Saturday, November 24, 2007

Disparity and Us

It's so evident that it is ignored- the disparity in India.

The disparity of being in India is so shocking and so true, that it lurks around perhaps each and every socio-economic issue which India faces.

We are progressing. O yes, we are. Mall culture is in to stay, KFC, Pizza huts and Coca-Cola. I love these, I spend my money just to bite that succulent KFC chicken knowing fully well I am paying at least 200 % more than the actual price. I eat for I can afford. Simple! No more logic required. But was it always like this? Did my parents spend money simply because 'they could afford?'. NO

We are growing rich by the day, richer by the night. Clich├ęd but true. And as we celebrate all those landmarks of being enveloped in a prosperity circle: sensex crosses 20000, rupee to become stronger and so on, our vision becomes more and more myopic.

In Pune, we had the opportunity to listen to Lyla Bavadum- senior correspondent for Frontline. What she said created such a powerful imagery that it has been impossible to shake it off:

'If you want malls, expressways, and all that development, go ahead, have it. But the question is how? Do we push aside all those people whose land we take for these projects behind aluminium shanties? The foreigner will see everything that is posh and developed, but behind those barricades, will lie a different world, unseen, undisclosed and uncared.'

The above line is definitely not verbatim, but it is in accordance with the powerful scenario she managed to create in front of my eyes. So much so that every time I see those silver aluminium barricades hiding a construction site, I imagine not the SEZ or multiplex that will stand there in a few months, but thousands of sick and sad men and women huddling close together with blank eyes hidden somewhere out of my sight.

We are a highly populous country. But where does the development and share-market figures percolate- the top niche. We still have a healthy population of under-nourished, of illiterates and of those millions unemployed men and women whose faces we rarely see. Our development on the area of education and health is restricted to more reservation bills and more free lunch schemes for rural students. Visit a local municipality school sometime. You will be humbled by the dozens of children who really want to study, but give it up mid-way for the teachers are never present, the syllabus is beyond their grasp and they cant afford the books and stationary. Education, by far the most respectable occupation, has been digressed to an institution of economy that is utterly fake, over-priced and not to mention, unethical.

The other day, I was buying vegetables outside my flat. Tomatoes were at 20/kg. A man was passing by and he suddenly stopped seeing the bright red pile of tomatoes. He wanted just one piece. Imagine how would it be to buy daily grocery within such strict monetary budgets? Back in Ahmedabad, it was not uncommon to see construction site daily wagers buying oil worth five rupees, dry red chillies and onion worth another two. At nights, as the women cooked their mearge meals while the dozens of babies crawled around naked, the bright-red blaze of the make-shift fires haunted the construction sites. Disparity glares at us from each and every crossroad. It's just that perhaps we have become immune to see or imagine someone else's state of being.

What do we do, if we care? An individual, like you and me, may feel helpless. Many off us may shake off such facts by an indifferent shrug, not because we don't care, but simply because even if we care, we don't know what to do.

I have boiled down to one power which can come handy- Money.

Earn, Save, Donate.

Spend on yourself, pamper yourself and go on shopping binges. You earn and you may live it. No need to dress in khadi rags to prove you have an ethical and moral responsibility. Simply surf the net, you will find many NGOs who will do the bidding for you and reach out to those who really need some help. Just keep in mind, at the end of your splurge, contribute to welfare organizations whatever your conscience urges you to.

-- Gauri Gharpure


Usmanz said...

Wonderful post gauri!

Ron Lemon said...

you write a lot about social issues, huh? I write about far more important issues... my issues with the world :p

Gauri Gharpure said...

to each, his own! :)thnks for droppin by

Swarnadeep Chatterjee said...

Last post you talked about death. here's something i wrote about death. have a read.

Remin said...

Well i agree with these views.. Its true that just like the dyanamite was invented for a noble cause but it had its own drawbacks.. every goods will surely have its bads.
But just because of that reason, we cant stop doing good, can we?

Na.Su.Krishnan said...

Simple and trye thought. My appreciation.btw

Gauri..What do we wish/wished for?Marks in exams or knowledge by completing a year?

Same here..The flat world demands better infra and the country is doing that just to showcase ourself. Unmindful of the fact that our base is still shaky.

Anonymous said...

The necessary post!

Few people white about social problems...

Everybody want coca-cola, tv, pizza...

Your text remenber a music Chic'tu (system of a down)

Pizza pie pizza pie..every minute ..every second...


hug for you


upecmustang said...

I partly disagree with ur concept of the country overlooking the issue.
And I completely disagree with ur solution to disparity. Everything else was fyn. But simply donating money isn't the right solution. I mean...who's gonna decide which poor person gets the money? It all comes down to communism doesn't it?
Its practically impossible to keep a growth phase as high as ours by thinking of over diversified scenarios.
And NGOs definitely don't have the capacity to bring about some serious upbringing to the economically challenged. Its gonna be gradual but its gonna happen. This country is gonna become the most kickass nation ever. just wait and watch. Its happening already. We got so much more than what we could have hoped for when the millennium began. It will take a while. the government is working hard. There are loads of decent people at the ministry who think of nothing but the betterment of people. people make fun of politicians and the ministers. But they dnt really kno what happens inside. Inside, theres always activity, theres always planning. We have bad infrastructural growth rates coz the people who work FOR the govt suck ass. they get a fixed pay whether they work or not. they dont give a flying fuck as to what happens if they're not diligent. If people our age actually take the initiative to b in their positions and wrk hard for even 10 yrs. we're gonna shine. Oh we will shine as never b4. just a matter of interest. Which of course is sickeningly hard to develop in the dumfucked teenaged crowd we got here today.

