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The Sorry State Of Affairs In The Secular Democratic Republic Of India

Dr. Bikkar Singh Lalli

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Over 837 million Indians are living below the poverty line. In spite of the right toeducation (RTE), it is estimated that there are 80-100 million children out of schools.and 12.6 million children, some of them as young as five and six years, will remainshackled to child labour. Those unfortunates need protection from sexual exploitationand sexual abuse.

On January 26, The Republic of India,world’s largest liberal, secular democracy,rich in ethnic diversity, with over 1.3 billionpeople speaking hundreds of languages,will be celebrating its 65th secularbirth.Perhaps there is no better day than Jan.26 to reflect on the opening words, ‘Wethe People of India…”, of the IndianConstitution, the document thatenshrines the foundation of this democracy.Hopefully, on that day of joyous celebrations,caste, creed or religion for peopleof India, will not matter at all.In his address to the nation, the primeminister will emphasize the achievementsof the UPA govt. during the last decade.Yes, there were some very significantones. The UPA has empowered citizenswith the right to information, education,food, employment and the Lokpal Bill.However, The global economic meltdownhas slowed down the economicgrowth which has affected the poormost. Over 837 million Indians are livingbelow the poverty line. In spite of theright to education (RTE), it is estimatedthat there are 80-100 million children outof schools. and 12.6 million children,some of them as young as five and sixyears, will remain shackled to childlabour. Those unfortunates need protectionfrom sexual exploitation and sexualabuse. There is a 40 percent drop-outrate in elementary schools, according toNational University of EducationalPlanning and Administration (NUEPA.The prime minister will talk about thesuccess in space technology, especiallyabout the recently successful, launchingof Isro GSLV-D5 with indigenous cryogenicengine.Across India, concern is mounting overan ever growing list of environmentalproblems- the quality of the air — fog inDelhi, smog in Mumbai. The commonwater-borne infections – Gastroenteritis,Cholera, and some forms of Hepatitis –continue to contribute to a high level ofmorbidity in the population. Despite theGovernment and UNICEF’s best efforts,diarrhoea remains the major cause ofdeath amongst children, after respiratorytractinfections. Unhygienic practices andunsafe drinking water are some of itsmain causes. More than 122 millionhouseholds in the country are withouttoilets,, in spite of the fact that toilets arebuilt in about 3 million households everyyear.Poverty in India is widespread, with thenation estimated to have a third of theworld’s poor. In 2010, the World Bankreported that 32.7% of the total Indianpeople fall below the international povertyline of US$ 1.25 per day, while 68.7%live on less than US$ 2 per day.It is an irony that an ancient civilisationlike India where highest human valueslike universal love, charity, kindness, braveryand forgiveness was taught; has produceda self-centred and greed infestedsociety. The greed and desire to lead alavish lifestyle, contributes to the growthof scam-artists who manufactured scamslike Jeeps-scam. Bofore-scam, Coffinscam,Tatra Trucks-scam, Adarsh-scam,Foddar-scam, 2G-spectrum -scam, Coalgatescam and many more. Rich individualsand their families have assets in offshoretax havens, representing up to $280billion in lost income tax revenues,according to research published on July22, 2012.The study estimating the extent of globalprivate financial wealth held in offshoreaccounts, excluding non-financialassets such as real estate, gold, yachts andracehorses puts the sum at between $21trillion and $32 trillion. The black economyis now over 50% of GDP and ifbrought into the white economy orchecked, it would lead to a rise in the tax-GDP ratio by about 20 per cent Indiahas one of the highest number of billionairesand the largest number ofextremely poor in the world.In 2013, the country witnessed zero tolerancefor crimes against women, forcinglawmakers to amend the archaic IndianPenal Code of 1861 to address the issueof sexual assault on women. Two landmarklaws to protect the bodily integrityof women were passed and notified -Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013 thataltered the definition of rape andenhanced penalties for perpetrators ofviolence; and the Sexual Harassment ofWomen at Workplace Prohibition Bill2013 which created a legal framework toensure a safe working environment forwomen. Still the law and order situationin the country is deplorable.There has been a 43.6% increase inDelhi’s crime graph in 2013 over 2012,reported by police commissioner BSBassi. On Jan. 14, ,a 51 year old Danishwoman, a tourist, was robbed, beatenand gang-raped near a popular shoppingarea in New Delhi after she stopped toask for directions. She had lost her wayand was trying to get back to her hotel.This incidence will affect the tourism inIndia, which accounted for 6.6% ofIndia’s GDP in 2012.Acts of sexual violence are commondespite public outrage and the fear oflegal action. For many women, particularlythe poor, daily indignities and abusecontinue unabated and the new laws havenot made the streets any safer. Culturalstigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetencehave long made it difficult forwomen to even report rapes The credibilityof almost every single institution isunder attack – judiciary, media, corporatesector, executive, and politicians.There is a dire need of a grass-root uprisingto stem the tide of rampant, uncheckedand unbridled corruption. Because corruption generates stacks ofblack money, which leads to inflation, andinflation leads to all the miseries for thecommon man. The spectacular electoraldebut of the AAP and its ascendency topower, perhaps, can be the harbinger of apolitical change in a jaded corrupt system.The new player AAP, achieved itssuccess without having to resort tomoney and muscle power or without havingto exhort caste, creed, class or religiousloyalties The AAP has the potentialto become a strong social democraticpower in India..The Delhi experience ofthe Aam Admi Party may herald a newway of conducting politics from now onand force other political parties to introspectand change their ways. Obviouslyeradication of corruption , will be themain mantra of every major player,because the growth of the black economyhas led to a rapid increase in corruptionall around. In Punjab too, AAP isattracting many to its folds which includeuniversity professors and other intellectuals,not well disposed towards traditionalpolitical parties. The Lok Sabha electionsare round the corner and the Congress, isplagued by infighting, and that may putits entity in the state at risk.. Mr. Bhola’srevelations may muddy the waters andchange the political matrix for SAD-BJPcoalition. The extent to which the drugproblem is specific to the state can beseen from the fact that “roughly 60 percent of all illicit drugs confiscated inIndia are seized in Punjab and Punjab isthe state with the highest levels of abuseof opium as well as propoxyphene, acommonly injected drug.In May, a new regime will be ushered inat the Centre. Will it be a coalition yetagain? Will the BJP get a chance at powerafter being in the opposition for adecade? What about the emergence of athird alternative? Will the AAP phenomenonalter national politics?. India’s strugglingeconomy may be the single biggestdeterminant of the political colour inApril-May. Let us not put any money onany horse yet and just hope that this wonderfulrepublic keeps its secular democraticcharacter intact. Let us all joinIndians in celebrating the momentousday, the 65th birthday of the republic.Dr. Bikkar Singh Lalli – Member of UBCSenate.

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