Dekho Hamara Hindustan!

By Kollengode S Venkataraman (July 2005)

Millions of Indian workers living in difficult living conditions outside India have been sending billions of dollars to India over the past thirty-plus years. It all started in the late 1960s when a large number of skilled Indians went to Persian Gulf countries in the wake of the oil boom.

Despite this hard currency inflow, at one point in the late 70s or early 80s, India’s foreign exchange reserves were not even enough to meet India’s import bills for one month. This was in large measure due to the 40-plus years of Nehruvian state-controlled economic policies inflicted on the nation by the Congress Party.

In that crisis, it was the money sent in small quantities by non-resident Indians living in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, and North America that was responsible in large part for bailing India out.

In 2003, the overseas Indians’ remittance touched a all-time high of $17 billion. In 2004, according to the World Bank estimates, the monies remitted by NRIs to India touched $23 billion, the highest ever.

At the exchange rates of 2004, the rupee equivalent of the only 5 milion Indians sending hard currency to India exceeded 50% of the income tax the Indian government collects from its over 300-million strong anglicized upwardly mobile middle class.
Tax evasion among India’s middle class, big and small businesses and trading classes is so rampant that it is one of the biggest obstacles for improving India’s infrstructure, primary education and healthcare.

In the December 26, 2004 Tsunami, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Arabian sea, over 2000 people died and over 5000 people were ‘missing” and now presumed dead .

A woman in Andaman had a coconut grove that had 300 trees, all of which were wiped out in the tsunami. In April 2005, AFP reported that the government of India’s agents assessed the damage to her livelyhood and compensated her for her loss.

How much do you think was the compensation given to her for making a new beginning? 2 rupees. Fellow Desis, this is no typographic error. The compensatiion was an insulting 2 (TWO) rupees (around 6 cents), which is less than the price of one coconut in Mumbai market. Humiliated, the woman returned her compesnation to the government. — END


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