Window to the truth

"The test of our progress is not whether
we add more to the abundance of those
 who have much, it is whether we provide enough
for those who have too little".
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937

"Our society is an antonym." I know this book shall be read by the educated and generally well-to-do strata of our society. It is possible that many of them may not comprehend the real level of illiteracy, poverty and destitution that bulk of our masses reel under. Most may not have visited our rural areas or vast settlement colonies in cities where poor people live. Our intense research shall open up the window to this truth and the superficial prosperity of the nation that meets the eye masking the harrowing reality of our country.

Scenario post-liberalization and open market conditions are surely euphoric for some, particularly those who have access to global technology in terms of products, shopping malls and eating joints, coveted jobs for youth having specialised courses or specialised trainings. The number of executives is rising. Rising FDIs is building happy foreign exchange reserves for the nation and providing seed capital to industries and business houses. FIIs have boomed the stock market. Land and property prices are skyrocketing. The number of rich is galloping. There are activities all around that one can notice in areas of construction, housing colonies, flyovers and roads, commercial complexes, malls and corporate offices. People have easy money. Easy loans and booming plastic money have made luxury-buying and luxurious living easy and affordable. Urban markets are shining and there is all-round jubilation and a feel-good scenario. For affluent society, India indeed is shining.

Behold! What glitters may not be gold. Sitting in Delhi or Mumbai, let's not play ostrich to the stark realities of our nation and the plight of its poor people. Illiteracy, backwardness and deprivation galore and reign supreme and haunt our rural masses and also rural migrants to urban areas. They constitute a very large percentage of 86% of our total population of 115 cr (Column 3, Table 5.5). The rich-poor divide is widening at a faster pace. Haphazard growth and overcrowding of cities gives the look of a third world nation and makes it a poor life, dispirited and joyless for most urban people also. In short, the quality of life is eroded and has receded to a low ebb. The common man has lost creativity and is destined to endure unrelenting and perennial shortage of power, water, lack of adequate medical health facilities, sewage disposal and civic amenities. Yamuna in Delhi and Ganges elsewhere are still polluted with bulk of untreated city sewage discharged into them, day in and day out.

With the availability of attractive and mechanized products, traditional handicrafts, such as pottery, hand-weaving, carpentry, blacksmith to name a few, are getting eliminated, rendering millions of our rural families and individuals dependent on such craftsmanship's out of work. It is gravely eroding their already dwindling means of living. The well-to- do and families of means are just outside of the balloon, and constitute hardly 14% of our population. The inside still remains dark and gloomy. The superficial affluence of metropolises and the buzzing activities there surely give a feeling of India shining for the elite, but glittering of a few cannot define the prosperity of the nation. In our shortsighted euphoria let us not dump those languishing in the darkness of poverty and deprivation. Larger India is still rural in one way or the other. This book is dedicated to these underprivileged strata that is dumped in the lurch to die or fatten on their sweat. They have no access to the emerging affluence of the urban society except for government relief's and grants or 100 days employment per year to one member in a family under NREG Scheme (if at all it reaches to them). The euphoria of India shining was short-lived in 2003-04 and routed out the then Vajpayee regime in 2004. Our attempt is not to resent the benefits to a few post-liberalization, but to invoke in them a feeling and a sense of responsibility for the welfare and upliftment of the underprivileged class of people of our country who also yearn for human attention and affection. We have tried to make a humble attempt to work in this direction through the present book.

Most analyses and conclusions drawn are counter-checked and backed up with established data. All supporting data are provided to corroborate the findings. Many figures may look mind-boggling and unbelievable but that alone is the truth.

I hope the analyses will provide food for thought
 for those who may think our country is
progressing, while in reality it is not!