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Is the free market improving lives of India's Dalits?

Soutik Biswas | 13:46 UK time, Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A Dalit sweeper in Uttar Pradesh

Does free market drive social change? By rewarding talent and hard work, does it help bring down social barriers? More pertinently, has the unshackling of the Indian economy helped the country's untouchables, or Dalits, to forge ahead?

A group of economists and Dalit scholars led by Devesh Kapur at Pennsylvania University's Centre for the Advanced Study of India, believes so. India's 160 million Dalits are some of its most wretched citizens, because of an unforgiving and harsh caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the heap.

The study quizzed all Dalit households - more than 19,000 - in two clusters of villages in Azamgarh and Bulandshahar, two poor, backward districts in Uttar Pradesh state. Dalits were asked about their material and social conditions now and in 1990 when economic reforms were kicking off in India. The answers, says the study, provide proof of "substantial changes in a wide variety of social practices affecting Dalit well-being."

If you feel that 19,000 Dalit households in Uttar Pradesh are not a good enough sample for studying their conditions, think again. To put things into perspective, 32 million of India's estimated 160 million Dalits live in Uttar Pradesh alone.

But the very fact changes have happened to the lives of the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is enough to excite sceptics. Let's look at some of the more striking findings:

1. Ownership of bicycles, fans, TV sets and mobile phones have increased by typically a third to half of the Dalit households surveyed.

A substantial improvement in housing: 64.4% and 94.6% of Dalits in the households surveyed in two districts now live in "pukka" (concrete) houses compared to 18% and 38.4% respectively in 1990.

3. Some interesting changes in grooming and dress - again, an assertion of social aspirations. Take, for example, toothpaste. Under 3% of Dalits used toothpaste in the surveyed households in 1990. In 2007, more than half of them in Azamgarh and over 80% in Bulandshahar used toothpaste. Up to 80% of Dalits in one cluster of villages use shampoo today, an 82% jump compared with 1990.

4. Key changes in eating habits. Consumption of pulses has gone up. More than 80% of the children in households surveyed in both districts are not being served the previous night's leftovers. More than 70% of the households use packaged salt. Up to 87% of the households in Azamgarh and more than half the households in Bulandshahar buy tomatoes.

Whether calorie intake has gone up substantially remains unclear. But respondents say that their food situation is "much better."

5. "Massive" changes in social practices within the community. Today almost all the households rent a car or jeep to take the groom's marriage party to the bride's village and bring the bride back to the groom's village, up from as low as 2.5% in Bulandshahar in 1990. More than 90% of them offer tea to visiting relatives.

Dalit man in India

6. The relationship between the Dalits and other castes is undergoing subtle, but important changes. These days more than 80% of Dalits are not seated separately at non-Dalit weddings of grooms in the village, compared with a little over 20% in 1990. In Azamgarh households nearly 90% of Dalit babies are now attended equally by government and non-Dalit midwives.

The traditional practice that only Dalits would lift dead animals of non-Dalits is dying out. In Azamgarh fewer than 1% of Dalits lift dead animals, compared with 19% in 1990, while in Bulandshahar only 5.3% do. More than 60% of Dalit children in the surveyed households go to school, as do well over half of the girl children.

7. Migration is driving a lot of changes in economic wellbeing. By 2007 fourth-fifths of Dalit households in the two village clusters had at least one family member who was a migrant worker, a professional or was in business. Half of the households in one village cluster, and 78% of households in the other had members who worked locally or had a small business. "Migration," says the study, "has been a powerful engine of Dalit empowerment."

Whether the market is reducing inequality remains a highly contentious point. My hunch is that political empowerment must have played a powerful role in many of the changes: the rise of Dalit politics coincided with the liberalisation of the economy. But the last word comes from the group of scholars behind the study: "No one would argue Dalits have achieved anything like equality, but it is certainly the case that many practices that reflected subordination and routine humiliation of Dalits have declined considerably." That, by itself, is a considerable triumph for India's wretched of the earth.


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  • 1. At 2:25pm on 20 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    Great article Soutik. But would these communists and left-leaning liberals in India be able to digest this fact? Their ideology revolves around rejecting free market concept. They must be very sad and angry over these findings as their whole propaganda stand to loose its sheen among Indian public.

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  • 2. At 3:43pm on 20 Oct 2010, Mangonuts wrote:

    I think it has more to do with education and communication. The Thatcherism idea of 'trickle down', which i think you allude to, is complete twaddle.

