Ummid Assistant

Direct link to CBSE Class 12 results. The results online now:

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Cool Britannia and India shining: Lies and more lies

Wednesday June 06, 2012 12:25:14 PM, Colin Todhunter

Remember the ‘India shining’ slogan in 2003/2004? Parts of India were indeed shining, and the government at the time spent around $20 million telling citizens that India was shiny and bright. Of course, many went on to use the slogan in an attempt to legitimise the opening up of the economy and neo liberal economic policies.

A strong theme that emerged to help explain the BJP-led government’s subsequent election defeat was the failure to acknowledge that most of India was certainly not shining and that there were in fact two India’s – a smaller Coffee MacDay, Barristo swilling stratum and a larger threadbare India struggling to get by.

In the West, politicians and economists at the World Bank were quick to jump on the ‘India shining’ bandwagon, heralding India as some kind of capitalist economic miracle. There was a great deal of talk about India’s huge middle class and falling poverty, and much of the media in the West zoomed in on the glitz of Bollywood, India’s IT parks and the rising conspicuous consumption of the Indian middle classes. From a land of elephants, poverty and beggars, a shiny new image of India emerged in the West. Farmers drinking pesticide and Monsanto's raping of the agricultural sector, 800 million or so on less than two dollars a day, increasing food prices and state-corporate grabs for land and minerals – that was all conveniently brushed aside. It didn’t fit the agenda of India as the new chic.

A similar process was also occurring in the UK. The spit and polish was applied in an attempt to gloss over those parts that were not shining. It started a little earlier there - in 1997 to be precise, when Tony Blair and New Labour came to power. Tony was hip, Tony was cool. He was tuned in and turned on to the meaningless ‘cool Britannia’ soundbite manufactured by the media at that time. Brits were told that it was cool to be British and to bask in their achievements in music, industry and youthful endeavour.

Suddenly, from a country still reeling from the destruction of manufacturing industry, coupled with rising crime and community erosion, the UK was tranformed overnight to a ‘can-do’ place of individual endeavour. Whatever happened to the permanent class of wageless labour and the legacy of 11 years of Thatcherite rule? Children growing up in the UK were suffering greater deprivation, worse relationships with their parents and exposure to more risks from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex than those in any other wealthy country in the world. That too was neatly brushed aside by the spin doctors and a compliant mainstream media.

In both the UK and India, it was the creamy layer that was shining. Millionaires and billionaires were on the increase. Even in 2009, in a period of crisis and recession, the richest portion of UK society increased its wealth by around $120 billion – that’s almost half the public debt that ordinary working people are having to pay for via public sector cutbacks.

So when PM Cameron and the rich bankers and financiers who hold the key positions in his government tell us in the UK that we are all in it (the hardships) together, some of us are a heck of a lot more ‘in it’ than others.

A recently devised index for poverty indicates that eight Indian states account for more poor people than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. According to this measure, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have 421 million poor people. This is more than the 410 million poor in the poorest African countries. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) measures a range of deprivations at household levels. Developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) with UN support, it assesses various factors aside from income, such as education, health, assets and access to services.

The government and statisticians from the World Bank have consistently told us that poverty has fallen quite dramatically in India. It suits the ‘trickle down’ ideology of neo liberalism. The late economist JK Galbraith was no advocate of ‘trickle down’ – he merely envisaged a ‘trickle out’ effect. He warned India not to dive headfirst into global capitalism because of the foolishness of feeding a horse strawberries and expecting the masses to feed off what comes out the other end.

Cool Britannia? Forget it. You can forget India shining too, at least as far as the bulk of the populatioin is concerned. Because, in India, as in the UK, some are much more ‘in it’ than others. If we use the Galbraith analogy – in it up to their necks!



Originally from the northwest of England, writer Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). Various other publications have carried his work too, including the London Progressive Journal and Kisan Ki Awaaz (India's national farmers' magazine).  




Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS



More Headlines

Coca-Cola India and World Vision to support rural schools in India

Science Express-Biodiversity Special flagged off

Avoid extreme exercises - they may kill

'Sulabh toilet model can be adopted worldwide'

States unwilling to join new IIT-JEE format

Trinamool shines in civic polls, loses near Nandigram

Two girls of same college top UP Class 12 exams

Posters outside BJP headquarter target Narendra Modi

Wrong to glorify terrorists, Amarinder says on Operation Bluestar memorial

Suspended as senator, Rehman Malik made PM's advisor

Apex court to hear plea on Uttar Pradesh poll quota

25 yrs after tragedy, Govt. promises modern hospital for gas victims

2008 Malegaon blast accused gets bail





Top Stories

India pitches for SCO's membership, Afghan role

A day before the SCO summit opens in Beijing, India Tuesday renewed its pitch for full membership of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization and backed the grouping's role in  »

Zardari, Ahmadinejad reach China for Shanghai summit

NATO plans new Afghan mission after 2014


  Most Read

SIM cards for Indians going for Haj

Indian Haj pilgrims this year may be given mobile SIM cards with a balance of five Saudi riyals to remain in touch with their dear ones and the authorities. A state Haj committee official who attended the recent conference  »

25 yrs after tragedy, Govt. promises modern hospital for gas victims

A hospital built for the Bhopal gas disaster victims will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday. Chidambaram said this at a media conference during a visit to take stock of the toxic chemicals still lying in the now shuttered Union Carbide factory here.  »


  News Pick

2008 Malegaon blast accused gets bail

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here Tuesday granted bail to Lokesh Sharma in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast in Maharashtra that killed six people, a lawyer said. "The NIA failed to file a charge sheet »

Wrong to glorify terrorists, Amarinder says on Operation Bluestar memorial

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Tuesday opposed the setting up of a memorial to those killed in the Operation  »

Sikh clergy lays foundation stone of Operation Bluestar memorial

Buddhist vigilantes in Myanmar attack passenger bus, kill 9 Muslims

Buddhist vigilantes in western Myanmar attacked a passenger bus and killed nine Muslims, police said on Monday, the deadliest communal  »


Picture of the Day

Marginalised Muslim craftswomen and weavers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and in the capital are making an international connection with their work thanks to two projects by the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), one of the country's oldest crafts and women's empowerment organisations.



RSS  |  Contact us


| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant



Science & Technology



About us




Government Schemes










Contact us




    Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.