Roots of Chile’s Malaise..(similarities with India??)

A nice article by Andres Velasco.

What could worry Chileans?

For more than a year, young Chileans have been taking to the streets to protest. Many foreign observers have declared themselves surprised. Why would the citizens of a successful emerging country be so upset? What could they be upset about?

Chile’s student-led protest movement has generated much re-thinking within the country.  Intellectuals of the old left, pointing to persistently high income inequality, have argued that the economic gains made in the 22 years since the return of democracy were more illusory than real. In this view, Chile’s economic model has failed its citizens and is in the process of “collapsing.”

Infact, this is what most felt about India as well. Before this movement against corruption, you talk to other country people and they would say India is shining etc. I was never sure because of various issues which have only been seen the world now.

However, the political brass things all is well:

Defenders of Chile’s current rightist government, pointing to ongoing economic growth and unemployment under 7%, have argued that there is no deep reason for discontent. In this view, if the government stays the course and the economy keeps growing, the malaise will pass.

Recent survey data and a detailed study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) suggest that both of these oversimplified views are mistaken.

In public-opinion polls, Chileans declare themselves to be quite happy, and say that they live much better now than they did a decade or a generation ago. They also overwhelmingly claim that education and hard work are the ways to get ahead in life. And many poorer citizens report growing satisfaction with the health care and pensions to which they have access. This is hardly the stuff of a country whose development model is on the verge of “collapse.”

But, while Chileans are quite happy with their own lives, they are upset with the society in which they live. Respondents report that they are increasingly resentful of economic inequality and social segregation. They do not trust politicians and political parties, judges, captains of industry, or even members of the clergy.

Much like India. Where the government feels that just by saying GDP will grow by 9%, things will happen.

What lies behind this paradox?

Uncertainty and fear are two reasons why many middle-class Chileans report being unhappy about their society. Making it into the middle class requires decades of hard work, but it can all come to naught as a result of an accident, an illness in the family, or the loss of a job. Chile’s social insurance system, these citizens are saying, is insufficiently social and does not provide enough insurance.

The other key source of malaise, the UNDP study reports, is the persistence of discrimination and mistreatment. Too many people report being mistreated on account of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, and even physical appearance. Discrimination in the labor market is widespread. Plum jobs, middle-class citizens report, seem to be set aside for people with certain last names, from certain neighborhoods, or from certain schools.

The first reason  is common in India  as well. As far as second is concerned there is a difference. With reservations in large parts of society and now even in promotions, things are different. As Narayanmurthy said ” India is one country where people prefer to call themselves as backward”.

The final para too is much like Indian settings:

This much is clear to those of us who are listening to what the citizens of Chile are saying. Traditional Chilean politicians, however, do not seem to be doing much listening. Their infighting continues to upset people, while most of their policy proposals have little to do with the problems that ordinary citizens face. For the sake of Chile’s future, that will have to change.


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