Friday, September 9, 2011

What Ails India

11 Silver Estate,
Pilibhit Bypass Road,
PO Rohilkhand University
Bareilly-243006 (U.P.)

Air Marshal Ashok K. Goel (Retd.)

As I Saw It

What Ails India

The last two decade, especially the first decade of the 21st century set the pace of economic liberalization.
Economic reforms will be 20 years old this July. Without political reforms, the full benefits of economic liberalization won’t reach the poor. The nexus between vested political and business interests, fused by lobbyists and middlemen, erodes those benefits. The reason poverty remains intractable in India is that good economic governance needs the protective umbrella of good political governance. Without that, both privilege and poverty will persist.
A fist rots from the head down, never from the tail up. The top political leadership sets the standard of governance. If that standard is set low, corruption infects the entire body politic. Every recent public scam involving leaders of the Congress and other parties can be traced to this systemic rot. Three key political reforms-police, judicial and electoral-are necessary to cleanse our public institutions.
In 2006, the Supreme Court directed the government to implement police reform. Make the national Police Commission autonomous, the court ordered, and give it a structure that is independent of political control.
Systemic corruption is symptom of failed governance. Political reforms that remove our key public institutions from government control can make 2011 the definitive year for sweeping institutional change just as 1991 was the inflection point for economic liberalization. That would greatly expand our moral universe.
The top political leadership sets the standard of governance. If that standard is set low, corruption infects the entire body politic.
The very recent happenings can’t be forgotten
• Sudden collapse and decline of economy in the west including US.
• Planned and systemic terrorist attack on 26/11/ 2008 in Mumbai.
• Scams 2G spectrum, Yedurappa scandal in Karnatka, CWG games-2010, Adarsh Society scam, Wilikileakes , exposure of Nira Raida contacts and revelations of her taped convertaion with “who is who” of India. And now the biggest ISRO scam.
These and the runway inflation have shaken the faith of the “Aam Admi” (common man) in the total governance mechanism of the country.
Whereas we would have been rejoicing our economic achievements and political stability, but we are to think very intently and seriously how to remodel ourselves on various aspects of inadequacies
I was at DSSC wellington 2000-2001 (Posted as CI Air). A national security seminar was held on “National Security” which I had the opportunity to organize as well as address one of the session. The topic I had chosen was “What Ails India”. In algebraic terms I had condensed the ailments in a formula P3C5.

P-3 - These are at National Level Population-Poverty-Pollution

Population- After 1977 (i.e. the emergency period 1975-1977) no political leader has dared to talk this most important and sensitive issue. We have grown from 300 million (30 crores) at the time of independence (1947) to 1200 million (120 crores/1.2 billion) by the end of 2010. We were expected to overtake the china’s population of 1.32 billion by 2050. Now demographers expect by 2025 if not earlier. Population stabilization was expected by 2045 (TFR of 2.1) but stands postponed to 2070. Main reason, the TFR in our big states (and most populous areas like UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan still continues to be 3 to 3.5). It would be of interest to know, if UP was an independent country, would have been the fifth most populous nation (after China, India, USA and Brazil)
Poverty & Pollution
In spite of outstanding economic progress during last 20 years, our poverty line has remained about 65% and the ultra poverty line (less than USD per day nearly 50% of that, 65% of the population defecates in the open, nearly same percentage of people have no access to potable drinking water and proper sanitation.
Pollution is directly related to fist two factors population and poverty. Unhygienic conditions/more energy requirement leads to illegal deforestation/lagers Carbonization
Some Important Statistic
The INDIA you may not know

• 71% or 770 million people are below 35 years of age. Indians are young.
• 90% to 94% drop out rate of children between kindergarten and 10+2. This includes those who have never been to school.
• The Indian definition of literacy is based on a survey of people-“If you can write your name, you are literate”; nobody has seriously ever challenged this definition!
• India has only 1.72 % of the world GDP and has 17% of the world population. Demands are high but buying power is low. Hence we will need to increase our exports related activities by 10 times, as the foreign trade is 1.00% down from 33% 1000 years ago, down from 27% wh9en the British landed in India and down from 3% in 1947.
The population BOMB
• India’s Population Policy- much to catch up and learn from others!
India has 1, 200 million people. Chins has 1,314 million. Nearly 27 million are born every year in India and ONLY 15 million in China. China has had a more effective population policy than India, although they started in 1970. India’s population policy started much earlier, in 1952. By 2045, (now expected by 2025) we shall overtake the Chinese population, with an India population of 1,550 million! Life expectancy in China is now 74 years vs 68 years in India. In China the average family size is 3.63 members. In India it is much higher, with 5.52 members.

