India Shining: aspiring superpower, dancing beggars

Scenes of poverty are so much part of the Indian landscape, that they are just that – part of the landscape, very natural and to India’s lucre-hungry politicians, unchangeable. Some of my more tolerant colleagues think politics is definitely about welfare, and without the promise of a changed life, most people would not put up with our system.

To me, that does not explain the gradual corrosion and virtual collapse of institutions. Our violent, hostile, corrupt and cruel police, our grand but inaccessible judicial forums and our self-aggrandising bureaucracy to name a few…

As we ponder our condition, here is a video from a suburban train in Chennai taken this morning. I was commuting to work, after watching Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on television, all ready to deliver the railway budget; in media comments, he exuded confidence, shining through in his impeccable rimless glasses and disarmingly simple manner.

It’s good, as I learnt later, that Lalu Prasad announced a massive discount for women senior citizens on trains. Media reports suggest 50 per cent for women and an unchanged 30 per cent for men in the seniors grade respectively. Wonder what centrist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Harvard-trained, World Bank-inspired, taxation-averse finance wizards can give beyond a rail discount to girls like the one in this video in the upcoming general budget…

Watch another video of the dubious Shining India here.


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