Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cloven left off the centre

I hate being a killjoy but every once in a while I have no choice. The stock market surge that India has been witnessing of late, the frequent babble of decoupling and *this time it’s different* theory graven in stone notwithstanding, there are the hundreds of millions that are left out of it all.

Here are two disparate reports I found this morning that tempted me to make this post.

According to the Economic and Hiring Outlook survey by McKinsey for the latest quarter, 77% Indian business executives said they think the economy would get ‘better’ in six months. This is the highest for the executives from any other region including China, Europe, North America and other Asia-Pacific nations.

And then, this. India ranks way down at 96 among 119 developing countries included in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) compiled by IFPRI. This rank is well below all its neighbours, barring Bangladesh, and falls in the category in which the hunger situation is deemed “alarming”. Even Nepal is four notches higher than India at number 92 and Pakistan eight points above India at number 88.

So where does that leave us? Cloven right down the middle? Oops, I can’t say that just yet, since business executives that feel buoyant about India form less than 3% of our 1.1 billion population. It’s slit far left off the centre, one could say. I too am perplexed like any average Indian (“what the hell’s going on?”), feeling totally left out of the so-called joy ride that so few that I-don’t-know-who got to enjoy. Who are those few? Past few months run on the stock markets were so very narrow, restricted to just a few stocks from Reliance group, Power and Infrastructure pack. Breadth of the market has just been the width of the screen and the quarterly numbers have been so good for several stocks that never saw the limelight.

Where are we going wrong or is it just me? Something’s gotta’ give… soon !

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