Wednesday, July 27, 2011

India- The World's Biggest Oligarchy?

Is India an oligarchy controlled by its 55 recently-minted billionaires whose wealth equals one-sixth of their country's GDP?

The answer to this question came when, as part of India's 2G scandal revelations, the Billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani was quoted as bragging that the ruling Congress Party is "Apni Dukan" (our shop), implying that he owns the ruling party. The scandal also produced evidence of collusion of India's corporate-owned mainstream media in their deliberate attempts to impose a blackout on the whole affair until it was finally broken by the relatively obscure Open magazine.

Here's an excerpt from today's New York Times story that captures the essence of crony capitalism and the rise of Indian oligarchy as being among the world's largest:

"India’s billionaires control a considerably larger share of the national wealth than do the superrich in bigger economies like those of Germany, Britain and Japan. Among the Indian billionaires included on the most recent Forbes rich list, a majority have derived their wealth from land, natural resources or government contracts and licenses, all areas that require support from politicians."

Among India's powerful billionaires, the New York Times story particularly features Gautam Adani whose cozy relationship with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has made him the tenth richest man in India. It says that "Mr. Adani has benefited from various governmental approvals and also bought coastal land from the Gujarat government at very low prices — in one instance paying as little as $540 an acre. Once he completed infrastructure, Mr. Adani sold land at a handsome profit to corporations locating inside the economic zone, including one parcel to Indian Oil Corporation, a state-owned firm, for $54,000 an acre."

The New York Times compares India's new billionaires with America's robber barons during the Gilded Age, a period of rapid economic growth which preceded the deep depression of 1893-1897.

The extraordinary power and influence of India's super rich has played out to the detriment of ordinary Indians who make up the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people. It poses a serious challenge to India's democracy, often claimed as the world's largest, to meet the very basic needs of its people in whose name the rulers supposedly govern the country. It also raises the specter of significant social strife which could spark a bloody revolution shaking the Indian society to its core.

Back in 1988, Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq said that "our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." It now appears that India's system today is not much better than Pakistan's which has less inequality between the rich and the poor.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's 2G Scandal

Bloody Revolution in India?

Is There a Threat of Oligarchy in India?

Political Patronage in Pakistan

India at Davos 2011: Story of Corruption and Governance Deficit

Challenges to Indian Democracy

India After 63 Years of Independence


Anonymous said...

One minor difference
1.The super rich in India actually run large companies,earn lots of FX for the country and are by and large first gen super rich and employ lots of people.

2.They are technocratic

They could be compared with mega industrialists of early 20th century america ie rockefellar,carnegie,jp morgan etc

Anonymous said...

the india super rich actually make producrs and earn their pay.

This is slightly different from amreekeee oligarchy which takes money from the taxpayer to pay his employee bonuses running into 100s of millions of USD...

STRONGLY recomment max keiser on RT

Anonymous said...

They are a dominant industrial class not unlike the chaebol families in South Korea.

Its inevitable at early stages of any modern country's development.

Anonymous said...

Dear Riaz,

your contention that the world's 40% poor people lives in India might be on some statistical basis. But believe me. Its not true.I run a factory near Mumbai. I find it extremely difficult to get men who want to work for me. I pay almost Rs.12,000 per person (in pakistani rupees) and dont have any takers. If there are so many poor people, I would be flooded with workmen of my choice. Unfortunately I am not.

This is the situation across the nation. Maybe most of our guys want to sleep at home and expect they be brought out of poverty by government.

Anonymous said...

Dear Riaz Please read NEWS WEEK Pakistan 's latest issue

It has highlighted what India has ACHIEVED

Unlike you who are totally negative and biased against India

India's GDP will be 1.8 TRILLION dollars this year

Exports will be 300 BIllion dollars

There MUST be something that we are DOING RIGHT

Ofcourse we have problems like poverty and income disparities

But India's achievements in many fields are REAL

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Please read NEWS WEEK Pakistan 's latest issue It has highlighted what India has ACHIEVED"

Thanks for sharing. I read the Newsweek story and its focus is on Indian diaspora, or NRIs, not on what India has achieved.

Here are some excerpts, for example:

In fact, the diaspora remains one of India’s most important sources of foreign capital. According to the most recent available figures, workers from India in 2009 sent $49 billion in remittances to relatives back home, outpacing China by $2 billion and Mexico by $4 billion. Four percent of India’s gross domestic product comes from North American remittances alone.
Even after the empire’s end, émigrés kept pouring out of India to seek better lives abroad—and with them they brought brains and a willingness to work hard. In the United States, where the Indian diaspora represents less than 1 percent of the population, its members account for roughly 13 percent of the graduate students at the country’s top universities. Overall, 67 percent of people of Indian descent living in America hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28 percent of the total population. And those statistics are echoed elsewhere in the world. In Canada, people of Indian descent are twice as likely to hold graduate or professional degrees. In Britain, some 40 percent of the medical students and doctors in the National Health Service are of Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi origin.
Back in India, conditions remain harsh despite the country’s recent advances. The average life span in Mumbai is barely 56 years, a full quarter century less than in Britain and the United States, and poverty across the country remains at shocking levels, with four in 10 Indians living on less than $1.25 a day. Statistics like that are scarcely an incentive for members of the diaspora to return to their homeland.

