It was roughly ten years ago when our country bundled its fate and handed it over to the Indian National Congress for the second consecutive term in 2009. The Congress was roaring with a 206 Lok Sabha seats. Cut to 2019, they are reduced to a partly 44 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, managed to get 116 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 and are currently governing ruling the country with around 270 plus seats. The exact figure may vary due to the ambiguity as which politician jumps from which party to where and who is locked up in which resort. These ten years were a roller coaster ride in the political arena. The tickets for that roller coaster ride however are sponsored by the citizens of India to the politicians at large.

Since we’re talking about money, let’s stick to it. Who’s the richest individual in our country? Which is the richest corporate sector in our country? Well, these questions are pretty easy and almost anyone could answer those questions. But if we think about money, it’s obvious that we could imagine a politician in our head although it might not be politically correct to tell that out. Which is the wealthiest political party in our country? As per a Times of India report in 2012 based on an RTI filed, it was the Indian National Congress which was the richest political party with a whopping net worth of Rs. 1492.35 Crore between 2007 and 2011. The BJP’s net worth was 769.81 crore during the same period. Congress was in power at that time and BJP was in the opposition.

(Source: TOI “Indian National Congress is the richest political party” by Hetal Vyas and Sunitha Rao R on August 12, 2012)

Ten years down the line, the tables turned upside down the wealth also seems to have turned that way. The BJP which is currently in power is the wealthiest political party in this country with almost 66.34% of the total income of all the national level political parties put together. Surely power can do powerful things. To talk in numbers, BJP has 1034.27 crore in 2018 whereas Congress managed to have an income of 225.36 crore according to a report in the Indian Express. Nothing is fishy. It’s all hard earned money from both the parties, right. And yes, both these political parties joined hands in making sure that the election funding remains a mystery which isn’t a good piece of history to be proud about.

(Source: The Indian Express, “BJP richest national party with Rs 1,034 crore, Congress second on list” by PTI, April 10, 2018)

Talking about huge money, let’s also speak about corruption. I still remember writing essays about corruption in my school days and many of us have written about it for passing our exams. Corruption has been the crux of our problems and in every election, every single politician talks about it. But when elected, only a little action is done to curb corruption. We’ve been hearing promises and seen subsequent misses on the issue. So let’s see if it has changed in the last ten years? Has it improved or has it gotten worse? Well rather than taking sides on this discussion, let’s talk about some statistics.

The Centre for Media Studies has published an elaborate study titled “India Corruption Study-2008”. Its sample study on a few basic services such as health, education, police, and nine more services for below poverty level households. It was estimated that these below poverty households alone paid bribes which were around 883 crore. Mind you this amount was bribed to politicians, bureaucrats and other

public servants who are in charge of providing basic services for the poor. The middle-class data isn’t available for this period. It would be safe to assume, the middle class paid twice the amount the below poverty level paid. Corruption in 2018 was far from over as a report from the Financial Express says around 2500 to 2800 crore rupees were paid in the form of bribes. Citizens in 2018 feel that the corruption has gone up. Lokpal bill, Lol!

(Source: Financial Express “India Corruption Study: 75% households feel corruption went up, 27% say paid bribe, says survey” by PTI, 18 May 2018)

With these humongous sums of money in the hands of pure and pious political parties, it is obvious that they would spend each and every penny towards making the country better. However, the numbers tell a different story. A very different story. Maybe the government also want to say a story with numbers and hence all the changes in formulae regarding the GDP figures. Even after the formulae change and the clarification by our finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley, the confusion didn’t seem to vacate the GDP aspect. So instead of GDP, let’s look at the Human Development index in 2018 and how the scenario was ten years ago.

Human Development Index is a composite index which gives a number basing on three major criteria which are the life expectancy of the people, their education and their per capita income. These three serve as quintessential factors in determining a country’s HDI. The HDI of India in 2018 was 0.639 which is fairly good compared to what it was ten years ago. In 2008, the human development index falls in the category of low human development index which is 0.467.   Certainly, there is a significant increase in the HDI over the last ten years. But why isn’t our advertisement driven government not highlighting it? Probably the pioneer of formulating the HDI, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen critiqued the current regime for their action on communal lines or rather call it inaction.  Maybe our government doesn’t want to credit Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq who also played a vital role in formulating HDI

When the GDP and HDI are this good, one would expect India to be cruising on the highway of development. But that highway is filled with potholes and the deepest of all those holes being unemployment. Unemployment is like a deadly tumor for India. Well credits to our policies over the recent years, our unemployment has been the highest in 45 years according to an article in the Business Standard news citing the NSSO figures. The NSSO figures were being suppressed by the government for some time now. It is estimated that nearly 31 million Indians are jobless. NITI Aayog, however, claims the data from NSSO isn’t sacrosanct and needs to be verified. Now it makes sense why the government is trying to hide statistics. It’s definitely not what the government claims in making things better for the country. In the claims of employment generation and progress, it’s evident we’ve digressed.

(Source:  TOI “Unemployment rate in India: Nearly 31 million Indians are jobless” by TOI-online, March 6 2018)

Over time few things change. But not so drastically and dramatically as we’re seeing in our political leaders. Charismatic leaders from the BJP who were then in opposition thrashed the government of the day for its superficial implementation of women safety measures. Now it’s not even ten years and when BJP is in power, it’s pandering to the sexual abusers as they hail from their party as we’ve seen in the Unnao rape case incident. This too sets a bad precedent for the government of the day and its little interest in women’s safety. This is not just a vague statement as the national crime records Bureau cites instances of 21,397 rapes during 2009 and as per 2016,  the  number  of  rapes  which  are  reported  is  38,947.  No  matter  which government is in power this number should go down. It should go down significantly only then women’s safety can be achieved.

Ten years is a huge time. Its 120 months. Its 520 weeks. Its 3650 days. If at all our leaders could work even half of that to their true potential into the actual implementation of their manifesto, development wouldn’t be a distant dream for us. And the blame lies to a larger extent on us citizens as we’ve been too lame in letting leaders get away with the same old ways. Politicians often tend to divert the limelight to trivial issues to get away with things. A classic example would be the recent feud between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi where the actual issue which is the Saradha Chit fund scam was subtly side-lined. So as citizens if we aren’t diligent and vigilant about issues, not 10 years, even a hundred years old problems will still be relevant.