Implementing development schemes for the poor in a deeply hierarchized society

A revealing set of US studies has got Urvashi Butalia thinking about how the rich behave in Delhi.

My office is located in an urban village in the heart of Delhi. Originally surrounded by fields where people grew crops, these areas now house apartment blocks and shopping malls. All that’s left of the old village is the cluster of houses in which many of the erstwhile residents live, and where a few small traders have set up offices and shops. Some old practices remain though, and there’s a strong sense of community. […]
Since that day [when a onion vendor’s cart was tipped over by a ‘SUV’ car owner], the village market has disappeared, the people are too frightened to come on to the road, children don’t play there and cars can now drive freely down it. […]
The studies in the US speak of the ‘culture of taking’ that comes with privilege. So, for example, the better-off person is more likely to take sweets meant for a child than a less well-off person. If you replace sweets with money, you’ll find this is rampant in India. Funds set aside for development schemes that are supposed to help the poor, are frequently siphoned off by the rich. Land that belongs to the poor – including adivasis – is taken for setting up factories (the Nano plant, for example) without compensation ever being paid.

Why do those who have so much want more? Why do they behave so badly towards their fellow human beings, and why is their behaviour so widely accepted as ‘natural’? Perhaps the day is not far off when we, in what are known now as emerging economies, will start to look for answers to these questions. […]

Indeed, in India, it’s always struck me as strange that, while there are any number of books about the poor (perhaps they provide an easy subject because they’re poor and don’t have the power to refuse to be subjects of research), there are no studies about the rich or their behaviour.

The question does arise: who would study the rich, or perhaps we should ask who could study the rich? In a society that is so deeply hierarchized along both class and caste lines, which scholar or scientist would have the temerity, and the access, to do so?

Read the entire article here >>

Source: India’s elites have a ferocious sense of entitlement — New Internationalist
Address : http://newint.org/features/2013/01/01/india-elite-sense-of-entitlement/
Date Visited: Thu Jun 13 2013 16:24:15 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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