Ease of access to primaries of life

Finance Minister Arun Jatiley has prided himself on the fact that in the last one year, India has jumped 30 notches in the latest World Bank ranking to be placed 100th in ‘ease of doing business.’ The ranking was upgraded after the World Bank found that India had performed better in eight out of ten parameters including getting credit and getting electricity. The WB report certainly is good tiding for businessmen. The WB report, however, does not state the ease of access of the common Indian people to the primaries of life like food, clothing and shelter. India still remains a country where small children die of hunger because their families’ ration cards, entitling them to cheap food, are inoperative because they are not linked to the omnipotent Aadhar card. Even a dead person has to produce this precious card for his cremation!
The WB report also does not concern itself with the ease of access to banking facilities available to the citizen. A common man, apart from paying income tax, is penalized each time he withdraws or deposits his own hard earned money in cash from or to his bank account more than three times a month. India does not have a national health scheme which entitles the citizens to affordable health care facilities. Such facilities are available to serving and former government employees but not to ordinary citizens. There is no mechanism to control prices of life-saving drugs manufactured by foreign companies and sold in this country at exorbitant prices. Businessmen doing business easily, making money and the honest among them paying taxes to the government is all very good. But what about the people?
Despite the remarkable improvement of doing business in India, investments are not coming, banks are finding it difficult to lend money and the people are being forced to cut their family budgets following demonetization and introduction of GST which has sent the economy on a tailspin. Even now it is rarely that teller machines deliver notes of less than 500-rupee denomination. As banks go on reducing their staff, long queues before bank counters have become a familiar sight. The country would have been really and rightfully pride if it had moved several notches up in respect of access to the primaries of life. That it has not. Rather, people are getting tired of an endless and cacophonous debate on what this government has done and what previous ones did not or do.

Wednesday, 1 November, 2017