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  • 3. At 5:01pm on 20 Oct 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Yes, I believe that the free market (along with other factors) has improved the situation for Dalits - if by free market, you're including GDP growth.
    While most of the media remains quagmired in caste and no doubt the dalits remain on the lowest rung of the ladder, there have been huge improvements in economic & social positioning.
    A survey was done covering all dalit households in two sets:
    1. relatively prosperous west (Khurja) and
    2. relatively not prosperous east (Bilariaganj)
    between 1990 and 2008.
    Across the board, including TV sets & bycycles, the Dalits had demonstrated improvements.
    The free market is a factor; GDP is a factor, but so is Governmental intervention, eg. quotas which have increased integration.
    Another factor is urbanization. If a Dalit moves to a city, changes his name, s/he gets lost in the urban sprawl.
    No matter how you examine factors, there is still some way to go before India can truly call herself the largest democracy.

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  • 4. At 6:27pm on 20 Oct 2010, Pras_n_Srini wrote:

    @Mangonuts (#2), please point out WHERE Biswas alluded to "trickle-down" of Thatcherism.

    Basically, the free-market is the only workable economic model--commiequeer and socialist forms have failed since the Roman Empire's "bread-and-circuses".

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  • 5. At 6:34pm on 20 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    The concept of “free market” is just a myth, same as communism. It works at the bottom and middle level of business and industries but totally collapses at the highest level where public policies are framed.
    Proponents of industrialization in Britain during 19th century assured that “industrialization will abolish poverty”. But there are ample evidences and well accepted fact among academicians that suggest otherwise. “Free market economy” in its present form, is just like that. It have to be strictly regulated.
    We should follow "de-growth" pattern of development. It is NOT recession or reduction of quality of life. Our limited world resource can never sustain of current “growth” based economy. For detail one can read an interesting article published in a reputed research journal, EMBO report (Vol-11, no.-9, pp- 559-662) Sep 2010 issue: “who needs a greener revolution”.
    But we do not see much discussion about it in our “free market economy” driven discussion on economics.

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  • 6. At 7:23pm on 20 Oct 2010, Michael Selby10 wrote:

    >>Under 3% of Dalits used toothpaste in the surveyed households in 1990. In 2007, more than half of them in Azamgarh and over 80% in Bulandshahar used toothpaste. Up to 80% of Dalits in one cluster of villages use shampoo today, an 82% jump compared with 1990.

    Sadly, the respondents are lying. 80% may have used toothpaste at one time or another, but they don't with any regularity. Simply not in the cards. Toothpaste sales in India, overall, are very low for its population size. There is a lot of adaptive lying in India.

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  • 7. At 8:30pm on 20 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    The data Sautik presented looks great when you consider it in “absolute” term. But it do not look so great when you see it in comparison with relative term, i.e how much others (non-dalits) have benefitted from normal growth rate of India as compared to that of Dalits (more precisely with SC and ST category of people). We also should remember that the term “Dalit” is highly misused and ill-defined, particularly in states like Uttar Pradesh (except few other states like Tamil Nadu) where caste based politics is at its worst. On the other hand, definition of “scheduled caste” and “scheduled tribe” is more well defined and less mis-utilized in Indian politics. SC-ST also is a more representative term for people with less privileged background (as compared to “dalits”).
    Govt of India admitted, “the ST population accounts for 8.6% of the total population in the country. The condition of tribal people have no doubt improved over the years but their situation vis-a-vis the rest of the population in the country has worsened on all counts of development”: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    On top of that, a major fraction of real dalit population (not politically “dalits”) has gone beyond participating in such surveys and joined naxal movement, in many parts of India (less in UP though).
    Such “dalit” data is highly skewed by many neo-feudal and political lords representing dalits these days (e.g billionaires like Mayawati, Mulayam, Laloo and many others, operating in politics and business in India now a days). In reality, percentage of poor in India has not changed much in last 20 odd years of so-called “free market economy”. Even now the % of below poverty population is about 44.7. We should keep in mind that our poverty line (~ INR 450 per month) is not modified as per inflation and many other micro-economic parameters affecting “purchase parity” and quality of living).

    In reality, both quality of life (that goes beyond economic parameters) and level of poverty has increased in recent India due to this “free market economy”, which is reflected in many parameters of Indian life (e.g education, research, purchasing capacity, social unrest, lack of governance and transparency, public health and so on) .

    This becomes more frightening when we compare India with many of our past rivals (e.g South Korea, Brazil, China, Chili etc) in those fronts, so far national development is concerned.
    Surely India has developed; but NOT as a country but for few people who represent a very small fraction of the total population. But that part of Indian population is very influential and highly vocal to undertake a sustained propaganda that they represent avarage Indian (which is far from the truth)!

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  • 8. At 8:38pm on 20 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Sorry, there is a mistake in my earlier post:
    “Even now the % of below poverty population is about 44.7”. That percentage will be 37%, as in 2010 (more than one third of total population): [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Although, this figure is not much different than that of 1980s (pre economic liberalization)!

