Governments always talk about their achievements, not failures. They popularise their successes and hide certain facts from the public, which, if revealed, can shake their standing. However, undoubtedly, talking about these concealed or unpopular realities is in the interest of the nation, though this has always been a low priority for our political class.
The government has been making a big deal about India’s great jump in the “Ease of Doing Business” ranks, released by the World Bank. It is good news for India, however, of late, I have not heard talk of anything besides this rank from our government. India has been consistently faring poorly in almost all other global rankings and indicators. Forget about improvement, our ranks are undergoing degradation.
If we see the above figures, it is evident that India’s position on social and environmental parameters in the global map is worrisome. As per the Global Hunger Index, India is getting hungrier year by year.
In terms of social inequality, we are doing terribly. There has been no improvement in the Gender Gap Index, and we are at our worst in the World Inequality Index, indicating the social crisis in the country. Our poor Human Development rank is not surprising given our other social performances.
Similarly, global warming is a serious concern for developing countries, yet we’re at the fourth last position in the Environmental Performance Index. Our cities figure among the top 15 most polluted cities of the world in a World Health Organisation report, and, in the recent past, India has not progressed even a little bit on this front. But have you heard any politician speaking about the environmental crisis? No. Political debate all over our media has never shown concern towards this issue.
The main reasons for such a socio-economic crises are those which have been plaguing India since Independence. Misgovernance, corruption, inefficient administration, lack of grievance redressal mechanisms and other obstacles exist even today and all governments have neither achieved much change in this regard, nor do they want to do something about it, if you ask me.
We expect our so-called leaders to talk about these issues and take significant action, but political discourse is going in an altogether different direction. Vote bank politics has become a priority. Nobody talks about health and education. I hear leaders promising to build temples, but not schools and hospitals. A one-hour media debate is only about right and left wing ideology, and it misses out on real developmental issues which have nothing to do with any ideology.
We are being diverted from the country’s most important issues. We have been neglecting our basic social problems and focusing only on superficial economic growth. We all boast about India by tagging it as a potential ‘superpower’, or the ‘largest growing economy’, but we have not even looked at the India which is fighting with patriarchy, caste, lynchings, communalism, unemployment, poor health, and the education crisis.
When people do not even recognise the existence of these problems, there is a serious need to bring attention to them. Politicians make us feel that everything is good and that India is at the peak of its development. But India’s performance in all these rankings belies such a rosy picture. We should not be satisfied with improvement our business rank alone. It is futile unless it is inclusive. There is no point in boasting about our high economic growth until it creates enough employment for our people.
There is a need to force leaders to talk about their promises on inclusive development and hold them accountable. There is a need to ask them questions about India’s miserable rankings on multiple parameters. We should not allow them to fool us with issues of religion and temples. We should speak about things which are yet to be spoken about.