Thursday, September 18, 2008

The deprived and the depraved

"Barely a month before Tata, one of India’s most powerful conglomerates, was due to roll out the world’s cheapest car from a new factory on these former potato and rice fields, a peasant uprising has forced the company to suspend work on the plant and consider pulling out altogether.

The standoff is just the most prominent example of a dark cloud looming over India’s economic transition: How to divert scarce fertile farmland to industry in a country where more than half the people still live off the land.

For Tata, it is ideally located along a new national highway that heads north to New Delhi, the capital, and intersects an important east-west artery.

For farmers, it is ideally located on the fertile delta plains of the Ganges River and fed by irrigation canals, making the earth so rich and red that it yields two rice harvests a year, in addition to potatoes, cucumbers and squash." (Thanks Toufic)

Who will prevail? This is the dilemma of all emerging economies: they are entering a system in which there is no place for the poor, and where the rich accummulate wealth and call it "growth". Look at Jordan, proud of its growth: millions are poor and deprived, and a few thousands rich and depraved (according to my cousin who spent a couple of very intersting years among the rich and famous of the Kingdom).

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