Basic math evades journalists

22 Feb

“It is estimated that 70 million Indians in a population of about 1 billion now earn a salary of $18,000 a year, a figure that is set to rise to 140 million by 2011.” BBC Reports

Chaste, who has previously contributed to the site, weighs in on the ‘facts’ in this personal note.

“I do not know where the hell these guys get their numbers from, but I hope that stories about the Indian economy are not based on such number crunchers. It says that 70m of Indians make more than $18,000 per year. Multiply 70m by 18000 and you exceed the Indian GDP. Perhaps, it is possible for earnings to exceed GDP. I doubt it since that should give the average American family of 4 an income stream of 150K. Some other common sense calculations that should have occurred to this person: Less than 40% of India is non-agricultural which is probably were these incomes comes from. That cuts the pool down to 400m. Well under 60% of Indians are in the working age group. That brings the number down to just over 200m. Add the women in the workplace issue, and the number of India’s non-agricultural work force comes to only around 150m.

So! According to these people, about half of non-agricultural workers in India make over $18,000 per year. It is of course possible, though unlikely, that 70m Indians live in families making $18,000 per year. I would be surprised, but it is certainly possible.

On a side-note, I was thinking about the role of the media in a Wikipedia world. Wikipedia can give the context, comprehensiveness and accuracy of information that the news can never hope to match on
any topic. It even has decent coverage for reasonably current political topics. Novels or films much better cover the human condition, and the social condition is much better covered by documentaries of various kinds. In such a context, the only role for mass media would derive from the instant nature of the coverage (within one day). As such, its contribution is not to an understanding of the issues, but rather to staying current with the issues. I can see no particular role for staying current with any issues other than a social function. Mass media news then is best suited to perform the role of social Greece AKA gossip. The profit motive and conformance with the elite’s interest in maintaining an uninformed citizenry had produced an inane mass media in the past. Now, that inanity is justified by the advances of the information age: it is the function that the mass media is best suited to perform. Perhaps we should give up worrying about the media. That sense of frustration is based on the role that the media was best placed to perform more than ten years ago. In any case, the role is not best performed by for-profits, but rather by PIRGs and such likes.”