The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Economic Miracles and Early Death in India

Jul 30, 2012

In India, more people are starving or malnourished than anywhere else in the world. For example, 75% of its 1.2 billion people cannot get enough food. And four out of ten malnourished children in the world live in India. These children are physically so weak that they die of malaria, diarrhea or other easily curable diseases.

And the situation is getting worse! Availability of rice, wheat and other food-grains has actually fallen from 177 kilograms in the early 1990s for each person a year down to 153 kilos in 2004, according to Utsa Patnaik, the author of The Republic of Hunger. These are levels not seen since the 1930s!

It’s shocking that this growing starvation and hunger is happening in a country talked about as being an “economic miracle,” that is, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. India averages higher than a 7% rate of growth per year – even over the last years of economic crisis.

The reality, though, is that most of the growth of the Indian economy has been concentrated in just a few narrow sectors, which are mainly tied to increases in investment and outsourcing by a few big companies in the imperialist countries, especially high tech companies like Microsoft, Intel and IBM. Other big companies, from banks to airlines, have also outsourced some of their work to India.

This outsourcing has certainly benefitted parts of the Indian upper and middle classes that gained business and jobs. But this work did not develop the country.

The middle and upper classes of India are like tiny islands in a growing sea of misery, as inequality continues to widen. The 810 million people who live in rural regions are forced to survive on a shrinking share of what is produced by the national economy. And some of the biggest slums in all of Asia are in and around cities like Mumbai, where one-third of its 18 million inhabitants are either homeless or live in tiny miserable shacks.

No, there is no miracle in India – economic or otherwise.