Economy might be booming but the latest Social Progress Index places India near the bottom
Rupali Mehra | April 10, 2015
It is one of the most unforgivable incidents, yet it is one in many. This week a child fell to her death in a sump at school because she had to go to fetch water. The government primary school that Susanna studied in is not in the rural interiors of India, but in a bustling, modern city – India's IT capital Bengaluru. Yet it doesn't even a have tap for children, let alone purified drinking water.
The nine-year-old child's body was found on April 7. In a day the incident has slipped off the front pages. It didn't even find mention in 24/7 national news channels.
Should it come as a shock? Not really. After all, we hear about such cases every other day, don't we?
So then, should it be any surprise that bizarre and horrific incidents like this push India to the pit bottom of the Social Progress Index, a measure to rank societies based on how they meet the needs of citizens?
The latest statistics suggest India is the world's fastest growing economy, clocking an impressive GDP of 7.5% in the last quarter of 2014.
But before we give ourselves a big pat on the back, let’s look over our shoulder for a reality check. The fact is we rank a pathetic 101 out of 133 countries on social progress.
We are nine places below our main competitor, China, and even lower than neighbours Nepal and Bangladesh in the 2015 survey released on April 9.
The survey looks at nations with three broad parameters. The first: basic human needs like nutrition and medical care, water, shelter, sanitation and personal safety. The next benchmark is general well-being, health and knowledge. Finally, opportunity, in terms of access to advance education, personal rights and tolerance.
It’s easy to shrug off these measures and label them as a 'western' or even 'socialist' viewpoint. But the truth is that for India, this is a serious reality check. It ultimately affects the well-being of each of us.
We hear, see and read about tragic incidents every day. Shocking stories of lack of personal safety, of pedestrians being crushed under the wheels of a truck because a faulty traffic signal. Shameful stories of lack of sanitation forcing scavengers to carry baskets of faecal waste on their heads. Disturbing stories of lack of tolerance for other communities, religions and alternative views. All these, bit by bit, lead to the erosion of our social progress.
In 1933 when American economist Joseph Kuznets came up with the concept of GDP, he did add a warning that “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from the measurement of national income”, says Michael Green, the creator of the Social Progress Index.
But 82 years later we are still using the same old measurement, of economic progress alone. The social scientist stresses that "we need a measure based on the real things that matter to real people."
Reports suggest the EU is set to adopt the Social Progress Index soon. Our neighbour Bhutan has its own Gross National Happiness index since the 1970s.
So are we really willing to listen and, importantly, make the effort to better our own cities, towns and mofussils? Can we make them more liveable, happier, healthier and safer? So far we've proudly worn the term 'jugaad' or a makeshift approach as a badge of honour. We can fix anything with 'jugaad'! But this attitude of a temporary fix is costing us dear. Can we look for real and permanent solutions?
So that no other parent like Swamy will ever have to lose his child again because her school did not brother to fix a tap for water.
IndianOil posted a net profit of Rs 19,106 crore for 2016-17 fiscal as compared to a profit of Rs 11,242 crore in the last fiscal. The income from operations for the financial year 2016-17 was Rs 4,45,373 crore as compared to Rs 4,06,828 crore in the previous fiscal. IndianOil`s income from
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out first flight of light utility helicopter (LUH)-PT-2 on May 22 at its Bengaluru-based facility. The flight duration was about 22 minutes and pilots reported nil snag, HAL said. “These maiden flights of indig
Narendra Modi is like Greek mythology’s King Midas: whatever he touches turns into gold. Most people in this country are left dazzled by his ability to make dramatic announcements with a statuesque flourish. The past three years of the Modi government have left the
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has added another feather to its cap by successfully commissioning another 270 MW thermal unit at RattanIndia Nasik Power Limited’s 5x270 MW thermal power project at Sinnar (Nasik) in Maharashtra. This is the fourth unit to be c
Chaudhary Birender Singh, minister for steel, said that the Indian steel industry is at the cusp of a significant milestone by becoming the second largest stainless steel producer in the world, leaving behind Japan. He said that the steel sector is only an example of all-round development in India. The c
Are you satisfied with three years of Modi government?