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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Friday, 05 May 2017 13:38

Whither Human Development in India?

THE recently released UN Human Development Report 2016 classified India as a medium development country, ranking 131, lower than Sri Lanka which was ranked 73 and China ranked 90, both in high development category. Inequality, multi-dimensional poverty and gender gaps appear to be factors holding back India’s progress on the human development index (HDI) — a measure linked to progress towards a long, healthy life, decent standard of living and access to knowledge.

The report found that 55 per cent of the country’s population suffers from poverty, measured by overlapping deprivations of education, health and living standards experienced by households. India has a gender linked to inequality in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity that ranks it 125 out of 159 countries.

The report observed that gender based inequalities linked to patriarchal social norms affect women over their entire lives and manifest as higher malnourishment, higher workloads and less rest and less access to financial decision making. Added to this is the pervasive risk of violence against the opposite sex.

As per the report, only around 35 per cent of Indian women complete secondary education in India compared to 65 per cent of men. Women’s participation in the labour market is just about 27 per cent compared to 80 per cent for men. The very fact that the initiatives by the Government being projected in a big way are in reality not very effective, as can be clearly noted from this report. In fact, the report is a sad commentary on the country’s social infrastructure development. Worse, the Government seeks to give a different picture and appears to be least concerned about what is being underscored.

While the neglect of the opposite sex has been highlighted in this report and in various other global studies, the other new concern is the treatment towards minorities, specially Muslims. In the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP, which won over two-third seats, does not have a single Muslim legislator. With a hard core Hindu fundamentalist as the Chief Minister, one obviously cannot expect that their interests would be protected without proper representation in the government.

All over the country, there is a sudden hue and cry against minorities and dalits. It is important to mention here that social and economic development has to take place in the villages where the participation of all communities is essential. A section of social scientists have expressed strong reservations whether the Hindutva doctrine of the BJP can yield the desired development at a faster pace.

The Gujarat model of growth did not result in job creation nor did the condition of the rural areas improve. Though industrialisation geared up revenue generation, social development was average and did not match even a laggard state like West Bengal.

Dhurjati Mukherjee, The Kashmir Times, dated 20th April 

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