By Madhuri Gautam:
With our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) poised to cross two trillion dollars by 2013, India boasts of being the eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and third largest in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). We have already started dreaming of being a superpower by 2020. But we have some major constraints that pull us back and have made us one fourth the size of our giant neighbour’s economy in terms of GDP over these two decades. So, what exactly are these problems?
The one and major issue is the pervasive poverty that impedes India’s progress in every sector, in every way. We have not really been able to tackle the problem in spite of it being a major highlight in every five year plan conceived since independence. What has been happening all these years is the creation of a widening gap between the rural, the urban and the middle-class. And poverty, needless to say, attaches all these problems of malnutrition, illiteracy and lack of basic facilities to the lives of the impoverished. The general health standard of India is extremely bad. It is a shame that, even in this modern world, there are kids who die out of malnutrition. The condition of a majority of women is equally dismal. The basic health facilities are far below the standards. We stand nowhere against the superpowers in terms of health index and healthcare facilities.
Apart from the health issues due to poverty and malnutrition India also faces the challenge of tackling some widespread morbid health issues like obesity, diabetes etc, which are mainly the by-products of modern sedentary lifestyle. Though we may fare better than the developed countries yet obesity has reached the status of an epidemic, affecting almost five percent of the Indian population. But this should not be a consolation and we should not be laid back in responding to the urgent need of addressing the multifaceted national health issues.
Transforming to a fitter India should be our first priority in order to realize the dream of ‘Superpowerhood’, because it is our human resources which will ultimately provide wings to our dream. With that, it becomes all the more important to have the right structure and the right mechanism in place, in order to effectively address these issues. To realize the dream of a fitter India our strategy should be double pronged, one to eradicate health problems related to poverty, malnutrition and deficiency of essential nutrients and the other to tackle those health problems which are mainly a repercussion of the modern lifestyle. There is also a need of increasing the awareness of people about several diseases and the possible precautions and actions that one could take to avoid these diseases. People should also be made aware of the benefits of yoga and routine exercises. Though the level of awareness has increased over the years, it is mainly cantered to urban India.
A strong political will is the need of hour to effectively fight these challenges. Health infrastructure needs highest attention in our budgetary allocations. Moreover proper mechanism is required to ensure that the allocated funds are being utilized for the purpose. It is only then, that we can realize the dream of a fitter India which will finally drive us to the status of a superpower.