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The Economist is trying to charge Indians Rs 3799 per head to tell them how to save their democracy

The Economist is trying to charge me Rs 3799 to let me 'discover the story' of how my democracy is in danger? They call it 'Best Value'! What?

I really haven’t. All I know is… I know that my servant Gunga Din gave me my bed tea very late so I woke up very late… What else can I say? I really don’t know!

Somebody told me this was the official response from the Burra Memsahib who is the Editor in Chief of The Economist when she was asked why they woke up after four phases of the election to tell Indians how to vote in order to save their democracy. Is this true?

Nevertheless, as a common Indian, it is heartwarming to hear such expressions of concern from countries around the world who wish us well.

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Narendra Modi has already been Prime Minister for five years! Imagine the damage he has already done.

If he rules for another five years, more than a billion people could lose their democracy. That’s a Category 5 threat to humanity. Wait, is that why The Economist waited till the 5th phase to sound the alarm? No, that doesn’t make any sense. I guess I can’t think clearly because I am so scared right now. Let me read what important people have to say about the future of our country.

You’ll never guess what happened next.

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Blocked! Thus far and no further.

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The Economist is trying to charge me Rs 3799 to let me ‘discover the story’ of how my democracy is in danger? They call it ‘Best Value’! What?

Let me get this straight. Some well off and highly privileged people in the first world discover that a billion people in a developing country are about to be crushed by fascism. That those unfortunate people have one last chance to save their democracy. And then these privileged people come up with a business plan to sell them the warning at Rs 3799 per head.

Let me explain the situation using a tone and language that foreign correspondents might understand. Imagine this:

Geeta, 36, is a flower seller. Every day, from dawn to dusk, she sets up shop in a narrow lane in the temple town of Ayodhya in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The neighbouring walls are covered with images of the masculine frame of Rama, the mythical warrior king at the centre of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Along with him are images of his dutiful wife Sita as well as that of the monkey god Hanuman. 

Cows, bullocks and people all make their way through his narrow stretch where Geeta spends her day. On average, Geeta makes about 500 Rupees a day (approximately £5.49 by 2019 conversion rate or £5.10 by 2014 conversion rate) which she uses to feed her family of five. Most recently, Geeta’s business suffered a devastating blow when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a sudden decision to demonetize high-value currency notes in 2016. 

Geeta still does not fully realize the kind of danger that Modi poses, but she is eager to vote in the 2019 election in a way that will save India’s democracy. On her phone, she shows me the headline of the article in The Economist. To know more, she must pay Rs 3799 (or about £41.69). It is more than what she earns in a week.

Tell me, dear Economist, what do you have to say to “Geeta”?

I understand that everything comes at a price. But don’t you think Rs 3799 (or about $55) per head for a billion Indians, i.e., $55 billion is a bit too greedy?

Especially when all you really want is to save a billion people from fascism.

Or is it that you do not expect people like “Geeta” to have the interest and/or intellectual capacity to understand threats to democracy?

Here’s a hint. Next time you want to get your message out among common Indians, try publishing in Opindia instead of The Economist. It’s free and you might actually reach a wider audience. You may not meet the editorial standards though.

Or maybe your only aim in publishing that article was to pat Indian liberals on the head and assure them that Mother England still cares. In that case, you have done well to wake up before voting happens in Lutyens Delhi. A mother’s love is priceless. And at just $55, it’s a bargain.

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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