Anonymous said...

He meant the real war with India article:

Anonymous said...

Dear Riaz

I want to point out a mistake that you have made

I had written that Please read "Newsweek PAKISTAN " and NOT Newsweek ALONE

The Newsweek Pakistan is a Pakistani magazine

The NAME of the article is as follows
" The real war with India " written by Javaid R Laghari

The link is :

This article points out India's ACHIEVEMENTS

Data Cruncher said...

Dear Anony poster

Every Pakistani knows where the real war with India is. But it will take decades to achieve that. Until then destruction is easy way to bring India down to Pak level

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The NAME of the article is as follows " The real war with India " written by Javaid R Laghari"

I am personally a strong believer in the value of higher education and the need for significant investments in it, especially in this day and age when intellectual capital and wealth of nations are far more important than any other kind of resources.

Those who cite the 1986 World Bank study to argue that the social rates of return for higher education are 13 percent lower than return on basic education must remember the following: Hundreds of millions of lives in Asia were saved as a result of the success of the Green Revolution that was enabled by a combination of US aid, and the capacity of the recipient nations to absorb it by virtue of the availability of local college graduates in agriculture and engineering.

While I fundamentally agree with the HEC Chairman on his larger point of the necessity of strong higher education, I do think his unsubstantiated claims hurt his credibility, particularly his claim that "sixty-four years ago, Pakistan and India started out evenly enough in terms of education and skilled-workforce levels" and his assertion that India's middle class being much larger than Pakistan's as percentage of population. Both of these assertions are not supported by data from any credible sources.

The fact is that the Muslim populations in areas that constituted Pakistan were significantly disadvantaged relative to the rest of India in terms of education and economy in 1947, as established by significant data published a number of credible researchers like Dr. Kaiser Bengali and Dr. Kirpal Singh.

As to size of the middle class in South Asia today, Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report on Asia's rising middle class released recently.

The ADB report on Asia's rising middle class released in 2010 confirms that Pakistan's middle class has grown to 40% of the population, significantly larger than the Indian middle class of about 25% of its population, and it has been growing faster than India's middle class. The other significant news reported by Wall Street Journal says the vast majority of what is defined as India's middle class is perched just above $2 a day, making it vulnerable to various shocks. This is also true of Pakistan.

Data Cruncher said...

But India shows far greater sales in Autos and electronics consumables which Pak. Do you think MNCs make a beeline to India because of bollywood beauties.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Do you think MNCs make a beeline to India because of bollywood beauties."

Let me give a little lesson about the MNC thinking.

It's not the percentages, but the absolute numbers that MNCs are interested in. Each percentage point in India means 12 million people, while in Pakistan it takes almost 7% of the population to get to the same absolute number.

BRIC itself is a Goldman Sachs formulation based on population which is proxy for potential market, with the exception of Russia which is in it because of its vast natural resources.

Pakistan, being smaller in population than Brazil, India and China, is in Goldman Sachs Next 11. Together, these nations i.e. BRIC plus Next 11 make up the Top 15 emerging markets in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

The GDP share of Indian billionaires' wealth is more than four times of the global average. Forbes magazine put the combined wealth of all 1,125 billionaires in the world at 4.4 trillion dollars, which is just about seven per cent of the world's total GDP size, according to The Financial Express of Indiareport in 2008:

New Delhi, March 9: The domestic economy is smaller than that of China and the US, but the wealth of billionaires from India is equivalent to a larger share of the nation's GDP, compared to Americans and Chinese in their respective countries.

The wealth amassed by Indian billionaires -- estimated at 340.9 billion dollars by the US business magazine Forbes – is nearly 31 per cent of the country's total GDP. This gives them nearly three times more weight in the economy than their American counterparts and over ten times of those in China.

The net worth of all the Chinese billionaires is just about three per cent of the country's GDP, while that for the US billionaires is nearly 11 per cent.

In its annual list of world's billionaires, Forbes said there are a total 42 billionaires in China and 469 in the US with a combined net worth of 95 billion dollars and 1.6 trillion dollars, respectively.

The magazine put the number of Indian billionaires at 53.

According to latest data available with International Monetary Fund (IMF), the GDP size of India, China and the US for 2007 are estimated at 1,089.9 billion dollars, 3,248 billion dollars and 13,794 billion dollars respectively.

The percentage figures for the share of billionaires' wealth in the three countries are based on the analysis of Forbes net worth figures and the GDP size of these economies.

Vishesh said...

You talk about how pakistans economy was worse of than the indian one in 1947, well i would like to show you the truth!

For pakistans share of the population, it got more than India in proportion, so thats for your victimised claim

As far as education goes,


Literacy in India is key for socio-economic progress, and the Indian literacy rate grew to 74.04% in 2011 from 12% at the end of British rule in 1947. Although this was a greater than sixfold improvement, the level is well below the world average literacy rate of 84%, and India currently has the largest illiterate population of any nation on earth. Despite government programs, India's literacy rate increased only "sluggishly," and a 1990 study estimated that it would take until 2060 for India to achieve universal literacy at then-current rate of progress. The 2011 census, however, indicated a 2001-2011 decadal literacy growth of 9.2%, which is the slower than the growth seen during the previous decade.


