* As per the 2015 Global Corruption Index (brought out by Transparency International every year) India is at Sr. no. 76 out of 168 countries.
* In the Ease of Doing Business index we are at no.130 out of 189 countries. By the way, EDB is just corporate gobbelydook for corruption and red tape.
* Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation that tracks freedom of the press across countries, puts India at the 133rd spot out of 180 countries in 2016- below Algeria, Indonesia, Morocco, Cambodia, Chad, Afghanistan which themselves are not exactly models of free speech.
* India is the 7th most dangerous country for journalists, according to the CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists. Since 1992 64 journalists have been killed while tracking stories. We rank below even Afghanistan and Pakistan on this index.
* According to official figures of the National Crimes Record Bureau 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last twenty years, and the figure keeps rising every year. The national suicide rate is 11 per 100,000 but for farmers it is 15 per 100,000.
* India has a prison population of approximately 600,000 persons, of whom 70% or 420,000 are undertrials-i.e. people who have not yet been convicted of any crime! Most of them are in prison because they either cannot afford bail, have no legal representation or have just been forgotten by the system. Huge numbers of them have already served more time than what is prescribed for the offences for which they have been accused! Muslims, Dalits and Tribals make up 53% of all prisoners : it doesn’t take a Subramaniam Swamy to figure out in whose favour the system is weighted.
* The country’s much vaunted legal justice system is on the point of collapse, according to the Chief Justice of India himself, no less. There are more than 35 million cases pending in various courts: given the present strength of judicial officers (roughly 16600) it will take 19 years for these cases to be decided- and this is not counting the fresh institutions every year, Out of 1056 posts of judges in 24 High Courts 478 are vacant; the position in the trial courts is just as horrifying- 4432 out of 20502. There is no sign of things improving soon as the executive and the judiciary are locked in a grim fight to determine who has the broader chest.
* If any more proof were needed on the rotten state of our criminal justice system, it is provided by the fact that the vast majority of perpetrators of crimes get off scot free. The national conviction rate for IPC (Indian Penal Code) cases( 2014) as compiled by the NCRB is just 45.1%, for cyber crimes it is 0.7%, and for rapes it is 28% ! (the rape conviction rape for Delhi is 17%!). With this abysmal performance how can we ever claim that we are a country subject to the rule of law?
* In 2015 as many as 1.2 million children died before the age of 5, of preventable causes, according to UNICEF’s State Of The World’s Children Report 2016. We are now bracketed with countries such as Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan. The figures for infant mortality per 1000 live births in our own neighbourhood are: India-48, China-11, Nepal-38 and Bangladesh-36. Yes, sir, we fare worse than even Nepal and Bangladesh, our poor cousins with deplorable GDP rates!
* In the international Hunger Index India ranks 80 among 104 countries, i.e. the 25th worst country in the world for which figures are available. Our score is 29; the worst is the Central African Republic with a score of 46.9. We rank below even North Korea and Myanmar. And yes, below Bangladesh which has a score of 27.3. The target of the National Security Act 2012 was to cover 813 million persons; even after five years 80 million people are yet to be brought under its ambit.
* India has the largest number of poverty stricken people in the world- 363 million in 2012( official figures), or 29.5% of the world’s poor. This is more than the population of the USA!
* Urban India is no better. According to the CIMI( Cities in Motion Index) 2016, our best city ( if we can call it that!) is Mumbai which ranks 167 out of 181 cities in the world! Delhi is 174, Bangalore 176 and Kolkata 179. This is not a one dimensional study but a survey which factored in the economy, human capital, technology, environment, governance, urban planning, transportation, social cohesion and public management. Anyone who has lived in our metros would not be surprised at these findings.
* What about our legislators and law-makers? The Association for Democratic Reforms ( ADR), a highly respected Indian electoral watchdog and NEW ( National Election Watchdog) have just released some interesting if not disquieting figures. In the central govt. 24 out of 78 Ministers (31%) have criminal cases pending against them. In the states the figure is 210 out of 609 (34%). Not surprisingly, therefore, the average wealth of state Ministers is Rs.8.59 crore (approx. US$ 1.5 million); as behoves members of a higher body the corresponding figure for union Ministers is Rs.12.94 crores (approx. US $ 2.00 million). And don’t forget, this is only their declared assets!
* Things are much worse on the social scale. India has the largest number of illiterates in the world. In just rural India 35.73 of the population or 316 million people are illiterate. Of the remaining 64.27% only 3.45% are graduates. The Gross Enrolment Ratio for colleges is a miserable 18%; even this is a misleading figure if one considers the actual standards of teaching in the colleges: a 2010 study by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) reports that 90% of the country’s 34000 colleges are just average or below average. The schools are worse: a recent study by Pratham, a leading non-profit working in this sector, found that Class 6 students in govt. schools could neither read nor write at the level of even Class I. Our much vaunted ” demographic dividend” is at best an illusion, at worst it is a ticking time bomb whose fuse has been lit.
, and every once in a while we take two steps backward. We have a low threshold of satisfaction and that is what makes us a nation that is comfortable with mediocrity.
Which should also make Ms. Shobha De reflect again on her trashing of our sportsmen. Emerging from the miasma of mediocrity that their Federations wallow in, it is indeed a wonder that 120 of them even qualified for the Olympics! The medals belong to them, not the country.
[ NOTE: Discerning viewers of the Olympics could not have missed the delicious irony in the fact that both our medals have been won by ladies- perhaps the most exploited, vulnerable, defenceless section of our society, no matter which caste or community they belong to. And one of these ladies was from Haryana- the bastion of Khap Panchayats and a state with one of the lowest female sex ratios! Indeed, God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform! The incredible fact that, once in a while, an individual can rise above our sorry system only reinforces the point that we have a tremendous pool of talent only waiting for a right eco-system in which to flourish. This is not true only of sports.]
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Quip of the week: