Archive for June, 2007

9% GDP growth is widely inclusive

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

(By: Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar)

The leftist critics are right when they say India’s record GDP grow-th is bypassing rural millions. This tragedy arises from massive government failure to provide decent education and infrastructure to every village despite 60 years of gargantuan but wasteful spending. India’s cities have been connected to the global economy and have taken off. The villages have not.

But does this justify criticism that 9% GDP growth benefits only a thin upper crust of the population? Not at all.

No economy can grow at 9% unless a wide swathe of people simultaneously increase their productivity and output. Caveat: in small economies, a single mineral deposit can raise GDP without widespread citizen involvement. These exceptions apart, 9% growth is rare across the world precisely because it is so difficult to rapidly improve the productivity of most of the population.

The plain fact is that 9% growth cannot be non-inclusive. It can be achieved only by aggregating the efforts of hundreds of millions. Now, widespread inclusion is not the same thing as complete inclusion. Significant sections are excluded in India, especially in badly-governed states. Still, 9% growth is widely inclusive, and could never have been achieved by a thin upper crust.

Mobile phone connections in India are growing at the rate of six million per month, or 72 million per year. With telecom towers coming up in rural areas, the number of mobile connections is expected to soon hit 500 million. Clearly, this represents wide inclusion, not a thin upper crust.

The number of households with TV sets was just one million in 1980, mostly black and white TVs. Today, 120 million households have TV sets, mostly colour TV. When close to two-thirds of all households have what was an elite privilege in the heyday of socialism, let us celebrate this as a success of inclusion.

Forbes magazine’s list of dollar billionaires has two new Indian entrants, K P Singh of DLF and Ramesh Chandra of Unitech. Critics find it awful that Singh and Chandra have so much wealth when others have so little. But Singh and Chandra used to be non-entities, and have become billionaires only because the price of the few thousand acres they own has skyrocketed. The same price rise has benefited every home and farm owner. Urban land in Delhi goes for Rs 2 lakh/square yard, and rural land in Haryana sells for up to a crore per acre. So, rising real estate prices are actually very inclusive. They benefit all from the jhuggi owner to the small farmer. Even those recorded as landless in rural India have homesteads. A small minority with no house or land at all have missed the bonanza. But the vast majority of Indians have gained.

India’s 9% growth is not, as some people think, due largely to the information technology (IT) exports. Indeed, India’s National Accounts do not even list IT services as a separate category. These services are lumped into the category ‘real estate, ownership of dwellings, business and legal services’. The real impact of IT is grossly underestimated by official data, since GDP is based on a historical composition of the economy, where IT had a tiny role. If you exclude IT altogether from GDP, the growth of the rest of the economy will probably be 9%.

Services account for most of the economy. The largest services sector is ‘trade hotels and restaurants’, which has been growing at 8-10% for many years. This is not run by the Ambanis or software giants.

Millions of urban and rural folk are employed in trade. Hotels and restaurants mean, overwhelmingly, dhabas, pavement vendors in cities and tea-shop owners in villages. Our formal statistics have no good way of measuring this unorganised sector, and so unfortunately miss large parts of it.

Activist Madhu Kishwar estimated some time ago that almost half the households in Delhi were engaged in street hawking and cycle rickshaws. Both these activities are largely illegal, and hence, poorly captured properly by official data.

The fastest-growing sector is communications (23.9% in 2005-06). The telecom revolution benefits a wide swathe of people, not an upper crust. Transport, another fast-growing sector, also benefits a wide swathe. Finance and insurance are booming. Millions of the uninsured now have cover. Consumer credit has spread the benefits of credit to millions of buyers of TV, white goods, vehicles and homes. Micro-credit has reached over 10 million poor women.

Official data show that almost 60% of Indians are engaged in agriculture. This is misleading. Agriculture is a seasonal occupation. Most rural workers do multiple casual jobs. A rural worker who spends 51% of his time in agriculture is classified as agricultural, even though 49% of his work may be in services, construction and rural processing. One study estimated that 70% of new rural jobs for women were in construction (which is growing by 14%, and employs millions).

If all Indians participated in today’s boom, i imagine GDP growth would be 15%. Clearly, we need more inclusion of those left out today. But equally we must scotch the notion that only a thin upper crust of Indians is benefiting. India’s growth is widely, though not fully, inclusive.

(source: Times of India  |  link)

Petition for speedier trial in Nitish Katara case

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

A US member Vindhya Malik has started a new petition to press for a speedier trial in the Nitish Katara murder case.

The case has been dragging on for years and the main defendant Vikas Yadav has recently submitted a list of thirteen defence witnesses, in what appears to be a clear ploy to further delay proceedings.

