I was beginning to wonder if I would get through this week without a good candidate for the Chutzpah of the Week award. However, as is often the case, the BBC came to my rescue with a story released this morning. This is one of those cases where the chutzpah is in the context. Nevertheless, the best place to begin is with the story itself:
India is aiming to achieve double-digit economic growth within two years, as the country's recovery from the global downturn picks up pace.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said he was optimistic the economy should soon return to the 9% growth it achieved before the downturn.
The challenge then is "to cross the double-digit growth barrier in the coming year or two", he added.
The Indian economy grew by 8.8% between April and June this year.
It is the second-fastest-growing economy in the world behind China.
"We are all witness to an emerging new world order," Mr Mukherjee said, which would lead to a "more equitable arrangement for global prosperity."
The context comes from that final phrase about a “more equitable arrangement for global prosperity.” I see that it is exactly two weeks ago that I put up a post intended to serve as preview reflections on Barack Obama’s visit to India. The relevant context for today’s news comes from an excerpt from an Associated Press report that I cited in my earlier piece:
There were more than 670 million cell phone connections in India by the end of August, a number that has been growing by close to 20 million a month, according to government figures.
Yet U.N. figures show that only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine, leaving 665 million to defecate in the open.
Mukherjee’s statement reflects a semantic interpretation of “prosperity” that appears to have more concern for how many cell phone connections people have than it does for the sanitary conditions of the people having those connections. They reveal a man who is more interested in being one of the stars of the next meeting of the World Economic Forum than he is in the well-being of all sectors of his own country’s vast population. It takes no small amount of chutzpah to thumb your nose at so many people with the expectation of being rewarded for your efforts, so Mukherjee clearly deserves the current Chutzpah of the Week award. From my point of view, this one was worth the wait!