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Archive for March, 2011

Social strata in Indian society are highly imbalanced. While a highly complicated religious caste system divides people, it divides them even further by occupation. Over the years additional complexities have somewhat crippled the common Indian society, and with the advent of internet age, the great social divide has now become a socio-economic divide.

Statistics say about 50% of Indian population is illiterate and below poverty line. And the other 50% is suffering with the stigma of an economic imbalance. So who is leading whom? Is it the top 5% who are carrying the torch for the entire nation or the top 40%? Either way less than one half of the population is carrying the load for the other half. And yet the nation is prosperous – at least on the global platform where stronger nations have struggled to perform in the last decade.

In the last decade, Indian economy has turned a corner. With the brilliant performance of software sector, improved exports and somewhat revival of agricultural sector, India has established itself amongst the top nations which are expected to lead global economy in another 20 years. But can it survive another 20 years at this rate? Can “40%” people continue to carry the load? I specifically call this a “load” because a country cannot just thrive on cheap labor at one end and a booming software industry at the other. Someday others will cut into the growing profits of software industry, just like apparel and agriculture industry. And government will only keep increasing the taxes because all other policies typically end up with corrupt ministers pocketing public money.

If you look at deeper into the issue, 50% people live below the international poverty line (about USD 1.5 per day). As for the other 50%, there is a classic socio-economic divide between the middle class and upper class. Middle class accounts for about 40% of the population while upper class completes the remaining 10%. There is no doubt, upper class has grown in the recent years but the per capita income difference between the upper and middle class is substantial. And the new-age theory of economics says “Rich only keep getting richer”. So if the economic climate is not being supported by the rich, it comes down to the middle class to keep it going. So in a society which is already divided by so many means, there is a big economic divide that makes it fragile.

In support of India’s growing economy, it is important that supporting factors like employment, education and population control are improved upon. If nothing else will be a roadblock, it will be population explosion which will keep increasing the socio-economic divide. Poverty and unemployment are only an ugly outcome of a population that is out of control. Government most certainly will not do anything to control the situation. So it’s in the hands of today’s 50% to do something – start a social campaign, support an organization, pay taxes, support domestic industries, support a school, sponsor birth control camps and more – make India proud!

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