Whose development is it – our Hon’ble ruling class’s?

A Newspaper, two books and a laptop and of course a camera! The art of looking busy doing vikas.

Development can simply be defined as follows: if a person is better today compared to yesterday then his/her development has taken place. Internationally, development of human being is measured by an index, known as Human Development Index (HDI). It is calculated not on the basis of GDP but its components are – people’s life expectancy, education and per capita income. HDI ranges from 0 to 1 numerical value. Higher the HDI value, better the development. Let’s check our country’s HDI, i.e. the level of development compared to other countries’ in the world. In this year (2020), India stands at 129th position (HDI value, 0.647) in the HDI ranking of total 189 countries. Our neighbour China with much more population compared to ours done much better, 85th position (HDI, 0.785) in the same list! So, India’s big population is not an excuse to explain her poor development. On the other hand, our small and poor neighbours have also secured almost equivalent positions as that of India – a big and wealthy country. For example, Bhutan secured 134th and Bangladesh 135th in the HDI global ranking! Even some neighbours, as Vietnam – 118th, Indonesia – 111th and Sri Lanka – 71st positions, secured much better HDI ranking compared to India! Whereas, India being a big and wealthy country was naturally expected to perform much better here – but she failed! So, it can be said that the national / natural wealth or size of the country or her population does not influence the HDI score. Rather it is the attitude and the capability of the leaders which directly affect the development of the people. Needless to mention now that the negative attitude of our leaders towards the development of the people coupled with their (rulers’) incapabilities resulted in our poor development (HDI).

In another dimension of development also, literacy, we are lagged behind. As per last census report our literacy rate is just 74.04%. Other countries, both with large and small population who became independent after India, either have achieved cent per cent literacy rate or are in much better position than ours. China, the most populous country has 95% literacy rate; while other with lower population – like Cuba, Georgia, Tajikistan, Ukrain, Kazakhastan, etc. have already achieved 100% literacy. This apparently unexplainable literacy rate of our country can only be explained by the non-compatible attitude of our rules towards educating the countrymen.

In respect to hunger deaths also, development here is a far cry! Regarding the rate of hunger death, our country is in back gear compared to many ‘poor’ countries! Our hunger death rate is increasing exponentially! In the year 2K, we were at 83rd position in the list of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) of all the countries. In the period of 18 year, in 2018, our GHI deteriorated by 12 points to 95th position! But in just one year, in 2019, our hunger condition drastically worsened by 7 points (at 102nd position)! Such is the real condition! People are in hungry stomach, crying for food – the minimum requirement for mere survival, the rulers are not paying heed to that! Is this a development? If yes, then whose development is it? - There is no development, there can’t be any people’s development keeping people hungry.

Another important parameter of development is people’s employment. Now the country is facing an all time high rate of unemployment at 24%! This situation is unprecedently alarming! The situation has worsened unabatedly during the last few years. In 2014, the unemployment rate was a moderate one, at 5.61%. But in 2019, it degraded almost doubly at 8.4%. Then, this worst situation now!

Farmers are the backbone of an agrarian economy – like ours. Their wellbeing, i.e., better condition of living is a mirror of nation’s development. So, our Indian nation’s development can easily be understood from the cruel reality that more than one farmer, being unable to meet their two ends, is taking their own life in every 30 minutes! It is a matter of great shame that those who are feeding us, the whole nation; are unable to quench their own hunger! Such is the full-proof system of exploitation of the weak by the strong, of the producer by the manager. There is no reason to call such in-humanitarian, parasitic national system as a developed one. Even people from other sections /professions are frustrated with their lives! They prefer to end their own lives instead of being hackled everyday by the Himalayan hardship for - san living, but mere survival! Yes! Our average suicide rate (16.5 per lakh – 2015 report) is the highest in South East Asia!

India is the home of large number of poor people in the world. Poor are those who can’t afford their two ends meet. Although India is a wealthy country but her people are made to remain poor. The main reason is naked, shameless income disparity - resulted from anti-people government policies. As per our government’s definition, there are 22% Indians who are poor (a person earning less than Rs.27.00 in rural area or less than Rs.33.00 in urban area). But according to the international (World Bank) definition, a person earning less than $1.90 U.S. dollar, i.e., Rs.143 (approx.) is a poor one. According to this definition almost 75% Indians are living in poverty! As a result, the people of India are not even getting minimum nutrition requirement. 69% of our children below 5 years’ of age are suffering from malnutrition! As a result 38% of our below 5 years’ children got stunted! In 2018, India reported the most number of, 8,80,000, below 5 years’ children’s death (UNICEF Report)! A dangerously high per cent of our women are the victims of anemia!

If development means better living condition, then rape is surely an anti-developmental parameter. Such is our level of development that even our women’s physical body is not safe here! Rape not only attacks the physical body but it shatters moral, mental, ethical, humanitarian – every domain of human life. A raped person lost every base of life! In our country, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (2018), the rate of rape has been doubled in last 17 years to alarming level at one rape per 15 minutes! – Such a society can’t be called developed one where its own members are susceptible to lose their very right on their own body and mind at the rate of as high as four per hour!

From the above discussion it is clear that development is not uniform in our country. A very few, finger-countable persons became much developed – thanks to the government’s biased policies. But the rest, “We the people of India” are degraded, dehumanized, snatched off even our livelihood, right to own life. In other word, this country has experienced a dangerously skewed thus non-sustainable developmental stage. Its present developmental sustainability is under a big question mark!

Now, the much relevant question arises, is there any possibility for the real development of the whole country? Country’s raw materials (e.g., minerals, land and other natural resources) and the built up infrastructures on it hold, sustain and supply the vital force for development. These are the spring-heads of development, foundation of nation’s rejuvenation. Health and education are the agents of all development. But unfortunately, our government policies are self- destructive! Government appears to be much crazy to give away almost everything in the hands of some selected private hands! Be it the country’s material resources (minerals, etc.) or infrastructures (including historical monuments, sites with national /heritage importance, Air Ports, Railways, etc.) or the inherent agents of development (health and education) – all are snatched off from our (the people of India’s) public ownership and made their friend-businessmen (very few in number) the owner of all these. Thus, the property of 130 crore people of India are getting concentrated in very few ‘judiciously selected’ hands! 130 crore is deprived to benefit very few! The worst thing is - as we, “the people of India” have lost our material resources, infrastructure, health and education – the vital forces, the foundation, the spring-head of development; so, the hope of development of Indian people in near future, is a far cry! The attitude and the capabilities of the rulers must improve towards positivity if we are really serious about our development.

—The author is Principal, Saheed Nurul Islam Mahavidyalaya, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Views are personal.