Friday, February 29, 2008

On failure

Some comments on an article titled "State of Indian economy" by a Kuldip Nayar, published in the newspaper Dawn on 29 February 2008.

[snipped from]

> Two reports emanating from official circles
> say that nearly 70 per cent of people live
> in dire, dismal conditions.

Both dire and dismal? Perhaps the epithets are divided between the two reports. Wonder what "official circles" refers to? Wonder who creates these reports, and with what brief?

> The latest national sample survey says
> that the people in the countryside live
> on a daily earning of Rs8.00-Rs12.00.

What is a "national sample survey"? Who are "people in the countryside"? Does "earning" mean that everyone is employed? Does the sample only includes adults, or one per household?

> This is apart from the suicide that
> farmers are committing all over India,
> including rich Maharashtra and Punjab.
> The figure is one every half an hour.
> (In 2006, the number of suicides was 7,006).

Ah, a lesson in geography - Maharashtra and Punjab are included in India. But not in the English language, for more than one death is perpetrated, evidently, and hence "suicides" in place of "suicide".

Does 7,006 represent the total number of suicides in India, in 2006? Or is it only the number of farmers who killed themselves? Is a farmer anyone who works in the agricultural sector, or someone who actually works on a farm? And is this figure strictly related to farmers who kill themselves because of poverty? Who looks into the mind of a dead person and identifies the driving force? Who presumes to do this, even in the case of a living person?

> The humiliation of not paying the debt is too much for a respectable person to face.

This is a moral opinion, and a sordid one at that. So what does it imply? That the suicides were all "respectable" persons? Is this a defence of suicide? I cannot conceive of poets writing ballads to celebrate the honourable farmer who killed himself because he couldn't repay a bank loan. But the writer of the article is perhaps even now doing the needful.

> If Sharad Pawar is the food minister, sordid deals cannot lag behind.

This appears to be libel. If the journalist actually has proof of dodgy dealings, perhaps duty dictates that he share this with our judiciary. Or is journalism without end, except for paying restaurant bills or eulogizing farmers who kill themselves?

> The Central Vigilance Commission is looking
> into the import of 2,300,000 tons of wheat at
> a far higher cost than was necessitated. After
> testing the quality of wheat, it has been
> found to everyone’s horror that the imported
> wheat failed all quality tests.

Almost by definition, the notion of a quality test suggests that is a device to detect, well, poor quality. One assumes that 2.3 million tons of wheat are not imported, obligations of the supplier brought to an end, and only then quality checks initiated.

Interesting that "everyone" was "horrified". Wonder if they were similarly shocked with the suicide-per-30-minutes figure.

> Influenced by public opinion, the government
> has introduced the National Rural Employment
> Guarantee Act to give work or dole to a villager
> a minimum of 100 days of work in a year.

Always a good thing to know that a democratically elected government is influenced by public opinion.

The sentence, however, is dubiously constructed, with perhaps a preposition or more called for. Also, " an year" and not " a year".

> The scheme has already been perforated by corruption.

That is tragic. At least, the guilt of the corrupt has been proven in a court of law, and justice done. What? It has not? Do you suggest that there is no proof to back the journalist's accusation?

> However, the rural employment scheme is said to have awakened people to their needs.

Said by whom? The people? The designers of the scheme? The journalist's next-door neighbour?

"Awakened to their needs"? This implies that they were ignorant of what they needed, right? I thought the journalist's central concern in this article was the poverty of the people? Now that the government statistics and schemes are in place, the people finally know that they are poor.

> They have all the money to buy goodies.
> But this class of consumers is still
> crazy about phoran (foreign) goods.

These are the words of a "leading journalist"? The trailing ones probably lack the writing skills of five year old children.

> What hurts one the most is that the rich
> do not even feel embarrassed in flaunting
> their wealth.

This is what hurts the most? The corruption in high places, the suicides of respectable farmers don't quite make the mark, apparently. What constitutes "flaunting"? Should India not have any artistic and cultural expression, like plays, movies, parties, weddings, dances, grand buildings, celebrations which involve wasted food etc. because there are still citizens who are poor? (for such expression is quite unnecessary for survival of the human, treated as animal, and this is what the journalist seems to view the species as)

> But if in the process the country loses its soul
> or allows disparities to yawn, the result is nowhere
> near the dream of freedom fighters.

Ah, the "soul" of the country? What is it? The wearing of khadi? Who shall decide what is the soul of India? Is it democracy? Thought that was the soul of Athens. Or is it the suppression of ancient Indian customs? The speaking of English?

The "dream of freedom fighters"? What do we have to do with their dreams? Is the entire history of the sub-continent to be repudiated in favour of one single, rather small, part of the struggle against the British Empire? What were these freedom fighters dreaming of? The creation of Arabian-religious states on Indian soil? Getting a lawyer's education in England? What of our dreams?

> Frankly speaking, in a poorly developed country,
> the capitalist methods offer no chance.

Well, one is glad that the journalist finally speaks frankly. Perhaps it is the frankness that is responsible for the redundant article, before "capitalist". Fair enough, maybe the head of the Indian government really should take economics lessons. Maybe even get a degree in it. No, wait, he does have a First from Cambridge, in Economics, and a PhD in the same field from Oxford.

> We have again failed.

Ah, surely things are not all bad. At least our suicide statistics, and the calibre of our journalism, are quite outstanding.

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