Sign the online petition here:

See the blog here:

International day of non-violence

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

India won a small but significant victory at the United Nations on Friday with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopting an Indian resolution to declare Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, as the International Day of Non-Violence.

The government tabled the resolution at the UNGA on May 31 this year to declare the Mahatma’s birth anniversary as a day of non-violence internationally.

Item 44, a resolution in the Culture of Peace segment at the UNGA to commemorate Gandhi”s birthday, received co-sponsorship from 142 member countries of the UN.

The resolution comes into effect from the 62nd session of the UNGA beginning in September. From October 2 this year and every year subsequently, the date will be commemorated as the International Day of Non-violence, the draft declaration states.

The idea was mooted as a small token of recognition for the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi earlier this year at a conference to celebrate the centenary of Gandhiji’s adoption of the satyagraha (non-violent non-cooperation) as a mode of protest.

The Congress party had hosted an international conference in January with participants from 91 countries and 122 international organizations to commemorate the launch of the Mahatma’s satyagraha.

Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs Anand Sharma was nominated by the government to move the resolution at the UNGA. He addressed the plenary session in New York on Friday night, his office said.“The wide ranging support (142 co-sponsors) shows the enormous esteem in which Mahatma Gandhi is held internationally,” MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

A 2006 movie, ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai,’ on how the Mahatma’s ideals influenced positive change in a Mumbai crook, was screened at the UN to considerable acclaim.

(Source: Hindustan Times | link)

“Quota hasn’t helped anyone”: Kumaraswamy

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

What’s with the Gowdas? After enacting one of the most enthralling dramas in Indian politics which led to Gowda Jr. becoming Chief Minister of Karnataka after enlisting the support of the communal [for the Humble Farmer Gowda Sr.] BJP, the father-son duo tag again. Only this time the issue at hand is the veritable holy cow of Indian politics, reservation.

Here is what the Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D Kumaraswamy had to say about the socially just policy:

“Reservation has failed to help any community in the last 40 years. Even if the internal reservation is evolved, it will hardly help any community to prosper.”

Stating that there were poor people in all communities, including Brahmins and Lingayats, Mr. Kumaraswamy said, “A 38-year-old Brahmin woman in Dakshina Kannada district earned Rs. 200 a month and she was taking care of her husband and son, both of whom are sick.”

“I have no hesitation to say that we (politicians) have been trying to mislead the people on reservation only to gain political advantage,” he said.

(as seen in The Hindu | link)

Now such honesty is indeed very laudable, were it not for Kumaraswamy’s reputation of a foolish politician. Still, truth has to count for something.

Interestingly, Kumaraswamy’s views differ sharply from that of his father. In the same article, Gowda Sr. is quoted as saying:

 ”Since the last five years, I have been asking successive governments to evolve `internal reservation’ so that the Thigala community could be helped to improve its economic status,”

 But the idea of internal reservation sounds nice. why, you ask? I’ll tell you why. Somebody ask Comrade Prakash Karat the number of SC/ST/OBC politicians in the CPM politburo. Ask Comrade Raja about social representation in the CPI Central Secretariat. Then you’ll know why.

“Reservation can’t divide an already divided society”

Saturday, June 9th, 2007
“Our [gujjar and meena - RA] culture is the same, our status in the villages is the same, we live side by side, share the same well and smoke hookah together. Why then do they get the jobs and scholarships but we don’t?”Bainsla says this is because the Meenas were given st status in 1954. “Reservations provide a sort of guarantee,” he says. “Give that guarantee to everybody or nobody.”

 (as seen in Tehelka | link)

The Gurjars and the Meenas seem to have been living most harmoniously before the “socially just” policy of reservation was implemented.

And yet, its supporters will have us believe that reservation does NOT divide society.

Another curious fact - all the great votaries of reservation, starting and moving downwards from Arjun Singh, seem to have lost the ability to communicate ever since the Gujjar agitation for ST status came to the fore.

What is the way out of this reservation imbroglio ?

United Students proposes a multiple-index related, point based scheme of affirmative action that will analyize people as citizens of India rather than just as belonging to x or y caste. We believe that caste continues to be important in the Indian social scheme, but economic conditions, gender, regional and educational imbalances are also important factors of exclusion operating in society.

Any effective affirmative action scheme ought to holistically address these various factors rather than just the factor of caste, which only reinforces caste divides in society [as proved by the Gujjar - Meena clashes].
(Read more)

Issued in public interest

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Don’t abort the girl child!

Guidance for DU admission seekers

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

This set of frequently asked questions about the Delhi University admissions process is likely to be a lot of help for freshers.

