Over the past half a decade, we have been fed on the diet of ‘The Great Indian Growth Story.’ Right from the tabloids to the visual media, all that we read or hear about is how despite world recession and Eurozone crisis, the country’s growth rate has been par at 8% or how despite global meltdown, the Sensex has managed to stay above the 16000 mark.
Sitting in a railway carriage, and watching a mother of three – looking all glum and pale, staring at the floor, while her three kids, clothed enough only to cover the essentials, were busy wandering about the platform, trying to get their hands on any leftovers – I wondered.
What different perspective does she have of ‘India’ than most of us? While we are busy cribbing about the recent slump in Indian economy, the tamasha behind the Presidency and India’s representation in tennis at the Olympics, she couldn’t care any less about it.
She wouldn’t give a second thought even if the economy crashed or Barack Obama was made India’s president or Sachin played tennis for India. All she was worried about was how to feed or clothe her kids, who seemed in desperate need of both.
In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about rates, the growth rate in particular. We rejoice when the growth rate touches the 9% mark and despair when it falls to 6%. A question always crosses my mind — Is the growth rate a true measure of a country’s progress?
Are we in a position to even talk about ‘growth’ when a significant portion of our mothers and sisters are forced to work in brothels to earn a living?
Are we qualified to discuss ‘progress’ when 60% of our population is left to survive on Rs. 20 per day?
Are we shameless enough to speak about ‘development’ when we are home to one of the largest slum population in the world?
Growth, progress and development should only be spoken on the day when not even a single citizen dies out of starvation.
Growth, progress and development should only be discussed on the day when not even a single individual dies due to heat, cold or rain, and every person has a roof over his head.
It is human tendency to turn a blind eye to the wrongs and focus only on the rights. But we need to realize that running away from any problem, will only increase the distance from its solution.
We need to stop channelizing our energies over petty things and look at the bigger and uglier picture. It is high time that we set our priorities where they ought to be. The moment we start focusing our resources for the empowerment of individuals, especially the rural ones, not only will the nation progress as a whole but also the numbers — be it growth rate, inflation rates or any other types of rate; they will take care of themselves.