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Why do some people have a hard time accepting that India is a poor country? 

There are three reasons why some cannot accept that India is a poor country. In order of importance

  1. Because they believe that India is not really poor: Not in the sense of the word that we normally understand. India is a resource rich country, a growing economic power that is home to millions of people in abject poverty and also thousands of millionaires. The problem with India is not so much poverty but inequality.
  2. Outrage is good business: For everyone who is engaged in living off it – trolls and media, it’s good business. We have mechanisms to keep it going. How else could we be latching on to what some obscure people say to other obscure people and then outrage about it? Outraging about such issues helps divert attention from the really serious issues on the ground today; over-interference of government in citizens’ lives, increasing tensions in Kashmir, drought and related farmer suicides, etc. It also increases TRPs as inane panels are put together to discuss these inane issues on prime time.
  3. A misplaced sense of nationalistic pride #: Like many other nations, we are a peoples who cannot easily stand criticism. Our sense of national worth is so fragile that the smallest shock from the most insignificant source. threatens it. The same applies for our culture, religion, leaders etc. We tend to go off the edge on silly things. For instance, look at how we reacted to what the Snapchat CEO allegedly said about India being poor. How does that matter what he thinks? Does that change anything? The hilarious part is that out of ignorance, Indian netizens attacked the completely innocent Snapdeal. Accepting that some of us are poor is taken to be an affront to nationalistic pride. Many of us tend to fight any allusion to poverty by pointing to the glorious past immediately followed by the lament about colonial rule, and / or point to the fact that we are a peace loving country (how is that relevant!) and / or talk about rich culture or something else that makes us feel good. Admitting to poverty is taken as a statement of failure. Perhaps that is why we have not made as much headway as we could have into the poverty issue. To address any problem one has to first accept that there is a problem.

Interestingly, I would hypothesize that few of those who were outraged by the Snapchat CEO’s alleged remark are really outraged that 300 million+ Indians actually live in abject poverty. Outraged enough to do something about it.