Tag Archives: development

New and Old India

By Dinesh Wagle

Old India trudges through waterlogged roads; new India flies. This is because Indian democracy is dictated by the flourishing middle class, according to a professor.

facets of india kathmandu post
Facets of India. Kathmandu Post (15.07.10)

The eagerly awaited monsoon arrived last week in Delhi bringing great relief to the residents. The temperature dropped by as much as 10 degrees celsius to 30. Clouds covered the sun. A cool breeze could be felt while walking on the streets. Heaven. But then another problem appeared soon after. Roads were waterlogged forcing vehicles to move at a snail’s pace. At some points traffic signals stopped working. A trip to the swanky Select City Walk mall in Saket from Jangpura took almost two hours. It’s normally a less than half an hour journey. This is Old India.

New India, on the other hand, flies. That too from a newly built world class terminal soon. With the completion of work at Terminal 3, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has gotten a facelift. Prime Minister Manmonah Singh inaugurated the three billion dollar terminal on June 3. While doing so the Prime Minister declared the forceful arrival of his country to the powerful stage of advanced nations. “An airport is often the first introduction to the country,” said Singh. “A good airport would signal a new India, committed to join the ranks of modern industrialised nations.”

The world has certainly taken note of the arrival of new India. Powerful nations are seriously considering enlisting the country along with a few others as permanent member of the UN Security Council. To take part in such meetings that have a lasting impact on world affairs, the Indian prime minister travels to Washington as frequently as Nepali prime ministers arrive in New Delhi. But New India has some confidence issues too. Terminal 3 is an example.

The biggest public building of India was scheduled to open to the public on July 15. But citing some “confidence issues” and alleged lack of necessary equipment, the terminal will come into full usage from July 28. The terminal needed some trial flights, argued the company that runs the IGI airport, so as to gain confidence to operate fully. Airlines, on the other hand, have complained of a lack of necessary infrastructures like backend offices and wire connections at the counters.

The reasons may vary but the fact remains that India has built a world class airport terminal and nothing can stop it from coming into operation very soon. Yes, there are critics who question why there is so much extravagance in a country with millions of people who can’t even imagine buying an air ticket, let alone fly. That is where democracy comes in.

“I am proud of India because it is a democracy,” said Prof. Dr N Sridharan of Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture. “But democracy is also the system of survival of fittest,” he told me. The fitter and more powerful you are the greater the chances of you receiving better treatment. As the Indian middle class is becoming larger (300 million and counting), richer and more powerful, the professor said, it’s also becoming influential over the government. The Indian democracy may not have become “for the middle class and to the middle class” yet but there’s no way political parties can stay in power without appeasing them. As they become richer, they demand more facilities and better infrastructure. The common man (aamadmi), meanwhile, watches the extravaganza from the sidelines. [Related link: New Delhi of Old India]

The second part of this article, published in yesterday’s Kathmandu Post, is related to July 5 Bharat Bandh which is available here

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Nepali Maoists and Bihari Republic

Bihar’s success story tells us that if Nepali leaders want, Nepal can progress in a couple of years, not decades.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Finally, the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu last week did what he was primarily supposed to do: promote his country rather than poking his nose into internal affairs of the hosts. “Some people talk about possible Biharisation of Nepal,” Rakesh Sood reportedly said at a programme organised to mark his country’s Republic Day in the Nepali capital on Jan. 26. “But look at Bihar, the economic growth there has crossed 11 percent.” The ambassador blamed Nepal for its growing trade deficit with India, arguing that market was of no use if there’s no production. He might be correct in his assessment. But I wondered how Prachanda and his company took the statement that came as a response to the Maoist’s ‘we don’t need Bihari-style republic [that rest of the parties and India want to impose] in Nepal’ rhetoric.

Why blame only the Maoists? For many in South Asia, the Indian state of Bihar is synonymous with lawlessness, poverty and underdevelopment. Not only in Nepal but in India too, I have found, the word Bihar(i) is taken as a mark of insult and humiliation. I have met many Biharis who hesitate to identify themselves as Biharis, including those who are highly educated. The problem is with the image of Bihar that was largely shaped by the politicians who ruled the state until 2004. Since, with Nitish Kumar assuming Chief Minister-ship, that rusty image has slowly been changing. Continue reading Nepali Maoists and Bihari Republic

It's Economy Stupid! Maoist Comrades Try to Assure the Business Community

Stock market has been crashed and business circle is confused. As the news of Maoist victory in the polls come out, the Maoist leadership is trying hard to assure the business community that they are here for capitalism.

For the CPN Maoist, the victorious party in the April 10 CA polls, the campaign hasn’t ended just yet. The party leadership is in full swing to convince the national forces, business world and the international community- at the same time- that they are not radical communist and there will be no cultural revolution in Nepal. Mao has died a long time ago. It seems that the Prachandapath (the path of Prachanda), an ideology propagated by Chairman Prachanda, tells them to have a very good relationship with ‘expansionist’ India and ‘imperialist’ America. Capitalism, they try to convince, is their mantra too. Prachanda says they are for the economy in which capitalists can have profit. Prachanda also says that there will not be a dictatorship of the proletariat. In his address to the business leaders in Kathmandu today the Maoist Chairman announced that the power will not be used tyrannically, reports Kantipur, but in the welfare of the people and the country. Continue reading It's Economy Stupid! Maoist Comrades Try to Assure the Business Community