Opinion: Key Parameters for DEVELOPMENT
Respectful and dignified life to Indian citizens
Kerala is considered to be one of the developed states in India on the basis of prevailing developmental parameters, whether it is GDP, per capita income or the human development index. But the horrifying tale of Kerala nurses, who were recently rescued from Iraq’s conflict zone, exposes the emptiness of all these developmental parameters.
It is a well known fact that economic backwardness and social constraints forced them to go to Gulf countries to earn money so that they can repay the loan they had taken from relatives or banks for education and also can help their families to survive. Their compulsions can be understood in the words of Smitha Surendran, one of the 46 nurses who were rescued: “I have to ensure food for my parents. How long can we depend upon others for survival.” She said the bombs were not permanent worry for her, but serving the food on dining table was the worry that stirred her round the clock. She was even ready to move elsewhere in Iraq rather than returning home even in these conflicting circumstances.
Undoubtedly, if their financial conditions were good enough they would not have thought about going there even in the circumstances when their salaries were not paid for months and they were bound to live like captives, as they have no right to live a respectful and dignified life there.
Whether any Indian can imagine a dignified life as per the parameters laid down by C. Rangarajan Committee on poverty? This committee makes a mockery of 125 crore Indians by recommending that only the persons spending less than Rs 47 a day in cities and Rs 32 in villages should be considered poor. Accordingly, if a family of five earns monthly Rs 4860 in rural areas and Rs7035 in urban areas is not poor. But even an illiterate housewife can explain that in cities a family cannot afford two times meal properly in this limit. Perhaps expenses on other amenities like water, electricity, education, health care, clothing, house rent, etc may come under luxury as per this formula.
Recommendations of this Committee are based on the methodology designed for estimating poverty on household income and expenses. It is a matter of shame that the same parameters of income and expenditure were used during the British colonial period. In fact, those colonial parameters should have been thrown away at the time of Independence itself. But the Planning Commission of India still carries over that burden of British colonial legacy, which they left behind. These parameters are black spot on the independent and democratic country like ours. It is must to come out from this colonial mindset and at least the new government must throw away Rangarajan Committee recommendations into the dustbin.
Why should we not think in terms of respectful and dignified life to every citizen of India? We need to frame the developmental parameters so that every Indian can have proper and nutritious food, house, education, job, health care, safety, social security and so on and can live in a dignified way wherever one lives. Such parameters are not new to us. The need of the hour is to come-out from the colonial mindset and think according to our rich legacy. For a dignified and respectful life we may quote Tulsidasji. In Shri Ramcharit Manas he writes,” Daihik, daivik, bhautik tapa, Ramraj nahin kahuhi vyapa’ (There was no physical, material or natural sufferings in the era of Ram).
We can fulfill the aspirations of people, as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution, only if we formulate and adopt such developmental parameters. With the formulation and implementation of such developmental parameters for dignified life our thinking will change and no one would treat us as bonded labour, as happens in Gulf and some other countries now. Has anyone ever heard that a US or UK citizen was treated as a bonded labour or misbehaved anywhere in the world? No. Why? Because, these nations respect the dignity of their citizens. If we want India truly become a world power it is eminent that we ensure a respectful and dignified life to our nationals first.
Dr Ravindra Agrawal (Writer is a senior journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])