After making India as a republic, a programme of planned development was launched in the country through Five-Year Plans. Certain tasks were taken up on a priority such as establishing basic industries so that the dependence on imports could be reduced. Alleviation of poverty has been the major task of all policies and planning.
After the adoption of economic liberalisation in the 1990’s, the country has started achieving a high economic growth. But still about 20 million people live below the poverty line. This bears testimony to the fact that economic disparities still exist in India despite high GDP growth of the economy.
India has a population of above one billion a low percentage of this population-which may be called the upper strata-are the elites who are very rich. They enjoy every luxury on the earth. This class includes big business houses, top management people in hi-fi companies, exporters, bureaucrats, politicians and kith and kin of rich families. Below them in the economic hierarchy are the upper-middle class people who are leading a decent life and have landed prosperity and other possessions.
Then there is the lower middle class who includes workers, employees, shopkeepers, small traders, agriculturists who are able to make both ends meet. They do not enjoy the luxuries of life but have the basic amenities of food, clothing and shelter. Also they have to work hard to earn their living. On the lowest rung of society in the economic point of view are those who are the poorest of the poor.
They have no regular sources of earning their livings. Included in this class are casual labourers, tribal people, refugees, displaced people, some of the slum dwellers and nomads. The benefits of government’s poverty alleviation programmes have not reached them. They are poor, deprived and destitutes. The number of people in this class is, however, reducing because of economic development of the country.
It is a disturbing fact that the economic development in India has not been broadbased. There are regional disparities, viz. some regions are much more developed than others which remain backward. States like Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are developed in every sense of the word. Industry, agriculture and services network in these states are adequate.
The incidence of poverty in these states is low. On the other hand, there are the BIMARU States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh where industry is not properly established; agriculture is orthodoxic; infrastructure is poor; education, health care, transportation, marketing facilities are inadequate. The population of these states is more and is increasing at a fast rate. Although the conditions in these states are also improving, some parts thereof remain extremely poor. The incidence of poverty is high in these states.
There is a rural and urban divide in India. While the cities are developing fast on all major parameters, the villages remain backward. The metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and other bigger cities like Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Nagpur, Pune, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Lucknow, Kanpur, Baroda, etc. have developed very fast.
They have become centres of trade, hospitality industry, education, tourism, government offices and private companies offering great opportunities for employment. The transportation and communication and housing systems are good. More and more people migrate to these cities from nearby areas to seek better opportunities for education and employment. The villages are deficient in almost every sense.
There are no schools, hospitals, banks, markets in wide areas covering several villages. There are no industries or other offices and hence no opportunities for employment accept as casual labour in odd jobs and agriculture. Even methods of agriculture in most of the villages remain old. People barely manage to subsist. There is still a great difference between a city-dweller and a villager.
India is inhabited by people with different religious beliefs. There are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians. People of these different communities have differences in culture, customs and beliefs. The society has these social divides. The Hindus form the majority of the people of India. They are divided into four social classes-Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. These social classes were explained by Manu in his Smriti and were based on the profession of the people at that time.
The Indian society has developed a great deal from that era. The castes, even in the Hindus are no longer determined along the profession of the people. The people of low castes may have a high profession and vice-versa. But the fact remains that the caste system still exists in India. Gandhiji did a great job by abolishing untouchability and removing a curse from our society. But the caste system continues. The Scheduled Castes and Backward classes have still not come on a par with general categories-both economically and socially. That is why these classes are still given certain reservations in education and employment.
In our society there is also a gender inequality. Women are not given the status equal to men. This can be termed as a social inequality. In many types of work, women are not given equal wages as men. Despite tall claims by the flagbearers of our society, women still are exploited, harassed and molested.
They are sexually abused at workplaces. Although law treats men and women equally and prohibits the discrimination against women, yet the exploitation continues. Female foeticide, in gross intervention of law, is the evidence that girl is not a preferred child in our country.
India is a great country in terms of beauty, vastness and spirituality. It is being recognised a rising economic power. It will not be regarded as a developed nation until these economic and social inequalities are removed. The policymakers must, therefore, frame policies and plans which aim at broadbased development.
India cannot be included in the list of developed countries until all sections of its people are benefited from the fast economic progress which the country has been experiencing for the last decade or so. The executives and officials should implement such a policy whereby the weaker sections are economically uplifted and are able to lead a better life-enjoying at least the basic amenities and look higher in near future.