“Kya mam, azadi ka hum log kya karen. Agar do baar khaana mil jaata hai to bahut hai“. This is what Rima a 12-year-old girl told me when I was buying Indian flag from her. She looks feeble, frail and malnourished. The Independence Day does not mean anything to her. She is more worried about her sick mother who was lying beside her on the road.
I know this is not some anomalous scene in the Indian cities. Go to any metropolitan city, you will get thousands of Rimas who struggle to get cereals for the two square meals of their families. But this incident forced me to ask a question to my readers: where is our Independence?
For almost 200 years we struggled and sacrificed our lives to get FREEDDOM from the clutches of Britishers. Our constitution has given us all the rights. In my college my Political Science professor taught us about the seven Fundamental Rights in India–Right to equality, Right to freedom, Right against exploitation, Right to freedom of religion, Cultural and educational rights, Right to life and Right to constitutional remedies.
After college, when I jumped into the real world as a reporter, I understood, all these rights are so amphibological. Every day I come across to decrepit people who have no idea about their birth rights which are guaranteed in our Indian constitution.
Well by now, many readers may think I am a pessimistic writer. As one of my friends told me, “At least stop being cynical on the Independence Day and rejoice for what the nation has given us.” I agree with him that there has been economic growth and our GDP has also gone up. But, has it improved the living conditions of the poor people? This article is about the “INVISIBLE INDIANS”. I am not worried about you who can afford to read this article but am concerned about the people who are not getting to eat two meals a day.
If we count on these people, 32.7% of the total Indian population falls below the International Poverty Line of US$ 1.25 per day while 68.7% live on less than US$ 2 per day.
But the irony is that the 2011 Global Hunger Index Report puts India amongst the three countries where the GHI between 1996 and 2011 went up from 22.9 to 23.7. While 78 out of the 81 developing countries studied, including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, Myanmar, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi, succeeded in improving hunger condition. Alas! After this can we claim that India is the “rising and responsible global power”?
While writing an article on malnutrition, I came across to the survey report of the Naandi Foundation which stated that 42 per cent of children, below five are underweight and 59 per cent have stunted growth. Unfortunately, most of the malnourished children are from the “Backward Castes or Tribes” who do not know the meaning of malnutrition in their regional languages.
After the release of this report, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India said in a press conference, “The problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame. Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high.”
Every year our ‘honourable’ Indian government spends millions on the developmental schemes. But no one knows where is the money going? The people lying in the lowest ladder of the society become the base of rich politicians.
The biggest obstruction of India’s growth is corruption. The tentacles of corruption have entered the every sector of our Indian society. The pillars of India’s democracy–legislature, executive and judiciary are collapsing under the pressure of corruption.
In a country like India whose current account balance is MINUS -37,510,000, around 500 billion dollars of illegal money belonging to Indians is deposited in Swiss Banks. According to data provided by the Ministry of Personnel the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered 2,276 corruption cases during the years 2008-2011. A 2005 study conducted by Transparency International about 40% of Indians had first-hand experience of paying bribes or using a contact to get a job done in public office.
Since my childhood I listen to the song, “Saare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamaara”. However, this song now sounds like a utopian world to me.
On nearing the end of my article I would like say, we have the potential to be the ‘global power’ but we have to channelize our powers in a better way which will be productive for the development of India. On Wednesday we celebrated the 66th anniversary of our independence. Let’s promise ourselves that on the 67th Independence Day there will be no division between ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’. Our freedom will not be tied up by the clutches of corruption and poverty. It will be India ‘Of The People, By The People, For The People”.