Statistics below are till the Nehru Dynasty times of up to UPA-I&II. Things began to improve since 2014, albeit gradually.

Thanks to the Nehruvian economic policies, millions of Indians were condemned to grinding poverty.
We have the largest number of poor—a third of the world’s poor! As per the World Bank’s estimate, while 69% Indians live on less than US$2 per day, 33% fall below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. In terms of GDP per capita, India stands at 129 among 183 countries as per IMF tabulation for 2011. Per capita income in India is little more than half that of Sri Lanka, about a sixth that of Malaysia, and a third that of Jamaica. Things have been improving, but precious decades were lost in poverty- perpetuating Nehruvian economic policies.

Says Darryl D’Monte in an article, ‘Living off the land’, that appeared in the Hindustan Times: “…Oxford University and the UN Development Programme brought out a ‘Multidimensional Poverty Index’ or MPI which replaced the Human Poverty Index. The researchers analysed data from 104 countries with a combined population of 5.2 billion, constituting 78% of the world’s total. It found that about 1.7 billion people in these countries live in multidimensional poverty. If income alone is taken into account, at less than $1.25 a day, a standard measure throughout the world, this amounts to 1.3 billion. The startling fact that emerges from this analysis, which made headlines throughout the world, is that using the MPI, just eight Indian states have more poor people than the 26 poorest African countries combined. These sub-Saharan countries—like Ethiopia—are considered the worst-off in the world, with pictures of starving children there becoming symptomatic of a deep malaise.”

Worldwide rankings for 2012 by the Mercer Quality of Living Survey lists 49 cities. No Indian city makes the grade. Mercer City Infrastructure Ranking, 2012 lists 50 cities. No Indian city appears in the list. Among the prominent cities in the world, the 25 dirtiest include New Delhi and Mumbai having mostly the African cities for company.

Two cities in India, Sukinda and Vapi, rank 3rd and 4th in the world as the most polluted cities! Even our water bodies and rivers, including the most sacred ones, get dirtier by the year. The sacred rivers have been reduced to sewers. The waters of the Ganga are pure and sparkling when it starts from Gangotri, with a BOD, that is, Biochemical Oxygen Demand, of zero, and a DO, Dissolved Oxygen, of over 10. Water with BOD level of less than 2mg per litre can be consumed without treatment; that with BOD level between 2 and 3 mg per litre can be consumed, but only after treatment; and that with BOD level above 3 mg per litre is unfit even for bathing. Ganga- Yamuna water at Sangam in Allahabad has a BOD level of 7.3 mg per litre! It is totally unfit even for bathing!!

To summarise a ToI report, “A pitcherful of poison: India’s water woes set to get worse”, India ranks third-lowest, a lowly 120, in a list of 122 countries rated on quality of potable water. By 2020, India is likely to become a water-stressed nation. Nearly 50% of Indian villages still do not have any source of protected drinking water. Of the 1.42 million villages in India, 1.95 lacs are affected by chemical contamination of water. 37.7 million are afflicted by waterborne diseases every year. Nearly 66 million people in 20 Indian states are at risk because of excessive fluoride in their water. Nearly 6 million children below 14 suffer from dental, skeletal and non-skeletal fluorosis. In Jhabua district, bone deformities are common among children. Arsenic is the other big killer lurking in ground water, putting at risk nearly 10 million people. The problem is acute in several districts of West Bengal. The deeper aquifers in the entire Gangetic plains contain arsenic. In UP’s Ballia district, the problem is so acute that almost every family has been affected—most people are suffering from skin rashes, some have lost their limbs; many are dying a slow death due to arsenic-induced cancer. Bacteriological contamination, which leads to diarrhoea, cholera and hepatitis, is most widespread in India.

The HDI, Human Development Index, is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices and was published by the UNDP, United Nations Development Programme. In 2016, India ranked 130 on HDI among 187 countries, below even Iraq and Egypt!

The Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) report by the Naandi Foundation points out that 42 per cent of under-fives Indian children are severely or moderately underweight and that 59 per cent of them suffer from moderate to severe stunting.

As per another study released on Mother’s Day, India ranks 76th among 80 “less developed countries” in the world on Mother-care Index, that is 5th worst.

Health-care system—we beat even the poorest countries in Africa in infant mortality rates! The rate is a measure of number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births. Among 221 countries, India ranks 50—rank 1 being the worst—with an infant mortality rate of 46. That is, among 221 countries, 171 countries are better off than India. China’s infant mortality rate is 15.62, Singapore’s 2.65, while India’s is 46.07. Over 400,000 newborns die within the first 24 hours of their birth every year in India, the highest anywhere in the world, a study by an international non-government organisation, “Save the Children”, has declared.

Take MMR, the Maternal Mortality Rate, which is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management. The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy. India ranks 52—rank 1 being the worst—among 183 countries, with an MMR of 200 deaths per 100,000 live births. MMR is 37 for China and just 3 for Singapore.

Take housing. Government’s recent housing survey reveals that 53% of Indian homes are without toilets, 68% are without access to clean tap water, 39% do not have indoor kitchens, and 70% make do with one or two room homes. Figures don’t reveal the real horror. Of course, all—men, women and children—suffer; but, the main sufferers are women: having to defecate in the open in the absence of toilets, having to fetch water in the absence of tap-water at home, having to cook without a kitchen!

There are nearly 97 million urban poor living in 50,000 slums in India, 24% of which are located along nallahs and drains and 12% along railway lines. And, thanks to our lack of planning and neglect, the number of slums and the slum population is on the rise. The worst affected are the children— our future—in these slums.

Singapore and Finland recruit teachers in schools from among the brightest 10% of graduates and offer them salaries on par with engineers. And, in India? Quality of graduates from engineering and management colleges is so poor many remain unemployable. Our education system—it is a mess.

In literacy, India is 183 among 214 countries—below many African countries. Reports ‘The Economic Times’ of 18 January 2013: “The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2012) by NGO Pratham shows that the number of Class V students who could not read a Class II level text or solve a simple arithmetic problem has increased. In 2010, 46.3% of kids in this category failed to make the cut and this shot up to 51.8% in 2011 and 53.2% in 2012…In 2010, 29.1% children in Class V could not solve a two- digit subtraction problem without seeking help. This proportion increased to 39% in 2011 and 46.5% in 2012.”

The hitherto Dynasty-driven Nehruvian-socialistic-populist-babudom- dominated dynacratic India rarely disappoints in scoring the top grade— when it comes to the negatives. With the exit of the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty since 2014 the things have been thankfully improving.

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