Stories of success and failure

sampat Lal is not the protagonist of a typical Down To Earth story. He's the treasurer of a cooperative that runs a fair price shop in a Rajasthan village. Quite successfully, in fact. Lal belongs to a cooperative of mine workers. There are quite a few such cooperatives in Rajasthan now (see Features: Mine workers in Rajasthan form cooperatives).

Thanks to these associations, mine-workers can expect a fair deal in many parts of the state. The success of the fair price shop run must also be seen in the context of the general failure of pds in the country. 58 per cent of the subsidised food does not reach the families below the poverty line (see Factsheet: Distribution matters). Faulty targeting, ghost cards and low quality provision dog most of these outlets.

But it's not just the pds system. A lot of the institutions meant for the poor have failed them. It's a failure which we report consistently, often at the cost of appearing hackneyed. In fact, a section of our readers often complain that we go overboard with negative stories.

Perhaps they have a reason. To a lot of the world, "India is shining'. Reinforcement comes in the form of malls and glitzy retail stores that sell fresh carrots. The middle classes in even small towns feel very little pinch with the