some fresh air, if you can still find.

Johnny Depp might well sign some other movie for 200 million pounds and our theaters might well gloat about an Indian movie touching Rs. 400 Crore threshold in the near future, but the Indian synonymous with India still looks far from the road to the glory of being human.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -  

Wednesday 29 August 2012

When the sun owns all..

"When the sun begins a new journey the every other day, it is the rare view of that perfect harmony when an emperor who rules the world, embraces the human in him and sets on to meet his people inviting them with his gentle touch, making his empire the abode of all."

A recent sunrise photo taken at Ganga 
When the sun owns all.. 


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©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Tuesday 28 August 2012


How many times do I question you?
How many times do I doubt my faith?
How many moments of pain and agony?
How many blows of unspoken spell of tyranny?
How many times would I fail me?
Like this
But, isn’t the evolution that I need?

How many times would you fail me that I now doubt?
For, you have come always to my rescue
Yes, but I can see some exceptions now,
Probably, what lies ahead, has stuck somewhere
For, I could not realize your hand so many times
For, I was led to question me and you so many times

O’ the perception of the absolute purity,
O’ Almighty!
Please, don’t suspect my questions
Please, don’t question my intentions
You know they have valid premises
It’s all in the circumstances that you force me in
It’s all in the repercussions that you make me in

Yes, but I am thankful,
For the moments,
When you bring me beyond my questions,
Every time,
But, again,
You give me more reasons to doubt

Perhaps, you also need this vehicle of evolution,
Your unseen hand forcing me to look for my path again
I question, you take me beyond questions again
I look for life, you take my beyond this life again
Taking me in and out of the web of existentialism
Questioning and reaffirming,
My spirit of being an existentialist at heart,
Why do they say then the faith should be doubtless, absolute?

Yes, if life is all about evolving,
Questions have to be there
For, any spot of sustained suspicion,
Hampers the faith’s evolution

O’ Almighty!
You’re fully inside me, in all; it is said,
But I don’t know if I’ve seen even a trace of my internal you
The battle is on, the journey is the real refinement

I had lost my faith,
Cannot say when and how again,
I came to look inside for you
Yes, there has been some clarity
But, questions do exist,
For the soul finds it difficult always,
To accept your hands in,
Some absolute negatives,
The life has been through  

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -  

Monday 27 August 2012


Revisiting Mother Teresa’s words on her birth anniversary (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997), a Saint above all, for she embodied what we refer to as the almighty based on our faith, circumstances and value-systems by her lifelong commitment to the needy and the people in distress, for she saw her almighty in every human being. Her every word, every quote reflects it. The last few years have been tough and her words have always come to show me the light. Here I am quoting from her Nobel Peace Prize lecture that she delivered on December 11, 1979 along with a digital painting of the Holy Mother by my sister Ragini.

We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one - the naked one - the homeless one - the sick one - the one in prison - the lonely one - the unwanted one - and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see - this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?

The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other. And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people. The poor are very wonderful people.

As that man whom we picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms, and we brought him to the home. I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for. And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel - this is the greatness of our people.

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society - that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult.

Link to the excerpts of the audio recording of the lecture:

Sunday 26 August 2012

Running away from pain..

My reflections on life – in quotes (XXV)    

"Running away from pain is like running away from living,
leading to an escapist life.
Try to learn living with the pain in order to win over it.
It always makes a better human-being,
a conscious soul."

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Saturday 25 August 2012

What do we REALLY mean by the Autumn of Life?

Autumn of life? Dotage? 
Golden age? Golden years? 
Second childhood? Seniority? 

What do we REALLY mean by the Autumn of Life? 
(Residents of an old-age home for abandoned senior citizens)


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©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Friday 24 August 2012

इस सफ़र को अपना कर पाऊँ..

