By Dr. Arif Javid
Imagine a country where extremist parties (BJP and Sangh Parviar) got 72 villages (having a population over One lac people) evauated to build a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Kevadiya in Gujarat with a staggering cost of INR 2,979 crores under title Statue of Unity. Reportedly, apart from dislocating such a huge population, the Gujarat government is concerned about the fate of tourists at its newest tourist attraction as 500 mugger crocodiles are also to be relocated. In a related dev, recently, Maharashtra Cabinet approved the allocation of Rs 100 crore for construction of a memorial in Mumbai dedicated to Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
India has estimated population of about 1.2 billion people. As per SOS statistics, More than 800 million people in India are considered poor. 68.8% of the Indian population lives on less than $2 a day. Over 30% even have less than $1.25 per day available.
India is one of the world’s top countries with regard to malnutrition. More than 200 million people don’t have sufficient access to food, including 61 million children. 7.8 million Infants were found to have a birth weight of less than 2.5 kilograms – alarming figures for a country commonly referred to as the emerging market.
Although child labour for children under the age of 14 in India is prohibited by law, according to official figures, 12.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working. Aid agencies assume that, in reality, there are many more estimating that 65 million children between 6 and 14 years do not go to school.
2.7 million Indians are infected with the HIV virus; about 220,000 of them are children, with the tendency rising.
India added 18 new billionaires to the list just last year, taking the total number of billionaires in the country to 119. Their total wealth is higher than the Union budget of India for 2018-2019 (Rs 24,422 billion), the report says. The country’s combined revenue and capital expenditure of the Centre and states for public health, sanitation and water supply is less than the wealth of India’s richest billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
Inequality in India is based not just on class but caste, sexuality and gender as well. “A Dalit women can expect to live almost 14.6 years less than one from a high-caste,” the report says asserting that this inequality costs India its human potential.
Latest employment data reinforces the distress about the job situation in India. The Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy reported a loss of 1.1 crore jobs in 2018 and estimated that the unemployment rate reached a 15-month high of 7.4% in December 2018.The Labour Bureau also recorded a continuous rise in unemployment from 3.4% in 2014 to 3.7% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2016- 17
Debt and draught continue to overwhelm farmers all around India. As per recent figures, Four hundred thirty farmers and farm labourers committed suicide during last year in agriculture rich Punjab alone. As per Guardian report, nearly 60,000 Indian farmers and farm workers committed suicide over the past three decades. In 2015, about 12,602 farmers committed suicide across India.
As per World Health Org statistics, around 2 lakh leprosy cases continue to be reported every year in the world, with India accounting for more than half of them.
Above statistics (covering few sectors is tip of iceberg), however, amply busts the myth of Incredible and Shining India as it’s the mask of media propaganda that projects India in a hyper exaggerated manner.
The writer is a political analyst; views expressed by him are entirely his own.