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  • 9. At 8:46pm on 20 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    I talked about "De-Growth" model of development (post# 5). Here are some excerpts from that article I mentioned:

    I talked about "De-Growth" model of development (post# 5). Here are some excerpts from that article I mentioned:

    “There are alternative economic models that recognize ecological limits to human development and emphasize social equity. THE FIRST OF THESE PROPOSES A STEADY-STATE ECONOMY: ONE THAT HAS STOPPED GROWING IN TERMS OF GDP, BUT CONTINUES TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE AND IS MAINTAINED BY AN ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE RATE OF RESOURCE THROUGHPUT and (almost) a constant human popula¬tion (Kerschner, 2010; Lawn, 2010).


    The paradigm is that human progress without economic growth is possible; it has been shown repeatedly that GDP per capita does not correlate with overall happiness above a certain level of satisfying people’s basic needs (Layard, 2010). According to these proposals, rich nations would need to start the transition to a steady-state econ¬omy through the reduction of GDP or de-growth within the next 5 years, and poor nations could take 20–40 years to make the transition in order to ensure a sustain¬able future. As many poor nations have the highest population growth rates, a first step should be to implement suitable controls to stabilize their populations with support from rich countries.
    The defenders of de-growth emphasize that this process is not the same as reces¬sion or depression—there should be no social or quality of life deterioration—nor does it promote a return to a fictitious pre-industrial pastoral past. GDP reduction involves mainly components that require large-scale, resource-intensive production and socio-political and lifestyle changes (Schneider et al, 2010). Steady-state and de-growth models are based on the prin¬ciple of ecological economics, which emphasizes the importance of the inter¬actions between the environment and the economy, and of biophysical laws and con¬strains to human development (Costanza et al, 1997; Victor, 2010).

    EMBO Reports (2010). Vol-10. No. 9.

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  • 10. At 02:38am on 21 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    If that survey in two districts in UP represent a general trend in India and among “dalits” in particular, as Sautik and the authors of the survey tries to portray, then I have severe reservation about the way the survey was conducted (starting from selection of two villages and people surveyed) and its analysis. That data does not reflect the overall survey by any reputed, unbiased organization like WHO or UN. On top of that, WHO and UN generally rely on Govt of India for its data collection. Real situation may be different.
    Today’s BBC news- “India malaria deaths hugely underestimated, says report” : It says, “The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.”
    If you consider any parameter of development (than just gross data like GDP, per capita income which has very high tendency to become sewed for few highly “developed” people), situation in India is really alarming. Consider the following:
    With a literacy rate (percentage of adults who can read and write) of 65% , India compares poorly to not just industrialised nations but also several much-poorer economies, such as Vietnam (90% literacy), Zambia (80%), Tanzania (77%), and Cambodia (70%)":
    Overall hunger index for India is worse than many “least developed” countries” like Cuba, Uganda and Sudan, A recent (2008) BBC article citing International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report ranks India at 66 out 88 countries, so far hunger is concerned: The “Corruption index” for India is deteriorating further:
    India now has the highest death due to diarrhoea in the world: Nearly two-third of India has no access to sanitation even today. In terms of malnutrition among children, India today found itself ranked with Ethiopia: In terms of higher education and research quality (not in number though), India going downhill fast in last few decades, despite of huge increase in funding and number of universities and institutes.
    Such data does not go well with the picture this blog of Sautik tries to portray.

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  • 11. At 03:47am on 21 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    This post is in relation with point 6 in Sautik’s blog. Even if we consider abolition of caste hatred, states with least affected by caste based politics (e.g West Bengal and Kerala type communist ruled states) have much better situation so far caste division is concerned (as well as religion fundamentalism).
    In states like UP, Bihar (mostly, Hindi speaking BIMARU states) and few southern states like Tamil Nadu (where caste based social division is in its worst form) social acceptance of caste is far less as compared to many others states. Caste division will die its natural death in due time. But in the meantime, caste based politics and economical privileges will delay that death in states like UP and Tamil Nadu. Due to political reasons and economic opportunity, general people in such highly caste divided states are ignoring some caste based social hierarchy for their personal benefit, not because they deny caste system altogether.
    If you consider beyond politics and economic benefits, not much have changed in caste acceptance in states like UP. You will hardly find sons and daughters of so-called “champions” of caste based politics to get married to a “lower” caste spouse. They prefer to go for a “higher” caste one, but never to a “lower” caste!

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  • 12. At 04:36am on 21 Oct 2010, Flavian Hardcastle wrote:

    I think this survey is moderately good news for the Dalits of Utter Pradesh. I don't think it means squat in the rest of India. What about a survey of Dalits in Orissa, where 50, 000 Dalit Christians were recently made homeless in pogroms?