जरा एक लम्हा खुद के लिए भी बनाऊं 
ढूंढ लाऊँ कुछ पल फुर्सत के खुद के लिए
कुछ अरसा हुआ, जब ये ख्याल आया था 
के बुलाऊँ खुद को खुद से और बैठूं सबसे दूर  
सुकून के कुछ लम्हों के साथ अपनी तन्हाई में
खो जाऊं उन यादों के साथ जो ना जाने कब, 
रूह में आ बसीं और जीने का सबब बन गयीं 
कभी ये ना सोचा था, के भी ऐसा होगा 
पर अब मालूम है, के यही होना था
दिल कहता है के डूब जाऊं अपनी यादों में
हर शोर से दूर, हर डोर से दूर, बहता जाऊं 
उस छोर को, जिसका कोई ओर ही न हो 
कोई आवाज़ ना हो, कोई अल्फाज़ ना हों
ख़ामोशी का साज़ हो, बिन लफ़्ज़ों ही बात हो
ऐसा एक लम्हा मैं खुद के लिए बनाऊं
के अपनी तन्हाई को जीते हुए भी
खुद के साथ इस सफ़र को अपना कर पाऊँ..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -  

Thursday 23 August 2012


My reflections on life – in quotes (XXIV)    

“Someone said it is now foolish to become emotional and 
take emotional decisions in dealing with other people. 
I say it is better to be an emotional fool 
than a practical opportunist and selfish experimenter. 
If you know your sphere of life, it can never cost you dearly. 
On the contrary, you then come to appreciate the life better 
when it matters the most. “

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Wednesday 22 August 2012


The global human rights people are demanding clemency for three convicted members of the Pussy Riot group. But on the contrary, the Russian authorities are pushing for necks of other band members.

Pussy Riot is an anonymous collective of women activists protesting against Putin’s continued run as Russia’s top man.  

This February, five members of the Pussy Riot managed to perform on the altar of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral of Moscow targeting Putin and Orthodox Church ties. It was to show solidarity with rising anti-Putin protests. No charges were placed immediately, but later, three members of the band, Maria Alyokhina (24), Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (29), were arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.

Five months later, on August 17, they were jailed for two years by a woman judge of the Khamovnichesky district court. The judge highlighted her sentence speech with phrases like ‘inappropriate clothes for a church’, ‘blasphemous and sacrilegious words hurtful to believers’, ‘insulted the feelings of Orthodox believers’, before announcing the sentence.

The verdict has drawn criticism from the international community and has fueled further protests in Russia. Chess legend and opposition leader Gary Kasparov was among the protesters crammed outside the courtroom on the day of the verdict. He was detained with other protesters but released after questioning.

The three members of the Anti-Putin band have already spent five months in prison during the pretrial phase. Their lawyer says they are going to appeal against the decision in the higher court. But given the way the judiciary functions under the State influence in Russia, there is no much hope. The band has made it clear they would not seek amnesty from Putin.

And this firmness of anti-Putin stand looks a resolute one. Undaunted, Pussy Riot members have released a new anti-Putin video titled ‘Putin lights up the fires’. By doing so, the band is trying to live up to its origin. Putin’s growing authoritarian rule is the root-cause of Pussy Riot formation.

 YouTube video of Pussy Riot new anti-Putin single ‘Putin Lights Up The Fires’

(Try a bit of googling for the English lyrics)

Russia has seen growing protests after allegations of unfair practices used by Putin and his party in last year’s parliamentary and this year’s presidential polls.

Aided with social media tools and so an outreach to the international community, protesters have been able to maintain their steam so far but now as Putin is firmly in office for the 4th term, he is ready to unleash his ‘Russia means Putin’ run.

He would certainly be emboldened by his oil infrastructure investments over the years including the Baltic pipeline and Euro-5 complaint diesel production that hint of increased oil revenue in the future. Already, Russia’s oil production has risen to the record level of the post-USSR days and the country is looking to replace Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, a Bloomberg report says.

Oil money has been the mainstay of the good days that the Russians and the Russian economy saw in Putin’s age. And so when the global economic slowdown dealt a blow to the demands, Russia was hit hard. Widespread corruption, economic slowdown (due to dried up oil-dollars) and reduced income and career opportunities started giving voice to the protests creating a base for the political dissent further on. It got the tipping point in Putin’s announcement of running for the next Russian president poll and the subsequent unfair electoral practices.

