Progress And Poverty In Today's India

CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports on India's struggle to balance the country's stunning progress and extreme poverty in part four of a special series, India: Land of Contrasts.


The ritual sounds of ancient India don't seem out of place on the streets of the country's capital, Delhi — the unruly heart of the nation was founded on the ruins of seven ancient cities. But in Delhi, the old has a long history of giving way to the new. Its population is growing as fast as its modern economy. Business there, and all across the country, has never been better, reports CBS News correspondent Lara Logan.

Big-city living in Delhi is a chaotic blend of the old and the new. It's a society still rooted in the past, even as it is hurtling into the new world. And there, in the midst of India's 1 billion people, you get a sense of the scale of the challenge facing the country today — not to leave so much of its population behind, trapped by poverty in the India of old.

Ram Nihori, a 45-year-old rickshaw driver, is in danger of being left behind. He and other drivers in Calcutta who carry this city's more fortunate around are fighting a move to ban them from the streets. Modern India, they're being told, is not a place where one man pulls another man. The problem, Ram says, is that he has no other means to support his family of five. Banning his rickshaw would leave them destitute.

India is clearly struggling to strike a balance between the worlds of those have nothing - and those who suddenly have everything.

"It's just happened so fast … too fast in the sense that a lot of people are still struggling to come to terms with what this means," says Dilip Bobb, managing editor of India Today.

Designer Anita Ahuja knows what it means to her — finding ways to reach India's poorest. Her answer is recycling plastic bags. Anita turns scraps of plastic into glitzy designer handbags, shoes belts and even photo albums.

But the real purpose is to make it possible for destitute woman like Basanti to earn money for the first time in their lives. Basanti makes an average of $1 a day selling the used plastic bags that Anita turns into art — but even that's enough to put decent food in her home.

Ahuja believes the two worlds of India will move together. "They have to, there is no choice," she says. "If we're not able to integrate these two India's, I don't think we will be able to play an important role in world affairs."

This is a proud moment in India's history. The country stands on the verge of emerging as a global economic power. But how it lifts up its entire people may be the true measure of its greatness.