That one third of the extreme poor global population reside in India which has also recorded the highest number of under-five deaths in the world, the latest UN Millennium Development Goals report has said. The Minority Affairs minister Najma Heptulla released the U.N. report in India. It revealed that India is lacking primarily in the four areas – poverty, infant deaths, maternal deaths and sanitation. “In 2010, one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor lived in India alone.”
It gives no credit to lofty talks of Congress secularism or to the saffronization drive of RSS / BJP. Both had been in power in states and at the centre and must share the blame.
These findings are made by an Indian panel, led by former chairman of the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Mr. Chakravarthi Rangarajan. In 2011-2012, about 363 million Indians were living in poverty. This number is based on India’s own conservative estimation of what it means to be poor.
The Rangarajan report used the baseline of daily spending capacity of 32 rupees in rural and 47 rupees urban areas to define poverty. However, the international poverty line, as defined by the World Bank and the United Nations, is about 75 rupees a day, or a US $1.25.Let us hang our head in shame !
The report found out that China is the world leader in global poverty reduction, with extreme poverty plummeting from 60 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2005. China’s extreme poor population stood at about 13 per cent in 2010, followed by Nigeria at 9 per cent, and Bangladesh at 5 per cent. Could we learn some lessons from China in this field also?
The U.N. report also stated that India had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children dying before reaching their fifth birthday. This is in contrast to the worldwide mortality rate for children under five, which dropped by 50 per cent in 2012.
Hygiene and Sanitation is another area that India has done worse. Here Indian habits also come to play. A lot of male Indians living in cosmopolitan cities often go to the city forests, old archeological parks and playgrounds to ease themselves despite the facilities of government toilets and Sulabh Shochalya in their localities. They love, often, alfresco.
True also that large poor population is still without access to proper toilets but we avoid these facilities as old habits die hard. I have seen people going with a small plastic water bottle in ‘Aarey Milk Colony’ in Mumbai and ‘Mehrauli Archeological Park’ in Delhi for open air defecation. I was shocked to note that toilet facilities were available and handy there. According to this report, 60 per cent of people who defecate in public are in India.
Finally, the report stated that 17 per cent of global maternal deaths occur in India.
Modiji, we don’t need bullet trains or 100 new Ultra Modern Cities at this juncture. We need corruption free society and proper food for the poor Indian. Of course, we need religion to purify our souls but need the water first to wash off the dirt out of our existence.
We had been showered with promises since 1947 and we are again offered a platter of Achche Din. Najma Heptullah, who once used to call names to BJP when she was in Congress is now the Minority Affairs Minister in NDA. If anybody cares to listen what she said when she released the report – These findings present a challenge to the government under Narendra Modi and that they would be able to surmount it. “Good days will come.”
We don’t have to be proud of what we have done. Poverty is the biggest challenge… I am sure when the next report comes, we will have done much better,” she said, stressing on Prime Minister’s commitment to poverty elimination and “sabka saath sabka vikas (With all, development for all)”.
The grand old lady Heptulla has had a long association with the UN programme and was closely involved with it during the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Let us keep our fingers crossed. We are always patient hopeful Indians. We can wait for few more years as the NDA train chugs along merrily.
By: Naim Naqvi
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