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  • 13. At 07:26am on 21 Oct 2010, Jitendra wrote:

    Most of the contents of the study as it is reported in this article seems to be PLAGIORISED (Stolen) from the observations and studies published in various Indian publications.
    One of the detailed report on improvements in the social status of Harijans and scheduled cast people is done by Swaminathan S. Ankalesh Iyer of The Economic Times.

    Quality of BBC is continuously degrading. I am un-pleased.

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  • 14. At 08:37am on 21 Oct 2010, jaytirth wrote:

    The situation is definitely improving, not just for dalits but for everyone. In Maharashtra state, where I live, the economic condition of the poor has substantially improved. The media mostly cites only the negative news related to dalits which gives an incorrect understanding of the situation.

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  • 15. At 10:25am on 21 Oct 2010, Suvansh wrote:

    @ Biswas: Nice article btw, its good to hear something possitive from you. India has its own snail pace to do certain things, but as long as the motive is keen and the bigger picture for welfare is clear, things will sooner or later improve.

    @ jjoshi2008: No offence, but please dont expect a blogging journalist to conduct large scale surveys for his posts. He says that his information has its roots from "Pennsylvania University's Centre for the Advanced Study of India". Dont see anything bad in it, besides its possible the Govt too cited the information from this source.

    @ Jay: You seem to be the same jay1jay1jay1, I dont know what you have against the Hindi speaking population, but we sure dont have anything against the Tamil-Kannada-Malyalam cultures. I am sure you dont come from UP. But given the fact that I do, believe me, there is a huge huge difference(for the good). A totally out of book independant example is, it was noted in a newspaper in Kanpur, that in the past 8 years there has been a 65% increase in the Dalit student population in Kanpur's private schools.

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  • 16. At 10:43am on 21 Oct 2010, jaytirth wrote:

    Only good education can improve the conditions of dalits and other poor communities in India. Not free markets, not reservations. Dalits often go to municipal schools where the quality of teaching is abysmal. They drop out of the school at an early age and miss out on the career opportunities offered by the free market. Reservations helps only a small minority who somehow manage to reach till graduation. Creating better government schools is the only solution.

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  • 17. At 4:20pm on 21 Oct 2010, Pras_n_Srini wrote:

    @jay, it is obvious that you are not even an Indian--easily discernible from your barking about the survey of dalits in "two districts of UP".

    UP is one of the two states (as per 1989) which caused the definition of the word "BIMARU", considered by many (including this expatriate) as one of the "never-will-progress-18" (Rajasthan, another defined in the BIMARU, is questionably-developpable--and the five southern states, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab are the ones that are unquestionably progressible). The fact that the bottom-tier in even THAT state showed progress is itself an accomplishment--but way past your concepts!

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  • 18. At 7:08pm on 21 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Jaytirth (#16), you are right. Education is the key to develop. Economic prosperity comes next. In India, educational reform is long been neglected. In fact since British era, no sincere effort has been made to make education (the basic primary and high school education) mandatory and universal. Some analysts blame Indian middle class and upper class people for that, as they overwhelmingly support so-called “higher education” and still remains of the main stumbling blocks for basic, universal education reform.

    Even the present “right to education” bill severely lacks political will. I have severe doubt that “right to education” bill will even be implemented, true to its spirit; and achieve its goal in near foreseeable future. We can see that from fund allocation for it, while we had no problem to accumulate about Rs. 80,000 crores for the recently concluded commonwealth games.

    India's over infatuation with "higher education and research" is leading us only downhill, so far. Our current education system selectively discards talented students with inquisitiveness, ability to ask questions and dream to do something challenging, something better for the society. Now we only produce private tuition and coaching enabled, mugging-up grade technicians who are great to do routine jobs (as in IT or BT) or imitating others (mainly true for Indian R&D sector in any branch of science and in any industry), but not capable of doing original research, despite of having many world class physical infrastructure, huge budget and some so-called “elite” institutes. NO WONDER INDIA IS AMONG THE LEAST INNOVATIVE NATIONS IN THE WORLD :

    Then consider the following fact: Although Indian universities churn out three million graduates a year, ONLY 15% OF THEM ARE SUITABLE EMPLOYEES FOR BLUE-CHIP COMPANIES: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Probably majority of our political masters know that if common people, mainly the dalits and lower caste people get education, then it will be almost impossible to control them with political gimmicks and populist programs (e.g caste based reservation, Gramin rojgar yojona etc) and manipulate them for vote bank politics.

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  • 19. At 7:12pm on 21 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    "Bimaru" states hamper India's growth:

    Times of India

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  • 20. At 8:19pm on 21 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    BBC is deleting its own website as "Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator"?

