Is India Rich or Poor?

India is strange in many ways. Perhaps the question of it being rich or poor may not be right one. But as a person like me goes through various views about India as economic power or about its GDP and its growth, he gets more and more confused. According to an economic map of India, roughly shows Maharashtra GDPs to be comparable to Latin American nations but, per capita, closer to those of African states. What will be status of a state like Bihar and its people?

However, as reported, according to a World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management (MLGWM) and Capgemini, it is the second straight year in which India’s HNI population growth has been among the top 12, and more surprisingly, “India’s HNI population grew at 20.8 per cent to 153,000 compared with 126,700 in 2009.” The growth rate is the highest, higher than even China.

The country has appointed the Centre for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) in the University of Pennsylvania to count the Dalits who have a business of Rs 1 crore or more. Perhaps the reason for using an outside agency is to eliminate any bias of the domestic agency. So far, 500 or so have been profiled in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, the National Capital Region of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The number may look good but please remember there are 166 million Dalits in the country. But will it present a right picture? Will the agency also conduct a survey of Brahmins? In India, traditionally, a few castes were rich and engaged in business.

Indian government allows huge amount of grains to rot in open or in the Government’s shoddy warehouses (images). Neither the planning commission nor NAC that has fathered the Food Security Bill could neither find an amicable solution so that the grains instead of rotting reach the kitchens of several hundred millions of poor Indians nor decide a policy of right inventory management in last 50 years. Why should 65 million tonnes of wheat and rice at last count, be kept a buffer stock to meet eventuality adding to the fiscal burden through high carrying costs, apart from pilferage and quality deterioration? Why can’t there be a continuous process of export and import work and make good business out of the produce? With 65 million tonnes, are we not rich but hungry? With each passing month, every tonne of grain stored with the government would cost Rs 200 a tonne more. As reported, a part of the current wheat stocks is about three years old and on which the carrying cost is as high as Rs 7,200 per tonne.

How can a country be poor when an old-time auto manufacturer that currently makes only commercial vehicles launches a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) in 2012 that will be positioned above the Toyota Innova and spends Rs 1000 crore for product development?

How can a country still remain poor when just one airline firms up its order for 72 planes making India the single largest buyer of the aircraft?

Why should not India take advantages of its strong areas in agriculture as clear from recent decision to export? As reported, the white sugar contract for August delivery at London fell from Wednesday’s closing price of $ 739.90 a tonne, following the news of India’s permitting an additional five lakh tonnes of exports – over and above a similar quantity for which the formal approval notification was issued on April 19.

Can India be a poor country when the empire built by late Sathya Sai Baba worth $8 billion besides the crores in cash and few more crores worth of gold and silver in his personal room? And how can we forget another billionaire in Ramdev, who may even be in the list of government’s BPL list?

And all this makes me believe the peptalk in the rounds of morning walk. “Mr. Sharma, can you guess how many employees in Noida authority are crorepati?” “Any IAS worth less than Rs 100 crore is considered a fool these days.” “The queen’s daily collection of booty from all over the state is Rs 700 crore.” “Amar Singh ran away with Rs 40,000 crore of Mulayam Singh.” Even today’s Hindustan, Patna carries a news of confiscation of Rs 48 lakh worth of properties of a clerk on its front page.

Can India be still called poor?

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