Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Things holding India back from being a developed nation - 2

Before I continue with my next post, I must apologize for making you wait for such a long time. The problem is that my computer has conked off and I am yet to get replacement for the parts which have gone bad.

Today, I continue my effort to explain my take on why India has not yet crossed the line, though it is standing on it for years.

My next grievance is - Poverty and Illiteracy.

Yes, both are mammoth problems. But I feel they are interlinked. If illiteracy is eliminated, I feel poverty will be eliminated automatically. Even after 60 years of independence, there are more than a third of uneducated people in India. This is a shame - given the amount of (supposed) interest every government shows to this sector. Crores of rupees are allocated every year for education - both primary and higher. However, this money is not always translated to results on the ground. We still have schools functioning under trees, without benches and tables, without toilets and with only one teacher for the entire school

Given these facts, it is not surprising that the drop out rate is very high. Parents who see that such schools don’t add any value to their living, often put their children to work. What is going wrong? Why are we not able to convince parents that education is the only panacea for eliminating poverty? The government, which is in the best possible position to help, is least interested. It's ministries are busy passing the buck - you ask the education minister and he tells that there is a lack of funds; you ask the finance minister and he tells that he is ready to release more funds only when he is satisfied that the money already given is put to good use and so on. Ultimately, the grand schemes announced just remain on paper with no one taking the onus of taking it forward. The best these politicians can do is divide us among the lines we don’t want them to (read - reservations based on castes in education) for their votes.

With this being the reality, expecting our children to compete on the global scene in this globalised world is just out of question. This is the primary reason why we often keep hearing that there is a demand-supply gap for skilled workers in all professions. Unless we achieve significant levels of literacy, it will be impossible for us to become a developed nation. All the gains we have made so far, say in science, IT or telecom domains will dwindle and go to our competitors if we don’t have a steady supply of talented professionals.

I feel that we citizens can make a huge difference in this particular aspect. There are hundreds of schools which are in need of teachers, infrastructure, books etc. It would be great if we can help these schools, and it doesn’t take much - some amount of time and maybe a small amount of money. We must know that every drop counts.

The next one in my list is Poverty - arguably the biggest pain for most of the people in this country. Even after 60 years of independence, it is a shame that more than a third of our population is living below the poverty line. Lakhs of people don’t have enough food, clothing and absolutely nothing to make a living. Their lives are filled with miseries; lack of education and large families have made them so. Often they suffer from some or the other disease and with little medical help, their life expectancy is low. True, India's life expectancy as a whole has increased - but when we break it down, we see that for BPL (Below Poverty Line) people, there is hardly any change.

Here again, the government has done a pathetic job. Most of the schemes it announces remain on paper. No one knows the whereabouts of the crores of rupees allocated to these schemes. Best example was the recent Vidharba episode. The PM himself visited the area after a spate of farmer suicides and announced a 2000+ crore package. He later toured it again only to find that there was absolutely no change in their lives!! As a result, the suicides continue. There is no one to help these poor farmers.

The people who suffers the most from poverty are the children. The parents, who cannot support themselves, let alone their children, often use their kids for some additional income. Hence, for the child, education is a distant dream.

I am hard pressed for a solution in this aspect - the investment needed is enormous. The change has to be sweeping and radical. Only the government with its massive reach and money can make the difference.

God knows when the people ruling us will wake up! Right now, they remember the poor only when there is some election round the corner - And even during these times, they don’t contribute anything concrete. They lure them by giving money (which they don’t know how to manage) and liquor (which ruins them even more). So, until these politicians do something concrete, you will find many people like me who keep cribbing :)

However, I have a request to make - recently, I met a person (in fact, he is a software engineer) who is doing a lot of social work and is running an initiative called Youth for Seva. Please visit their web site - youthforseva.org. I leave it to you, as to how you can contribute.

1 comment:

Tushar said...

Hey nice blog
i wrote something about it on my own blog
hope u agree with it,
here is the link.
http://tshharmangalmuses.blogspot.com/2007/10/voyaging-through-blogosphere-13
Thank you.