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Occupy Wall Street: India is not the U.S. (Washington Times)

November 8, 2011

President Nancy Birdsall was mentioned in a Washington Times article on corruption in the United States and India.

Read it here

Watching Thomas Friedman’s interview on New Delhi Television recently got me thinking.

Friedman suggested that the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S has not been as successful as India’s Jan Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill agitation, because while activists led by Anna Hazare succeeded in arm-twisting the Indian government, in America the protests have not yet fully mobilized the country or received serious government attention.

That may be true, but Friedman who says the "flat" in his book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” is his, “shorthand for the rise of middle classes all over the world,” may have overlooked the fact that middle class profiles and values are vastly different in some countries.

Transparency International awards Indians the dubious distinction of being among the most corrupt, with India at 87th in world rankings.

According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), India has approximately 26 million affluent people – those who can spend more than $20 a day. ADB notes that India’s middle class – those who can spend between $2 and $13 a day – is made of approximately 264 million people.

Compared to China, India has more of its middle class precariously perched just above the poor, a spot from where it is very easy to tumble back into poverty. Economist Nancy Birdsall suggests India would have no middle class at all if you restrict the definition of middle class to the number of people who can spend $10 a day and yet are not in the top 5% of the population by income distribution.

Read it here.

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