15.8.13

Indian Independence Day

If the world was a fair place, India, the world's second most populous country, should be the world's second largest economy, and the second largest by area. However, it is not. It is the seventh largest by area and the ninth by GDP.

One of the benefits of my travels, is that I got to witness countries from the privilege of my hotel room and still manage to join in on their events. Today is India's 67th Independence day, and I am spending it in New Delhi. The bus drive from the airport to our hotel took a considerably longer time, due to the strict policing of the streets and basically every route the bus took was blocked. A few turns around the block finally softened one police official enough to give in and allow us access to the route blocked for buses.

This security measure while a mild inconvenience to our crew highlighted the security procedures being followed amid tensions with pakistan. This was reflected in Manmohan Singh's speech and you can find the text of what I saw as subtitling on TV earlier today.

India a nuclear country, with nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and a GDP of $1.87 Trillion, is far from the dreamy phoenix rising from the ashes that you see on CNN. The GDP per capita is around 1,500 USD which is around a third of that of my country of Jordan and 30 times less than that of the US. This means that while the GDP and the economy are huge, the population is even greater. 26% of Indians are still illiterate, which amounts to 287 million people, which is much better that the 88% at the start of the 67 years of Indian independence but leaves much to be desired.

Statistics also tell that India loses its 30% of its human development when inequality is factored in, Jordan for example loses 19% and sweden around 6%, so inequality is a real issue in a country that still has issues with untouchables and castes.

The country has 700 million people with no access to sanitary toilets and a railway company that allows employs people to collect human waste dropping on it's tracks. It is a far-cry from where I was blogging last week, the country that India gained independence from: the United Kingdom.

The view from my hotel doesn't reflect the facts on the ground and it takes effort to stay grounded to the facts.
View from Le Meridien New Delhi

Happy Independence day India!
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