The Great Indian Democracy
The Indian Govt. is in the final stages of purchasing 36 Rafael Fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at a cost of 50,000/- crores. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s, Indian defense purchase almost ground to a halt. For almost a decade the purchases were meager. Suddenly the Kargil war started in 1999. After that India went on a shopping spree to purchase arms to modernize its defense forces. In the next decade, India purchased almost 60,000 crores of defense equipment’s from Israel alone. Now India is the biggest weapons importer in the world. India spends almost 10% of its GDP on defense purchase. Now we know why the Kargil war occurred. The world knows how much General Musharraf collected for starting the Kargil war , which kicked off a huge arms race in the sub continent. Who are the beneficiaries? The top echleons of both India and Pakistan benefitted. The arms dealers like the Choudhries and Nandas flourished, What if some young lives were lost? India could end up spending upwards of Rs.6,70,000 crores on importing arms and weapons this decade alone. Of course, India must have a modern well equipped army. Our jawans must be well protected. They must be provided with state of the art equipments. But we must also understand that nowadays wars are manufactured by those in power. The governments are manipulated and arm twisted into spending on military hardware by the middlemen.
We must also look at how little India spends on its health care and education for the masses, it becomes a glaring contrast. Our cities are choking on pollution. Child malnutrition is the highest in the world, about 42 % of the children are under weight. The country’s youth, the worlds largest, has slim chance of access to quality education, over 60% of its people do not have bathrooms, over 330 million Indians do not have sake drinking water. Thousands of its citizens are harassed and humiliated daily by oppressive and misogynistic institutions. Violence is a daily reality. India has become a very rich country of too many poor people. Over 56 % of the rural population does not have access to electricity. Almost 400 million Indians live without electricity.
A recent survey by the National Institute of Education and planning and administration ( NIEPA) founf that over one lakh of India’s elementary schools had only one classroom. In Bihar over 1200 schools have no buildings at all. Some 27% of these schools are single teacher schools with an average of 100 students each. India has a shortage of almost ½ a million teachers. Over 8 million primary school age children still do not attend school. Even though there are many private educational institutions mushrooming everywhere run by unscrupulous greedy businessmen, they are all out of reach to the poor. All these institutions demand exorbitant fees and deposits which the poor can ill afford. The quality of our engineers are suspect. The higher education institutions are not up to world standard. None of them are bracketed in the top 100 universities of the world. Our engineering and medical colleges are sub standard. Quantity and not quality are the norm.
Likewise the health sector, many multi national big business groups have invested in hospitals. But they are all confined to the urban cities. The rural poor still has to walk miles to reach any health centers. Apart from Kerala, where the govt. health centers and govt. hospitals provide good service to the poor, the rest of India is still very primitive and the poor is neglected. Some 66% of the rural people do not have access to critical medicines, while 31% will have to travel more than 30 km to avail themselves of any health care. Just 28% of of the Indians living in urban areas corner 66 % of the India’s hospital beds. Even the big hospitals are profit centric, exploiting the patients and collecting huge commissions. Scams are aplenty. Trafficking human organs by exploiting the poor are rampant.
India has the one of the most skewed sex ratios in the world. According to statistics from UNICEF, more than 7,000 cases of female foeticide happen daily in the country – and since sex determination in India is a crime – reliable data on female foeticide is missing. Again, while in 1901 there were 3.2 million less girls than boys, according to the 2001 census, this gap has widened to 35 million. In the 2011 Census, data has shown that the child sex ratio in the country declined to 914 girls to 1,000 boys under the age of six.
According to UNICEF estimates, about 65% of rural Indians defecate themselves in the open. Sometimes on the road. Almost 600 million Indians mostly in rural areas are without toilets, a problem that is only in India. Even Bangladesh has declared that they have ended open defecation. In UP alone a staggering 77 % of the rural households do not have latrines. In Bihar it is almost 81%. The national average if 67% without toilets. There are more mobiles than toilets in India. This open defecation also exposes the women to grave risk of rapes.
Owning land is the most empowering asset a citizen can possess. This has been denied to women till now. According to landesa an international NGO, it is estimated that even though 85% of women are engaged in agriculture, only 13% own land of their own. In Bihar it is just 7%. It is a matter of shame for all Indians that more farmers have committed suicide than in any other countries of the world.
Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic. The poor and underprivileged live as rats. No other economy is growing as fast as India’s while simultaneously recording such low progress in reducing malnutrition, eradication of poverty, illiteracy and so on. In the global hunger index, India was ranked at the 55th trailing Sri Lanka and Nepal. In 2009, a planning commission of India study on the distribution of subsidized food item trough the PDS found that only 16 paise out of a One rupee reaches the targeted poor. The remaining 84% went to pay salaries and as leakages and bribes and commissions for the country’s bloated govt.
In its latest report, Mc Kinsey Global Institute says that almost 600 million Indians, or 56% of the Indian population lacks the means to meet their basic essential necessities like food, sanitation, health care, education, water housing, fuel and social security. Despite high growth, more than 3/4th of the Indian population are poor and vulnerable with a level of consumption just above the official poverty line. Inequality has only widened between the haves and have-not’s.
The poor and needy has no assess to the govt. machinery which is controlled by middlemen and politicians. Every aspect of the Indian society is based on dynastic rule. Even the judiciary is now propagating dynastic succession. The justice delivery system has been a big let down. The police and prosecution has proved to be inept and allows the culprits to escape. Convictions are rare especially where high profile personalities are involved. The rich get away with murder. The poor is treated shabbily.
In spite of the high levels of corruption, nepotism, favoritism, racism, casteism, persecution in the name of religion, inequalities and violence, the great Indian Democracy plods on like the proverbial bullock cart. In India there are more religious places of worship than educational and health care institutions combined. Indians still rely on beliefs and myths rather than on rational thinking. Indians love to live in the past. Religion is the biggest holy cow. In spite of the great advances in space, India still remains a cow republic in the eye of the world. The only way to solve this is to invest heavily in the education and health sector. Just the amount of commission and kickbacks in the weapons purchase is enough to provide 100 hospitals or 500 schools in the rural sector. Investing an amount equivalent to 10% of the defense budget in the rural sector will make India zoom up in the standard of life of our citizens. The primary duty of any govt. must be to provide the poor with an income and supporting the farmers who form the bulk of the Indian population. Till date none of the governments have done anything meaningful to help the poor and the under privileged apart from promises on paper. Farmers have taken the brunt of the burden. We need a government which is people friendly and supportive of the farmers. The landless must be provided with lands. The government must change, the system must change. After 68 years of independence, it is high time that this govt. gets its act together. We sorely need a government which promotes equality and protects its citizens rather than promoting divisions and sectarian violence. High time that our politicians start promoting our oneness instead of indulging in divisive politics. Only we can help ourselves and our brethren.