India a superpower: Can the common man feel it?

Kolkata: India's economy is expected to reach double digit growth by 2013, but is this growth story only for those living in cities and enjoying the benefits of globalization, what do people in lowest rung of society think about it?

Though India's economy is growing pretty well, the other sectors in the country are still lagging behind, reports Indrani Roy Mitra of "India has had 'great' industrial growth and 'economic' growth by the economic parameters of gross domestic product, gross national product, et al; but has 'not grown' at all in other sectors like health, education, quality of lives, nutrition, newborn, childhood and infant mortality and infectious disease prevention among others," says Amitrajit Saha, Public health specialist, who has worked with marginalized people.

Lately, Price rise has been another major issue for the majority of citizens in the country. "Growth to me suggests a better life for my kids. I thought I was giving them one till recently. In the last couple of years, prices of essential commodities have gone up alarmingly high throwing our monthly household budget out of gear," says Shyamal Das, an autorickshaw owner-cum-driver.

There are others who feel that though India could afford to give its citizens better healthcare, it has failed to do so. "A small percentage of our expenditure on defence would have sufficed to provide basic healthcare to all of our people. But look at our healthcare system. The government is fast withdrawing from its responsibility to provide even primary healthcare to its people free of cost or at a minimum expense," says Krishna Bandyopadhyay, social activist and writer. She also points out that healthcare now has become more and more privatised - a commodity affordable only for the rich or the upper middle class. The poor are not even entitled to have good health.

"Can you find me a single politician today who actually feels for us, the poor? Those who are sympathetic are strategically booted out of their parties or are successfully sidelined," asks Subimal Ghosh, a grocery shopowner, whose dream of becoming a doctor was shattered when his father fell ill and lost his job. Ghosh had to take care of a family of four so he took loan from a friend and set up a grocery shop close to his place and looking after his business now.

Are we spending too much on things that may not be very essential for the common man? "There is no point in building a huge Army when almost half of the country's population starves. If by growth, Indian politicians mean some inane statistics, nothing can be more tragic. India will grow only when Indians, even the poorest of them, get the best of healthcare, can send their children to schools, can feed their families and can lead a comfortable life," says Debasish Dutta, a teacher.
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