If Putin’s oil plans indeed turn out the way he is expecting, it would make life hail for the activists, protesters and the political opposition as an increased income level might work effectively to drive the trifle middle class away from the protests thereby crushing the support base of activists and the political opposition.

Let’s see, who is next in Putin’s line of fire.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -  

Tuesday 21 August 2012


Another 15th August passed, marking 65 years this year to the moment when a nation had triumphed. What has followed the legacy since then has been both, a boon and bane. It is not pessimism but a reality to write here that the recent three-four years have given an upper hand to the ‘bane’ elements.

So there was much noise and less music. So there was much rubbish and less content. So there were proclamations and empty promises splashed all across once again – from full page advertisements in newspapers and extended-length clips on television to the every nook and corner of lanes and streets – from ruling and opponent mouthpieces to the industrial outfits to the wannabe politicos.

Welcome to the present reincarnation of the India’s Independence Day – differently seen by the political class than what the Indian populace perceives about it. And midst all this, come two routine events – presidential address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day and prime-ministerial speech on the Independence Day.


I should say the language and style of Pranab’s speech was far more scholarly than Manmohan’s but when it comes to the relevance of the content, both were in the same league, all was like making castle in the air.

No one can say when the politicians would stop making larger than life speeches when they seldom look instilling confidence even in one needy life. Except style, Pranab had no particular content in his speech in the context of the stark reality of the day. Except on few parameters, the speech was more like touching all the pointers briefly to complete the quorum and so can be left at bay comfortably. But why to complain about that when it has become a tradition rarely broken. After all, he cannot be expected to be a Rajendra Prasad, or a Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, or an A P J Abdul Kalam.

Among other routine stuff enwrapped well in personal and historical anecdotes, he chose to lecture us on sanctity of the democratic institutions devoting a significant portion of his speech. He looked to point to this that we, the Indians, need to have trust in our leaders (the political class he belongs to?) and the ‘affiliated’ institutions.

Now don’t we know India’s democratic institutions have become, even if temporarily, synonymous with its corrupt leaders mingled across the party line. What else can be a more scathing proof than leaders like Shivpal Yadav advising bureaucracy that ‘if they work, they can steal a little’.  Shivpal Yadav is Public Works Department minister of Uttar Pradesh and brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is proving lifeline of the United Progressive Alliance government these days.

When politicians charged with murder, rape, loot, scam worth thousands of crores go scot free, it is foolish to expect any action would be taken against the likes of Shivpal Yadav. And Indian polity is crammed with multitude of politicians of similar hue, be it BJD in Odisha, BJP and Congress in various states, TMC in West Bengal, SP and BSP in Uttar Prafdesh, AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu, TDP in Andhra Pradesh, Left Front in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Corruption and authoritarian nature have become endemic among the ranks of all the political parties. See Mamata Banarjee’s antics (read acts of intolerance on even mild criticism).

Pranab’s intellectual speech looks hollow in the context of this stark reality for it does only lip-service to the most vital issue of the day – political and bureaucratic corruption. It doesn’t even mention the growing political intolerance.

Dear Pranab Babu, while quoting Mahatma Gandhi, could you think of the greed of the political and bureaucratic class that has made corruption the most widespread social malaise?

This is indeed a crisis time for the country as it can be said safely that almost of the politicians acquiring benches of state and central legislatures and its various bureaucratic wings are seen as corrupt and increasingly elite and authoritarian, scavenging on the taxpayers’ money. How can they be trusted then as Pranab Babu advises? When suspicion runs so deep, trust eventually becomes the casualty.

And apathy of such a political class is bolstered by poorly managed civil society run anti-corruption movements like India saw in the last 16 months. It is a war cry that India needs effective voices of dissent against the increasing political and bureaucratic corruption and political nepotism and intolerance. We indeed need a second freedom struggle, from the clutches of the corrupt and elitist polity. But the failure of the anti-corruption movement has again created a void on this issue emboldening the political and bureaucratic class.

Pranab’s speech had hangover of his recent political past that pushed him to go at length in justifying the political class in the garb of democratic institutions.

Remember Pranab Babu, we all Indians are not treated equal and the political class you hail from is the chief culprit in taking the common Indian to this mess.

