|Culture & Capitalism in the year 1949|
India (or rather, the Indian ruling class) fully embraced capitalism in 1991, and is now the world’s 6th largest exporter of food. In 2003, it exported 17 million tonnes of food – mostly grains that will feed livestock in advanced capitalist economies.
GDP growth increased from 4.7% in 1983 to 7% in 2012 and provided many job opportunities for urban and educated Indians. Privatisation and foreign direct investment helped spread new enterprises and encouraged the growth of the IT sector. Privatisation has also resulted in the development of a private healthcare sector that offers high-quality and world-class health services. A “middle class” has also developed, although how many people are in this group is anyone’s guess.
At the same time, India has the largest population of starving and hungry people in the world according to the UN. Food intake levels in 2011/12 were reported to be lower than intake levels from 1983. Utsa Patnaik, an Indian Marxist economist, estimated that food absorption rates declined from 177 Kg per head in 1990 to 151 Kg per head in 2001. This level is comparable to levels experienced in 1947, when India gained independence, representing a setback of over 40 years. One out of every two children in India suffer from malnutrition and stunted growth, and 79% are anaemic.
India also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, higher than Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of Indian people cannot afford privatised healthcare, and the government has reduced its healthcare budget to barely 1% of total Indian GDP. Over 50% of people avoid going to the clinic or hospital because they can’t afford it. 2 million Indian children die every year from preventable diseases.
According to Indian government sources, 23% of the Indian population can be classified as middle-to-high-income. The remaining 77% survive on less than $0.15 per day. 93% of the workforce is in the informal sector, and as such have no job security or minimum wage. Agricultural workers are almost entirely informal. In fact, trade liberalisation caused a crisis in the agricultural sector; there have been over 300,000 worker suicides since 1991, mostly caused by mounting debt – a direct result of trade liberalisation.
The richest 10% of the Indian population control 74% of India’s wealth; the richest 1% control 49%. Meanwhile, 0.8% of the wealth trickles down to the poorest 20%.
India is continually lauded as a capitalist success story, and in a way it is. The capitalists have been very successful in stealing all of India’s wealth and keeping it for themselves, and they have been very successful in oppressing the majority of the population. Capitalism has dispossessed the majority, however. That is the true nature of capitalism, something free market fundamentalists and imperialist pigs conveniently ignore.
Sources : Multiple Inputs from Google, Economic Times, Forbes.