    Then consider the following fact: Although Indian universities churn out three million graduates a year, ONLY 15% OF THEM ARE SUITABLE EMPLOYEES FOR BLUE-CHIP COMPANIES: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 21. At 8:23pm on 21 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    @ Jay

    Before you declare UP as a Bimaru state, you should know at even its lowest (which is the current situation), UP is the second largest contributor to Indian GDP. Your so-called progressive southern states still can't match it in terms of absolute numbers concerning the GDP of India. It's has been termed Bimaru as the industrialization has almost stopped there. For almost 100 years UP has been the leading state in Indian success story. I admit that UP has caste problem but it is foolish to say that other Indian states are free from it. Corruption, lack of any visionary leadership, and tardy progress in education are the real problems for UP. But I'm optimistic that things will change soon and they will change for good. Your link doesn't work and besides don't cite any TOI links for serious discussions. TOI is not a newspaper but a tabloid.

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  • 22. At 05:06am on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Dear truthseeker. First, I am neither from southern state, nor defending those states over any other state.
    Just let me know which weblink is not working. I’ll post from a different source. Sometimes I cannot help due to BBC’s moderation by deleting the link.
    Next coming to UP story. UP is not “a success story for India in last 100 years” as you said. I personally lived in UP, in Lucknow for more than 3 years. Travelled a lot there, mainly in villages. I know the place from grass root level. In reality, UP was forced upon rest of India due to its large size and big population. It gave UP a huge advantage in Indian politics due to large number of MPs. Consider the fact that before PV Narashima Rao, almost all Indian PMs are from that state. Most of the influential ministries used to go to that state. In pre-liberalization era, many of the public sector (to some extent private sector as well) investment was forced to be located in UP. Even research institutes by federal agencies (e.g CSIR, ICAR etc) were forcefully established there, even though the state was hardly equipped to supply required qualified manpower. No one really acknowledge UP for its great scientific/research talents! In one UP city of Lucknow, there are about 5 CSIR and 2 ICAR institutes, besides few more other central institutes. No Indian city, other than Delhi, has that privilege.
    If you compare contribution of UP-Bihar in Indian freedom struggle, it is practically negligible, as compared to Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. UP became more influential in post-independent India mainly for one family, Nehru-Gandhi family. It was very unfortunate for India that Jawaharlal Nehru became the first PM and sowed the seed of dynastic politics, institutional corruption and politics of caste, religion and appeasement (which his daughter, Indira Gandhi perfected) that we see all over India today. Nehru’s “Discovery of India” was imposed on school children as history text book, in many parts of India! In reality, Jawaharlal Nehru was nothing but a spoilt brat of a rich and influential dad. Gandhiji (MK Gandhi) gave him a sense of direction, a literally productive career in business of “patriotism” and politics. Sustained propaganda by Gandhi family and its cronies successfully build the myth of “freedom fighters” from UP. Practically India became a private kingdom for Nehru-Gandhi family till 1980s. Every alternate new stadium, road, bridges, even government policies, national programs will be named after any of that clan member. It has a huge impact on already perverse, feudal social system in that state (mainly considering its past of intense Islamic rule).

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  • 23. At 05:22am on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Yes, it will change. Yes, India is changing. Everything does change. British Empire finally crumbled, Soviet Russia collapsed, and American military and economic supremacy will also end one day. But the question is when? Is that time limit acceptable to those people who are paying heavy price due to current situation? What caused the situation that leads us where we are now? Can we actively work to make that (positive) change fast, in case we do not accept the status–quo? How can I contribute to make it little faster?
    Yes, India is changing. So does Ethiopia or Pakistan or France or USA or any other country in the world. But the questions before us are: what type of change do we need? Can we make that change fast enough, acceptable to our own aspirations?

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  • 24. At 05:31am on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Published in peer-reviewed research paper (NOT TOI or any other news media):

    "Immunisation status of children in BIMARU states" :
    About 48 per cent of children received all the vaccines (BCG, DPT, OPV, Measles) in these states as compared to 63 per cent at All India level. These states accounted for about 70 per cent of non-immunised children (in India).

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  • 25. At 05:39am on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    "The evolution of institutions in India and its relationship with economic growth": Oxford Review of Economic Policy (2007) 23 (2): 196-220.

    Excerpt from abstract: "ALL THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY (IN INDIA) HAS NOT IMPROVED OVER TIME. It then addresses the two-way relationship between growth and institutions in terms of two apparent paradoxes. The first is why growth has turned around so dramatically in India despite the relatively limited nature of reforms, especially compared with other countries. The second paradox is why, despite nearly 30 years of rapid growth, institutions have not improved. The paper offers some explanations that might help explain these paradoxes”.

