The country is all set for its Sixteenth General Election since independence.
India became independent in 1947. Its Constitution adopted in 1950, accepted parliamentary democracy as its system of government. Its first General Election was held in 1952.
Today the country is all set for its Sixteenth General Election to the Lok Sabha. Hindol Sengupta, a Senior Editor at the Indian Edition of Fortune magazine, who has been voted by the global ideas platform IdeaMensch on its list of 32 Entrepreneurs Who Make The World A Better Place, has just produced a book titled “100 Things to know and debate before you vote.”
Essentially it is a compilation of statistics about India 2014 which can only shock the reader.
Sample for example the 37th item listed in these one hundred things. The half page note is captioned 37. When in need, sell a kidney! The note reads:
“In spite of the Human Organ Transplantation Act of 1994, India’s underground organ transplant market is ‘resurging’, says the World Health Organisation, as organs are taken regularly from local donors, often economically poor donors who are paid a pittance (sometimes barely $ 5,000 in a $ 130,000 – $ 150,000 deal).
Around 2,000 Indians sell a kidney every year, estimates the Voluntary Health Association of India.
How can we have an election based on development if we still have a country where the poor have to sell their organs? ‘
The 25th item listed in these one hundred things is described as The Matters of Excreta. The note beneath says :
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India’s foremost independent research, is not known to mince words. That’s why their critical report on waste management is called Excreta Does Matter. This report says 80 percent – that’s right 80 per cent – of sewage in India is untreated and flows directly into the rivers, polluting the main sources of drinking water.
What does this mean?
It means untreated sewage is directly going into the water that comes back to us as drinking water.
Only 20 percent of the around 40,000 million litres of sewage produced by Indian cities is treated. The Central Pollution Control Board measured, in 2011, that only 160 of around 8,000 Indian towns had sewage treatment facilities.
CSE called this a ‘ticking health time bomb’.
The CAG had more devastating things to add – only 62 per cent of Delhi’s sewage is treated, Bengaluru treated only 10 per cent of its sewage, Patna 29 per cent, Kanpur 38 per cent and Hyderabad 43 per cent. Only Ahmedabad had the sewage treatment facilities to treat all its waste. Remember that water borne disease called dengue? Ever heard of election speeches that promise to raise the number of sewage treatment plants?
The 31st item in this List of Hundred Things bears the caption 31. Food, Rotting. The Note below says :
One of the most interesting global reports I read in 2013 was the Global Food – Waste Not, Want Not report of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
It says India wastes 21 million tonnes of wheat each year due to lack of proper storage. This is equal to the total annual production of Australia.
It also says 40 per cent of all fruits and vegetables produced in the country are also wasted.
All this wastage is due to lack of proper storage.
Yet another shocking statistic mentioned in this book is about Road Accidents.
“More people die from road accidents in India than any where else in the world.” This item says further:
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) says death rate per 100,000 population rose in India from 16.8 to 18.9 between 2009 and 2013.
If you look at numbers in 2011, we had 440,123 road accidents and 136,834 people were killed in them. Between 2001 and 2011, death rates from accidents on Indian roads rose by 44.2 per cent.
At the moment, one person dies in a road accident every five minutes in India. By 2020, the number is expected to be one every three minutes.
Item No.70 in this book’s List of Hundred Things is 70. “The Worst Place to be a Woman!” The Note under this caption says :
“Among the wealthy G20 countries, India was voted as the worst place for a woman in 2013. TrustLaw, a legal news service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said that its survey of 370 gender specialists from around the world had placed India even below Saudi Arabia where women still can’t drive and started voting only 2011.
Canada topped the list, followed by Germany, Britain, Australia and France.
It pointed out all reasons India is the worst place for women – dowry murders, female foeticide and infanticide, or the murder of children before or after their birth because they are girls, relentless daily abuse, molestation and rape across India and some of the most unsafe and violent public spaces for women anywhere in the world, and constant discrimination.
Every BRICS nation was ahead of India – Brazil at 11, Russia at 13, China (15) and South Africa (17). Even Indonesia was ahead at 18”.
Item No. 64 in the 100 Things is about Low Information Technology Quotient. The Note given below elaborates the issue thus:
“In 2013, the International Telecommunication Union ranked India at 121 among 157 nations in how far we have progressed in information and communication technology (ICT).
So much for our great info-tech prowess.
The ranking is based on an ICT Development Index comprising 11 indicators. Among the things taken into account are ― internet users per 100 population, wireless and broadband penetration depth, mobile subscriptions and Internet bandwidth used per user.
India has also been ranked at 145 among 200 countries in the Broadband Commission for Digital Development report.
In fact, India is placed among a group of 39 least connected countries. Most other countries in this group of 39 are African nations.”
The caption of the item is 28. Date After Date After Date. The note below says:
Have you seen the Hindi film, Damini? It has Sunny Deol playing a rugged, honest, but largely unsuccessful lawyer who takes on the system through one vital case.
That film had many memorable dialogues. In one, Deol talks about his dhaie kilo ka haath. When the two-and-a-half kilogramme arm falls on someone, they don’t get up, they go up!
The film’s other angst-filled rant on tarik pe tarik or a justice system that issues date after date to appear for court hearings for years for a single case, but delivers no justice, has never stopped echoing.
There are more than 30 million cases pending in India, 80 per cent of them in the lower courts. The high courts has four million pending cases and the Supreme Court had more than 66,000 cases. The National Court Management System says at the moment there are 19,000 judges ― of these 18,000 judges are in trial courts ― and sometimes a civil case can last for 15 years. In the last 30 years, the number of judges had grown six times but the number of cases grew 12 times!
In the next 30 years, India will need 75,000 judges because it will have around 150 million cases. No one really knows where they are going to come from, and no one is really clear about who has a plan to solve this.
29th March, 2014