Pakistan- 16% in 1951

So as you can see India has accomplished in 15 years what pakistan couldn't accomplish in 64 years!!!

As for your claims that the credibility of the writer of the article is poor because he doesnt give any proof, shows how much you use your brains, because no journalist or writer ever publishes his source in a magazine article, he obviously isn't a fool to generally publish this data, but since your anti india rhetoric is too much for your brain to handle you will go and accuse everyone who proves that india is way better than pakistan in every way, whether it is sports, or academics or the most important global perception.

As for your ADB article, I highly doubt the credibilty of the pakistan ADB branch considering your people can inflate your per capita income in double digits when your country grew at 2.4%. But Alas, this is the mentality of pakistan, a country which cannot come to terms with the rise of its eastern neighbor and the fall of its own.

pakistan has received $20bn as aid from the US alone that is nearly 12% of its GDP and still grow at a measley 2.4%. I mean comparing yourself to India after that is a shame, considering India is a net giver of aide!!

Again, your ADB data is based on 4-5 years back and i know that Pakistan has grown worse since then but on the other hand India has grown much better, so please live in the present than in the past!!!

If you have the guts, then post this!!!!

Rahul said...


The goldman sachs report of the next 11, was published in 2007. After tht, much water has flown down the indus. If you research a little bit, goldman sachs has a travelling ban to ur country.

Don' let me get started about the feudal character of your economy. You very well know that.

The policy making of your country is in dire straits. Recently the HEC has been devolved to the provinces. Now you can anticipate the future of higher education in Pakistan.

The growth rate of 2.4% and that to because of textiles and agriculture, cannot rise to a economic power. Accept that.

And by the way, of the question of poverty, did u read the recent UNO report, that India will reduce its poverty level to 22% from 51%(by 2015) according to UNO poverty level.

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh:"You talk about how pakistans economy was worse of than the indian one in 1947..."

Punjab is the largest, best educated and most prosperous province in Pakistan.

To put the reality of life in Punjab at the time of partition, let me share with you some data that clearly shows how the "tangible benefits" were shared between Hindu-Sikh minority and Muslim majority:

From "PARTITION OF PUNJAB" by Dr. Kirpal Singh (1988)

1. Landholdings 65% non-Muslims the remaining by Muslims

2. Electrical Connections: Muslims 74,790 and non-Muslims 81,525

3. Tax paid for urban immobile property:
Rs. 924, 358 by non-Muslims &
Rs. 396,189 by Muslims

4. Sales Tax :
Rs. 519, 203 by non-Muslims &
Rs. 66,323 by Muslims

5. Out of the 97 banking branches only 7 were run by Muslims.

6. Of the Rs. 100 crore bank deposits only 1 crore belonged to Muslims

7. Out of 215 factories in Lahore 167 were owned by non-Muslims

8. Total investments Rs. 6.05 crores Rs. 4.88 crores by non-Muslims


10. Out of the 40 High Schools only 13 were run by Muslims

11. Candidates appearing for University examinations only 28.51% were by Muslims.

12. Several Public libraries and hospitals established in the Lahore were by non-Muslims

13. Of the 5332 shops in Greater Lahore 3501 were owned by non-Muslims

14. Of the 80 Insurance offices, only 2 were owned by Muslims

15. Of the 12 Arts & Science colleges in Lahore only 1 was run by Muslims

16. Of the 15 professional colleges, excluding 3 run by the Govt, all were run by non-Muslims

17. Of the 12 hospitals NOT EVEN ONE WAS RUN BY MUSLIMS.

18. Rationing enumeration: Muslims (53.9%), Hindus (34%), Sikhs (10%) & others (2%).

Muslims in undivided Punjab had very low standards of living relative to Hindus and Sikhs, they were poor and backward, and there was no Muslim professional or business class as there is now.

Although I haven't seen any data on it yet, I bet similar or worse situation prevailed in Bengal and Sindh as well. And I can bet development never touched the lives of the Muslim provinces of NWFP and Baluchistan either.

Vishesh said...

Mr. Riaz all the data that you have put up just shows that muslims were incompetent as compared to the Hindus and muslims and your data is based on undivided punjab, after division all the prosperity that Non Muslims brought to pakistan part of punjab was left there for the muslims to take as they had to leave, that doesnt prove that pakistan got a deal worse than india infact it was given a better deal, it just shows that muslims at the time of partition were not at the same level as the non-muslims which is given by your data

13. Of the 5332 shops in Greater Lahore 3501 were owned by non-Muslims

15. Of the 12 Arts & Science colleges in Lahore only 1 was run by Muslims
and so on

eventually after partition, since lahore went to pakistan, all these things built by NON MUSLIMS went into the hand of muslims.

And pakistan is not only comprised by punjab, the same way India does not only contain punjab!!