Beyond that, his speech was a show sounding like coming from a president of India who is well read, seasoned and highly experienced. Some of the stats mentioned like India’s output in world manufacturing in 18th-20th centuries could well be the collectibles provided we come to know the methodology and exercise in reaching at the figures.

But, overall, Pranab looked charming on the screen while delivering the address. Listening to him was at-least not boring.


Now Manmohanji, we need to be linguistically superlative to explore apt superlatives for your increasingly repetitive and lifeless speeches and fake promises.

Manmohan Singh’s speech on August 15, 2012 was dull and routine as usual, inspiring nothing but sharp reaction on some more empty promises, the way he has been doing in past, especially in the last three years, the period of economic and political mismanagement that has seen country’s socioeconomic performance taking a nosedive.  Inflation has remained high; prices are skyrocketing irrespective of the inflation data; GDP growth has touched the nine-year low; and every major forecast is declaring tougher days ahead.

In place of inspiring confidence, Manmohan has now started epitomizing growing apathy of the ruling class. Apart from bizarre and insensitive statements of his brethren on sensitive issues like price rise and corruption, Manmohan, too, has regularly used his trademark catchphrase ‘I have no magic wand’ to shrug off responsibility.

His speeches have become so same and lifeless that one cannot expect something like honest introspection though he used the word in his speech. He spoke of tough times ahead attributing it to the national and international factors and advocated for reforms yet he and his party make compromises every other day.

Yes, we can give him some points on accepting two facts that his government has been ignoring for a long time – these are tough times for India and national factors, ‘too’, are responsible for the policy mess India is in now. But mere these words can never justify the scale of policy paralysis that his government has pushed the country in.

Beyond this, he goes on to beat the drum of his achievements (a questionable and debatable term for his government now)  like he does every year on completing one more year in the office; like his does on every Independence Day – presenting ‘his India growth story’ with statistical overdose that sounds like utopian in the present day India. No need to take pain in listing them out here though some stand out.

He says almost 100 per cent of the Indian villages are electrified now. Can you take it? Merely installing poles and wires won’t do anything when there is no electricity supply for days and weeks. 10-15 hours of daily outage has become routine in towns and cities across the country.  Lakhs of villages just see 3-4 hours a day of power supply. The country saw two worst Grid failures recently, proof enough for miserable power infrastructure of India.

He says now almost 100 per cent children of the age-group 6-14 are enrolled in schools. Now there has been a big question mark here owing to the ‘high enrolments but abysmally low attendance’ scenario in India. Quality of education is a farfetched thing with still high dropout rates.

He boasts of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee) and NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) schemes – the fact is these two schemes have become dens of absolute corruption running in thousands of crores, ruining every other positive aspect of it. Except few customary steps under extreme media scrutiny, we are yet to see a comprehensive crackdown.

He didn’t forget to thank the farmers for their hard-work as the food reserves are good enough to meet the demand in a drought year but didn’t mention even a word about farmer suicides.

Comfortably numb he has been and he chosen to act same even this time. He tried to shift the major share of the blame on global Economy scenario for India’s ongoing Economy crisis. But the condition has so worsened, thanks to his government’s own wrongs, that the policy paralysis is being scrutinized intensely in the national and international media. The pressure of intense scrutiny might have forced him to do a face-saving by naming domestic factors, too, as reason for India’s crisis of the day.

His speech had no words about handling issues like corruption, black money and price rise but fleeting references. No one knows what amusement the UPA government gets when any of its representative talks about Lok Sabha passing the Lokpal & Lokayukta Bill. This bill is nothing but another sham from the political class aimed at preserving its interests first.

The way he has been ignoring critical issues in his speeches in the last three years ruins anything he has earned in the name of his personal integrity.

Thankfully, we didn’t see another hara-kiri come into play when Manmohan Singh chosen not to announce the ill-conceived ‘Har Hath Mein Phone’ scheme ( But no one can say if it was a late-dawned wisdom or political opportunism of biding time as the parliament session is on and given the way the scheme has drawn criticism, it would have given the Opposition a fresh arsenal to attack the government in the Parliament.

