Headline December 31, 2016/ ''' *INDIA* & INDIGO '''

''' *INDIA* & INDIGO '''

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY once, when asked about a particular injustice,  famously declared that : ''life is unfair''.

He wasn't   being flippant or callous, just accurate. There is no pracctical reason to expect that everybody will share equally in any economic progress, especially if it's market based.

The Developing World has witnessed two disturbing trends in recent decades. One is sluggish   -in some cases , even declining   -levels of per capita income.

In many countries in Asia and elsewhere, living standards are not much better than in the 1950s. The other trend has been the rise of income disparities everywhere.

In the 1960 the income of the top  20 percent  of the world's population was about 30 times higher than that of the bottom 20 percent. But by 1995 this ratio had risen to 82, and to continues to scale new heights even now.

While disappointing, these results have forced serious thinking at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund  -the two central lenders to the developing world   -about the proper ingredients for successful economic development.

So today, we are told, they no longer pursue these problems with a single-minded focus on  macroeconomic policy. They now seek to create the conditions for so-called high-quality growth -in essence-

Policies aimed at reducing poverty, improving opportunity and protecting the environment. 

With its combination of modernity and poverty, India like Mexico,  provides lessons for all of the Developing World.

ALO MAITY BARELY RE-members how she felt about life before her tiny village in India got its first television set. She only remembers that afterward  -it seemed unbearable. 

Every night she would gather with some 20 other villagers in a hot  mud-and-stick hut to watch soap operas that showed people dressed in perfectly pressed clothes-

Eating dinners of  mutton and chicken, and taking leisurely strolls while savoring ice-cream from pretty white cups. ''In my hut we ate soggy rice and lentils and I wore darned saris,'' Maity recalls. ''It was tough, I wanted a better life.''

True! And then Shobaa  De, an award winning writer and columnist  *write-paints*  right from the *soul and through the heart*. Just read this:

SUSHEELA had been living with us for the past 12 years. My guess put her age at 24. She can't help me there because there's no record of her birth in her remote village, 240 kilometers from Mumbai.

Her father had identified her mouth as the one he couldn't afford to feed. ''She's a quiet girl, a good worker,'' he'd said to me, while his wife cowered in the in the background. Frequent beatings had left their mark on Susheela's mother, including a prominent gash on her skull.

So Susheela  -an emaciated young girl with no primary education   -joined two other girls doing light work around our apartment. They,too, had been labeled  *liabilities*   at birth and abandoned by their parents.

Astonishingly enough, none of the three girls bore their parents any ill will -it was part of their karma, they explained. Still more astonishingly, they regularly sent nearly their entire salary home   -no question asked.

Of the original three, two of the girls eventually got married, leaving Susheela behind. One girl went back to her village and had two children.But she still missed Mumbai desperately.

One day during  pre-monsoon downpour, while the menfolk were busy sowing rice in the paddy field,  she fled. 

It was the tyranny of life around the village well that she refused to endure. Besides, she couldn't easily give up the city life she'd come to know. 

She was a big-city girl by then, used to modern plumbing, cable-television, telephone buddies, Chinese food on weekends, movies at the multiplex and shopping at suburban malls. Heck, she even had her favorite beautician at the parlor next door.

And beyond all this, a far bigger, deeper change had taken place  -she grew accustomed to having money of her own. It brought her jurisdiction over her life, her choices. She possessed an urban lifestyle and wasn't about to surrender it for anyone   -not even her young children.

The other girl took a shrewder, swifter route. Despite her husband's village roots, she sold him on the  Bombay Dream. Mesmerized by his wife's tales, he left his patched fields to seek his fortune in a slum near the airport.

While she worked as a freelance maid in affluent homes, he took odd jobs around town. Soon their family grew. And there was never any question about going back to the  hell referred  to in India as one's ''native place''.

That left Susheela   -24 and still single by choice. Until recently her community would have ostracized her for such a decision. But today the village elders understand   -and, of course, she hasn't really given them much of a choice.

Besides, her monthly contribution has raised her family above others back in the village and keeps her a valued and respected member of the clan. ''i like my life,'' Susheela says simply.

And why not? Twelve years of living in Mumbai have altered it completely. She can read and write in two languages, thanks to an adult literacy program. She manages her own bank account, makes modest investments, has a large social circle and thinks about going into business for herself.

She knows that among those in this  monster megalopolis -which attracts more than 300  families from all over India every day   -she has been fortunate enough to find her feet, and survive and flourish.

Most important,  Susheela has found an identity, Dignity, Pride. And marriage? Maybe  -if the right man shows up. Someone, she says, who'll recognize her priorities and support her decisions.

Last week, i thought, I spotted a potential suitor. Susheela blushed when I asked. He;s the son of a building contractor and an engineer himself

I found the young man a trifle too tall for our Susheela. But that's before i noticed a new pair of high heels in her room.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society and..... Twitter-!E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' The Small Screen '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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