So please talk some sense and give full information the way i have instead of giving information that suits you!!

Post this for people to see the truth and not facts twisted in a way to prove your lies!!!

Data Cruncher said...

"Muslims in undivided Punjab had very low standards of living relative to Hindus and Sikhs, they were poor and backward, and there was no Muslim professional or business class as there is now.


Hey do you know the same is true for muslims in UK compared to Hindus. It is time that we muslims stop blaming others.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "Hey do you know the same is true for muslims in UK compared to Hindus. It is time that we muslims stop blaming others."

The vast majority of "Pakistani Muslims" in Britain are rural folks from one particular region of Azad Kashmir called Mirpur.

Given their background as coming mainly from poor illiterate peasant families, I think they have done pretty well for themselves. Many of them are professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers, and some of them are ministers and MPs.

Let's give them some credit.

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh: "Mr. Riaz all the data that you have put up just shows that muslims were incompetent as compared to the Hindus "

This is the kind of discriminatory attitude that led to partition, and it's the same kind of hatred of Muslims in India which has made Indian Muslims the new untouchables in the land of their birth.

According to a report produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice Rajender Sachar, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 can not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.

Data Cruncher said...

Interesting. So muslims in UK are backward compared to Hindus because of their own background. But muslims in India are backward because of discriminatory attitude of Hindus. How convenient. And you are the person talking about consistency in labeling of christian terrorist.

My wife is an Indian muslim and she never forgets to tell the following when Pakistanis mention about Indian muslims "do you know which community is the largest drop out from schools in India". No prize for guessing. Muslims. In UP and Bihar muslim students are first to drop out of school, where even poorest of Hindus don't drop out at the same rate. Large muslim families, lack of education at home all contribute to muslims not getting educated.

Let me ask another question. What is stopping Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in beating Indians in education.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "My wife is an Indian muslim and she never forgets to tell the following when Pakistanis mention about Indian muslims "do you know which community is the largest drop out from schools in India"."

The overall stats speak louder than any one anecdote of a brainwashed person.

Unfortunately, your wife is brainwashed like some other Indian Muslims who have been able to escape life in India.

With abject poverty, hunger and discrimination in India, it'd be hard for any child who has to work to survive to stay in school.

The situation in Pakistan is not good, but definitely better than India. Youth literacy in Pakistan is now in fact quite high and rising, avg no of years of schooling in Pakistan is longer than India, according to UNDP figures.

India lags behind its neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on key human development indices like life expectancy at birth and mean or average years of schooling and gender parity, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report released late last year.

On gender parity, Pakistan ranks 112, ten places ahead of India at 122.

Titled "Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development", the report had a global launch and was released at the UN in New York by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, according to media reports.

According to the report, life expectancy at birth in India is 64.4 years, while in Pakistan it is 67.2 years. In Bangladesh, life expectancy is 66.9 years.

Similarly, mean years of schooling in India is 4.4 years while in Pakistan and Bangladesh it is 4.9 and 4.8 years respectively.

Another UN report indicates the percentage of Indian children dropping out and-or never likely to enter school ids much larger than Pakistani children.

Anonymous said...

This article is about India's super rich isnt it

The LARGE companies Such as Reliance Tatas Birlas Jindals Bajaj and the Mittals etc etc are NOW BUYING COMPANIES throughout the world

In Europe US Africa Asia Australia EVERYWHERE Indian Companies are INVESTING

This is in addition to DOMESTIC INVESTMENT

Secondly Public sector in India though very efficient with companies like SAIL, BHEL ,ONGC, IOC, NTPC are still slow movers when it comes to Quickly starting and completing NEW projects

SO having RICH and BIG companies is a Huge asset for India Both in terms of domestic economic growth as well creating foreign assets for India

INDIA's GLOBAL brand image and Brand VALUE has SHOT UP because of Indian Private sector

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "This article is about India's super rich isnt it"

No. It's about the extraordinary political power of India's superrich to bend public policy in their favor to the detriment of the vast majority of Indians who live on less than $2 a day.

The result is that India remains home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates while its 55 billionaires control 17% of the nation's wealth.

Vishesh said...

Riaz "According to a report produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice Rajender Sachar, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 can not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs."

See I am not being discriminatory, but you are putting up facts that are suggesting it. After all, if muslims were worse of than Hindus pre-partition and they are worse of post partition, It doesnt reflect on the countries mentality or the non muslim populations mentality about them, considering pre-partition India was ruled by britishers and according to your data, Hindus were still faring much better than muslims.

As for your data, let me give you some insight as to why they are not catching up to the rest. this is because, like in kashmir, everything is handed to them in a platter, whether it is quotas in institutions or in jobs, as a resut the more deserving Hindu candidates are deprived of seats which are given to their non deserving muslim bretherin, BUT I GUESS FOR YOU THAT IS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST muslims.

why is it that India, the so called discriminatory state, has had muslim leaders, some of the top movie stars are muslims and renowned people in other walks of life. Have we seen any of these in you SECULAR pakistan, where foreigners and non muslim religious leaders are being held and killed by your PEACELOVING taliban and other terrorist organizations flourishing in pakistan. While, Hindutva, Even though I condemn it in some parts, for one incident is a big worry for you and hence will lead to the destruction of the region. Typical, HYPOCRISY!

to be continued

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh: "considering pre-partition India was ruled by britishers and according to your data, Hindus were still faring much better than muslims."