    Many readers may not get the full text of the article. So I am not sending that link.

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  • 26. At 05:46am on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    “In a study in 2001, Bose had offered insights into how Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were blocking India's progress and had coined the descriptive 'Bimaru' for them, which literally means sick in Hindi.
    The term draws its name from the first letters of the four states.
    “India continues to languish at 127th position among 177 nations in this year's Human Development Index, even as it has been hailed as a major success story on globalization”.
    I hope the link will work this time.

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  • 27. At 11:23am on 22 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    @ Jay

    You didn't answer to my point. UP is the second largest economy in India despite having all troubles. I welcome you to disprove it. Why these so-called progressive states still cannot match UP's economy while it is at its lowest. UP has always been the leading industrialized state during the time of British India. For example Kanpur was called Manchester of the East during the British Raj and several other UP cities are still known for their industries.

    Don't cite poverty statistics that's the reality of India. Despite being a trillion dollar economy India has lots of poor people and UP, being the largest in terms of population, has its share of poor people. Besides historically social discrimination coupled with the denial of education to the lower strata of society has been the biggest problem in UP.

    Your comment that the 'contribution of UP in Indian freedom struggle is negligible' is laughable at best. To give you some points, 1857 mutiny happened in UP, Ramprasad Bismil was from UP and so is Nehru. I'm not citing other leaders here. Nehru might have made some mistakes in his political career but to say that he was a spoiled brat, shows that you know nothing about Indian freedom struggle. You should really take some lessons in history.

    Your claim that UP was favored in giving public institutions after independence despite not having educated population shows your ignorance and bias. Allahabad, HBTI, Agra, Lucknow, Banaras, Aligarh universities have been top universities in India since British Raj. I agree that many of these universities suffered a decline in their standard during the eighties but they are still some of best universities in India. Please don't cite any funny ranking by TOI and India Today here.

    No doubt UP is facing lots of problems and has not been able to keep on track despite having all the resources. But the story of UP has also been the story of India. I would say UP mirrors India. It's a sleeping elephant. When it does move it makes a huge difference.

    One more point as an Indian. These all so-called 'Bimaru states' combined together have tremendous contributions to India, be it freedom struggle, intellectual and financial developments of the society, and it is unmatchable. Obviously somewhere things have gone wrong in these states. But be reasonable before you start throwing mud on others. It only shows your arrogance and ignorance.

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  • 28. At 4:09pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Check your facts before you post something.
    We can not do anything about UP’s large geographical size. But your info about its “prosperity” as compared to other states in India is simply wrong.

    UP was and still is NOT the largest contributor to Indian GDP. Yes, it was one of the most industrialized states (due to biased Congress/Nehru-Gandhi family led central government dominated by UP), but its output was simply pathetic. Check the latest facts about GDP and per capita income. In fact per capita income will be the best measure to analyze efficient of governance.
    GDP is not the best way to judge quality of governance and “development”. Per capita income will be a the best economic parameter. In terms of GDP (2006), Maharastra and West Bengal comes top of UP. UP is having one of the lowest per capita income (probably second from the bottom, with $360. Just above Bihar).

    In 2010, the situation in UP did not change much so far per capita income is concerned (same second from the bottom with 16,060 INR while Bihar at the bottom with INR 11,074).

    The quality of UP universities and even central institutes are pathetic to say the least. BHU and Aligarh Muslim university, Panth Nagar agril univ, Lucknow University has increasingly been converted into breeding ground of future mafia and typical politicians (suitable for those BIMARU states). All such UP institutes and universities have developed cronic infection of massive corruption, nepotism, political interference of the highest magnitude (even in Indian standard). No wonder there is hardly any glory left for such (once mighty and well respected educational institutions). In fact UP tops the list of fake universities in India, as per UGC.
    “Uttar Pradesh led the chart with nine fake universities followed by national capital Delhi that has six” :

    I know how it hurts someone, particularly the younger generation who were “educated” about Indian history by reading Nehru’s “Discovery of India”, hear criticism of their dream leader, “Chacha Nehru”. If you want the slightest idea about sacrifices by people from different states and other profile, just visit the Andaman Cellular jail. There you will get the names of people (and more detail if you like) who were considered “the most dangerous for British empire” during British rule. You will only find very few UP people. With all due respect, UP’s freedom fighters are mostly made up or have very little impact on Indian freedom struggle, including Jawaharlal Nehru.

