Development has many meanings!

Prioritize the priorities!

Infant mortality data must be updated and made available for the public. Public debate must go for some modern day thinking on what constitutes development and economic growth.

Almost simultaneouhqdefaultsly. There can’t be excuses for any delay for all the states. So, let us have trust in what the Prime Minister says. Development, vikas, is such a beautiful word. Development, after a pause, also calls for priorities. So, we have to ask questions; try to answer some possible answers too.

Here, right now, there are certain priorities on which there is no clarity. What are the development priorities?

Just now, we read that in infant deaths, it reported that Bihar, Rajasthan and Gujarat makes news for the wrong reasons. These are the states, like Assam, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh and are doing better than Bihar, Rajasthan and, hold your breath, Gujarat. Gujarat, the PM’s own state is faltering behind even some of the most backward states!

Infant mortality is a key indicator of any development index; we would say even access to other state benefits, like rations, health and maternal health and education.

Yes, the time has come to realise how to prioritise the development indicators. Anyway, it is time that we better go back to old, original indicators like accessibility of resources at the disposal of the last man.

The PM’s many new initiatives like sanitation and even other dear programmes for the government like promotion of yoga etc seem to us rather lower down in any such modern development priorities.

Also, provision of latest data is also a high priority. Even on infant mortality, out of the 36 states and UTs only 23 states have put out their data on such a sensitive subject.

We feel that given the PM’s own obsession to use social media and other told and also in this time of Internet penetration we must have such sensitive data almost at the click of a button and there ant be any delay for this data.

What else is more urgent than reaching medical aid and medical facilities to all the maternity hospitals?

Considering the rural-urban divide and male-female data confirms there is something wrong in many states. Rajasthan and Bihar show an increase in infant mortality in rural areas. While Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh show no change over the previous year. Gujarat and Jharkhand and Rajasthan show worrying trend, an increase in female infant mortality in rural areas.

This is again very disturbing. In Gujarat and Bihar urban areas there is an increase in infant death areeas, while female infant death rates increased in UP.

This reflects that the growing share of population cannot afford to access healthcare facilities that are supposed to be in good number in India’s cities and towns. This is a vast subject for in-depth coverage and we limit here with one last observation. The predominantly urban Union Territory of Chandigarh has shown an increase in infant deaths, shockingly driven by a rise in female infant mortality.

So, there is a serious case here for the government to prioritise development goals. Certain goals may be noble (say, like promoting Yoga)but given the context of India’s development priorities, here is one instance of the infant mortality, no less than the maternal mortality which call for serious introspection and go for what is by all standards the first priority of all.

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