The images of twenty years ago, when i was still a young college going boy, lurked in front of eyes when i saw this news on television. It was a news documentary on the Great Indian Economic Reforms and the completion of twenty years of it.
The flashback of 20 years reeled the horrifying images of India’s poor economic conditions. I still remember, the then Prime Minister, Mr Chandrashekar, in his publicized television addressed, appealed to all Indians to conserve petrol and oil as much as they can, as India was awfully short of foreign exchange reserve and the reserve then present could only satiate nation’s one week’s thirst. The situation was really grim and on one such night the government mortgaged a plane full of gold to beef up foreign exchange a bit. The shameful images of a country mortgaging its gold for sake of few dollars were splashed all over the frontpages of newspapers the next day.
Under such circumstances the change in government took place and an economist in the new Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, had their job cut out. They charted a new way out for reviving our economy. A way dictated mostly by IMF and World Bank. The was was of globalisation and liberalization. That signalled the end of Licence Raj and the end of Nehruvian mixed socialism that India embraced for so many decades. The protectionism that the government offered to its industry, businesses and to the poor people was now going to reduce and the economy was going to open up for health competition.
The first signs of liberalization that we as kids then saw was influx of foreign TV channels, the idiot box was now abuzz with channels, the dominance of Doordarshan, the state owned television ended and ended the good old days of television serials. The new avatar television was more flashy and spoke of new found prosperity.
Soon you could see the influx of many unseen and unheard businesses. The roads were soon full with brand new cars, the dominance of local car companies ended. The Electronic industry was set on fire with introduction of newer models of TVs, Refrigerators and what not.
But, all this gave birth to consumerism, people started spending too much and at many a times bought goods just to show off their riches. This consumerism however, brought with it, tensions and expectations, tensions to earn more to get these gizmos. Frustration creeped in people like never before. People led much easier a life, before this liberalization took place, life afterall was more settled and subdued when apple and blackberries were just fruits and not phones.
There was this class of people, who were dissatisfied and frustrated lot, dissatisfied that they were rich, but not rich enough to get what they wanted.
Then there was another class of people, a more dominant ones, were were left out of this mad race. A good 80-85% of India even today live a life totally different. Their mad race is only to meet the ends. In this country of 100 billion plus people, more than 85% people even today find it hard to earn a daily stable income of more than 1$. Meeting ends remain their only existential question, forget about the fruits of so called liberalisation..
If the nation does not benefits from this liberalisation, then what is the use of such a policy. Only handful of people and scamsters are today smiling their way to the banks. In the last two decades we have created a huge huge desert of disparity, where people helplessly see selected few enjoying all the pleasures of life and the remaining bystanders.
Will this huge disparity between the rich and the poor not affect the total unity of this country, is the question that regularly lingers in my mind. For how many more years will the have not’s only curse their fate and not take law into their hands to grab the share of the booty that others are enjoying. Will that not create a situation like that we see in some African nations ? The rise in crime graphs in urban areas is this not indicative for what lies for the future.
The last twenty years have only created two India’s, India of handful of super rich people and the India of the others. Others who don’t matter much to the government and to the policy makers, other than the time of election. The first half never votes, the other votes the band of people (of all hues, inertly same), who draft policies and schemes only for the handful of rich people.
Yes the last twenty years have only made India Rich!!! But have left Indians Poor !! What do you feel ??