India is often dubbed as capitalism’s miracle, democracy’s great success story. But the vast majority of the masses have been drenched in misery and poverty.
India’s increasing ‘middle class’ of over 300 million contrasts starkly with the reality that India 30 years ago was home to one-fifth of the world’s poor, and today it is home to almost one-third of the world’s poor. At present, 29.8 percent of the Indian population lives below government’s poverty line comprising of those whose daily income is less than 28.65 rupees. According to UNICEF, a third of the world’s malnourished children are Indian. Another data also shows that 42 percent of children in the country under the age of five are underweight while 58 percent of children in the same age range were stunted. India has three million households with over $100,000 of investable funds yet that is merely 1.25 percent of the total households. India’s growth of 7.9 percent will not mask its poverty alleviation, which is 0.8 percent negative, virtually the same figure as it was 20 years ago.
Social commentator, Colin Todhunter, explains, “The issue of poverty keeps rearing its inconvenient head in India. The Planning Commission tends to keep on shifting the poverty line, but it is always at a ludicrously low level, which underestimates the numbers actually living in poverty. But playing fast and loose with India’s poverty line has almost become a trendy pastime. The truth is that poverty is an embarrassment to many of India’s filthily rich ruling elite, who like to portray the country as an emerging superpower, with its space programme, sophisticated weaponry, sports towns, growth figures, Formula 1 race track and gleaming malls.”
With 75 percent of the population living on less than two dollars a day, the influence of western agribusiness is regressive as can be seen with over 200,000 farmers’ suicides and large parts of the country under military law in this ‘largest democracy’ in the world. Deceit and hypocrisy have become norms of Indian elites politics. Money decides the outcomes and governments in India.