This power of the privileged !


Constitutionally speaking , India’s is a democratic republic. The founding fathers of our modern independent India created this system of governance to  foster all-inclusive development – the development of all citizens, the deprived in particular—in the country. Regrettably, our  successive governments have hardly performed this essential function of democratic governance.

Sixty-seven years have passed off since our Republic came into existence . Poverty, squalor and illiteracy still remain the destiny of our masses . According to some authentic studies and reports , India tops the world’s hunger list of nations with its 194 million citizens deprived of food.  Our farmers are committing suicides. In 2015 alone over  8,007 of them took this extreme step Rural India-- the real India-- is in bad shape. In many villages women still wash their utensils with wet mud and water from open drains . Drinking water comes from communal hand pumps. Open  defecation is the norm. Pregnant  women have to travel miles to their nearest health centres for seasonal treatment and care . 

Today there are  over 70 million households below the poverty line in the country . The Tendulkar committee fixed the poverty line at Rs 33 , less than one American dollar, a day . This works out to a basic income of Rs 1,000-1,250 a month ( Rs 12,000-Rs15,000 a year) . The actual minimum wage in India is around just Rs 4,800 per month. Over 62 per cent of our non-cultivator workforce earns below Rs 2.5 lakh a year. Just imagine how people live !

Growing air pollution plays a havoc to the citizens’ very right to life itself.  This claims the lives of around 3000 people in Delhi alone every year. Various kinds of crimes  against women go on in the country . India houses 33 million children under the age of 18 in labour. The number of crimes against children increased by 500 per cent from 2005 to 2015. Out of every 100 children in India today, only 32 (less than one-third) finish school education age-appropriately. Our Parliament was told in May 2016 that 22000 children went missing between 2013 and 2016 alone.


The predicament of Dalits and Adivasis remains grave. The exploitation our tribes has rather intensified in the recent years . Today mining and power sector companies, irrigation projects officials , timber and paper industries and the forest resort tourist industry are calling shots in their areas.  There is a vicious nexus between them, certain wildlife and environmentalist groups and the powerful forest bureaucracy. Such elements have succeeded in bringing a series of legislation to  undermine their rights .

The Telangana government has illegalised traditional methods of forest land cultivation. Its counterpart in Jharkhand has brought amendments that sideline gram sabhas and permit tribal land to be taken over by corporate giants , real estate players, private educational and medical institutions in the name of development. The Maharashtra government has issued a notification which gives all rights of forest management to government-promoted committees as opposed to the gram sabha.

The current government at the Centre has declared its commitment to ensuring “ease of business.”  Under this pretext, private sector-sponsored projects are being cleared in tribal-inhabited forest areas. In just two years after it came to power at the Centre such projects have grabbed over 1.34 lakh hectares of forest land. In many areas this is likely to lead to massive displacement of tribal communities. 

In contrast, the privileged sections in the government sector are having a great time, materially at least .  The Cabinet Secretary in out Central Government gets Rs. 2.5 lakh a month. Recently, our Home Ministry has proposed a 70 per cent increase in the salary of the President from the current Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh per month. For the Vice-President, the proposal is to increase it from Rs. 1.1 lakh to Rs. 3.5 lakh per month. A parliamentary committee has recommended a hike in salary of our parliamentarians from current Rs. 1.4 lakh a month to Rs. 2.8 lakh a month

Our Constitution prohibits any concentration of wealth in a few hands . Yet the rich in the country are getting richer. There is little control over them. India's richest one per cent hold a huge 58 per cent of the country's total wealth. Just 57 billionaires in India have wealth worth $ 216 billion. There are approximately 10 million taxpayers earning above Rs 10 lakh. But only over 2.4 million individuals declare their incomes above Rs 10 lakh. There is a  tax evasion to the tune of around Rs 6 lakh crore to Rs 9 lakh crore. Besides, many from the privileged sections have stashed away huge money into their banks abroad

Will our political leaders explain this state of affairs in our Republic ?  Democracy is increasingly in peril  . Let’s defend it. Time to define our democracy culturally and functionally, not just structurally alone. This power of the privileged must have no space in our Republic.