It’s been some time since I had one of my regular weeks of postings in my long-running series called Forgotten World – a look at parts of the world that too rarely feature in our media or thoughts. You can check the previous 215 entries here.
Since almost one in five of the world’s citizens lives in India, it’s astonishing that the country features so little in world reports. It is the world’s second most populous nation (after China) but overwhelmingly the largest democracy on the planet [see my account of the political system here].
On the one hand, India is a nation in which more than 800 million people still live on less than $2 a day. According to the latest measure of the United Nations Development Programme, which includes such indicators of deprivation as education and health, just eight Indian states have more poor people – 421 million – than the 28 poorest countries of Africa. In fact, under-nutrition in India is twice as high as that in sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly half of India’s 120 million children exposed to early death.
On the other hand, India is much more stable and prosperous than Pakistan and Bangladesh (both part of India under British colonial rule), it has a huge army and nuclear weapons, the economy is growing fast, there are pockets of industrial excellence like IT, it has its own space programme, and Bollywood produces more movies each year than Hollywood.