For how long we would be given fake promises that his government is working hard to improve the Economy scenario? Manmohanji, did you realize you now sound so ineffective that people have started ignoring your persona all together. Certainly, you would never have thought to leave such a legacy when you took the reign in 2004.

But that looks a certainty now.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister – please have mercy on your dear countrymen, brothers, sisters and dear children.

The current state of affairs in India needs some real stuff now – beyond fake promises and lip-service as has become the practice in the recent political history.


The high-flying words of Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh in their addresses to the nation on the Independence Day was nothing new but just yet another extension of the routine show of irresponsibility and growing apathy.

Such heavy words mashed with statistical articulations are intended to manipulate the ground realities. And the present government tries to shield itself behind the set of data with similar gambits, time and again. Manmohan Singh tried to present the near-utopian India story riding on statistical bravado only and ‘hopefully’ failed this time. (That we would come to know in upcoming assembly and general elections.)

Excesses! Two notable statistical excesses that we come across regularly are inflation and poverty line.

The government has its propaganda machinery ready whenever inflation figures come down. They never forget to emphatically say that the measures are working and soon the situation will be under control. But given the trend in recent years, inflations figures have remained on the higher side most of the time making the government run for  the  face-saving ‘magic wand’ sermon. And the prevailing truth, that prices have only gone up irrespective of where the inflation heads, nails the government.

Another controversial data set is the poverty estimation. It is a different political game altogether with still no official poverty line figure. Whatever that we use thanks to the Montekonomics as the poverty line standard leaves much to be done. But the government uses this abysmally low benchmark to browbeat about its poverty alleviation and social parity achievements.

A country as complex and poor as India needs holistic development and not just manipulation of statistical figures to show if the picture is really rosy. That is the cardinal reason the tools and figures used the world over fail to portray a good picture in India.

If we go by the universal set of data on quality of human growth – Human Development Index (HDI) – by the United Nations, we see the absence of this ‘holistic’ factor in the India growth story – a solid basis for the analyses based on the theme – growing disparity between India and Bharat – the gap between the Indian ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’.

If we take the 1991 economic liberalization that is attributed to be the alpha point of India’s economic power status of the day and see the reference years HDI, say 1991, 2001 and 2011, one can easily deduce the HDI figures tell us how poorly has India performed on its human growth story.

Now what is HDI? HDI is a composite statistic of different parameters to rank countries on their human development progress. The dimensions currently being used are life expectancy at birth, education standard in qualitative terms like mean and expected years of schooling and standard of living as reflected by per capita GNI in PPP terms.

India’s HDI rank in 1991 was 123 that has seen subsequent fall in 2001 (ranked 127) and in 2011 (ranked 134).

Its not the India has not grown economically in these years. In fact, its composite HDI points have gone up from 0.344 in 1980 to 0.547 in 2011.

YEAR                         HDI VALUE
1980               0.344
1990               0.410
2000              0.461
2005               0.504
2009               0.535
2010               0.542
2011               0.547

Let’s see what has been the decadal growth in HDI composite figures.

1980-1990 - 0.066
1990-2000 - 0.051
2000-2010 - 0.081

It is interesting. The decade that preceded the economic liberalization in India registered higher HDI figure growth. It might be the result of the liberalization policies adopted by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 that were stalled in 1987 but not completely reversed as had happened with the reform attempts of 1966.

But the Indian economy had started to take a rapid fall in late 80’s and the 1991 balance of payment crisis forced the government to open the Economy. It worked and ensured a period of high-digit economic growth further on with patches of gloom (like the one now). It can be said safely that the lower growth figure of the 1990-2000 decade was a result of the economic hara-kiri of 1991 and the Economy needed these many years to smoothen the patches and it created the base for higher growth in the next decade.

The highest growth figure of 0.081 in the 2000-2010 decade might well vindicate this assumption. But when we try to see it in consonance with the rankings over the years, instead of writing laurels, we need to be worried. And there are thinking souls, justifiably worried, except our policymakers who at their convenience easily criticise and dismiss reports like the UNDP HDI.

