By John Hilary
The Guardian | January 21, 2008
Gordon Brown's focus on British interests threatens to condemn millions of poor Indians to despair
Yesterday saw the official start of Gordon Brown's visit to India, and the fourth top-level summit between our two countries. This is Brown's first visit as prime minister, and comes hot on the heels of his stay in China last week. The business delegation which has accompanied him hopes to sign deals worth billions of pounds during the stay, and Brown himself has highlighted the importance to the British economy of cementing links with the two Asian superpowers.
With an annual growth rate of 9% over the past couple of years, India is close to rivalling China's economic boom. Yet while China's achievements have been credited with lifting 400 million people out of poverty, the benefits of India's growth have not spread beyond the top 10% of its own massive population. According to Merrill Lynch's world wealth report, India now boasts an incredible 93,000 millionaires, as well as the world's second-fastest growth in "high net worth individuals". Yet in a parallel universe within the same country, 350 million people (more than in the whole of Africa) still live in desperate poverty on less than a dollar a day, while a total of 900 million scrape by on under two dollars a day.