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Women in India: poor in health, lower on stats


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A country where one-third of adolescent girls are undernourished, aspiring for a healthy nation seems a far fetched dream.  Almost 56.2 per cent women of reproductive age are anaemic in India.

The number of adolescent girls (in the age group of 11-18 years), constituting 17 per cent of the total female population, is 8.3 crore, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

The female literacy rate is only 53.87 per cent, which is considerably low.

Among women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the NFHS said neo-natal mortality rate for the first five-year period preceding the survey for SCs is 46.3 per 1,000 while for the general populace is 39 per 1,000.

Infant mortality rate for the first five-year period preceding the survey for SC/STs is 66.4 while for the rest it is 57.

For the same time period, other health parameters like the under-five mortality rate for SC/STs is 88.1 per 1,000 and 74.3 for the general populace.

The percentage of married women with anaemia is 58.3 for SC/STs as against 56.2 per cent national average.

While among the general population, 11.5 per cent women are graduates, among SC/STs the corresponding figure is 3.9 per cent, the survey said.

Though a number of initiatives have been taken and a lot of them are in queue to be implemented by the ministries and concerned authorities, still the facts say a lot about the inefficiency of the programmes working for women.

 

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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