Punjab had a Sikh raja for a lot longer than the Brits, and Ranjit Singh was far more discriminatory against Muslims than the Brits. He awarded large amounts of land and other perks to Sikhs and Hindus thereby enriching and empowering them while keeping Muslims weak and backward.

The best proof of India's discrimination against Muslims is in the vast difference between the Muslims of Pakistan and Muslims of India since 1947.

Without a doubt, Muslims of Pakistan are far better educated, healthier and richer than Indian Muslims today.

Indians have more poverty and disease and shorter life expectancy than Pakistanis today, according to World Bank, UNDP and WHO data.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, Muslims of Pakistan are far better educated, healthier and richer than Indian Muslims today.

Lots of Indian muslims will beg to differ.

Read MJ Akbar's book Tinderbox

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Lots of Indian muslims will beg to differ.Read MJ Akbar's book Tinderbox"

Opinions are a dime a dozen. It's the facts and data as laid out by Sachar Commission and UN agencies and World Bank that carry a lot more weight than MJ Akbar's personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author that the rich are being super rich and new setup of political industrialist are coming in place using their political power to economic like amer singh, sun tv etc...

Sad part of the mobocracy


Ashmit (India) said...

You are a master at spotting the silver lining, when there is none.

Oligarchy?!?!? Please, for sake of your own credibility, tell me that you are not making yourself feel better by pointing at India's position, vis a vis Pak.

Please don't tell me that you see superior policy making by a state (that very nearly qualifies as a failed state, but for its geo strategic position and for willingness of global heavyweights to milk pak for every penny it's worth)such as pakistan as the reason why it's managed to save its citizens from being overpowered by an oligarchy. Never mind, the near invincible military-bureaocracy axis in pak.

You are a funny man...

You pity the average indian, to comfort yourself over the loss that is pakistan. But despite all the impoverishment in india, outside of some emotional balm, how does it affect the average pakistani? The only time pak and india interact will be on the international stage, where by way of India's superior economic numbers (even if its only by volumes and not spread) India will stomp its authority alongside the likes of china, brazil, japan, south africa, australia, EU. That humiliation, for the avg pakistani, of being left out of a group to which INdia has managed to transcend will, in my humble opinion, be far more hurtful than any consoloation from cheap online threatics.

We are rich nation of poor people. Pak is a poor nation of slightly less poor people. That make you happy?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story about the impact of corruption on "Brand India":

BANGALORE: Anna Hazare's anti-graft campaign has pushed corruption to the fore again. Corporate honchos say businessmen overseas have been vexed with corruption here for a long time, and this movement addresses their worry too.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, executive co-chairman, Infosys Technologies, said Brand India is affected because of the perception that we can't solve the problem of corruption.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon, said India has an outstanding business reputation. But people outside feel the cost of doing business in the country comes at a price that may require underhand dealings to get things done. "This perception needs to change," she said.

Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO, MindTree, echoed that feeling: "Outsiders feel the government is not transparent and India is not an easy place to do business. There is discomfort, especially on issues related to infrastructure," he said.
* Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International placed India at 87 among 178 countries in the 2010 corruption index. India scored 3.3 on a scale of 10

* Janaagraha initiative shows Bangalore at the top with maximum number of bribes paid. Earlier this week, the site showed 3,641 instances of bribe that amounted to Rs 10 crore. Police, followed by the registration department and municipal services, sought the maximum number of bribes. The site depends on people logging in their bribe-paying details, and therefore is limited to that extent.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a VOA report on Hazare's fast against corruption:

Independent political analyst Prem Shankar Jha in New Delhi says the success of the anti-corruption movement marks a turning point in Indian democracy.

“We had a paternalistic government handed down to us from the imperial days …we draft a bill and we pass the bill, we never consult with you, we never bring any outsiders in," says Jha. "We want to do everything ourselves… which means we want to keep power in our hands. This total monopoly of power masquerading as paternalism has been smashed. In this particular occasion, the government was forced in parliament to approve the key elements of the people’s draft. Now that is the end of paternalistic government in India and the beginning of real empowered democracy.”

The political class, which analysts say was taken aback by the strength of the movement, appears to be heeding that message. Leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Arun Jaitley, told parliament that people’s voices will have to be heard while framing legislation.

“In any developing society and any mature society, there will be a role for civil society," he said. "They are a hard reality, they will exist. Some of them may take positions which seem a little excessive, they may not be implementable, but we must realize that their role is one of a campaigner, a flag bearer, a crusader on several issues.”

Hazare’s movement and use of a hunger strike to achieve his aim has its critics. Some say it has set a dangerous precedent. Others say he used undemocratic methods to force his views on parliament.

Hazare has announced his focus on reforming the political system will continue.

