This country never fails to amaze, astound and embarrass me. The limits to idiocy that India and its politicians can reach knows no bounds. I'm referring of course to Mayawati's megalomaniac display of utter crap. 685 crores, is the price tag for showing what a Dalit woman politician can achieve. Does this actually improve the lives of the dalit community? Absolutely not.
On the one hand, we have India's astounding economic growth. On the other hand, our food security falls behind Rwanda. Rwanda, for crying out loud! Something is wrong. Something is very very wrong. 685 crores could be better spent through community outreach programs, women's education, children's welfare and hoards of other schemes that would actually improve lives of countless people.
By the end of October, the world's population will have reached 7 billion. India contributes a large portion of this number. What are we doing in terms of family planning, planned pregnancy, children's welfare and child labour? There is absolutely a severe lack of grass-root development in a country where the vast majority of the population is grass-root.
India boasts the highest rates of maternal death during childbirth and pregnancy. Every seven minutes, an Indian woman dies bringing new life into this world. 78% of these cases are preventable. And what about after the children are born? Does every child get an education? Does every child get adequate nutrition? Does every child get a childhood?
One of the saddest things I saw recently was on a trip to Mumbai, not long ago. There were two girls maybe around the ages of 8 and 5. The little one was beating on a plastic drum while the bigger one was doing cartwheels in the middle of the street during a traffic-light stop, begging for money. There are scores of children like these. Looking into their eyes is painful. I do believe that a country who is unable to take care of the poorest of its poor and its natural resources has no right to boast about its economic progress.
Recently I was exchanging ideas with New Zealand's former Prime Minister, Helen Clark who is now administrator with the UNDP. It was opined that India's demographics and gargantuan rich/poor divide makes it a key battleground towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. She also said that, "private sector plays an important role in development but quality state and subnational governance is important too." The world will not and can not meet the MDGs, if India does not.
Poverty elimination is the key. Education is key. Woman's welfare is key. This is the same song that has been sung for the past so many years and yet no one has bothered to learn the true meaning of its lyrics. Instead we allow someone, to spend 685 crores on a park in a country where earning Rs. 32/- a day means you're not poor.