Four youngsters barely in their twenties. One comes driving a swanky new car. There is a clamour for a treat. And the offer is tea at a wayside shop 150 km away! “Drive 150 km for chai? Awesome, dude” is the reaction.
Just an ad film (Click here). Yet it conveys that India may be poor, but Indians aren't!
Fifty years ago, India's GDP was US$ 37 billion. Today it is a whopping US$ 1729 billion! The Forbes 2011 talks of 50 Indians in its list of World Billionaires. As per Credit Suisse, there are 170,000 'rich' Indians making the country the 12th 'richest' in the world. The 'rich' in global terms refers to those who have assets worth US$ 1.0 million or more, over and above their primary possessions and outstanding liabilities. In the next slot are 4.5 million Indians with surplus assets of US$ 100,000!
A National Council of Applied Economic Research estimate, puts the Indian households with annual income in excess of US$ 20000 at 3.8 million. The cash stashed abroad by Indians is said to be over US$ 500 billion! The black money circulating within the country is in the region of US$ 300 billion! According to a Central Statistical Office report, the per capita income at current prices stands at US$ 1240, a rise of 14.3% over the previous year! The average salaries this year too, are expected to move up in double digits.
We are rolling in cash, so much so that manual counting of currency notes is beginning to bore us. No wonder, a flurry of automatic counting machines has hit the local market. White or black, cash can now be dusted and counted, and even the counterfeits identified in a matter of seconds. All for a mere US$ 200!
Are we talking about surplus income? No. It is the disposable income that is motivating us. So, why should anyone feel scandalised if four youngsters decide to drive 300 km, have tea, and return?
Money does not not reflect progress, prosperity or well-being, until you start spending it. One reason, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the economic indicator since the Second World War days, is no more seen as a true measure of the standard of a nation's prosperity. Today, it is the HPI (Happy Planet Index) combining economic metrics with indicators of well-being (health, education, life span, satisfaction etc.) that matters. Perhaps, why in a recent HPI survey, Costa Rica emerged right on top, and India ranked 79 positions ahead of the US!
Didn't he sound factual, when Barack Obama said: "Money may not be the only answer, but it does make a difference."
"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue."