FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Price India’s Future?

Drip and drip again. It’s a walk through Triplicane. It’s a walk through the Triplicane and Royapettah areas of Chennai in July. It’s hot here. It’s always hot here. Watch your back. Watch your front. And, by the way, watch your side as well. Those mopeds, those scooters, those autos, those guided missiles from all directions. Around here, you walk in the road. Around here, city planners didn’t plan for much.

A rush past half a dozen dimly lit pharmacy shops stacked to the rafters with boxes, bottles and more boxes. A rush past a dozen tiny one room eateries, non-veg, veg, wooden benches, plastic chairs, metal jugs of water on tables and metal mug waiting to be filled. A rush past street side shrines – tridents, Shivas, Nandis, Ganeshes, lingams. Smell the incense, feel the burn, sense the back streets of Triplicane.

It’s dusk. It’s dusk when each minutiae of life, each nuance, becomes more pronounced, more noticeable, in the neon-polluted haze. When traffic roars and darkness gathers. When anticipation prevails. When the aroma of freshly cooked food hangs in the air and women shop and cows munch. When dhabas bustle and chai shops steam. When firecrackers explode and a thousand vehicle horns blast. And through the choking traffic fumes, seated at the roadside, women sell bright yellow marigolds and sweet smelling jasmine.

A sharp left and off into the narrow lanes. Boys play cricket, children fly kites from rooftops. And dogs come to life after a hard day’s sleep in the shade. Intricately drawn kolams on the floor at the entrances to homes fade in the dark. Where art meets ritual, where community meets tradition, where the women who drew them assert their presence. Both young and old stop to offer a prayer at a small shrine, and a child says “hi” and continues with his game.

Look from a distance and see the cityscape. The occasional high rise jostles for space among a million concrete box buildings that spill across the landscape. Triplicane and Royapettah. Splashes in the spill.

The subtle shades of the night, the garish billboards advertising the latest blockbuster. The moustachioed handsome hero of the Tamil movie variety towers tall above the traffic. The hero, who dishes out and is sometimes the recipient of a form of slapstick violence that never really bruises, never really cuts and never really hurts. In make-believe movie-land, the pain is always dulled. Opium for the masses.

And on the corner, by the cracked concrete entrances to the subways that traverse Anna Salai, the main thoroughfare, a bunch of cycle carts parked up. And a bunch of street stalls beckon. Frying, cooking, heating in the roasting night. A quick bite of dosa held in hand, a mouthful of rice shovelled with fingers. Street food served on the street, fast food eaten fast. It’s the India of roadside stoves, pots and pans. It’s the neighbourhood India of the common man, for the common man. It’s community.

It’s the type of small-scale enterprise India that many a politician would readily wrench from neighbourhoods in return for a pocket full of Walmart gold. India’s education system, healthcare system, infrastructure and welfare system has already been sacrificed for many a burgeoning Swiss bank account. Why not the rest of India too? It’s called accumulation by dispossession. It’s called stolen wealth. And the process has accelerated since the opening up of the economy in ’91. The impact is stark, but it’s not unique to India. A cheap con-trick sold to the masses on the road to some bogus notion of the ‘promised land’, some idiotic secular theology of neo-liberal fast track ‘development’.

A promised land of fortune, mansions and lavish living that the tricksters attained years ago – by cartels, force and duplicity masquerading as ‘neo-liberalism’, masquerading as the ‘free’ market. A global market rigged, bought and paid for courtesy of the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Warburgs or various other billionaire fraudsters before India’s local mom and pop stores were but a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. No, it’s not unique to India. It’s global. Like some of the pesticide-ridden/engineered crops in the fields, or the protruding bellies of the malnourished, it’s not genuine growth, but abnormal swelling. Like the soil sucked dry, people are left to wilt on the vine.

The poverty alleviation rate in India is the same as it was 20 years back. Every second child is underweight and stunted. Eight of India’s states account for more poor people than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. Shopping and consumerism have become the concerns and priorities of India’s misinformed and misled creamy layer. Misinformed by news outlets that pass off infotainment as news. Misinformed by a government that cosies up to western multi-nationals with secretive ‘Memorandums of Understanding’ and then proceeds to target some of the poorest people in the country who resist as ‘the enemy within’.

It’s all a bit of a mad dash this. An insane one. A corrupt one. We need to move to a different beat, to travel in a different direction, to make peace with our future.

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail