By Asmita Sarkar:
Our leaders, mouth words like, “everybody is equal, everybody’s rights matter. And everybody deserves health, education, livelihood, security among other facilities” at global conferences and summits. But the on-ground realities stand different.
The last few years saw the world deal with a health crisis like Ebola, a migrant crisis like that of Syria where over 4 million Syrian citizens have been displaced without the UNHRC anticipating a debacle this big. Aylan Kurdi’s heart-wrenching photograph only goes to show the challenges that the future generations, in conflict nations, will be going through. Even though it doesn’t make news, lives of over 1.7 million children in India are at risk due to preventable diseases, but lack access to healthcare. That’s more than 4600 child deaths a day.
Then, in this bid for development, are we really leaving no one behind?
24th September marks an important date. 193 countries will sit across the table and agree on 17 development goals. Goals that decide our future, and that of generations to come.
Forget not, that in 2001, these countries met and agreed upon 8 Millennium Development Goals but most countries did not keep up with them – mostly because there was no accountability mechanism, and a severe lack of people’s participation. The new goals are more important, and it is important that we engage with them to make sure our decision makers don’t forget their promises that they make on the international pedestal.
We need to ask for change now, in 2015. This is why you should care:
1. The 189 UN members had agreed to work on universal primary education in the Millennium Summit. The Right To Education Act in India, has been a result of that, but who’s to judge how effective the Act is. Even now 90% of Indian children don’t complete school. The Sustainable Development Goals, want to ensure that education is not only inclusive but also of good quality. With education comes innovation, awareness and empowerment, and without education we’re putting the future of this and the next generation at risk.
2. In spite of numerous schemes and policies declared by the government women’s security and gender discrimination continues to be a problem in India. Cases of domestic abuse still go unheard. While women are known to be the victims of abuse and violence more often, men are not far behind, especially sexual abuse, which is prevalent across genders.
3. Today, out of 24 hours you perhaps get water supply for only 5-6 hours, at home. Perhaps, you have water pumps installed that draws groundwater. This essential resource, that is getting increasingly privatized, is literally vanishing from the rural areas to quench the luxuries of the urban spaces. When ensuring equality, life and health, access to water, then, becomes a mandate.
4. The world’s richest 80 people have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50%. This is no myth but a hard reality. While equality stays an unquantifiable word in the annals of UN charters, the rich continue to amass wealth. And the poor continues to languish. How does India intend to promote equality when it has been reducing its budget for public policy schemes in the last year?
5. Health facilities, for people across gender and ages. Whether old, young, child, woman or man, everybody needs to feel secure about their health to live to their fullest capability. With India’s measly 4% spending on health, how does it expect to keep the youngest workforce in the world happy?
6. Climate change is reducing the habitable land and creating natural disasters. Drought, which is the main reason for farmer suicides in the country today as well as manmade natural disasters, are all interconnected. The problem of climate has turned into a vicious cycle with no end in sight and even then the Indian Government recently made many environmental laws lax for highway and real estate projects.
7. Fuel wars have been raging on for a few decades now and it can only be expected to grow further if the energy problem is not addressed. Not only is the world running out of fossil fuels, it’s also turning our environment into a hazard. India’s increasing carbon emissions have been under debate. The expanding industries in the country need an overhaul in energy usage and we, the common masses, can do much by counting our carbon footprint and eventually reducing it.
8. The goals of peace, justice and strong institutions in terms of the human rights crisis in the world today should be at the top. There would be no way forward for humanity unless racism, casteism, gender discrimination is eradicated right away. And achieving these goals, isn’t just the responsibility of the government. We, need to be a part of these changes as much as the governments of our countries need to be involved in disseminating these policies.
9. India is blessed with a huge coastal line and the country’s waters is home to many species of marine life. Polluting our waters directly affects the lives of these water animals. Remember the dead whale that washed up on a beach in Maharashtra? Or the lakes in Bangalore that caught on fire?
10. Currently 35% of India’s urban population is living below the poverty line. With massive influx of people form rural areas into the cities, this number is only set to go up unless infrastructure and livelihood in rural areas is improved. While food security bill has been charted in India, the budgetary cuts that we have been seeing under the present government could just end up ignoring the goals of no poverty and zero hunger.
If you think that by the time Earth runs out its resources we would be gone, remember that our future generations will be inhabiting the filth and mess that we leave behind. These goals charted by the international bodies have been done for public welfare keeping the well-being of the present and future in mind. Our leaders, on those pedestals, where we put them on, are there for making sure that policies are implemented flawlessly, instead of selling out our futures for the greed of the present. What good are leaders without foresight?Let’s take action now and create an equal, just and secure world order.