Saturday, February 10, 2007

Disparity and opportunity

Amidst all the brouhaha of Singur, heres a group of women who are trying to make best use of their opportunity. It is quite "in" today to talk of disparity and how it will be the ruin of India (then again there is a similar argument on this at the world level.) or lead to economic instability or any of other various equally devastating conclusions.

There is no denying the fact that there are two (or twenty two) Indias. But as we observe, what is true at an individual or a community level is also true at the world level. At the world level, there are developed nations and there are nations that do not want to develop. Between these two ends of the spectrum lie countries lie countries in various states of development and dilapidation. So, does the US/developed countries get attacked by such "undeveloped" nations or do the undeveloped nations make the most of the opportunity?

Most (rational) people, countries, communities try to make the most of an opportunity except those who want to get stuck in the 7th century. It is human instinct. We may crib, we may resist, but every single person tries to create an opportunity for himself or herself that helps them progress. The Singur example is a case in point. Even though politicians might make you think otherwise, people want to make the most of opportunity.

If you were to read popular opinion you would think that there is simmering discontent due to a boom in certain businesses, but on the streets it is business as usual. (the violence happens because it is probably organized and instigated by idiots.) All yearn to be part of the boom - and that is again a natural tendency. There is frustration if you are not part of it for some reason, but then again you never stop trying.

Thus, the hotel owner in Bangalore welcomes new business as much as his waiter gets more tips. The fleet owner is happier servicing more companies as are drivers who get more employment. The number of catering companies and the employment they provide has to be seen to be believed. The going rate for a maid in Bangalore is as much as what an entry level engineer used to get during our socialist days (and what graduates used to earn pre BPO in the not so distant past). I am sure even beggars earn a lot more these days thanks to the booming times.

Disparity should be tapped into as a conduit for those who want to progress, not as a weapon to prevent those who are progressing from doing so.

A boom is like that, it sucks people in - even those who resist. Even the communists have moved on from Ambassadors to Skodas and from ITI phones to sleek new mobile phones, so why shouldn't the common farmer move on from his farm to wherever there is a better livelihood?

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