Community contributions helping make the nation a developing country.
69 years since the implementation of the Indian Constitution! Be it women from the Muslim community demanding justice against the ‘triple talaq’, or the filmmakers needing a lift on the ban or unhindered screening of their films (‘Padmavati’ (2018) and ‘UdtaPunjab’ (2016) respectively), justice always needs to be rightfully (if not timely) served to the citizens. The establishment of the Constitution has surely helped in empowering the citizens of this vast and culturally varied country. The India that we know today has gone through a lot of changes over the years slowly but steadily, out of which majority has been for the better. Published on this historically significant day, the article is a small and personal reflection on small and big changes over the years both on a socio-political and social level.
A Nearly Digital India
Almost every person that you see around you has a cellphone and the majority of it is a smartphone. Unlike the early 90s, where owning a cellphone was a luxury and a matter of pride, the cellphone has now become a necessity and considered an extension to your arm without which one cannot do. Availability of cheap ranged smartphones and the combination of affordable internet tariff plans has led to increased users, thereby making India the 3rd largest user of smartphones and internet. Though the urban cities are already 3G and 4G users, the rural areas are still trying to catch up from their 2G phase.
Internet has become a huge part of our lives and is of a major help whether it is shopping, booking online, banking or payment. The offers given by the internet service providers in India are easily affordable and thereby, available in most of the homes (strictly speaking in terms of the urban and developed rural areas). Though the current Government is rooting for a digitally developed India, it is a goal that will take time to flourish due to the various barriers that it needs to cross. Connectivity in the remote villages of India, availability of faster spectrum, high-speed network, proper policy-making are among the problems that need to be addressed.
The film ‘Swades’ (2004), brought to light among the unaware urban people about the existence of Indian villages that were still in the dark while we had reached the cellphone and internet stage. Without getting into comparisons, both the previous and current Governments have made efforts in the electrification of these villages. But, till date, there are still many among them that are yet to see the invention of light. Though the effort is being made to provide electricity, the system is still falling short to provide 100% electrification to these villages and this is due to the lack of proper infrastructure which is unreliable i.e. post electrification these villages do not have a consistent power supply. Moreover, many people from these areas are unable to make payments for the cost of electrification. Also, due to the free supply of electricity to the BPL households, the scheme has unfortunately led to inferior work quality (i.e. poor power supply). The Government is, therefore, looking into improvising on the scheme and trying to diminish the barriers. Though this is a mission that will take a long time, hope we do end up with a 100% in this endeavor!
Environmental Studies was a subject that most Indian schools have had since more than a decade, but unfortunately the lessons learned, in terms of ensuring a clean and green environment has rarely been implemented beyond the pages. ‘Swachh Bharat’, however is an initiative made by the current Government to at least cover the basics of having a clean and thereby a healthy environment. Though 2019 is still too ambitious a year to achieve a completely clean India, if an effort is made by each and every individual to consciously refrain from littering the streets and polluting the rest of the environment, then it won’t be an unattainable goal in the near future. Madhya Pradesh government is working very hard towards this goal through night and day.
Some people in an attempt to have a safer and cleaner environment have slowly started using Eco-friendly Ganpati and Durga Idols during the festivals with organic colors. Clean up drives post the immersion days of the Ganpati and Navratri festivals by school and college students and many other citizens, apart from the other frequent street clean-ups by small communities show that, the hopes of a cleaner India are still not lost. The message that hasn’t been of effect through the textbooks might hopefully be instilled in the minds of the rest by the small but impactful actions of these communities.
Health and Hygiene
If purely looked from the healthcare sector perspective, in spite of not being as technologically advanced as U.S or China, we have seen an increasing growth in this sector due to affordable and quality healthcare in privatized hospitals at least. And this growth is evident from the increasing medical tourism in India.
In comparison to the investments made by privatized hospitals in advanced technology and better healthcare, the Government hospitals are yet to cope up. Overworked and underpaid staff in the latter is a major issue that needs to be addressed at the earliest.
On the brighter side, the Government achievement in making India a WHO (World Health Organization) certified, the polio-free country as of 2014, has to be taken into consideration. But at the same time, the rise of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis cases being suffered by many children cannot be ignored. Also, tuberculosis is another disease that is on the radar of the Health Ministry to be completely eradicated by 2025 at least. Like the increased and dedicated effort helped in eradicating polio; though it is highly ambitious, we hope the Government is able to eradicate these with the same vigor that was shown in making India a wild poliovirus (WPV) free country.
Apart from the health sector, if we look at the most basic initiative being made by the current Government it is in hygiene and sanitation in rural and remote areas. Swachh Bharat also includes the program of building of community and individual toilets in the villages that either have been deprived of these or due to their limited awareness never felt the need for a sanitized defecation system. If you have watched the film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017), the story might give you just a glimpse into the problem and in spreading awareness but certainly is not the whole picture. Though the Government is making efforts in reaching out to most of the remote areas, there are even citizens who through their own individual and community contributions are helping in setting up better sanitation in these rural and remote areas.
There are still endless topics that can be discussed about the progress and to-be-improved areas when it comes to India. Considering the many improvement areas, we have still a long way to go from a developing to a developed country. Over the years it has been seen that it is not only the Government but the citizens also coming together in making their contribution to the society in small but meaningful ways. Hopefully, in the coming years, the sincere efforts from both help us in achieving and maintaining a developed country status with soon in the future advancing and smart cities emerging through our cumulative efforts.
Jai Hind! And a Happy Republic Day to all our fellow Bharat Waasis (people of the nation)!