What Ails India

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The word "democracy" stands for "people's rule". This implies that the people in question are capable of ruling, or, in other words, capable of voting for the right people to rule. Proper voting requires a certain minimum level of social awareness and sense of responsibility. If the vast majority of a population is illiterate and uneducated, social awareness is poor, and elections have little meaning. Also, if the vast majority of a population is poor, social responsibility is low. When a person does not know where his next meal is coming from or when, he can hardly be expected to understand or worry about his vote. Votes are therefore cheap in India. Anyone can buy them. The right price could be as little as a food packet or a pair of thongs (footwear) on election day. Truckloads of such items can be seen moving around towns and villages in India on election day. Democracy in India is therefore a game that is all about numbers; about getting a majority vote in elections. It is not about HOW these votes are obtained. How does democracy destroy a country if introduced prematurely? Lesson 1: If a country adopts democracy before it is ready for it, its infrastructure will suffer badly.

Lesson 2: If a country adopts democracy before it is ready for it, its society will get heavily divided along every possible division (including language, caste and religion).

Lesson 3: If a country adopts democracy before it is ready for it, its population will grow very rapidly and out of control.

Lesson 4: If a country follows democracy before it is ready for it, its society will be highly corrupt. Introduction – visit to a country of paradoxes

Let us take you on a visit to a large and interesting country. While visiting this country, we are especially interested in understanding the health system prevailing there. We first see that this country has considerable helth care resources -

    * It has the largest number of medical colleges in the world     * It produces among largest numbers of doctors in the developing world. These doctors are exported to many other countries, and are considered among the best in the world.     * This country gets ‘Medical tourists’ from many developed countries reflecting the high standard of medical skill and expertise here. They seek care in its state-of-the-art, high-tech hospitals which compare with the best in the world.     * Turning to medicines, we find that this country is the fourth largest producer of drugs by volume in the world and is among the largest exporter of drugs in the world.

Of course, all these resources require finances. We find that people here do not lag behind in paying and spend a lot on health care – more than many other developing countries, 

Given this situation, what is the health status of the population?

Despite the existence of such impressive health care resources, as we begin to move around and talk to some people in the villages and towns of this country we are surprised to find that –

    * Despite all these resources, the majority of citizens have very limited access to quality Health care, and have poor health indicators.     * There are low levels of immunisation – in fact less than half of the children are completely immunized (added to this, complete immunization coverage has declined in recent years!).     * Similarly, the minimum of three checkups during pregnancy remains unavailable for half of all pregnant women.     * There are massive inequities in access to health care – while the rich avail of most modern and expensive health services, the poor, especially in rural areas do not get even rudimentary health care.     * Hospitalisation rates among the well off are six times higher than rates among the poor!     * Despite such a large drug industry which exports medicines across the globe, about two-thirds of the population lack access to essential drugs.     * This is a country of paradoxes where women from well off families suffer due...
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