NIDDERAU, GERMANY: This is with reference to Kuldip Nayar’s contributions to your newspaper, in particular his piece of May 30 titled “Fluctuating fortunes of Manmohan Singh.” He is a good writer and and is also very open and sympathetic to Pakistan and India having good ties. This is something that we Pakistanis should appreciate at a time when the whole world seems to ganging up against us.
I admire India’s road to democratic maturity and the fact that democratic process has not been disrupted once since 1947, something that unfortunately has not been the case with Pakistan. More important is the economic development taking place there. It is home to over 200 million Indians whose standard of living can be compared with those who live in the rich nations of the world.
That is one reason why many developed countries get into this market. However, there is another side of India, which needs immediate attention. Earlier this month, India’s Planning Commission, which helps sets economic policy, told the Supreme Court that the poverty line for the nation’s cities was INR 578 ($13) per person a month. The revelation has set off an angry debate in a country with soaring economic growth that has brought Ferrari dealerships and Louis Vuitton stores to cater to the new urban rich, but left hundreds of millions of others struggling without access to adequate food and clean water. The World Bank‘s global poverty line, at $1.25 a day or about $38 per month, is three times higher than India’s urban level. Local activists say a better name for India’s standard would be “the starvation line”. According to another report, over 40 per cent of India’s children are undernourished.
My point is that unless the leadership does not tackle such imbalance with more vigour, the progress can be halted and other more radical parties will emerge to upset the process.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2011.