Friday, April 29, 2005

1. On Rebuilding India

This site is for ideas, and to actually 'Rebuild India' - as inspired by Swami Vivekananda (SV). SV envisioned an India which is materially as well as spiritually developed. India, now, as we know, is a backward country - actually the second most backward region in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa. Some people might argue that India is not backward. They may say that we have satellites, missiles, nuclear weapons, IT industry, IITs, metro trains, English-speaking educated people, and so on. I do not totally disagree with it. Actually, India should be divided into two parts to study - Urban India and Rural India. Urban India is somewhat better, and can be compared to the Middle-Income countries as classified by the World Bank. On the contrary, Rural India is very backward. I'm afraid it competes very hard with Sub-Saharan Africa for the title of 'Most backward population in the world'. I'm not saying this without evidence.

For example, take poverty. Almost 30% of Indians live in poverty, according to the Indian government's own data. The official definition of poverty is 'not able to afford to buy the minimum food required per day - about 2200 calories'. What about clothes, drinking water, housing, etc.? Half of the world's poor live in India, by that definition. Half of the world's Lepers and a third of the world's Tuberculosis patients are Indians. And, half of the world's Illiterates are Indians. and if you look at the various health indicators like infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, malnourishment rate, life span, etc. we are almost the worst.

The Human development Index (HDI) of the UNDP, is the best indicator so far of 'how well the people are living'. It is a weighted index of per capita income, health and education . We are ranked about 140 among 180 nations. Per capita income, or income earned by a person is not the only measure of 'quality of life'. A person may not be poor, but if he has disease, he will not be happy. A person may not be poor or diseased, but if he is illiterate, his socio-economic status will be very low. He may even be subjected to oppression by the upper castes.

As such, the HDI is the best measure of our country's development, and we should increase the rank by as much as possible. I envision our country to achieve a top ten position by 2030, provided a large number of Indians work towards it with full dedication. It is a formidable task, but let's be confident. After all, India was one of the greatest civilizations from time immemorial till a few hundred years back. When India had Kings and Kingdoms, Europeans were living in stone ages - till about 2,000 years back. We have become backward due to various reasons, but we can regain our rightful place in the hierarchy of nations, if we are dedicated enough for the cause.

In my future blogs, I'll elaborate on some ideas which I have thought over the past decade as a student. I can't assure you regular posts as I'm obligated to my studies for admission to post-graduation in medicine in US.

This site is dedicated to you, the reader, and all the people who are or will be rebuilding India.

Jai Hind!