In a country where scores of lawmakers face criminal charges, he wants to ensure that people with a clean record are elected to parliament and state legislatures. He says people should be given the right to recall lawmakers who do not perform.

But political analyst Jha says he does not expect Hazare and his supporters to use the same tactics in the future.

“I do not think they will use the confrontation route. This is a stick that can break very easily in your hands. It should be kept for an absolute emergency as it was now,” he says.

Political analysts say the recent protest highlighted that the political class was largely out of touch with the public’s concern over deep-seated corruption. They say the protest’s success will force officials to pay closer attention to public opinion.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on global protests showing rising disillusionment with democracies:

Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike. Israel reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries.

Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.

“Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”

Economics have been one driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending breeding widespread malaise. Alienation runs especially deep in Europe, with boycotts and strikes that, in London and Athens, erupted into violence.

But even in India and Israel, where growth remains robust, protesters say they so distrust their country’s political class and its pandering to established interest groups that they feel only an assault on the system itself can bring about real change.

Young Israeli organizers repeatedly turned out gigantic crowds insisting that their political leaders, regardless of party, had been so thoroughly captured by security concerns, ultra-Orthodox groups and other special interests that they could no longer respond to the country’s middle class.

In the world’s largest democracy, Anna Hazare, an activist, starved himself publicly for 12 days until the Indian Parliament capitulated to some of his central demands on a proposed anticorruption measure to hold public officials accountable. “We elect the people’s representatives so they can solve our problems,” said Sarita Singh, 25, among the thousands who gathered each day at Ramlila Maidan, where monsoon rains turned the grounds to mud but protesters waved Indian flags and sang patriotic songs.

“But that is not actually happening. Corruption is ruling our country.”

Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the culture of the Web.

In that sense, the protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite.

The critical mass of wiki and mapping tools, video and social networking sites, the communal news wire of Twitter and the ease of donations afforded by sites like PayPal makes coalitions of like-minded individuals instantly viable.

“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”.......

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting piece about democracy and oligarchy by Michael Hudson:

Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.

Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.

Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.

By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.

What is missing is the counterweight to a tiny minority who didn’t set out to be petty kings but who know perhaps realize that there is no one and nothing in their way as things stand. . . . As things stand: things will change. Revolution is as likely as oligarchy; more likely I would say. And revolution has more modern precedents than does oligarchic recession. But I do think that society is not presently well-balanced to restrain finance-capital: so it’s them or us who goes down. Let’s make it them.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on rapid growth of inequality in India:

Inequality in earnings has doubled in India over the past two decades, a new report says, making it one of the worst performers among emerging economies.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says the top 10% of wage-earners make 12 times more than the bottom 10%, compared to six times 20 years ago.

The OECD says India has the highest number of poor in the world.

Some 42% of its 1.21 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.
Poverty line

"Brazil, Indonesia and, on some indicators, Argentina have recorded significant progress in reducing inequality over the past 20 years," the report, entitled Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, says.

"By contrast, China, India, the Russian Federation and South Africa have all become less equal over time."

In India, the report says, the ratio between the top and the bottom wage-earners has doubled since the early 1990s.

India has also not fared well in poverty reduction, the report says.

It says 42% of Indians live below the poverty line, as against the official Indian figure of 37%.

The Paris-based OECD is a grouping of 34 advanced and emerging economies.

Recently, the Indian government was criticised for saying that an individual income of 25 rupees (52 US cents) a day would help provide for adequate "private expenditure on food, education and health" in villages.

In cities, it said, individual earnings of 32 rupees a day (66 US cents) were adequate.

Many experts said the income limit to define the poor was too low and aimed at artificially reducing the number of people below the poverty line.

A World Bank report in May said attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty were not working.

It said aid programmes were beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.

Riaz Haq said...

What if Modi becomes prime minister?

Myth 1: Modi is a development man

This cannot be further from the truth. Gujarat has always been a developed state from the time it was carved out of Bombay state in 1960. Economic indicators clearly show that Gujarat under Modi has been ‘worse off’ than under previous governments (even the BJP one before him).

The fact is that foreign direct investment in Gujarat has taken a severe beating in the last few years and even local investment is far below what is being flaunted. Regarding social indicators, Gujarat fares poorly.

A UNICEF report published in 2013 says social development in the state has not kept pace with economic development; almost every second child in Gujarat under five years old is undernourished, while three quarters are anemic.

Myth 2: The Gujarat carnage is a thing of the past and Modi has been given a “clean chit”

Many believe the courts exonerated Modi of involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim riots in 2002. The hard facts are, however, very different. First of all, no court has given Modi a clean chit.

True, there is a Special Investigation Team (SIT) report that says there is not enough evidence against Modi.

But this has been challenged, with the petitioner Zakhia Jafri being given leave by Ahmadabad magistrates to question the merits of the SIT report in a higher court.

Raju Ramchandran, appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae for many of the Gujarat riot cases, asserts that there is enough evidence to prosecute Modi on several counts with regard to the violence in 2002, in which more than 1,000 people died.

