India can not look at top of Maslow’s hierarchy for “haves”, when a large section of “have nots” are not even touching base of Maslow’s hierarchy.
On a warm Saturday as I drove towards vehicle repair station which is located next to a labour colony of an industrial zone, I came across the other side of India. Not the first time in my life though, every time it happens I understand what highest priority India has as a nation. This is a side of India no Indian can be proud of after more than 60 years of Independence. A poverty ridden dirt box where people in thousands lack Basic qualities of Life. It is not imperative here to describe the scenery of the poverty zones of an Asian country for readers to have right imagination of dirt box – The slums. However it useful to describe as it would provides right platform for the main argument presented in the article.
The slums of Mumbai are a living place with pathetic quality of life. Pathetic is a very soft description. Inhuman would be the most apt word. An idea of house here is worse than an Western Public Toilet. Kids play around where gutter water overflows on roads and on water pipes. The eatables are sold next to public dustbins. Here personal space is negative as single room houses are cramped with medium to large size families. A huge population of India lives but not with respectable living conditions.
This leads me to wonder what is India’s highest priority in 2015 ? How would ever a child in slums get as much access to resources as a child born in West or even in prosperous sections of India. A child born with access to world’s best resources is likely to be 50 years ahead in time to the child who lacks basics like access to clean water, hygienic food , a school with decent facilities and finally a park to play. This means we all have one date as mankind. But a generation of kids in 2015 are growing up in 1960 s. Their birth dates do not actually represent the living conditions they have.
In India state governments and central government see announcement of billion dollar investments as a sign of working governments. News papers are filled with pictures of government officials signing of trade agreements. Question that remains unanswered is — Does it give a poor child a quality food in the evening ? Does it give poor child a glass of clean drinking water ? Does it provide a poor child enough level playing field so that he is in a position to compete with a child who is 50 years ahead by birth ?
What India needs right now is not fulfilment of aspirations of tho se who have gone beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of – Physiological needs, Safety Needs, Love and Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualisation. India does need a bullet train but not now. All it needs is trains where people are not cramped like animals to be taken on a slaughter day. India needs ambulances which reach you in less than 10 minutes irrespective of your economic status. India needs housing which is cheap and yet complete with basics facilities of life. Indian public spaces require assurances that no bomb would go off killing people in hoards. India needs air which is pollution free. India needs farmers who don’t commit suicide. India needs food with as much high quality as it is sold under the tag of export quality. India needs food distribution system where producer of food makes more money than seller of the food. List is big. The point is India can not look at top of Maslow’s hierarchy for “haves ” unless large section of “have nots” are not even part of Maslow’s hierarchy. Any rise in growth rate and GDP is not worth unless it results in availability of basic of life to one and all. Any trade agreement is not a success unless it redistributes wealth among the citizens.
Poverty is not just a curse. It is the biggest form of violence. It is the biggest form of terrorism. It is the crime of highest order by any state in not giving basics of life to its citizens – to all of its citizens