INDIA: One Democracy, Two Nations

Posted on January 24, 2010 in Politics

Avnish Gaurav:

“Their policies are not working, their systems are not working and children are dying,”

This is what a social worker of the Khandwa district said in utter frustration after the deaths of a brother and a sister on two consecutive days.

We often come across the notions like ‘India is divided by its diverse languages, religions, communities’ etc. So far as associating these factors with the weakness of India is concerned, please read on before making a final opinion. History is testimony to the fact that the incident triggering major wars were seldom or never the actual reasons behind the wars. Same is the case with the above mentioned factors. They only trigger incidents that demonstrate the anger or discontent of the masses. Policy makers deliberately facilitate the progress of one part of their country at the cost of other ones to reap frivolous gains. One manifestation of such nefarious mindset is the existence of two ‘INDIA’s in our country.

One India is developing at a rate second fastest in the world. It is this India that has saved the world from the worst economic crisis ever. There is another India where poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality rate and the per capita income are comparable to the poorest countries of the world. Statistics show that with the amount of money that has been sanctioned for Indian villages since independence, every Indian village would have been a Singapore by now. Why are many parts of our country still in such abject poverty? Why can’t a country, that has proven to be the savior of the rest of the world, feed its own citizens? Why has it failed to ensure proper health and sanitation for all? It is just, just the political indifference.

UJALA is starving to death. She is four months old but weighs just 1.5 kilograms – about a third of what the World Health Organization says is normal for a baby her age. The skin sagging off her tiny limbs and her distended stomach are signs of acute malnutrition. She is so thin her hips protrude like gross deformities. Her face winces with a hacking cough. It’s an image often associated with famine in Africa. But Ujala was born in India, a nation growing into an economic and political superpower. For years India has been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and the average incomes have been rising. Economic reforms in the early 1990s have been a boon to the wealthy and the rapidly expanding middle class. According to some estimates, more than 200 million Indians now have spending power comparable to consumers in Australia and the US.

But India is also home to a quarter of the world’s hungry – about 230 million people – according to a World Food Program report. More than 455 million Indians survive on $1.80 a day or less, up from 420 million in 1981. In a towering symbol of these two India’s, in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India, a new telecommunications antenna has been erected, meaning that while Ujala wastes away, there is perfect mobile phone reception and wireless internet access in her family’s village.

India’s progress in reducing child malnutrition has been slow. About 42 per cent of the children under the age of five are underweight, compared to just 7 per cent in China. Washington group, the International Food Policy Research Institute, says almost one fifth of the population of India is “food insecure”. In Ujala’s state, about 60 per cent of the children under five are malnourished. Almost one in every 10 dies before reaching the age of five. That ranks Madhya Pradesh alongside Chad and Ethiopia for child malnutrition, the institute reports.

The adjectives used for INDIA -sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic etc still remain very much on paper since their inception 56 years back. Only time will tell when every Indian will actually be able to experience the real meaning of these terms.