India has certainly made strides to be a force in the technological world of the 21st century. However, there will always remain a big part of the population that will be left out of these advances. What is amazing about India is there is such a wide disparity in education and wealth and yet it remains relatively peaceful.
The biggest reason for this is the population of India, which is a billion plus. Its population is likely to overtake China because China is about the only country in the world that can pass a policy to limit the number of children a couple can have. With multiple languages and multiple religions, any attempt to enforce such a policy would lead to riots. You never hear of the Indian army trying to quell civil unrest.
One reason there is a billion people is the agrarian nature of India where more people means more hands to do the physical labor. Another reason is because women have yet to achieve real equality. Real equality would, alas, mean going against something India holds dear. Marriage. Women need the income to live by themselves and be self sustaining. The situation is better for those who have education where women are able to be more independent.
Divorce is another problem. While most family-loving countries would like to avoid divorce, India really does avoid it. In the past, women were expected to throw themselves on a burning funeral pyre of their late husbands or be forever shunned as women that belonged to other men. Men, of course, having made the rules never had this problem, a consequence of thinking of women as property.
Once you have more education, more freedom, more opportunities, women worry more about their career, and less about having children. Thus, the more educated women are, the more likely they will have fewer children. And that in the long run will cut down on the population problem.
Until education is so widespread with an economy to support that many people, you have a population problem. With a billion people, you need a way to employ them. Many will be uneducated, yet many have to eat. If India was in colder climates and not agrarian, they would never have a population they do now. Local farms imply cheap food, especially with no middle men. A country like India has to have cheap food.
Compared to India, Americans spend an enormous money on their food. If Indians had to pay comparable prices, most would starve to death. The pay scale in India goes exponentially downwards. Thus, the poorest person might make a tenth of what an average person makes.
Imagine a person making 100,000 dollars in the US. That's pretty good actually. Most people don't make that money from one income. 1/10 of that is 10,000. You could barely live on that amount of money. You'd share a place, and then rent might eat up 4000 dollars, possibly less if you can live in a small town where it might cost $250 a month to live (by yourself) as opposed to $1000 in a big city. You might be able to get food for a few thousand more, but beyond that, you'd be struggling to buy anything. And imagine living on $5000 or $2000. There are plenty of Indians that are likely living on a tiny fraction of a middle-class worker.
To live, housing must be cheap and food must be cheap. Once this is taken care of, then labor itself can be cheap. Most people couldn't afford a live-in chef because it would use up 50% of their income easily. But if it used up 1-2%, many might find it acceptable. If you could get food and a chef for $100 a month, most people would go for that option, but the food alone would exceed $100 and the chef would expect to get paid a ton.
India survives because of this huge income disparity that takes advantage of what India has in abundance. People.
India has solved its population problem in a funny way. Indians have left India. They essentially go to other countries to live. Where Indians were rare in the US and England in the 1970s, the numbers have sharply risen by 2009. It is a pretty novel way to solve the problem, but the fact remains that there are still a billion people in India.
The one advantage India has is that it's willing to develop so some people get the advantages even as the rest of the nation is poor. Indeed, it's been said that India is really many nations that co-exist. They are divided in language, religion, education, caste and money. Many people identify with their section of India. Their India may be the educated affluent worldly Indians, but that is not all of India, even though it is the part of India that is driving it to the modern era.
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