...Deprivation, Despair, And Doldrums. If Narendra Modi wants to make the people of the state smile, he needs to take some concrete steps. Rajiv Shah and Ajay Umat offer a few suggestions for his New Year Resolutions
ALL WORK AND NO PAY
More people find work in Gujarat compared to other states, but that does not mean they are paid what is due to them. As high as 89 per cent men and 98 per cent women in Gujarat are informal workers, who usually earn low wages, have poor working conditions and low social protection.
“The wage rates of casual and regular workers of both men and women in rural and urban areas of the state are very low compared to other states,” confirms well-known economist Indira Hirway.
The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) shows that average wages per day are Rs 276.48 for men and Rs 213.10 for women in Gujarat. The national average is much higher at Rs 332.37 for men and Rs 253.02 for women (urban and rural areas combined). Wages or salaries to regular employees are higher even in Bihar. Things are no better for casual labour – in Gujarat the average daily wages for casual workers (both male and female) are Rs 83.25 in rural areas and Rs 106.17 in urban areas.
Experts add that the low wage rates in Gujarat are a key factor for the high malnutrition in the state, especially among women and children. In most cases, they can’t buy food with the adequate amount of calories. What they can afford generally does not provide the required nutrition.
Hirapur village is just five km from the Nano plant in Sanand, the region that is the latest driver of Gujarat’s economy. “But if someone falls ill in the village, he has to be rushed 15 km away to reach the nearest public health centre,” says the sarpanch Kanti Patel. “There are no health centres in any nearby village.”
In 2011, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) ‘Inequality-adjusted Human Development Report’ stated inequalities in Gujarat would not have been so high if educational and health facilities were distributed equitably. While the report ranked the state seventh in human development index (HDI) among 19 major states, it ranked it 10th in health. On a scale of one, Gujarat’s inequality-adjusted HDI
(IHDI) in health is 0.475. Kerala, Punjab, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Haryana and AP are ranked higher.
The state is one of the worst performers in terms of child malnutrition with 69.7% of children up to the age of five anaemic and 44.6% malnourished. And there is no way that you can blame the figure conscious youth for this! NOT WORD’S WORTH
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