Modi has neither shown any remorse nor taken responsibility for the killing of innocent people under his watch. The least a chief minister could have been expected to do was to enforce law and order and protect the life and property of every citizen in his state. That he ignored this responsibility, there is no doubt among many. That he has denigrated minorities has been documented by the print and the electronic media.

Myth 3: Modi has “made up” with the minorities

There are some claiming to be representatives of minority Christian and Muslim communities who sing Modi’s praises.

A careful analysis indicates these people have vested interests, especially in business, and are not really interested in their community or what is happening to minorities in the country.

In 2003 Modi introduced an anti-conversion law and established rules to govern the implementation of this law in 2008.

It is perhaps one of the most draconian laws in the history of democratic India. It forbids a citizen from converting to another faith unless she/he has permission from civil authorities.

Even now, police and intelligence officers constantly visit Christian institutions and Christians in general, making all kinds of inquiries and demanding to check baptism registers and other records.

Myth 4: Modi is not corrupt

In May 2012, anti-corruption campaigners Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal visited Gujarat. They came away declaring it the most corrupt state in the country. Why they have not continued to highlight corruption in Gujarat is anyone’s guess.

Several years ago, the Tata Motor Company was allowed to establish a plant to build the “world's cheapest car” in Gujarat with surprising ease, flouting every rule in the book and even the state's industrial policy.

Riaz Haq said...

Modi is where he is today – on the cusp of power — not because the country is becoming more communal but because the Indian corporate sector is becoming more impatient. Every opinion poll that shows him inching towards power sets off a bull run on the Bombay Stock Exchange. In a recent dispatch for the Financial Times, James Crabtree noted the exceptional gains notched up by Adani Enterprises – the company’s share price has shot up by more than 45 per cent over the past month compared to the 7 per cent rise registered by the Sensex. One reason, an equities analyst told the FT, is that investors expect a government headed by Modi to allow Adani to expand his crucial Mundra port despite the environmental complications involved. “So the market is saying that, beyond the simple proximity of Mr Adani and Mr Modi, these clearances may no longer be so hard to get under a BJP regime,” the analyst is quoted as saying.

Riaz Haq said...

French Economist-Author Thomas Piketty to #India’s "Hypocritical" "Self-Serving" Elite: ‘Learn From History’

After he fled to the authors’ lounge, Mr. Piketty told me that he found the elite of India “hypocritical” for urging their government to address inequality by pouring resources into economic development, like building infrastructure or helping selected industries. This is self-serving, he says, and only increases the gap between the rich and the poor. In his opinion, governments should find the means to invest more in social welfare, like primary education and health care.

Before the world wars, he said, “the French elite used to say the same things that the Indian elite now say, that inequality would be reduced with rising development.” But after the wars, he said, the French began to see that direct investment in welfare was the way forward.

“I hope the Indian elite learn from the stupid mistakes of the other elites,” he said. “Learn from history.”

India is just emerging from what many regard as a catastrophic experiment in a type of socialism, the sort that economists like Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate, say was not socialism in the first place, because it neglected health care and primary education. What the Indian elite learned from that history was to fear and loathe the idea of the welfare state.

In 1991, India reached the nadir of an economic crisis that forced it, in exchange for a financial rescue from the International Monetary Fund, to begin liberalizing its economy along the free market lines that were championed then by Washington. In the years that followed, the rich and the educated benefited the most, though the poor are better off today than they were before those changes.

Having prospered in recent decades, the Indian elite have faith in this economic model. But there is also a wide acceptance that India’s inadequate investments in education and health are holding the nation back.

“The problems India is trying to solve are problems other countries are trying to solve,” Mr. Piketty had said during his lecture. “India is trying to solve very complicated problems.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India, world's biggest oligarchy, sends elite commandos to guard billionaire's wife …

Imagine, if you will, the kind of outcry that would occur in the United States if the government sent a Secret Service detail to protect Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates.

That explains a bit of the furor in India this week after a Hindustan Times report that the Indian government was dispatching a team of elite commandos to protect Nita Ambani, the socialite wife of India’s richest man.

Her husband, Mukesh Ambani, an oil and gas magnate worth $21 billion, has had a government security escort since 2013, when he was the subject of terror threats, and covers the costs himself.

But in a country where there is a shortage of police officers, the news about 10 additional officers for the wife rankled.

“Women raped daily in Delhi. No security for them despite repeated requests. But [prime minister Narendra Modi] providing security to his friends,” Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said in a tweet.

The government said that a threat-assessment report by central security agencies deemed Nita Ambani’s protection necessary, according to the Hindustan Times report.

Ambani, 52, is an art collector and serves on the board of directors of her husband's company and chair of its charity wing. The couple live in a famous 27-story home in Mumbai that has a ballroom, a movie theater and six parking levels and has been featured in Vanity Fair.

As pretentious as it gets - 27 floor Mumbai house of Ambani family, 600 servants, $2 billion.

— Frank Vivier (@dievlamgat) June 17, 2016

The news reignited the debate of “VIP privilege” in India, where in recent years ordinary citizens have begun to chafe against what they see as undue perks given to the rich and famous, who are whisked through airport waiting lines, ride in motorcades that clog traffic and, in the case of politicians, live in luxury, government-assigned bungalows.