• Percentage of people below poverty line. China and India
We fail to understood the fact why some thinkers and leaders in India, mention that our population is our strength. How can they make such statements, with so much poverty, illiteracy and a low standard of living? It’s a nightmare for the poor in India!

• India’s economic parameters- the simple truth!
India has 17% of the world’s population, 2.2% of the land area, 1.72% of the world’s GDP and only 1% of the world trade. This means that 98.27% of the World’s GDP [Buying Power] and 99% of the world’s trade is not with India! India must plan larger exports, for increasing the standard of living of its people.

• Adjustment for population increases the hard facts!
If the GDP grows by 9.2% per year, as in 2006-2007, the per capita does not grow at 9.2%. It is reduced due to the yearly population increase, inflation and other issues. Therefore the final per capita increase would be much lesser. This is only, one of the disadvantages, of ballooning population.

• Economy India has only – grow faster

C-5 This is at political level, that is
• Criminalization of politics
• Communalism in politics
• Casteism in politics
• Corruption in politics
• Compromises in coalition politics
Criminalization- Today 25 to 45% of elected reps are in the categories of criminals. Recently in a seminar in Lucknow where CEC Mr. Qureshi and Km. Mayawati both were present CEC had opined that if a person is charged with certain section of the IPC, he/she should be debarred from contesting elections. This was negated and the interests of the criminals were fully defended by the CM of UP.
Why not debar the individuals charged with criminal acts, loot, murder, rape or abetments’ of such crimes, till they are proved innocent in the court. Today politics has become a safe haven for those who are actually criminals.
Communalism- It is a very serious threat even to national security. Communalism perpetrates division and hatred among social groups. This hatred and divisiveness ferments fundamentalism. Fundamentalism activates hard liners, and hard liners find space to pollute the healthy social environment. These hard liners get activated to create unrest by violent means. This violence allows tensions to flourish resulting into terrorism.
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Castism: To achieve narrow aims of political power the very basis of political activism is caste based selection of candidates/propaganda and canvassing, all is totally caste based. We are digging in more & more.
Corruption- The less said the better It has become a part and parcel of our daily life. The recent happenings of 2G spectrum Radia tapes, lands scam of Karnataka, CWG/ Adarsh scam are all are very recent. All are from political fraternity. There have been much larger scams in the past “Chara Ghotala” of Bihar and “Koda scam of Jharkhand”. Aam Adami is waiting to see if anyone is correctly and seriously penalized.
Fast track courts, life ban on public life (election etc.) heaviest punitive action would be the only answer.
Compromise in coaltine politics
These are more than 300 registered political parties with the election commission. (some say this no. is more than 600). Political parties are just mushrooming (one man parties) regional parties, and national parties.

The very objective of these one man and regional parties is to gain some seats during general election. And then bargain with large national parties to support them, demand ministerial berths and lucrative ministries. Such outfits are only looking for quick and smart money. Because of this very factor instead of one captain of the team we have many (Like in the present scenario we have Karunanidhi/Mamta Banerjee/Sharad Pawar and many more).
What do we do to overcome P3-C5
• National consensus on certain vital issues (Social, National Security, Foreign Policy)
• Political Reform
• Electoral Reform
• Legal Reform
• Administrative Reform
• Social Reform
• Police Reform (in spite of 2006, SC directive most of the big states are not ready to implements them)
We are waiting for population explosion, which is slowly blooming and would kind us in a population bomb.
All there ills (P3-C5) weaken the country, governance gets diluted, our political masters are to wake up, unrest is showing. All threats like terrorism, Naxalism, youth unrest, unemployment, large gaps in inclusive growth are serious threats to the security of the country.

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