It deals with questions about hostel admissions, correspondence courses, sports quota, sc/st admissions, foreign student admissions, entrance tests etc etc.

Click here.

Still got doubts about the admission process? Drop a line to and we’ll get back to you FAST.

*The FAQs have been made available by the university itself and are reproduced on this website for the benefit of admission seekers.

calling all aspiring journalists

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

United Students is planning to soon launch a campus newspaper for Delhi University students.

All those who’ve something to say, and  who can say it well, in Hindi or English are invited to contribute at the earliest.Articles, reports and photos are all welcome.

Those skilled at editing, rewriting or designing are also invited to apply.Email your entries to

In case of any queries, just contact US at the above email address or leave a comment to this post.

new admits mentorship campaign

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

United Students members and volunteers helping out admission seekers at Delhi University north campus as part of our annual New Admits Mentorship campaign: 



(photos by Aditya Raj Kaul)


UNITED STUDENTS is looking for volunteers to help out admission-seekers to Delhi University from the 1st-15th June [not necessary for everybody to work every single day, obviously].

Here are the details:
1. We shall be offering admission related help, from the 1st to 15th of June [no sundays], at the admission centres notified by DU.
2. Timings: 10-AM to 1PM.
3. Volunteer responsibilities would include handing out information leaflets[provided by US], answering simple OMR-form related questions, basic course and college details etc. Basically, any second year student can easily handle the responsibilities. Senior US members would be at hand to help, whenever required.

Volunteers would be given certificates by People’s Action.

For registering yourself, please contact [as soon as possible] RITWIK at 9873554908 or

Remember you were a facchaa once and could’ve done with a little hand-holding!

Unity of the undercastes

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

They tell us that 85% of India’s population is “deprived”. Who constitute this magical figure of 85% ? According to them it is the STs, the SCs, the OBCs and the religious minorities.[by all estimates these groups DO NOT in fact make up 85% of the population, but facts are flexible and can be mutilated at will].  They are all deprived. Shah Rukh Khan is deprived. Daler Mahendi [a mirasi, who are considered SCs in punjab] is deprived. Laloo Yadav is deprived. 

The great theory of the century is that these deprived Indians will together rise up to throw off the yoke of “brahminism”How will this new type of revolution come about? Like this 

Or maybe like in Khairlanji, where the victims were dalits and the perpetrators OBCs, whom the news media promptly recast as “upper caste hindus”.

The gurjars are OBCs in rajasthan, so they are a deprived class but their relative deprivation is less than that of the Meenas, who are a ST community. The gurjars are now trying very hard to become more deprived than they’ve hitherto been and gain ST status, by hook or by crook.

In these days of “reservation politics” it pays to organize oneself on caste lines, extend age-old biases, promote superstitions and criminal activities [since the Mandal criterion rewards groups indulging in child marriage with the carrot of reservations], form squads of militant youths and pressurise the government to accept one’s demands.

The Meenas, who’ve cornered almost all the benefits of ST reservation over the last sixty years, are obviously unhappy at the prospect of yielding even an inch from what they consider to be their domain. So we witness caste riots [for the first time in many years in north India] between two organized and apparently militant communities both of which claim to be greatly deprived. Sometimes I wonder how a group which has political clout and money and muscle power and owns land, can be considered deprived?

The government says it will unravel the mystery. The district collectors will collate data indicating deprivation and if the gujjars are truly deprived, then they will get ST status. The Gujjars are quick to reject any such delaying tactics. They point out that the government did not feel the need to undertake any such studies when promising OBC reservations last year. The logic cannot be faulted.  

Welcome to India of the 21st century. Where it is fashionable to talk about caste. And more so if you belong to one of the deprived sections indicated at the beginning of this post. If you belong to the “other 15%”, then be ready to quickly admit the crimes your ancestors have committed for centuries. Feel a lot of guilt. Once they’ve made you feel guilty, they’ve got you and can make you accept almost any demands, no matter how blatantly these fly in the face of logic.

Welcome to India of the 21st century. Where caste = race [no matter that Ambedkar dismissed the suggestion of casteism being a form of racism with utmost contempt]. Where merit = a mythical construct. Where everything must be couched in terms of caste, and where to talk about being a citizen of India is an almost ridiculous proposition [ of course, to talk like a citizen of the world is considered to be leftist romanticisim of a bygone era]. Where there is renewed focus on evaluating individuals on the basis of their birth, rather than each person being seen as an assimilation of several identities. Where your identity is  taken as confirmation of your views [for instance, the widely popular misconception that all OBCs support reservations] Where the focus is not on production of ideas or of money, but on distribution of wealth and powers based on political clout and patronage.

This is the coming of age of the world’s largest democracy.