Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The growing disparity

A recent article by Shashi Tharoor on the growing disparity in India has set me thinking on how we can bridge this gap. Mr. Tharoor talks of India being a land of paradoxes and there is a lot of truth in his observation.

When I look at new railway tracks of the MRT at Chennai, it feels good to see progress..at the same time when you look down from the train, it is so heartening to see swamps of water and hutments all around the dirty water. Ironical as it may seem, the growth of the overhead rail (for the people who can afford) is really at the cost of the people down below living in such conditions.

On the other hand, no matter how accommodating you appear to the people below the poverty line they mostly seem to get the better of you. I listen to my maid's many excuses for not coming to work on a regular basis only to see her happily taking advantage of the time off. Regular "extraas" like grains / clothes given out of compassion soon appear in the " should have" list and I wonder whether the other name for charity is compulsion these days! I left a cabbie with a trust that he would come home and hand over the change (almost Rs. 80) and it has been more than 2 months and I am still waiting :)

Another paradox is about our construction companies, we boast of "world class" construction. We also proudly say that we develop nations other than India. A close look at the construction of the MRT stations at Chennai is enough to shake all that you have heard / read. I shudder to think that it took close to 35 years if not more to build these stations! If this is the quality after all the years of work..I wonder how the Japanese built the worlds highest railway track and stations at freezing temperatures at Switzerland without the least trace of the effort. World class indeed!

All in all we seem to be in a real muddle of things right now and though we seem to be progressing to great heights..according to me the reverse is also true..we are exponentially progressing to scary depths of poverty too.