Sunday, September 25, 2022

Equality of Welfare

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 21, 2022 11:40 pm

India’s poor ranking (132 among 191 nations) in the latest Human Development Index (HDI) is indicative of the fact that despite a steady march on the economic front, the country is yet to achieve desired success in the welfare front. The country’s standing in the said index, which has been prepared on parameters like health, life expectancy, education and per capita gross national income, etc. clearly shows that resources have not been used well to improve the quality of life of citizens. It also proves right the social scientists who often argue that stressing on economic growth whilst ignoring welfare aspects has  created two Indias – one for the rich that belong to 20 per cent of the country’s population, who acquire wealth overlooking the welfare of fellow citizens and another for the poor where more than eighty per cent of citizens reside without basic necessities of health, sanitation, education and employment. The disparity between the two Indias increased further due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it caused shrinking of the job market, making it difficult for a vast section of the workforce to earn two square meals a day. At the same time, the index points out that contrary to popular belief, the quantum of national income or higher GDP is not the sole yardstick to measure the progress of a nation because economic criterions do not measure welfare or quality of life. Otherwise, India could have improved its position in the index considerably as it is the world’s fastest growing economy at present.

So, instead of harping on about the rise of GDP or overtaking a nation in economic size, our policy makers should focus on welfare of the citizens. Relying solely on mathematical figures, to ensure inclusive growth in the country is not working. The endeavour to make India a welfare state will achieve success only when every citizen of the country is able to enjoy equal opportunities in every field including health, education and employment, irrespective of caste, creed or religion; the poor and rural people should not be discriminated against. The inadequacy of the health sector had badly been exposed during the pandemic when thousands lost their lives in absence of proper medical facilities. The latest report shared in Rajya Sabha by the parliamentary standing committee on health has found several flaws in our health service system, despite the fact that India is a favourite destination for medical tourism. Several villages in the country are devoid of potable water facilities even after seven and a half decades of Independence. Same is the case with education as existing facilities are mostly concentrated in big cities which is a clear deprivation of rural India. The index shows that we are even behind countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka in this context.To get rid of lopsided development, social spending should be increased to improve the standard of life of the rural population and fulfil India’s dream of becoming a true welfare state.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 21, 2022 11:40:42 pm