The data site IndiaSpend estimated in 2013 that in India, which is short about a half-million police officers, an estimated 47,000 officers are dispatched to protect 14,842 VIPs.

Riaz Haq said...

The richest 1% of #Indians now own 58.4% of #India's wealth. #Modi #BJP #Oligarchy

In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016.

The richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Credit Suisse Group AG, the financial services company based in Zurich. Credit Suisse has published the report every year since 2010.

The share of the top 1% is up from 53% last year. In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016

Does that mean the trend of the very rich getting richer is because of the Modi government? Not really—as the chart shows, the share of the top 1% in the country’s total wealth improved from 40.3% in 2010 to 49% in 2014. But the numbers do suggest that the very rich are expanding their share at a faster clip now. The richest 10% of Indians haven’t done too shabbily either, increasing their share of the pie from 68.8% in 2010 to 80.7% by 2016. In sharp contrast, the bottom half of the Indian people own a mere 2.1% of the country’s wealth.

Data from Credit Suisse shows that India’s richest do well for themselves whichever government is in power. In 2000, for instance, the share of the richest 1% was a comparatively low 36.8% of the country’s wealth. In the last 16 years, they have increased their share from a bit more than a third to almost three-fifths of total wealth.

Riaz Haq said...

#India tops the world slavery chart with 18.4 million #Indians (1.4% of population) held in #slavery . …

India tops the world slavery charts with 18.4 million slaves followed by China's 3.4 million and Pakistan's 2.1 million.

In terms of percentages, North Korea tops with 4.37% of population in slavery followed by Uzbekistan's 3.97% and India's 1.4%.

The number of modern slaves (45.8 million according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index) is 28 percent higher than the number that was reported in the 2014 edition. However, this difference is mainly caused by a different methodology and data compiling process applied during research. The 2016 index is based on 42,000 interviews in 25 nations
Cambodia is the country with the highest amount of modern slaves in the Southeast Asian region. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index 1.6 percent of the Cambodian population is victim of slavery. However, in absolute terms, Indonesia leads the ranking in Southeast Asia
Combined, there are 26.6 million victims of slavery living in India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Together, these five countries account for 58 percent of total global slavery
The Walk Free Foundation is an Australia-based human rights group
Most modern slaves - nearly two-thirds - can be found in Asian countries. This is attributed to the huge number of people living in Asia, while this continent is also well integrated into the global supply chains

Riaz Haq said...

How political will often favors a coal billionaire and his dirty fossil fuel
The tale of Gautam Adani’s giant power plant reveals how political will in India bends in favor of the dirty fuel
By Gerry Shih, Niha Masih and Anant Gupta

GODDA, India — For years, nothing could stop the massive coal-fired power plant from rising over paddies and palm groves here in eastern India.

Not objections from local farmers, environmental impact review boards, even state officials. Not pledges by India’s leaders to shift toward renewable energy.

Not the fact that the project, ultimately, will benefit few Indians. When the plant comes online, now scheduled for next week, all of the electricity it generates is due to be sold at a premium to neighboring Bangladesh, a heavily indebted country that has excess power capacity and doesn’t need more, documents show.

The project, however, will benefit its builder, Gautam Adani, an Indian billionaire who according to Global Energy Monitor is the largest private developer of coal power plants and coal mines in the world. When his companies’ stock peaked in September, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranked Adani as the second-richest person on the planet, behind Elon Musk.


One of the power projects would be built by Adani, who had provided a corporate jet for Modi to use during his political campaign and accompanied the newly elected prime minister on his first visits to Canada and France. After Modi’s trip to Bangladesh, that country’s power authority contracted with Adani to build a $1.7 billion, 1,600-megawatt coal power plant. It would be situated 60 miles from the border, in a village in Godda district.

At the time, the project was seen as a win-win.

For Modi, it was an opportunity to bolster his “Neighborhood First” foreign policy and promote Indian business. Modi asked Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to “facilitate the entry of Indian companies in the power generation, transmission and distribution sector of Bangladesh,” according to an Indian Foreign Ministry readout of their meeting.

For her part, Hasina envisioned lifting her country into middle-income status by 2020. Electricity demand from Bangladesh’s humming garment factories and booming cities would triple by 2030, the government estimated.


Facing a looming power glut, Bangladesh in 2021 canceled 10 out of 18 planned coal power projects. Mohammad Hossain, a senior power official, told reporters that there was “concern globally” about coal and that renewables were cheaper.

But Adani’s project will proceed. B.D. Rahmatullah, a former director general of Bangladesh’s power regulator, who also reviewed the Adani contract, said Hasina cannot afford to anger India, even if the deal appears unfavorable.

“She knows what is bad and what is good,” he said. “But she knows, ‘If I satisfy Adani, Modi will be happy.’ Bangladesh now is not even a state of India. It is below that.”

A spokesman for Hasina and senior Bangladeshi energy officials did not respond to a detailed list of questions and repeated requests seeking comment.