Development and its false notions.


We as the citizens of this country has been aspiring for development, Everybody wants to see our country’s progress because right for a decent living with minimum amenities in place to satisfy our needs is democratic rights of each and every citizen of this country. We vote candidates from different political parties based on plank called “Development”. Have these representatives of the people do justice to their promise to the people, I think this question lingers large on everybody’s mind. The most recent stampede in Mumbai on the railway overbridge proves a point beyond doubt that Govt priorities changes once they are elected to power, they consciously forget their responsibilities towards common people of this country because either they have an agenda to pursue which has been far away from the realities on the ground or a misplaced notion for development . However, they pursue policies to favour the rich and corporates, help them gain maximum profits for the corporates out of it. In today’s environment, it has been increasingly evident that the Govt policy measures are not in sync with the reality, But politicians have consciously tried to pass the message to the larger audience that they are trying to build a new India. what is this new India means to common people, Is new India, govt talking about leave farmers to die because of not able to pay their debts, or children die out for not receiving the oxygen on time , or scores of people are left to die while standing in the queue to withdraw their savings from the bank,But frankly speaking all these campaigns by those in power is nothing but an effort to keep us living in fool’s paradise with hope that sometime someday something better would happen . Now, let’s take the incident happened in Mumbai around 25 valuable lives had been lost in the stampede, it is well known and many times it has been brought to their notice that the railway overbridge is 120 years old with the narrow passage which inadequate to handle the volume of passengers who commutes daily. But on the other hand, we have seen PM launching a bullet train project from Surat to Mumbai with a project cost 10,000 crores. But left to lurch in perennial neglect Do you think it is because of the misplaced priorities and opportunity for photo shots to be in the realm of public life as” Vikash purush “. I think beyond that govt’s has scant regard for the valuable lives of the common people. So it is quite natural to think that launching a bullet train project attracts more eyeballs, improve the optics than the repairing, improving the existing infrastructure of the railways. The major source of income to govt comes from the taxpayers money through direct and indirect taxes, Out of that major source of revenue comes from the indirect tax sources which you and I pay while purchasing our grocery or filling petrol in our vehicles , but the moot question is where do they spend the money collected from us ? Had they been spending the resources wisely frequent occurrence of rail accidents could have been avoided.

Misplaced priorities.

In the last several decades and increasingly so in the last three years, the optics of development for this govt has been through series of announcements of schemes, But very little budget or money has been allocated to improve the situation. Take in the case of rural distress and farmers problem, in the last three years we have not seen any concrete or well thought out plans to address the problem faced by the farmers, Now we have started debating whether the demonetization has delivered its objective , still many argue that the long-term benefits would overweigh the short-term problems. How is it possible when Govt allowed the daily wage workers, farmers to starve and die of poverty. When you have global oil prices at all time low, how can they still allow it to be costlier in India without passing the benefits to the common people? These issues need immediate address rather than ministers after minister trying to justify the move by showing very less importance to issues affecting the common man on the streets.

Optics matter more than the reality.

A responsible government and its administration should be spending the time to address the issues faced by the masses and how they could solve the issues faced by the public at large. In the case of demonisation as the biggest administrative act by the govt has failed miserably, because the reports are out in the open which states more than 90% of the money in circulation came back to the banks. So the purpose of the demo has failed completely. One shock after the other flawed implementation of GST has destroyed the backbone of the economy further, So serious of shocks had already put the ailing patient in ICU, which takes for the patient to come out of the danger. But the optics created by Modi government being that they are sincere in their efforts to attack the black money and GST has been hailed as the biggest reform since independence. If Govt has had any seriousness in curtailing the black money in circulation they should have acted with resilience in bringing the black money stashed abroad, And also should have imposed more taxes on the elites, If they had done any of these it would have signalled some credence to their sincerity in curbing the black money. . Job losses have hit economy badly which really pulled GDP growth down, overall distress in rural economy has taken the situation to such a low, perhaps it takes time to recover.

Inclusive development

You cannot have changed priorities once you get into power Because elected representatives carry the hopes of millions of people who daily fight to survive, lead a life of dignity. So any development for that matter should be inclusive in nature which takes care of the basic needs of the common masses. Take for instances the agriculture’s contribution towards GDP has been declining steadily for couple of decades , Govt, after govt promised to take care of the concerns faced by the farmers, But little has been done to improve the situation, like this many sectors be it education or healthcare which needs a lot of attention and care to improve it. So a real development is nothing but taking everyone together, For the last 3years we have seen hue and cry happening over cow vigilantism and nationalism, Do such priorities of the Govt do any good for the
80% of the population?

Cost of Bullet train

The project cost is expected to be Rs.110,000 crore ie is which works out to be Rs.217crore per km. In 2016 Indian railways reported 186 deaths which go up to 325 deaths, why Modi goes for this expensive project when the entire railway infrastructure meddles with problems of long-term neglect. so it has been the classic case of misplaced priority.

Source:  Frontline October 13, 2017.

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In the pursuit of happiness


Fancy-Pictures-Of-Happiness-768x614.jpgHappiness is scientifically defined as a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to immense joy. According to Buddhist teaching, ultimate happiness can only be achieved if one disowns his or her craving for material pleasure, In 2012 world happiness report came into being which evaluates subjective wellbeing.  UN general assembly passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure their people’s wellness which could be further used as a guide to for the formulation effective public policies Among the world nations Bhutan is only nation which has officially accepted Gross national happiness as a measuring tool instead of Gross domestic product, unlike other nations. There are many debates happening across the globe whether the GDP is a  real tool to measure a country’s progress per se or many others factors need to be considered, let’s leave that to the experts to ponder upon.

