India is celebrating 70 years of Independence with many people equating patriotism merely with holding the tricolour and walking on the streets raising slogans of ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Vande Mataram’. Patriotism means caring about our country every moment of our lives, contributing towards development. When we see beggars on the streets or a small child working in an eatery, when we see a corrupt official — minister, bureaucrat or anyone else — we feel pained.
It is in this spirit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mega 15-day BJP campaign ‘70 Saal Azadi — Yaad karo Qurbani’ (70 Years of Freedom — Remember the Sacrifices). Alongside would be celebrated 75th year of the Quit India movement. Virtually the entire Council of Ministers will fan out across the country to “rekindle the spirit of patriotism”. The focus would be on showcasing how various initiatives of the government have resulted in removing corruption from different aspects of governance: the auctions of coal, spectrum and FM radio licences. Also highlighted would be the successful PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) scheme for direct transfer of LPG subsidy which has resulted in savings of 15,000 crore.
The stress would be on the farmers’ welfare, on raising farm productivity, and providing electricity and irrigation to farmers. Modi said the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana had been launched with an outlay of 50,000 crore. He said the 20,000 crore deposited in the Jan Dhan accounts reflected the “richness of India’s poor”. Financial
inclusion had received a big boost with the opening of 17 crore bank accounts through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. The initiative Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has generated great interest. The Start-Up India initiative is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship among the youth of India. Each of the 1.25 lakh bank branches, should encourage at least one Dalit or Adivasi entrepreneur, and at least one woman entrepreneur as part of Start-Up India, Stand-Up India. The government has resolved to make India a developed nation by 2022, with a house and access to basic services
like electricity, to all. India has come far in the past seven decades, but the country still has a long way to go in many areas.
Poverty a drag
Poverty is one of the biggest evils faced by India in the present scenario. With an increasing population of people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) across the nation, it seems like a never-ending issue. Rising inflation has added further to the existing problem. India has an unbelievable number of people suffering due to this evil. According to the Indian Planning Commission’s 2013 estimate, around 269 million people (approximately 22 percent of the total population) live under the poverty line.
The past years have seen inflation as one of the major issues faced by the common man. The rising prices of basic amenities have infuriated the people. Rising rates of food items and fuel have affected the pockets of the middle class so much that they are coming out on the roads in protest. India requires growth rates of at least 7 percent to cater to the needs of its large, young and aspiring population. Falling oil prices provide an opportunity to decrease energy subsidies, utilise the savings in targeted investments and improve growth prospects. Green growth optimises the potential of sustainable economic growth that is efficient, clean and resilient. It thereby enables reduction in pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Green growth enables energy security through efficient use of natural resources and reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels. It enhances climate resilience through considered environmental management, minimising waste and reducing vulnerability to extreme weather hazards.
One-third of world’s poor in India
India accounts for a third of the world’s poor as per the World Bank report despite a number of programmes — from food subsidies to rural employment schemes — to alleviate poverty. A chunk of the country’s 1.2 billion people are still chronically malnourished. As per the World Bank report, at least 32 percent of India’s population lives below the international poverty line — spending less than $1.2 a day — while about 68 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Highest infant mortality rate
Infant mortality rate of 50 deaths every 1,000 births in India is among the highest in the world. Almost half of the country’s children under five are classed as chronically malnourished, and more than a third of Indians aged 15-49 are undernourished, according to the National Family Health Survey. Sadly, India invests only about one per cent of its gross domestic product in healthcare.
High dependence on agriculture
More than half of the country’s workers are employed in agriculture but despite India’s heavydependency on farming, agriculture still accounts for less than 15 percent of our gross domestic product. In comparison, the service sector, which employs about a third of the country’s workers, accounts for 55 percent of India’s GDP.
The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report ranked India 132 out of 187 countries on its gender inequality index. All countries in South Asia, with the exception of Afghanistan, the report said, were a better place for women than India. India’s skewed sex ratio — 927 females for every 1,000 males — and low participation rates of women in the labour force were largely to blame, the report said. Rising cases of sexual abuse and rape across the country, have left a black mark on the reputation of India. Foreign tourists have been known to have been given special warnings while travelling to India. In fact, some countries even label our nation as an unsafe country for women, after the Nirbhaya rape case.
Terrorism has hit India since the day India was partitioned. The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan has been a long-standing unresolved issue. Using this, the neighbouring country has often used terror against India in the worst manner possible.
India has been disturbed by external terrorism as well as internal terrorism through Maoist attacks in the western parts of the country. Terrorism mainly causes loss of lives, but also affects the country economically.
A population of thousands of millions is growing at 2.11 per cent every year. It puts considerable pressure on India’s natural resources and reduces the gains of development. Hence, the greatest challenge before us is to limit population growth. Although population control does automatically lead to development, yet the development leads to a decrease in population growth rates. The population control does automatically lead to development and as a corollary development leads to a drop in population growth rates. The reason is that people in a developed economy have access to education, lack of which is the primary reason for over population and its ill effects.
We need statesmen as politicians who can rise above petty politics and raise the bar to take country to dizzy heights of glory as we celebrate 70th year of Independence! Our growing population can become our great asset, our human resource can be the envy of any country and our spirited patriotic people can transform India into a super power! That would be India of our dreams!