Mandate 2022: Get a responsive government which cares for you and promises a better life for your children in health, education, and employment
Hari Hara Mishra | January 12, 2022
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) compiles an annual ranking of countries based on an index comprising of health, education, and income. For the year 2020, for which data has been released by UNDP, India’s rank has been 131 out of total 189 countries ranked. This is absolutely unacceptable and evidence that successive governments have failed to give good governance and quality of life that we the Indians deserve. For any voter of any region, segment, or class, certainly these three components, viz., health, education and income, are the most important factors in life.
Alexis De Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian, most famous for his work on democracy in America, had coined the prophetic line: “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” If our quality of life is towards the bottom of global pyramid, it is a sad commentary of our own inactivity, apathy as a voter towards issues concerning us, which has enabled our leaders to execute their agenda, rather than people’s agenda. In voting, we have been swayed away by considerations based more on emotive and identity issues, rather than making informed, rational choices.
For those unfamiliar with components of the Human Development Index (HDI) referred above, it comprises of life expectancy at birth, expected schooling of children, mean years of schooling by adults, and gross national income per capita. Life expectancy at birth for India in 2019, was 69.7 years. Even neighbours like Bangladesh fared better with life expectancy of 72.6 years. India’s Gross National Income per capita fell to US$6,681 in 2019, from US$6,829 on purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. As prices, costs and currency change from country to country, the PPP is used for meaningful comparison. And the decline of per capita income referred above is in respect of a normal year, and sorry, we cannot pass on the buck to Covid-19. For children, the HDI report mentioned Cambodia, India and Thailand as having more malnutrition related issues like stunting and wasting. The expected number of years of schooling in India was 12.2 years, versus global top ranked Australia at 20.7 years.
Besides, there is a broader Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index consisting of parameters like nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, and household assets. India ranks here 62 among 107 countries. A neighbour like Sri Lanka ranks 25th. Every one in four people in India was multidimensionally poor as per our own Niti Aayog report.
2022 begins with elections in five states commencing in less than a month’s time starting from February 10. This is an opportunity to hold parties accountable for their acts of omission and commission in landing us where we are today nearly 75 years after independence. We cannot blame it to only British and Mughal rulers. The agenda of action plan or manifesto of the parties must be scrutinised with rigour and vigour. Your lives matter and you cannot stand a mute bystander when your fate is going to be decided for next five years. Get a responsive government which cares for you and promises a better life for your children in health, education, and employment.
Mishra is a columnist and topper in political science from Sambalpur University, Odisha
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