One of the infinite trolls on the various media in India says, “When a clown enters the palace, he does not become a king; the country becomes a circus.” Has India become one such enormous circus?
Today’s Malayala Manorama [15 Sep] newspaper says that the 400 nurses recruited by one single agency in Kochi at one time alone are struggling to eke out their living by mowing lawns and doing other jobs such as painting walls. They spent over Rs12 lakh to get to their El Dorado in the hope that all their financial problems including those of their families would be over soon when they start earning handsome pay-packets as nurses in good hospitals.
Millions of young jobseekers are leaving India every year. “India saw a 30% decrease in jobs for young people since 2016,” say news headlines. It is not only jobseekers that leave the country but also young students who complete class 12. From the school where I am teaching, half of the students go abroad for higher studies after class 12 because they know India holds no promise for them. Interestingly, students from smaller classes have started leaving the country too now because their parents are already settled there and those parents too know that India offers no future to the young generation.
India has become a huge circus with a clown swaying as gracefully as he can on the topmost trapeze. His laughs can astound us: see the various videos in circulation after the last G20 summit.
What has he got to laugh so much about? As Arundhati Roy pointed out the other day during her speech on accepting the 45th European Essay Prize:
· Millions live on subsistence rations delivered in packets with Modi’s face printed on them. India is a very rich country with very poor people. One of the most unequal societies in the world.
· In the nine years of Modi’s tenure, Adani became the world’s richest man. His wealth grew from $8 billion to $137 billion. In 2022 alone, he made $72 billion, which is more than the combined earnings of the world’s next nine billionaires put together. The Adani Group now controls a dozen shipping ports that account for the movement of 30% of India’s freight, seven airports that handle 23% of India’s airline passengers, and warehouses that collectively hold 30% of India’s grain. It owns and operates power plants that are the biggest generators of the country’s private electricity.
· While the BJP and Adani accumulated their fortunes, in a damning report Oxfam said that the top 10% of the Indian population holds 77% of the total national wealth. Seventy-three per cent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1%, while 670 million Indians who comprise the poorest half of the population saw only a 1% increase in their wealth.
I hope Google won’t accuse me of plagiarising for quoting Ms Roy verbatim at length. I find her irresistible. She is one of the few intelligent Indians who still refuse to be entertained by its national circus.