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  • 29. At 4:18pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Dear Truthseeker, if you like to validate your BBC ID then stick to facts and figures with logical analysis, than rhetoric. When you say something to be considered in any serious discussion, mention your source of info, and rational analysis, acceptable to any scientific standard.
    It also hurts me to see some of the most resourceful states like UP and Bihar is going up in smoke. The rate of development (not just development in absolute terms) in these BIMARU states are pathetic, if we consider the national (and state) recourses we are spending there. I too want the situation to be changed. All dalits (real ones, not the political ones), and other less-privileged people from any part of India to take part in all our nation building efforts. I also very well know that all such caste and religious divisions among people will be lost in oblivion in history. But I do not have time to wait till eternity for that. I will make my best effort to make that faster. And to do that, we all need to accept facts and be rational (keeping aside of egos, based on whatever reason- caste, religion, state, language etc.

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  • 30. At 5:03pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Oh, you mentioned about Sipoy mutiny 1857! Again you proved so naïve. Do you know that it started in Bengal, in DumDum (Kolkata) and then Barrackpore (near Kolkata). Many other parts in India, including Meerat (UP) followed suit (when awaken by someone else), as usual.
    By the way, that mutiny was NOT the first organized revolution against British rule in India (as depected by many India history books and popular media), neither was Jhansi Rani’s or Tantia Topi’s fight against British. Those were simply the ramifications to protect ones’ personal interest; be it religious faith (for Sipoy mutiny) or property rights (for some native kings/queens) for themselves and their heirs.

    Secondly, Education being the responsibility of states, each state tries to jack up its glory whenever they can. All states try that. UP is no exception. Just try to read any authentic history book (on Indian freedom struggle) by a neutral author (preferably by a foreign author who will have least biasness towards any specific Indian state or community) and come up with names like Ramprasad Bismil or even Nehru. Nehru is more famous as first PM of India than great freedom fighter (who always hide behind MK Gandhi and did practically nothing before independence).

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  • 31. At 6:28pm on 22 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    @ Jay

    What can I say about your ignorance and arrogance. My BBC ID is valid and will remain valid as I am not stating anything wrong here. You don't own BBC so please don't threaten about my BBC ID.

    You should really take some lessons in history. I mean really. 1857 Mutiny started in Meerut by Mangal Pandey and it was an organized revolt against British Raj. There was a fix date and everybody was on board. Grievances maybe different but everyone was against the Raj. Because of Mangal Pandey it started a bit earlier. Read any history books by any noted historian. Supply any authentic reference to support your claim that it started in WB. UP's contribution in freedom struggle is well known and no one needs certificate from you for that. I am not undermining the contributions of other people in freedom struggle. In fact it is you who is doing this shamelessly and without having any concrete proofs.

    I have read numerous books on history and know quite a lot about Indian freedom struggle. Besides I don't think I need to take lessons from you who shows no understanding of history.

    I wrote explicitly that Industrialization started in UP during the British Raj. Kanpur was called Manchester of East during the British Raj. Then I find it irritating that you keep referring to alleged post-independence bias. What sense does it make? The link you posted about the Bimaru states that are allegedly hampering Indian growth. I'm sorry I don't get it. If a state is second or third largest in terms of GDP, then how it is hampering growth of India? India is centrally funded economy and distribution of wealth largely depends on the resources allocated by the central/state Govts. in terms of various schemes. Besides check new figures of 2010. Bihar has the highest growth rate in the country. GDP per capita doesn't make much sense also. Maharastra has quite a high GDP per capita but where the maximum numbers of farmers have committed suicides?

    By the way what have you done to make things better in India? You're another internet obsessed nerd who can get excited easily and start talking big. Have you ever done anything significantly to change any of the problem in Indian society? Instead here you're distorting history and making sweeping generalizations about everyone.

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  • 32. At 6:59pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Why are you so adamant to prove your ignorance and naivety in such public forums? Read little more about Indian history. For a quick ref, “Sipoy mutiny that started long before March 1957 in Calcutta… (first para): You also can check Wikipidia. It seems that you are too much into hindi movies and TV serial to learn Indian history.

    More you speak more you prove your ignorance. It is NOT UP where industrialization started during British raj. It was Bengal (more precisely, Calcutta). Check facts. You hardly provide any useful link but keep on blabbering, usual rhetoric.

    Have seen the movie “Shrek” where it says, “There must be a reason why donkeys should not speak”.

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  • 33. At 7:00pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Why are you so adamant to prove your ignorance and naivety in such public forums? Read little more about Indian history. For a quick ref, “Sipoy mutiny that started long before March 1957 in Calcutta… (first para): You also can check Wikipidia. It seems that you are too much into hindi movies and TV serial to learn Indian history.

    More you speak more you prove your ignorance. It is NOT UP where industrialization started during British raj. It was Bengal (more precisely, Calcutta). Check facts. You hardly provide any useful link but keep on blabbering, usual rhetoric.

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  • 34. At 7:32pm on 22 Oct 2010, Vaijnath wrote:

    Very Informative Soutik!

