WHEN a person is pushed to the wall, and there is nothing more for him to fall back, the only place he can hope to go, is to move, forward. From a distance, everything looks rosy, especially, when castles are built in the air with grandiose schemes, crafted by arm chairmen and other theorists of various committees and commissions, with no feet on the ground or touch with the ground realities. In fact, building castles in the air, is the easiest thing, and later on, in taking refuge in them.
World Poverty Comparison
The Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) with UNDP support assesses a range of critical factors or ‘‘deprivations” at the household level: from education to health outcomes to assets and services.
Poorest States In India
The MPI, which is now substitute for the Human Poverty Index, shows, that there are more poor people in eight Indian states (42.1 crore in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (41 crore 42 crore poor in Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan and West Bengal compared to 41 crore in 26 of Africa’s poorest countries.
In fact, according to the new measure that includes key services such as water, sanitation and electricity, half of the world’s poor live in South Asia (51 per cent or 84.4 crore) and one quarter in Africa (28 per cent or 45.8 crore).
Every Third Indian Is Living Below Poverty Line
Of 104 countries surveyed (5.2 bn people in all), 1.7 bn live in poverty. Every third Indian is living below poverty line, estimates an expert group saying that more than 37 per cent of people are poor, ten per cent more than estimated earlier.
Among the states, Orissa and Bihar are at the bottom, while Nagaland, Delhi and J&K have the least number of poor, says a report by the expert group, headed by Suresh Tendulkar, former chairman of PM’s Economic Advisory Council.
As much as 41.8 per cent of the rural population survives with monthly per capita consumption expenditure of Rs 447, they spend on essential necessities like food, fuel, light, clothing and footwear.
Among urban population, 25.7 per cent are poor, spending Rs 578.8 on essential needs.
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
According to the Planning Commission’s recent estimates, poverty in India came down from 35.97 per cent in 1993-94 to 27.54 per cent in 2004-05.
Although the Tendulkar report has estimated the poverty at 37.2 per cent against the Commission’s estimate of 27.5 per cent, it did say the estimates are “not comparable” as the former is based on new basket of goods. It must be mentioned without hesitation, that left to themselves, the governments’ appointed Commissions and Committees, would like to proclaim, that there is no poverty in India. To say that poverty levels have come down in India, is not only twisting the figures, but a total travesty of the facts and the actual state of affairs in the country. As a regular visitor to rural areas, because of My lands, I can only say, that poor have become poorer, because of the rise in prices, which the Government has not been able to control.
Squeaky wheel gets all the grease
There is a saying that a squeaky wheel gets all the grease. This is what exactly is happening in our country. Higher budget allocation does not mean, that all is well. Late Rajiv Gandhi had said that out of every rupee, only 15 paisa reaches the intended beneficiaries. His son Rahul Gandhi said in May, 2009, that out of Rs. Ten only ten paisas reaches the destination.
Corruption is the cause of failure of the delivery system
It is not that it is an insurmountable problem and the government cannot tackle it. It is, because it won’t do. Whether it is the spiralling crime or the Maoists and Naxalite Violence, the root cause is, that benefit of well conceived schemes is not reaching the needy and deprived section of the society. The Prime Minister has lamented this fact, more than once. At present the corruption has become a low risk and a high profit activity.
Naxalism, the direct outcome of corruption
Problems, like Naxalism and Maoism are directly the outcome of corruption. Under the specious excuse, that let the law take its own course, it takes decades, for court cases to be finalised, because, the government would not spend on improving the criminal justice system. Too much protection is given and it seems that all rights are meant only for the accused and not for the victims.
Certainly, law and order is the most important factor, either for development from our own resources, or investment by others in our country.
Central Government gives indications of waking up
The Central Government has now woken up to the need of to equip nearly 400 police stations in 90 districts of Maoist-affected states with advanced communication and reconnaissance and provide better weapons and anti-landmine vehicles.
It is not a one day’s job, to recruit, train people and equip them. The way the government functions, it may take a few years to translate the plan into a reality, on the ground. Indeed, it is frustrating experience, because there is no accountability and no time fixed time schedule for doing any of the above things.
The Central Government is on a Rs 13,000 crore action plan for 34 Naxal-affected districts, to improve the lot of the people.
All the above factors only show, that though politically, we are independent, socially and economically, we remain one of the poorest in real system. The less said about the judicial and criminal justice system, the better.
Courts will take 320 years to clear backlog cases
On March 6, 2010, Justice VV Rao of Andhra Pradesh High Court said. Indian judiciary would take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in various courts including high courts in the country.
“If one considers the total pendency of cases in the Indian judicial system, every judge in the country will have an average load of about 2,147 cases. India has 14,576 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 17,641 including 630 High Court judges. This works out to a ratio of 10.5 judges per million population. The apex court in 2002 had suggested 50 judges per million population.
If the norm of 50 judicial officers per million becomes reality by 2030 when the country’s population would be 1.5 to 1.7 billion, the number of judges would go upto 1.25 lakh dealing with 300 million case, as against the present about 14000 in position.
It is strange that men should take up crime when there are so many legal ways to be dishonest. The most telling commentary on the legal system is that Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught. We have to travel quite a bit before we can be really independent and free.
(The writer is former director CBI and can be contacted at [email protected])