NEW DELHI — Despite improving living standards in India as the economy grows briskly, more than half a billion people struggled to afford food in the past year, while the numbers of those finding it difficult to get by have nearly tripled since 2016, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday.
That contrasting picture is highlighted in the poll, “Indians See Brighter Economic Future but Feel the Pinch Now.”
In the world’s fastest-growing economy, optimism was higher when compared to other major economies like the United States, Japan or Germany.
“For me, the key takeaway of this poll is that there is a lot to be hopeful for with regards to India’s economy, but significant challenges remain,” Benedict Vigers, author of a three-part Gallup series on India, told VOA. “Just because a nation can be optimistic about the trajectory of their economy in the future, doesn’t mean lots of people can’t be finding things hard today,” he pointed out.
The survey found that 57% of Indians said their living standards were getting better but the situation remains bleak for hundreds of millions.
India’s mega cities reflect that dichotomy. In Gurugram, a thriving business hub adjacent to New Delhi, gleaming new office buildings and plush high-rise apartments cater to domestic and global companies and an expanding middle class.
But tucked behind the city’s glitzy façade lie crowded shanties where tens of thousands of migrant workers who work in the city cram into tiny tenements.
They drive cabs and auto rickshaws, work as drivers, security guards, laborers, carpenters and cooks and waiters in restaurants and hotels or as household help in upmarket residential complexes.
Among them is Durga Gautam, who trudges daily from her single room to a posh residential complex to work as a household helper – her monthly wages add up to about $150. “I have to support two daughters and two grandchildren. Everything has become so expensive – a 25-kilogram bag of rice which used to cost about $10 dollars now costs more than $12.5. My salary has not gone up much, so I have to keep tightening my budget.”
In India’s vast rural areas, many farmers own small plots of land that generate only meager incomes.
Source : VOA News