India is celebrating 74 years of independence in 2021. I love my country…one hundred percent I do. But how “independent” are we? How much freedom do we have? And what good have we made out of it?
Aren’t we still bound in the shackles on poverty, unemployment and illiteracy? In terms of per capita income we’re not only far behind nations such as US, Canada, Australia and China but also Bhutan, Nigeria, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Unemployment levels in 2021 are worst in the last three decades. The country’s unemployment rate rose to a six-week high of 8.1% in the week ended August 8.
The literacy rate of India is so far behind that we have one third of world’s illiterate and the largest number by far (China at no 2 with 11%)
The only place where we shine bright is population where we are world No. 2. In terms of life expectancy we rank 135 out of 195 countries. We lag countries like Iraq, our neighbor Nepal and Bhutan, Indonesia and also Bangladesh by a small margin.
In 2019, the infant mortality rate in India was at about 28.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Traffic related deaths, we’re on top. Female infanticide and female foeticide, all leading to a bizarre sex ratio.
Corruption and press freedom? Let’s not even talk about it. And remind me if I forget to mention air quality (coughs while writing this).
I don’t intend to spoil any celebrations but I point these out because we’re so dragged down by these basic issues that we’re not even looking at the next level. Like gender inequality index, happiness index, peace index, economic freedom, and quality of life. We have not even started to talk about these things whereas the developed nations are making great strides in this direction.
There are so many nations that got their freedom after us but have made greater progress. Malaysia got independence ten years later than us, Maldives even later than that, Qatar and UAE even later than that. It’s not that these have figured it all out but we can’t just be having a hollow celebration year after year.
I understand the fact that we’re doing great things in a lot of areas for example agriculture and industrial goods. But we’re so far behind that we need to make extra efforts in any and all of these directions. We need to be cognizant of the fact that we’ve come a long way but the we have to go much further down the road.
“It is not a time to rejoice and exult but to introspect and ponder. The road ahead is even more daunting than during the 1991 crisis. Our priorities as a nation need to be recalibrated to foremost ensure a healthy and dignified life for every single Indian,”Dr. Manmohan Singh | Economist, academic, and politician.
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