Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Independence from what?

India and Pakistan commemerated on Monday, the 64th anniversary of freedom from British rule.

Ram Dhan, now 62, has lived through India's journey as an independent nation. He finds little reason to rejoice. "The poor have hardly benefited," he says.

According to the World Bank, India is home to one-third of the world's poor. 40% of the population living below the global poverty line and more than 70% living on an earning of less than 20 rupee per day. The illiteracy rates range from 26-45% by different agencies

In 1947, India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, made an impassioned call to fight and end "poverty and ignorance and disease". Yet to-days prime minister Manmohan Singh his annual Independence Day address still makes the same plea "We have to banish poverty and illiteracy from our country. We have to provide the common man with access to improved health services,"

Things are same in Pakistan. 70 per cent of the people in Pakistan can barely make both ends meet and 35 per cent of them live below poverty line on less than $2 (Dh7.34) per day. We remember the luxurious country estate priced at more than four million pounds (Dh23.76 million) that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari purchased in the English county of Surrey.

The dynasties, Nehru-Gandhi on the one hand and Zulfikar-Benazir Bhutto on the other, are conscious of their support among the gullible whom each have fed on slogans: former prime minister Indira Gandhi promising the electorate to oust poverty (garibi hatao) and Bhutto's vowing to give the common man access to food, clothes and housing (roti, kapda aur makaan). The rich may talk about poverty, but the privileged class, really do not know what the poor go through, or how they live.

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