Even the rich fall ill, don’t they?

It is absurd to suggest that monsoon woes and a labour strike will change India’s economic fortunes

According to Reuters’ Simon Denyer, ‘from hype to the harsh realities of life, India came down to earth with a bump last week’.

On the world stage, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepped up his campaign for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, supped at the high table of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, and was feted as a major ally in Washington.

When he got home, the turmoil that greeted him in this huge and often unruly country must have felt like a slap in the face.[Reuters]

Piecing together the headlines of a bad week — a labour protest that became a riot, a bad case of flooding and an accident on an offshore oil platform — Denyer concludes that the journey ahead for India is unlikely to be smooth. Well, no one claimed that it would.

The biggest problem with Denyer’s comment is that it is the product of a short attention span. Perhaps it is a measure of India’s success in managing the aftermath of last December’s tsunami that Denyer fails to recollect that a much bigger tragedy occurred just half a year ago. There too India was caught without a modern system to provide early warning and without a well-planned response mechanism to manage such disasters. But things have changed since then.

Two weeks of bad news are no cause to expect drastic changes in the fortunes of a country such as India. It is rather presumptuous of Denyer to suggest that such ‘turmoil’ would come as a ‘slap in the face’ of India’s prime minister. Dr Singh, of all people, has his feet planted firmly on the ground, and makes it a point to point this out to anyone who would listen. There is much more to India’s economic growth story than a few very bad headlines (and headline writers).

1 thought on “Even the rich fall ill, don’t they?”

  1. Many people have noted that reporting about India is still a major blindspot for western journalists & this one is perhaps a textbook example. No city in the world can possibly be designed to process more rain in two days than it usually gets in a year. You just don’t build that kind of overcapacity.

    Actually, this is purely a Reuters story & there may be more than a hint of sour grapes going on here – outsourcing. Reuters had already been outsourcing its bylines, breaking financial news etc. to India but last week announced even more ambitious plans to outsource higher level i.e. editorial functions to India.

    Harder to understand someone like Mahesh Bhatt who, through an NGO linked to some Bollywood personalities, deciding to file a PIL in the high court against the government’s failure to protect life and property during the rain.

    Having said all this, times like these tend to reveal both weaknesses & strengths. If nothing else, we need to heed, and correct, the former.

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