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20 Things Independent India Ought To Do Before 2020

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By Avnish Gaurav:

It’s been about 23,725 days since we got our independence. But the very essence of freedom is yet to reach a major chunk of our population. The ground realities often get eclipsed by mathematical numbers like high GDP, second highest rate of economic growth in the world and titles like ‘Most vibrant democracy’. Instead of bragging about whatever little we have achieved so far here is a look at few basic things we ought to do to make India an actually livable place for all.

  1. Sight For All: India has about one-fourth of the world’s blind or visually handicapped.80% of the total blindness in India is curable. Indian doctors serve in other countries. What is required is a will to solve this issue.
  2. Slum Management: In 2002 India had close to 51,668 slums with a population of about 41 million. On an average this population doubles over a period of 20 years. Most of the slums except for some in Madhya Pradesh lack basic amenities like drinking water, electricity and sanitation. A well integrated development plan can change the face of our slums.
  3. Agricultural Agony: Agriculture is the only industry where producers cannot decide the rate of their product. This itself explains the state of agriculture in India. Thousands of tonnes of grain rot every year. Foreign imports are highly subsidized which hampers local market. These are artificially generated problems. If the farmer’s hand slacken even the ascetic’s state will fail. – Thirukkural.
  4. Defence Dilemma: People in power are of the opinion that India can shield itself from foreign attacks by importing arms. It is estimated that in the next 15 years India which is already the largest importer of arms and ammunitions will import defence equipments worth 149 billion dollars. We need to shift the focus from import to indigenous development.
    “At the frontier there are no borders.”-A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
  5. Communal Clashes: This is an issue of immense concern. A nation that has in past accepted races from across the world with open heart is slowly becoming intolerant.Communal clashes have become rampant and the administration does not learn from its previous mistakes.
  6. Physical Infrastructure: Quality roads,uninterrupted electricity, clean drinking water are the foundation on which the building called development is built. India adds about 11 KMs of highway everyday.Power situation still remains a concern with most of the villages spending night in the dark.
  7. Healthy India: Health for all also includes better sanitary conditions in workplace viz. factories, coal mines, quarries etc.. 42% of India’s children below the age of three are malnourished. 1.72 million children die each year even before turning two. By 2020 Indian healthcare is poised to become a US$280 billion INDUSTRY. This should be reflected even in remote villages.
  8. Blot of Untouchability: Millions of people are still tortured,segregated from mainstream just because their caste is deemed as impure, less than human. Every hour two Dalits are assaulted; every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched.Having the tag of “Developed” nation is a distant dream unless we eradicate such evils.
  9. Education: Overall literacy stand at around 74%. However the distribution is quite uneven. There has been a sharp rise in female literacy but in states like Bihar ~50% of females in rural areas are still illiterate. This gap needs to be bridged.
  10. Strong Foreign Policy: Off late there has been talks about India toeing the lines of West when it comes to taking internationals decisions (In case of sanctions on Iran, Syria). Foreign policy decisions were the strongest around 2000-2001 wherein even the superpowers were made to bow to India’s stance.
  11. Space Research: This is one area we can be proud of. We are now in the elite league of few nations capable of deploying and building satellites on its own. However we need to leverage our capability to solve healthcare,agricultural and defence related problems. Beyond a certain point no country offers technical know-how in this sector. We need to focus on indigenous skill build up and keep nurturing fresh talents. As an example during human space flight temperature can go as high as 1000 deg Celsius and as low as -300 deg Celsius. We should focus on such issue since our next big mission is a manned space flight.
  12. Sanitation and Drinking Water: More than 122 million households have no toilets. Over 50% of the population (638 million) defecates in the open. This is relatively higher than Bangladesh and Brazil (7%) and China (4%). Only 26% of the slum population has access to safe drinking water. Overall percentage however is satisfactory(~90%).
  13. Railways: Yet another national asset we can boast of. But there are areas to be worked on. Frequent accidents(11 so far in 2012), poor passenger facilities, lack of hygiene on trains,perennial unavailability of tickets. Railways ministers put their personal concerns above that of nation which is another concern.
  14. Indigenous Opportunities: Employment in India especially in service sector is dependant to a great extent on outsourced jobs.Apart from this we depend on other nations for high end technology, advance scientific research, defence requirements, energy sources, even higher educations. We need to reduce this dependency.
  15. Nuclear Programs: A country like India with an alarmingly population cannot be energy sufficient without going the nuclear way.Renewable sources of energy being expensive to harness and non-renewable ones depleting at a rapid rate, this is the only way out. We need to develop methods to enrich the fuel available in India.Also we have to go a long way in using this program for medication purpose.
  16. Human Resource Development: Any transition calls for an integrated solution wherein teams have to work in sync with each other for attain a defined goal. This requires people to people interaction in different ways and manners. For this massive investment in human capital is required. Unfortunately India out of 175 countries surveyed India stands at 134th position below countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka. Way to go for us.
  17. Focus on Strategic Industries: Security today means much more than just protecting the border. A country needs to ensure Food Security, Economic security, Technological security apart form direct defence requirements. We need to develop the relevant know-how and industries to be self-reliant in these sectors.
  18. Sports: Apart from cricket which is more of a religion than a sports there is hardly any sports popular in India.In 116 years ever since Olympics started we have won just 26 medals. Needless to mention anything else.
  19. Transparency in Govt.: Opacity in the functioning of executive is the biggest road block in attaining any national goal. e-governance needs to be implemented. We should have a better laid out code of conduct for parliamentarians. Benefits of RTI should reach the masses.
  20. The Passion of One Nation: There is common feeling that transcends all sections of society that to serve the nation one needs to join the army and stand on the border. We should realize that discharging our individual responsibility with accountability and professionalism is also a service to our nation. Nations like Israel, Japan and South Korea have done wonders sticking to this formulae.

Strength respects strength – A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

Hope we are a developed INDIA this very day in 2020.Wish you all a satisfying Independence Day.

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        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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