Its a long comment i kno. but it comes to nationalism. I just cant seem to control...

Gauri Gharpure said...

thnks for ur comments.. Hugomeira, Krishnan, Upecmustang- jus tht u ve taken sometime to write ur thought down, shows u care someway or the other.. so whether u disagree with my views and solutions (donate! if u dont ve the time to actually stick ur ass up in dirty places and do the dog-work...) or u agree, i am sure u ve ur own individula views and solutions. Let each do wht he seems fit to make the 200 yards of any rotten shanty a better place, and the effect will be contagious sooner or later.. Cheers!

prachi said...

well written gauri :)

everyone seems to knw these things, but they are just not within are control. i mean we cannot stop the mall constructions and curb the land aquisitions, or help so many poor ppl on the streets.

as far as donating goes, no denying the fact the curruption is in the veins. we dont even knw how much of r donations actually reach those ppl.

but then again thts not an excuse for not contributing. :)

so the baseline is, lets do our bit and hope for a more balanced growth. :)

nice post. keep it going.

Gaurav Bhardwaj said...

Wonderful post! I agree with the fact that everybody has to contribute their bit. It can be by different means but as long as we all do contribute in our capacities, there is no denying that our country would be able to achieve the dream of being a developed country without disparties.

Joseph said...

Hi Gauri,

Thanks for bringing up disparity, because with globalisation we can see that inequality is growing.

What is serious is not that disparity is ignored but that many national English papers are covering up growing disparity by projecting news about the Sensex.

Because the Sensex shoots past some new "K" number does not mean the mass of the people in India are getting better off.

The Hindu, especially the pieces by P. Sainath, explores these issues in depth. Also the Economic and Political Weekly. I mention these sources, because they are getting rarer day by day, though the channels are exploding.

Keep up the serious stuff, Gauri.

And now for a line from my favourite Oscar Wilde:
"We are all in the gutter ...
But some of us are looking
Up at the stars ..."

Joseph Pinto.

Gauri Gharpure said...


Just that you take time to visit my blog and post a comment means so much to me!

Disparity, the issue, ws in my mind since a very long time, because it's just below our nose and we fail to acknowledge it.

Majorly to blame, is as u have very correctly mentioned, the commercial media.

While the media has taken it up on itself to play up the achievements they project the bare truth in an alienating fashion. The media doesn't attempt to involve its readers (or viewers) in the serious / grave stuff, but simply presents anything that has to do with serious policy making and lapses of administration as dry and humdrum 'reports'.

Notice the partiality in majority of newspapers: Success stories are 'featured' but sob stories (farmer suicides, female foeticide, education) are merely 'reported'.

Shashank said...

Nice post, but to be honest, I disagree with a few points that you have raised here. True that development has sidetracked a large section of the population behind aluminum shanties, but these developments have enabled wealth creation.

Wealth can never be distributed equally, even in communist countries. The thing is that if a Rs.100 pie is created, this large poor section might get only Re.1 of it, but at least that's better than everybody receiving nothing.

featherbone said...

my wife and i have 'adopted' an old beggar lady who hangs out near her (wife's) office. we give her a tenner every time we see her. keeps her happy, and eases our conscience a bit. wifey's logic-she's old. she can't work even if she wants to. old lady, or 'aunty' as we call her, and we have something that is almost an emotional bond. she tells us when she's going 'home', wherever that is, and disappears for a few days.

thing is-we do not speak the same languages. wifey and i have been saying we should get a transalator, and at least find out her name. should be easy enough.

but. i am scared. i am scared of the increase in emotional commitment that means. i am scared of what i will find out. and i am scared that i will feel compelled to do something more to help.

and every time i talk to people who work in the social sector, thats what they keep asking for. money, yes. but what they often want (especially the ones that work with children) is people who care.

Joseph said...

Hi Featherbone,

You and your wife should go for it. Take a risk. Get hold of soemone who speaks the old lady's tongue. If you fear emotional attachment, you might as well stick to your own kind and forget about reaching out to the poor. Follow your instinct. I assume you are a mature adult, so do not be afraid of the unknown.

But a word of caution. Do not build a human bond with money.

Here goes, something from Kahlil Gibran or is it Victor Hugo?

"We give but little when we give of our possesions. It is when we give of ourselves that we truly give."

Give of yourself. If you care. To share yourself.

Joe Pinto.

Gauri Gharpure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gauri Gharpure said...


The act you both r doing, you perhaps dont realise, is not only supporting the woman monetarily, but also must a very potent emotional support. Sometimes, a precious feeling transcends a seemingly small act.

the fact tht u guys dont speak the same language and yet share a special bond reminds me of 'the language of the world'- the beautiful thought that Coelho has described in 'The Alchemist'.

As Sir has said, go ahead.

I feel that when we risk and give a bit of ourselves- commit an emotional and moral involvement(as Gibran has said in The Prophet, and as sir has aptly quoted here)- only then can we give ourselves a real chance to grow.. You have to take the risk.

Sir, your presence on the blog gives me great encouragement.

featherbone said...

@ joe and gauri:

...and they've been telling me to be more mature and think about being a mature adult was to take LESS risk and make provision for the unknown! [grin]

but hell, you're right. we need to make that emotional connection, or i'm going t end up like the people i dislike the most-who think that money is the be all end all.

warning you two though, that its gonna take some time, so patience. will let you know when done!