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Are Indians quietly watching their country die?

In 71 years of India's Independence, she has made rapid strides in many fields — defence, information technology, space research to name a few. But her population explosion has pulled her down. How liveable and happy a country is she? Bill K Koul explores...

As 2018 comes to an end, India continues to witness passively a range of issues that potentially threaten her very existence. She has quadrupled her population since the British left and her birth rate continues to be close to three times her death rate, making her potentially the world’s most populous country in a few years from now.

Thanks to the Chinese invasion in the early-’60s, the country has become a nuclear power, with the world’s third-largest army, fourth-largest air force and the fifth-largest navy. The country also has a successful space programme, a booming IT sector and boasts a high economic growth in recent times.

However, she is not a very liveable and happy country. India adds around 60,000 people each day to her already large population of 1.36 billion. India has slipped by 11 places in just one year on the UN’s Happiness Index and figures at 133rd place in 2018. Interestingly, Pakistan has climbed to 75th place and China to 86th place.

A population explosion — exacerbated by industrialisation of the rural areas, unemployment and climatic change — has been forcing villagers to look for greener pastures in the cities, thereby increasing their population density, traffic congestion, air pollution, commuting times and mental stress and, thus, eroding their liveability.

According to a WHO study, of her 1.36 billion people, nearly 40% (55 million) are reported to suffer from mental depression and nearly 26% (38 million) from anxiety disorder, thanks to the effects of materialism, capitalism, a sickening tendency to show-off and the social media. The country’s growing competition — caused by an ever-increasing demand:supply ratio — largely due to her overpopulation and a marked shift from spiritualism to capitalism in recent decades — exacerbated by deep-rooted social stigma against mental illness — and a disproportionately low number of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are the main triggers for a growing youth suicide rate. According to the study, India is reported to lose one student every one hour to suicide. Sadly, many jawans and kisans who defend and feed the country also commit suicide on a regular basis.

A large demand: supply ratio — in most, or all, walks of life — also caused by a high population growth has given birth to a wide range of ingenious corrupt practices across the country at most levels. Corruption, accepted by many as the norm, has also taken a significant toll on the authenticity and quality of food — dairy products, vegetables and fruits — and medicines. Published health reports indicate a recent increase in the cancer rate and that about 60% Indians are suffering from malnutrition and about 40% from tuberculosis.

Shamefully, the country continues to be unfair to half her population — the female gender! Hypocritically, many people pray to female deities, but passively watch numerous women and girl children being raped, exploited, compromised and disrespected — as second-class citizens on a daily basis.

The country is not fully integrated! The Indian subcontinent comprised 565 princely states before Partition. In 1945, when the British decided to finally wash their hands of her governance soon after the Labour Party’s victory, her leaders agreed to divide her into three parts in 1947. Within the next 15 years, Jammu and Kashmir, too, got divided among three countries, with India left to administer only about half of the erstwhile princely state, which has not seen much peace in the past three decades or so!

Post-Independence, the people in India have remained divided along regional, ethnic, religious and caste lines. The underlying, simmering divisions manifest in the creation of new states in recent years, with the likelihood of creation of a few more new states looming over the coming years. India myopically failed to introduce and implement one civil law for all her people and the policy of reservations, without a periodic review, has widened the divisions.

According to World Bank and other allied studies, her educational infrastructure needs a total revamp, despite the claims of achieving a literacy rate of around 70%. The term, ‘literacy’, does not mean having to pass any board examination. India does not have the confidence to participate in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). None of her institutes figures in the world’s top 100 universities!

On the political front, things look pathetic, with nearly one-third parliamentarians (around 185) having shameful criminal records against them! Exploitation of uneducated and ill-informed voters, coupled with unethical horse-trading between political parties, raises a big question on the efficacy and validity of her elections.

India may be shining for the upper 20%-30% of her population, who show it off through their lavish weddings, expensive holidays and private education for their children, along with a rich, materialistic lifestyle. The lower 70%-80% continue to slog; they are exploited by the politicians and by the people from the upper socio-economic stratum.

Much needs to be done to bring the country back to sustainable health. To begin with, can the country introduce a law for ALL her people to immediately control her population, which seems to be the root cause of most of her ills before it is too late? Will her politicians ever let that happen? Are Indians passively watching their country die slowly?

About the author’s books

Bill K Koul is an author, editor and engineering consultant. He was born in Kashmir, India. He currently resides in Perth, Western Australia. He has authored the following books:

Does India Need a Dictator? — to Rescue as Inking Nation (2018), which is a book about India’s sustainability and has been written with the intent of provoking a debate across the country. It should be of interest to policy-makers in India and all readers who are interested in political science and legislation, education, environment and sustainability of India.

Issues White-Anting India (2017), which raises a number of serious social and political issues that seem to be constantly undermining India. It should be of interest to all Indians to introspect and do their bit to help the country.

My Life Does Not Have to Be Unhappy (2017), a book targeting youth anxiety/ depression/ suicide, supported by wisdom of various philosophers, medical professionals and so forth. It should be of interest to all grownups, especially the youth, to help promote good mental health in the country.

22 Years — A Kashmir Story (2017), a personal memoir. It provides a snapshot about how half a million indigenous Kashmiri Pandits had to suddenly leave their ancestral homeland in 1990 and become refugees in India due to a politico-religious uprising in Kashmir sponsored by a neighbouring country.

About the author

Bill is a current Fellow and Chartered Professional Engineer of Engineers Australia, an APEC Engineer and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. He has more than three decades of international work experience. His interests include philosophy, spirituality and nature and his hobbies include cricket and long-distance running.

Bill regularly publishes blogs on his website on varied topics — education, politics, philosophy of life, gender inequality, life and liveability and so forth — which are fed into his Facebook and Twitter pages.

One of Bill’s recent blogs, Global Pandits, briefly illustrates his story and those of half a million Pandits, including him and his family, who had to leave Kashmir in 1989-1990. It also reflects how he currently sees himself with respect to Australia, India and the rest of the world: https://billkkoul.com/2018/08/18/global-pandits.

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