    I will like to add some of my observations.

    Before free market most of the resources were in hands of few
    privileged people and dalits (backward people) were denied almost all the opportunities to prosper. Even after independence and making laws and reservations which helped only to get an education but not the jobs. Go to any government office and you will find approximately 90% are from the upper class. and thousands and lacks of positions are still vacant though educated people are available now. Reasons given for not filling the post are "there is no money to pay salaries "
    Situation was neither different in private sector. Only few in 1000 used to get jobs. And even selection in private sector was favorable for upper class. As surname is indicator of cast, upper class benefited by surname to get jobs rather than their talent.
    But this situation changed after free market. Because free market created millions of opportunities which were not possible to fulfill by only upper class candidates (As their population is not more than 20% in all).
    And once other than upper class got opportunity to perform they proved their worth and now prospering dramatically. This way free market also brought confidence & self esteem to all backward people.
    Thank you

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  • 35. At 7:36pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    To "truthseeker".
    Oh. I had no intension to hurt you for ur BBC ID. I just wanted to tell you that you describe yourself as “truth-seeker” but harbor so much state-hood ego! If you want to seek truth, try to be little more un-biased and open minded. That will be the best thing you can do for your society, country, state, religion and caste (whatever you feel important).

    One more link on Sepoy mutiny 1857:
    Onset of the Rebellion-
    “Several months of increasing tension and inflammatory incidents preceded the actual rebellion. Fires, possibly the result of arson, BROKE OUT NEAR CALCUTTA ON 24 JANUARY 1857. On February 26, 1857 the 19th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment came to know about new cartridges which allegedly were wrapped in paper greased with cow and pig fat, which had to be bitten off by mouth”.

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  • 36. At 7:46pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    So far industrialization of India is concerned; British did its best to de-industrialize India.
    It mainly tried to develop agriculture (cotton, indigo, cereals, sugar etc) and minerals to supply raw materials for its own industries in Britain and also for export (mainly in other major world markets). Cultivation of concerned agricultural products and initial processing was done in respective areas, e.g indigo, rice and jute in Bengal; cotton and sugarcane in UP, Maharashtra and Gujarat and so on.
    The educational reform British undertook was aimed to produce clerks (to serve Brit administration) and servants (who can understand and carry out orders given in English). In that educational effort Bengal was front runner. But that English education in Bengal took a very positive turn as many social reforms (e.g widow marriage and banning burning of new widows), art, culture, scientific research gathered steam from such so-called “western” education there. East India company initially operated from its Calcutta HQ. Later business shifted to Mumbai and administration to Delhi.

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  • 37. At 8:08pm on 22 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 38. At 8:35pm on 22 Oct 2010, TruthSeeker wrote:

    @ Jay

    Also make up your mind first whether British industrialized or de-industralized India. These both comments are contradictory. You cannot support both theses.

    You should also read all the links you posted very carefully.

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  • 39. At 9:41pm on 22 Oct 2010, Jay wrote:

    Truthseeker, can you read English? In that wiki link, it is clearly mentioned that there was arson (in British canton) in Calcutta (in present-day Dumdum area). Meerut cantonment was much bigger and it became famous as the last part of the mutiny and Mangal Pandey saga was played there (which was more intensely studied). Mutiny in Bengal part was contained fast, due to its earlier rise and mainly due to huge presence of British soldiers and high ranking officials there (as a capital city of East India company).

    You are partly right in the industrialization front (without teh Up part of course). The British did some industrialization to cater the initial processing needs of raw materials to be exported to Britain. That industrialization took place in Kolkata, as part of tea, jute, indigo, chemical, coal and iron ore and few other industries. Even heavy industries like Motor car manufacturing, heavy engineering (Breathweit and Burn, Dunlop etc) was around Kolkata. In fact, Kolkata was THE main center of Indian business/industry till late 60s (it coincides with rise of Mumbai). UP or even Delhi was nowhere in that industrialization scenario.

    Do you read what you write? You said (post# 31, third para), "I wrote explicitly that Industrialization started in UP during the British Raj". My point is: Industrialization did NOT stat in UP during British raj. UP used to be a major manufacturing area during Muslim rule. Major industrialization of UP started after independence due to Nehru’s rule and start of UP’s dominance in Indian politics. British started its industrialization mainly in Bengal, NOT UP.

    Your “Manchester of India” title is self-proclaimed ones by local people. Many Indian cities do claim the same award, if I may say so. Ludhina, Mumbai, Ahmedabad are also contenders. Now Coimbatore also joined the race.

    There are many such “cities in India” for many different industries (e.g Hindmotor near Kolkata used to be called “Detroit of India” due to Hindustan Motors factory).

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