Atanu Dey On India's Development

Where to be born

| 14 Comments

I had named the first blog I ever had way back in 2001 when I was at UC Berkeley, “Life is a Random Draw.” It was in recognition of the fact that the endowment we are born with (and where) is something that we have no control over; it is truly a random draw from the great big pack of cards in the sky. You are stuck with this naturally inherited set and it powerfully determines your destiny. But wait, there’s more. What you can do with your natural endowment is limited by the environment you find yourself in — that too is random.

Life experiences, successes and failures are all subject to where you are born. For example, a person born in a poor backward impoverished country will have a much lower standard of living and lower life expectancy than another with the same endowments born in a rich advanced country. Where you are born matters.

The Economist of Nov 21, 2012 had an interesting article, “The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013“. (Hat tip: Nitin Pai.) They asked the question, “which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?” and to answer it, they created a quality-of-life index from “subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are.” The results are not all that surprising. Broadly speaking, it is better to be born in a rich country than in a poor country.

Here are the results for 2013.

I would definitely go for Switzerland but I don’t care that much for Australia even though it ranks second only to Switzerland. Although the US is ranked 16th, I would go for the US rather than Australia. Perhaps it is because I like living in the US.

I am surprised to see U.A.E. in the top quartile. But otherwise I find nothing surprising in the placements in general. China is 49th — and I am certain that it will move up as the years roll by. India is at 66th and I am also certain that it will probably end up in the bottom in a few years, competing with Pakistan (75th) and Bangladesh (77th). There’s something toxic about the Indian subcontinent. (Hint: it has something to do with a desert religion.)

For comparison, there’s the 1988 survey that The Economist conducted. They compiled 11 economic and socio-political criteria such as GDP per capita, human rights, literacy, and even what they call a “philistine factor”. Here is the table:

(Click on the image below to see the full table.)

Only 48 countries are ranked in this 1988 survey, as compared to the 80 ranked in the more serious 2012 survey. It provides a base-line for understanding the trend. India in 1988, for example, was ranked 27th, ahead of China at 32nd. Thanks to India’s UPA government, India has slipped far below China — and as I claim above, India is likely to continue its slide thanks to Dr Manmohan Singh and his Italian boss Antonia Maino (aka Sonia Gandhi.) Let’s not talk about Pakistan (ranked 43rd) and Bangladesh (does not make the list at all.)

This kind of ranking is not too be taken too seriously, of course. However, while these may not be absolutely accurate, they do point to some truth, some trend that we should be mindful of. India’s slide down the list is not an illusion but rather a reality.

The mainstream media will not point to this inarguable sign of decline under the UPA because they are paid to misdirect and mislead. But we have to take note and worry. Not just worry, we must do something to avert the disaster that awaits us.

Right now India is not a great place to be born in. That’s so because Indians have made really poor choices, and the most significant of those poor choices is in its choice of leaders like Manmohan Singh and the Italian Antonia Maino aka Sonia Gandhi.

  • Tarun Pall

    The UAE’s ranking is not surprising at all. Being _born_ in the UAE is fantastic. You get access to a huge range benefits, including free education for life, guaranteed jobs, cushy partnerships with multinational companies wanting to operate in your country (they are required to form a partnership with locals) and the ability to rape immigrant filipino maids and not get arrested, because all laws are biased in favour of local Arabs. It would be a great place to be born in!

  • vivekanand shenoy

    There’s something toxic about the Indian subcontinent. (Hint: it has something to do with a desert religion.) Well said.

  • allwyn

    @tarun

    not sure about the rape law but one point is that now the UAE has very decent infrastructure.

  • Tilopa

    But the vedantic system which you have believe in will disagree with you when you say that birth place is random.

    According to karma, it is not random but a consequence of effects of your previous karmas.

    India’s descent into chaos under UPA is an effect of the karma of foolishness of Indian voters.

  • tp

    The random draw dictates that a human is increasingly likely to be born in poverty and squalor. If every soul in the sky were shown a ten-minute vignette of their next-life-to-be on earth, how many would opt in? Sobering thought…

  • Sushobhan

    There is one more index which is completely differing with the “where to be born index”. HPI(Happy planet index). Costa Rica is no 1 in 2012. It was no1 in 2009 as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Planet_Index. But where to be born says its rank is 30… i.e. if we take this index seriously it concludes we want to be in a country where we’ll be less happy :)

  • Tilopa

    @Sushobhan

    Indeed!
    The tribals in the forests of Africa are very happy,they don’t worry about future,no taxes,no education. Only singing,marrying and eating.What a life!

    But are you ready to live there?

  • DJ

    Sushoban, Tilopa

    As they say, ignorance is bliss. Are you ok with happiness born out of ignorance. Its the same kind of crap argument that people use when they say: look, how happy the kids playing in the slums are, or how happy the poor in the villages are. Well, just wait till they lose their ignorance.

  • seadog4227

    For what it’s worth, even Tibetan moks are supposedly born in an appropriate family, NOT country.

  • Vickram

    “There’s something toxic about the Indian subcontinent. (Hint: it has something to do with a desert religion.)”

    Hint: There are several countries of primarily desert religion that are much above India.

    Question: Could it be that your own religion is the culprit?

    Modified Hint: Your own religion preaches subhuman treatment to a very vast section of the population bringing down average quality of life for all.

  • Shree

    “There’s something toxic about the Indian subcontinent. (Hint: it has something to do with a desert religion.) ” – How long do we keep blaming everything/everyone except ourselves? The Hindus (ie we) allow these rats to breed – are you going to blame the rats or blame the poor conditions that allow the rats to exist?

  • Shree

    Also why do you keep referring to Lead Cabinet Chaprasi Goonga Sardar as “Dr Manmohan Singh” – this is insulting to all doctorates worldwide…please address him as LCCGS (or as the full form above).

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  • Nex

    Whoever thinks it is better to be born in India or China in 1988 than Singapore back then is clearly on drugs.