Global Indices: Do Politicians Bother?

UNHUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT, 2008: From 127 in 2004, India has slipped to 132 in the Human Development Index

UNICEF STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN, 2009: Infant mortality rates though improved from 67/1,000 in 2004 to 57/1,000 live births, but India trails many small countries.

IFPRI GLOBAL HUNGER REPORT, 2009: India, at 66th position, ranks below Bangladesh in underweight children and child mortality.

IFC/WB DOING BUSINESS REPORT, 2009: India is the most difficult country to enforce contracts in a court or otherwise at 122.

WEF GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS REPORT, 2008: With its inadequate infrastructure, inefficient bureaucracy and tight labour laws, India, at 50th position, is no match for China.

UN MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT, 2008: India trails Sri Lanka and Maldives in meeting targets set in the Millenium Development Goals.

GLOBAL CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX, 2008: India’s rank has fallen from 72 in 2004 to 85 even as China, with which it was on par till last year, maintained its position at 72.

UNIDO REPORT, 2009: India, at 54 (down from 51 in 2000), trails China by 28 positions on the Competitive Industrial Performance Index.

INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM, 2009: With a shackled judicial system, excessive regulation and a “mostly unfree” reputation, India is at 123.

TRAVEL & TOURISM COMPETITIVENESS REPORT, 2009: India ranks low at 62 with inadequate tourism infrastructure.

Source-India Today

Should not the India’s ‘arrival’ on the global stage get reflected in the global indices? Should not the political parties get it integrated in its manifestos and try to achieve a respectable ranking among the developing countries?

With the stalwarts among the politicians claiming the record grain production and buffer stock, how shameful is India’s 66th position (out of 88 countries) with huge number of underweight children and child mortality? Could it not be reduced if these politicians would have made real effort to improve the ineffectiveness of the Public Distribution System and the Mid-Day Meal Plan?
Why shouldn’t the government once committed see that it meets the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the UN, notably reduction of poverty, bridging the gender gap and improvement in healthcare?

But most importantly, I feel shocked when the economist Prime Minister talks of everything else but the justification for India lagging behind in economic and business reforms measures where he could have done the best. Why should, after 17 years of liberalization, India ranks poorly in indices of both openness and competitiveness? Why does India rank as one of the most unfriendly destinations for investors? Why does it take so long to start a business and longer to get licences, regulatory approvals and credit? Why couldn’t the economist and administrator Prime Minister do something significant in these fields, as every one of his alliance partners would have heard him with respect on these subjects? Surprisingly, according to WEF India ranks 52 in transport and communication. In regulatory environment, India is at 64, way below even Indonesia at 16. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Report of 2009 ranks India lower at 54 from 51 in 2000 in the competitive industrial performance rankings. I wish the Prime Minister would have put his focus on the development parameters instead of managing persons such as Amar Singh and Lalu Yadav and get media accolade of becoming smart politician.

Interestingly, while the issue of black money slashed by unscrupulous Indians in the banks of tax havens has very lately got media attention, there was hardly any effort made to cut corruption from the system. Is it not a shame that Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index of 2008 places India at 85 rank lower than 72 in 2004. And if we go by the surveyors, “around 30 per cent of Indians, officially below the poverty line, have to fork out Rs 900 crore as bribes to public servants in order to get their basic work done.” Can there be anything more important than that? Can they ensure that the rice intended for the poor will reach them, even if they make it free?

How long will get Indians deceived? Will the country vote for the right candidates? Let us see if India and Indians can change.

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