Inequality For All

Quotes from the lecture by P.Sainath on 21st Sept’15 at Ashoka University:

“The wars are already there. We just don’t want to see them.”

“We look at poverty as a disease. It’s not. In fact my preferred word is ‘deprivation’. Because there is an active agent depriving you of something.”

“There is nothing more cheerful than the Forbes billionaire page.” (sarcasm alert)

“Every five years Russia sends all its billionaires to prison, we send ours to the Parliament”.

On water being diverted for commercial purposes (Villas with swimming pools):

“I love their captions. ‘Luxury homes with an attached forest reserve’. In Maharashtra, even the tiger doesn’t have an attached forest reserve.”

“You didn’t know it was this bad because you didn’t want to know. You wanted to believe the stuff about double digit growth rate. If you still want to believe that, go ahead.”

“Inequality is not an accident. It comes from a philosophy which believes inequality is good. An economist once told me “A little inequality is a good thing, it raises competition.” I asked him, can you be a little bit pregnant? You started a process which is going to mature.”

“If there is any socialism in India, it’s in your constitution.”

“In India, governments will set up any number of commissions on the same subject until one of the commissions gives them the report they want”

“There’s an African saying which goes ‘If lions were historians, the tales of the jungles would not always favor the hunter’..”

“You have this input and output (supply and demand), but an economist cannot see that between an input and output of agriculture, there is something called “soil”. We have killed that soil.”

“I love this trickle down theory. It argues essentially that all the food in this room should be on my table and because my table can’t hold so much food, something’s going to fall off and you get to eat crumbs.”

“Another is the slice of the cake theory. But maybe people don’t want a slice. Maybe they want to own the bakery!”

“Self-righteousness is a pain in the ass”

“What gives you strength is the collective.”

Even putting this all together and remembering those two hours from that day makes me hopeful. About what? I’m not so sure. But it does.