‘Shining India’

The good news for India is that “India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is.” According to The Washington Post, “It is a distinction that no country wants: the place with the most people living in extreme poverty. For decades, India remained stubbornly in the top spot, a reflection of its huge population and its enduring struggle against poverty.”

The bad news for India is that 70.6 million Indians are living in extreme poverty (Nigeria has 87 million). Imagine; 30 percent of India’s population – nearly 400 million Indians – lives on less than $1.90 a day. Yes, 33 percent of the poorest of the poor in the world live in India. According to The Times of India, “Approximately 194.6 million people are undernourished in India which account for the highest number of people suffering from hunger in any single country.”

Lo and behold, of the 193 member-states of the United Nations, India has the world’s largest population of illiterates. Yes, India is also home to the largest population of illiterate adults in the world; 287 million, roughly 37 percent of the global total.

For the record, there are a total of 652 million women in India. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey, “India is the world’s most dangerous country for women due to high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labor.” According to the same survey, “War-torn Afghanistan and Syria ranked second and third, followed by Somalia and Saudi Arabia.”

Yes, “rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India”. In India, “one rape is committed every 30 minutes”. According to BBC’s Geeta Pandey, “India is home to the largest number of sexually abused children in the world…..” Another report has quoted “106 rapes per day, 4 in 10 victims being minors.”
For the record, there are 201 million unemployed people in the world. Of this, there are 31 million unemployed Indians or 15 percent of the unemployed in the world live in India (according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy).

Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is home to about 2.5 million Musahars, the poorest among the poorest of Indians. Imagine; ‘Shining India’ is home to Musahars who in this day and age survive at a dollar-a-day by eating rats. The Straits Times, an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore, interviewed a Musahar named Phekan. According to Phekan, “Governments may have changed but nothing has changed for us. We still eat, live and sleep as our ancestors (as he took the roasted rat off the fire and poked the tender meat. He cut the flesh with his hands into a bowl and added mustard oil and salt).” Yes, there are 2.5 million Indians who survive by eating rats.

Of the 193 member-states of the United Nations, India has the world’s largest population without access to toilet. About 732 million Indians defecate in the open. Imagine; 78 million Indians sleep on footpaths, roadsides, temples, railway platforms or in pipes. There are “18 million street children in India, the largest number of any country in the world.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Asia “is now the leading transplant tourism hub globally, with India among the top kidney exporters.” Yes, ‘Shining India’ is now the world’s biggest organ market.

According to WHO, “India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides in the world in 2012.” Inside ‘Shining India’, in any given year roughly 300,000 Indians commit suicide.

India, a union of states, has 29 states and 7 union territories. Of the 29 states, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have active separatist movements.

For the record, the man behind Narendra Modi’s ‘Shining India’ propaganda was Prathap Suthan, the national creative director of Grey Worldwide (India) Pvt. Ltd. While Modi gave away more than $20 million to Grey Worldwide but ‘Shining India’ is a mirage-no more.

The writer is an eminent analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media.


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