India: does democracy work in Asia? Part 5 of 6

January 23, 2016

Among the alleged Asian democracies, India is next.  The Guardian says of corruption in India that “All your life you pay for things that should be free.”

The Guardian reported that “one ordinary man” had to pay at least a third of his income to survive. “Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes,” Vishal, 26, said. But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest into the best local school he paid a “donation” of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster.”

Economy said, “India’s underground economy is believed to be 50 percent of the country’s GDP – US$640 billion at the end of 2008,” and Janamejayan’s Weblog goes into detail of one scam that cost $40 billion, which is 3% of India’s GDP.

Poverty in India, 2011

In addition, there is confusion over how many live in poverty in India.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme reported that literacy in India was about 74 percent, while the CIA Factbook set the literacy rate at 61 percent (literacy and poverty are linked), which explains The World Bank’s estimates of poverty in India at 41.6 percent.

However, the Hindustan Times says for 2011 that there are 406 million poor in India, which is a third of the population—an increase of 8% since 2009.

In addition, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India

In 2009, India’s population was about 1.2 billion, and the country had six nationally recognized political parties and about 46 recognized state/provincial parties. Source: List of Recognized Political Parties in India (Wiki)

India has been the world’s largest democracy since 1947, and although India claims to have reduced poverty from about 53% in 1973-74 to 25.6% in 1999-2000, the definition and difficulty in reporting the exact numbers casts doubt on this claim.

However, in the same time span, China reduced poverty from 64% to less than 3%, and China is not a multi-party democracy. If China had been a multi-party democracy like India, would poverty have been reduced so dramatically?

In addition, according to Time’s Global Spin, a blog about the world, its people and its politics, “The size of India’s middle class was 50 million in 2005, according to this report by McKinsey,” and McKinsey may be wrong and the number may be lower.

In contrast, Martin Trieu, President of Tourmaline Capital, estimates “there are at least 250-300 million people (in China) who now fall into this (middle class) category.”

Helen H. Wang of Forbes Magazine’s China Tracker agrees with Trieu, and says, “Today, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years.”

How precious is freedom when you are too poor to enjoy it?

Continued with Taiwan on January 24, 2016 in Part 6 or return to Part 4


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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