chosen people - india and the camel (2)

(this is the second part of the post i'd published yesterday.)

there is no place for stupid people in delhi. delhi recorded a literacy rate of 82% in 2001- bihar remained content with 48%, madhya pradesh- 64%, uttar pradesh- 57%, jharkhand-54%, and rajasthan- 61%. the delhi government's website (page 4) displays all those figures..perhaps, to show us how smarter delhi is? but it ended up telling me the people of u.p., bihar, jharkhand etc., are somehow paying the price for delhi's education. all the states are paying for it. i am convinced around one third of the higher education budget (you think it's less? well, i plan to probe this more.. and discuss it in later posts) of the central government goes into maintaining various universities and other institutions of learning and research that dot delhi (how many central universities would you find in madhya pradesh, rajasthan, bihar, jharkhand, chattisgarh?)- this goes to ensure that all stupid people who enter delhi get a decent education. but the overwhelming majority of those who flock to delhi are the smartest people from the neighbouring states, and to a lesser extent from other parts of the country. what'd all these people do? are there enough jobs for all of them? there is enough work for all of them. the million or two million steady job-holders, and their families constitute a huge market (for all kinds of goods and all kinds of services). not only because of their disposable incomes but also (mostly) because of the undisclosable part of their incomes.

a market guaranteed by the government

let's look at the figures: the delhi state government website (page 11) says there were around 6.24 lakh (central government + government of delhi + quasi government + local bodies) employees in the state in 2001. that's the organized public sector. and that's a grossly underestimated figure, in my view. look at what this census of central government employees (page 11) says: the number of central government employees in delhi was 2,67,000 in 2001. that's around 25% more than the figure quoted by the delhi government- who's right? no one, actually. because no one seems to know the actual figure. do you know the actual number of people who work for the central government? i've seen estimates ranging from 31 lakhs to 40 lakhs. the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, which does most of these kind of surveys and censuses, offers a figure of around 37 lakhs. do you get the picture? no one, not even the top most elected government officials like the prime minister at the central level or the chief minister of any given state at any point of time can give you, forget the precise, even a rough estimate (within a 5% margin of acceptable error) of how many people actually work for his/her government!

so we can safely assume the actual figures are around 25% higher. let's settle for a total figure of, say, 8 lakhs. even this figure won't give you the complete story. because it does not account for employment in the public sector banks, financial institutions etc., and also because the number of defence, para-military and other kinds of security personnel stationed in delhi are also not included. and we need to account for the practice of inadequate disclosure that most government and quasi-government organizations often indulge in to avoid problems like providing for reservations etc., the final figure could be close to a million?

it's more than a million

this is not a number that expanded over the years- in fact the number of regular job-holders, paid for by the government (centre or the state), has actually decreased a little over the last fifteen years or so.the delhi government website says 2.17 lakh people were employed in the private organized sector in 2001- so the total size, the number i was working with, of the market has grown to around 1.3 million families. this also means that the formal or organized sector employs more people in delhi than in mumbai. or kolkata. this is not a number fuelled by the expansion of the city- it is the number that has fuelled the expansion of the city. here, i'd like to quote from an india today article that describes the dizzy pace at which delhi's economy is growing and explains, much more succinctly, why delhi has grown so fast over the last three decades:
There is something more basic behind business magnetic charm for Delhi. It's the nation's most affluent market.An average family in the capital earns Rs 21,830 a year against the national average of Rs 9,321. This has much to do with the presence of 6.5 lakh government employees who were granted generous salary revisions.
well, the magazine has got the numbers slightly wrong (6.5 lakhs) but its analysis is right. it's the government that drove/drives the growth in delhi. a community of more than a million families with regular incomes within a small, defined area- that's a fantasy come true for most marketers. especially in a country marked by vast stretches of poverty and low purchasing power like india. measured in terms of government supported regular employment, delhi, is far luckier than hyderabad, bangalore and chennai put together.

the per capita income in delhi is 2.5 times the national average. it scores higher than the national average on all human development indicators. it has the best infrastructure among all cities in the country- an ernst & young report concluded delhi is the 'best place to reside in the country' after evaluating 48 cities in india on 57 parameters. delhi is different from india. the usual explanation for a city's growth anywhere would be- its citizens worked hard, saved a lot and invested a lot more and wisely, and the governance was extraordinarily good, so it grew. does this explain delhi?

does it explain how
a city mostly peopled by wage-earning babus has managed to father the largest (or the second largest) brood of rich people in the country?

[more on this later.]

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