Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Human Development
Will Hindutva achieve results?
By Dhurjati Mukherjee
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 suffer 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. The present schemes of Swachh Bharat, MNREGA, 'Skill India' with government control are, no doubt, well intentioned but only the results will prove the effectiveness of the schemes vis-a-vis the money spent. Moreover, an element lacking in these schemes is the virtual absence of civil society organisations in a big way which could have otherwise generated better results.

Just as socialism was implemented with State power at one time in India and later by Left regimes, same is the case with Hindutva. This goes against the Gandhian ideal that spoke of decentralisation and involvement of the grass-root organisations and the masses to make a project or programme successful. The involvement of the individual in the planning and development process is vital for transforming the rural sector.

It is generally agreed that high growth cannot be achieved through State power, where authority is vested at the hands of the bureaucracy, slowing down of projects/schemes and a clear lack of transparency. Moreover, costs are quite high compared to public-private collaborative projects.

However, it is not to say that there should not be strict monitoring of rules and regulations. All round efficiency has to be improved, whether in running hospitals, educational institutions or projects and new ones have to be completed within target dates. Whether the new genre of BJP leaders would look at development from a broader perspective and ensure that money spent is used judiciously and efficiently needs to be assessed.

An important point that merits attention here is that like Indira Gandhi's 20 Point Programme, Hindutva has socialist overtones. Though some of the projects being implemented are in collaboration with organisations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar, there is tendency of a clear bias. This may not augur well for those citizens who are not part of the clan and may be left out. In West Bengal, during the Left regime, favours by and large were mostly granted to those aligned with the party, which resulted in a major section being deprived.

There is no denying that the major challenge before the government is to gear up the pace of social development, specially in education and health sectors and in the economic sphere, promoting industries that have a potential to generate employment -- directly or indirectly. Though increased resources have been earmarked for the rural sector according to the Government, how effectively these are used to bring about the desired change is critical. Relying on State power alone may not be all that fruitful.

While some work towards a turnaround of the rural sector has started, the emphasis on cottage and micro enterprises has yet to become effective. It is an irony that the political leadership's focus is largely on big businessmen as it can curry favours from them, and pays little attention to small entrepreneurs. This could well be one of the reasons for the latter not getting the desired push it requires.

While the present political leadership has grass-root leaders, it remains to be seen how much of development work peters down to the backward districts and sub-divisions. Though the resounding victory of the BJP has instilled fresh confidence into the party, it remains a fact that only performance actually matters. Thus, unless the living conditions of the poor and the impoverished are improved with developmental projects, rigid propagation of Hinduism may not yield the desired results.

It goes without saying that the political leaders have to understand the needs and demands of the poor and the economically weaker sections - the segment that constitutes the majority - and frame strategies and action plan in consultation with them, i.e., accord top priority to panchayati raj institutions and usher in progress at the grassroots.


News Updated at : Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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