by Asif Haroon Raja
On one hand India claiming to be champions of democracy, secularism and human rights propagates that India is shining, on the other it suffers from highest rate of poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality, inequalities in society. There is unbounded poverty, mass illiteracy and entrenched social divides. Social system of India is founded on inequality, intolerance, religious extremism. It is perhaps the most unequal country on the planet, with a tiny elite engorged on best education, biggest landholdings, and largest incomes. Those born on bottom rungs of social hierarchy suffer a legacy of caste bigotry, rural servitude and class discrimination. Half of Indian nation sleep on roads while 65% of India’s rural population defecate in the open causing health problems. 2.1 million children under five die in India due to poor sanitation conditions, while 1.5 million children are at risk of becoming malnourished because of rising food prices. Malnutrition counts for 50% of child deaths. 230 million Indians living in rural areas are undernourished. This is highest figure for any country in the world. National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganized Section (NCEUS) has established that 77% Indian population live on less than Rupees 20/ per day. 88% of Dalits and 84% Muslims are living in abject poverty. Only 5% lead life of luxury and ostentation.
Female genocide is another curse in India which afflicts all Hindu castes including the educated elite class. Ratio of girls and boys has dropped sharply to 3:10. A research conducted by EPCAT in India highlighted upsurge in child sex tourism in India. Trafficking of minor girls as little as 7-8 years old has increased by 30%. Child sex is rampant in Mumbai, Kerala, Kolkata because of poverty. Daily cases of rapes in New Delhi are among the highest in world capital cities. 2000 police stations out of 14000 in India are not in control of police.
Out of 759 million illiterate adults in the world, India has the highest number. While numbers of poor people have dropped in China by 70% since 1990, in India the numbers have increased by 5%. Interestingly, India lags behind China and Pakistan in social indicators of hunger and poverty. In World Poverty-Hunger Index of 88 countries, India ranks 62 while Pakistan is at 45 and China at 31. Some states in India have much higher level of hunger and malnutrition than Haiti. While there is widespread abject poverty, hunger and malnutrition and very low levels of human development in India, it is resorting to massive arms build and competing with China and trying to overawe Pakistan with its military might.
Unfortunately India chooses to spend more on military than on fighting hunger, poverty and disease. Ruling Hindu Brahmans in their quest to become world power are indulging in arms race and letting millions die of hunger each year. Yet India, the world’s largest democracy is not prepared to admit its fault lines and grave social issues and keep humming the tune of India shining.
In 2009 when Indian leaders were crowing the loudest that India is shining and its economy booming and has become an economic power house, 175 Indians died of starvation and thirst. According to Tata Institute of Social Sciences, in the last one decade, 200,000 Indian farmers committed suicide since they had come under huge debt due to heavy interest rate and were unable to repay.
India is an ethnic museum where over hundred nationalities speaking different languages and dialects having different religions, cultures, customs and traditions, dress code and living styles and psychological makeup reside. It is owing to such extreme diversities in identities and historical backgrounds of every nationality that India till today has been unable to weld into a single nation. People of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Manipur, Bihar, Assam, Maghalaya, Mizoram, Chhatisgarh, Jharkand, Nagaland, Bodo, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and East Punjab are deprived of basic human rights and are virtually treated as slaves. These nations are consistently struggling for the attainment of their democratic rights since 1947. It is an artificial state which is bound to fragment. Austria-Hungary, USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia are examples. CIA predicted in 2009 that India will not exist by 2015.
The rulers have all along used brutal force to suppress the voice of the disenfranchised class and to forcibly keep it within Indian Union. When the patience of the deprived Indian states wore out they were forced to pick up arms against uncompromising and heartless central government which has always been in the hands of Brahmans. 37 insurgencies and separatist movements are raging in India out of which Maoists movement is the most dangerous. It reflects an acute sense of alienation and frustration of the people. They picked up arms when their genuine socio-politico-economic or religious grievances were not attended to by the state and state forces resorted to brutal force to choke their voices. While the Kashmiris, Sikhs and Assamese are struggling for their political rights and self determination, seven states in the north east and Maoists/Naxalites are fighting for socio-economic justice.
Out of 1.7 billion population of which 83% are Hindus, over 39% of dispossessed Indians live below poverty line. They look towards Maoists to provide them succour. Maoists in India have gained influence over 20 states, affecting 220 districts, including sensitive Red Corridor in which 80% of nuclear and missile sites are located and where security forces are totally helpless against them. It accounts for 40% Indian Territory. Indian top leadership admits that Naxalites pose single largest threat to India’s security. Since 2005, average incidence of violence by Naxals is 1500. Maoist movement is gaining momentum in both rural and urban areas and has also got associated with Maoists in neighboring Nepal. Affected areas include eastern belt, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, parts of Orissa, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
Diabolical caste system in India which is considered by Hindu Brahmans an integral part of Hinduism is among the biggest factors which has kept the Indians divided and a great majority disadvantaged. Besides perverse caste system, Hindutva championed by right wing radical parties like RSS, BJP, VHP, Overseas VHP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Abhinov Bharat, Sanatan Sanashtha, Hindu Students Council, all under Sangh Pariwar is another social distortion which fuels extremism and social injustice in India. Adherents of Hindutva closely associated with Indian serving and retired Army officers view non-Hindus residing in India as impure and aliens and treat them as second rated citizens. Even Dalits belonging to lower caste of Hindus are despised and are cruelly treated. Those not subscribing to philosophy of Hindutva are dealt with savagely by extremist Hindu groups.
Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits are their biggest targets. Savagery of Hindu zealots was on full display on 06 December 1992 when they demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhia and massacred Muslims in thousands. 300,000 Christians have been murdered in Nagaland since 1948 and many have been forcibly converted to Hinduism. Over 100,000 Muslims have been slaughtered in IHK and 3000 in Ahmadabad in 2002 under state patronage. 250,000 Sikhs have been killed since 1984. 52,268 Sikhs are held as political prisoners without charge and trial to avenge murder of Indra Gandhi. Thousands of prisoners of minorities are rotting in jails.
Well over 1.5 million security forces are involved in combating insurgents and freedom fighters within India and in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and not a single movement have been defeated. With such a bleak domestic security situation and with so many social fault lines, India should have diverted its full attention towards home front rather than getting involved in expensive clandestine operations and in military build up. India has failed to make best use of its high economic growth to reduce poverty and improve standard of living of the dispossessed. India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan and Bangladesh in providing basic sanitation facilities to its people. India should compete with China and Pakistan in fighting poverty, hunger and disease rather than indulging in arms race or wasting resources in fighting terrorism. The best cure of terrorism is alleviation of sufferings of the poor masses.
About the writer: Asif Haroon is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a columnist and author of several books. Email: [email protected]
Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.
He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.
He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.
He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national publications.
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