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Jai ho, urban squalor!

Irrational exuberance is as delusional as irrational pessimism. The mandarins want to put a positive spin on dismal economic tidings, writes N Chandra Mohan.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2009 22:11 IST
N. Chandra Mohan

In these troubled times, there is no harm seeing silver linings where dark clouds exist. Or half-full glasses instead of half-empty ones. But is there really a warrant for the irrational optimism of our mandarins? Their refrain is that we are the second fastest growing economy. So, who said there were problems with the economy? But what takes the cake is their latest exhortation to learn from the runaway, rags-to-riches film Slumdog Millionaire.

While some critics think the film exposes India’s underbelly for the viewing pleasure of the First World — and others bemoan the fact that this underbelly is there in the first place to be displayed — our mandarins are going into raptures about slums.

Slums are buzzing beehives of ideas for businesses, they say, urging banks to provide loans. There are no prizes for guessing that for the slum loan mela, it is only the public sector banks that will take the hit.

Irrational exuberance is as delusional as irrational pessimism. The mandarins want to put a positive spin on dismal economic tidings. Slums basically exist to enable millions to escape the idiocy of rural life. The best way to help is to enable them to get title to the land on which they live. But who’s listening?