Happiness is a sense of overall well-being of an individual or society at large where a lot of factors social & physiological comes into play. When this gets linked to an individual it might differ from people to people. Suppose if you ask this question to war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq or Palestinian they all want to see the conflict coming to an end,  they just waiting to start a new life from the rubbles.  In the happiness report published in 2017, Norway is the overall happiest country in the world followed by Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. In the report, the overall scores have been arrived by considering six main variables like Percapita GDP, social support, Healthy life expectancy, Freedom to make choices, generosity& trust against the imaginary or hypothetical nation called Dystopia. “Dystopia the world itself means imaginary nation in which everything is bad & worse”.  As per the report, top ranked nations like Norway or Denmark are considered as most developed countries based on Human development index, people in these countries are relatively happy compared to their counterparts living in developing nations In Asia & Africa.

Juxtaposing Happiness quotient in the context of Globalization

There are widely differing views on the globalization and how it has effectively transformed the living conditions in the poorer nations, Many pro-globalization champions widely held a view that globalization is inevitable, which could further help in the transnational cooperation in the larger context.How an economic activity favoring the rich improved ever since the onset of globalization and trade liberalization.  But the irony is that in the last decade or so the Global inequality has seen some decline, but compared to the progress achieved by few elites, the inequality has only risen and would going to continue unabated. The happiness in the globalized context is more tilted in favor of chasing wealth and material well-being, More than the half of the world population has only suffered more at the cost of the policies of richest few nations. The developed nations like United states of America always wants to control the affairs of other nations by asserting their supremacies through precipitating wars, exploiting the natural resource and also seeing the rate of increase in their goods crossing the borders of other nations their by earning more through export than in their own domestic market.

If we take a holistic view the developed nations are always in commanding positions to safeguard their own country’s interest. So happiness as quotient more often considered as a method to further their interests in material well-being. In the last decade or so global wars are mainly fought on the thirst for Oil, richer countries want to have enough stocks of oil to run their daily business. Now we are witnessing symptoms of reversing the statuesque and slowly going back to protectionist practices to safeguard the interest of people in their own nation due to increased competition from other nationalities.

True happiness is hard to achieve.

I think most of them won’t agree with me on the nature of happiness we are going to enjoy in the coming decade. True happiness is something which is beyond the mankind  reach , I am not saying that all should turn into spiritual beings , which is highly unlikely to be, because in the 21st century human being as most intelligent species are chasing one milestone  after the other in terms of  improving one’s own living standard by earning more than they used to be, jumping from one material comfort to other, because we keep innovating more on new technologies and equipment, reduce our physical effort by  depending  more on robots, Artificial intelligence  and planning for space odysseys  , our  desire keeps going up so do we continue chasing  for more,  In today’s world those who  faces acute health problems are the one who eats more, than who starves. In the process, we also keep neglecting the very important aspect of preservation of the natural resources. we once never thought that water would become such scarce resource, we were blessed with enough rivers and other water sources, but due to over-exploiting, we are nearing to a situation of acute water crisis which was once in abundance now becoming scarce.

What Social progress index can reveal?


 

Social Progress Index scores by tiers_map

In 1931 Simon Smith Kuznets an American national, Economist introduced the empirical methodology
Called ” Gross Domestic Product “ The same GDP has dominated the world economy for the last 80years, it measures how much a nation produces in terms of goods and services within a country’s geographical boundaries. GDP over a period of time has stimulated many economies worldwide from worst to better and vice versa, heavily influenced the movements of markets both domestically and globally, precipitated the flow of trillions and trillions of money across the boundaries, Suitable beeline for the Govt’s of the day by citing ” GDP”, claims the credit for managing the economy well . But what does a GDP growth really means to a common man. Even the person who invented this methodology remarked that It is a tool which can scarcely measure the real progress of a nation, But govt, policy makers cautiously would like to forget this reality.

I think time has come to shift the focus on much more inclusive, meaningful index for the well-being of the society at large, there are many instances where country’s with higher GDP, real social progress heading south. Or a country with higher GDP growth doing badly in several social indicators. But today neo-liberal mindset with underlying principle capitalist economic model considers the performance of capital markets and GDP are the real measures or indicators for economic progress, Globally govt’s across the world The present govt across the GDP as measuring isn’t it got transferred to real progress which a society really looks forward to. So the time has come to design a new index called social progress index which really tracks and monitors real social progress achieved in a country and also helps to identify areas which need specific support, focus. Govt of the day also can quickly ascertain where the country stands in those parameters which touch the life of every ordinary person. Social progress Index should the most rudimentary aspects like. So GDP is becoming less and less and useful, More focus on investments in social sector spending can really infuse real growth by improving the real quality and conditions in people’s life.
Basic Human Needs:
Food, water, shelter, security
Foundations of well-being:
Access to basic knowledge
Access to information and communication
Health & wellness
Ecosystem for sustainability
Opportunity
Individual rights
Individual freedom and choice
Tolerance and inclusion
Access to advanced education .

where India stands among it peers on Social Progress index

SPI_Infographic_India-JB_JS_HK Source:http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/