The high decadal growth figure and a consistently declining HDI ranking tell us this very clearly that honest efforts are not being made to ensure the ‘holistic’ human development and the social disparity is growing. And this disparity is of different type. It is not as if the rich are getting richer at the cost of poor getting poorer. It is true that there has been an increase in the income level of the Indians as a whole. But what is worrying is the pace of growth and the pace of the growing divide.

The wealthy and the neo-rich are getting richer at a much higher pace than the rate at which the poor are getting to the next higher level of living and as a result the wealth is getting highly concentrated in the hands of the economically well-to-do minority. Its direct consequence is the rising authoritarian behaviour among the ruling class (maximum are neo-rich). And one simply cannot expect from the profit-reaping business entities to don the mantle of social empowerment crusaders.

As a result, we are still witnessing the growing slum population. 52.4 million Indians were living in slums according to Census 2001. It almost doubled to around 93 million in 2011. Now that is more than population figures of many countries. A report says Indian slum population is expected to grow at 5% adding two million more every year. India in slums remains a sought-after subject for western researchers and documentary makers.

As a result, the country’s ruling class still forces the millions above the poverty line by defining the average figure of Rs. 25 a day income (so Rs. 750 a month) as the poverty benchmark. Let alone surviving, no one can expect even a peaceful death in this meager some.

As a result, we are still global laggards in terms of serious elementary education and quality higher education. We produce hundreds of thousands of professionals every year but the quality remains elusive.

As a result, tens of thousands of families are still dependent on manual scavenging for their livelihood and our government is still debating on an effective law to curb it. "We are considering a new and effective law to put an end to the repulsive practice of manual scavenging and to provide opportunities to those engaged in this practice to begin their lives afresh," said Manmohan Singh on August 15. Manual scavenging is a shame for us and reflects in the attitude of this write-up ( 

As a result, India is still home to world’s maximum number of open defecators. WHO says open defecators in India constitute 58 per cent of world’s open defecators.

As a result, the country’s health infrastructure still has a 76 per cent shortfall of doctors, Planning Commission figures say it. There are serious lacunae in availability of other healthcare professionals. The healthcare infrastructure is in shabby state.

As a result, Indians still make 25 per cent of the world’s hungry lot. India stands at 67th rank out of 80 on UN’s Global Hunger Index. Countries like North Korea and Sudan rank above us here.

As a result, over 900 million Indians, feeling pangs of hunger, could never think the way corruption is eating into their rights to a dignified lives. Earning daily bread and butter consumes their entire lifetime.

As a result, the ruling class aborts every attempt to curb corruption, thus allowing it become a way of life in a poor society. 

As a result, every social empowerment scheme, be it the Universal Elementary Education, or the National Rural Health Mission, or the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or the Midday Meal Scheme, or the big-ticket total sanitation programmes, or many others social empowerment projects, they have failed to produce desired outcome.

As a result, mass expression of frustration is rising. We saw the spark in the form of rapid mobilization to support the anti-corruption movement when the intent of those behind the movement looked honest.

Any argument like ‘it takes time to improve situations for a large country like India’ should be dismissed given the fact that India is now the fourth largest Economy of the world and is slated to be the 3rd largest. The country is a big global market now. And it’s over two decades now when we were shown the ‘real magic wand’ in 1991.

The size of Indian Economy has quadrupled since 1991 from Rs. 10.8 Lakh Crore in 1991 to Rs. 48.8 Lakh Crore in 2011. Economy parameters like household savings, per capita income, Forex reserve, FDI have grown manifold.

Yet it is shameful when our prime minister says the country needs to be ready for tougher times owing to a bad monsoon. What all they do with the king-size budget for bodies like the Planning Commission then?

Instead they make silly statements like ‘I am happy with rising prices’ as the Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma said on August 19, 2012. Mr. Verma is in esteemed company of the titans here. We have seen and will keep on witnessing the high eloquence of the likes of Manmohan Singh, Sharad Pawar and other politicians making mockery of the everyday struggle of the ordinary Indian.

There is not even a single social indicator where we can say we, as a country, have made as impressive growth as in our Economy parameters resulting in the botched up India growth story.

When the Economy growth story can happen in two decades, why can’t the social growth story? And mind you, we are now over 39 Crore more Indians since 1991 waiting for it to happen.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -