Human Security Challenges in India

Image credit: Vivekananda International Foundation-

By Huma Tariq

Due to its fastest growing economy, India is home to the world’s richest people, but it is also a home to the world’s poorest people because its wealth is hardly redistributed across the population. According to World Bank Ranking, India is in top ten growing economies of the world. India’s economic prospects for this decade (2010–20), India GDP will grow at an average annual rate of 9.6%, even in the absence of reforms. The question is that how much the common masses will benefit from this economic robust There are significant indicators which indicate that India is still a ‘Fragile State’, these indicators are mostly internal matters of the state such as poverty, hunger, increased economic disparity, population growth, number of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, violent groups within the state, corruption and another measure of democratic capacities, provision of education, healthcare, sanitation and other services. These all matters come under the broader term of ‘Human Security’ which is now widely used to describe the complex of interrelated threats associated with international war, civil war, genocide, and the displacement of populations. Human security means, at a minimum, freedom from violence, and from the fear of violence. According to the statistics, 50% of Indians do not have proper shelter; 70% do not have access to decent toilets (which inspires a multitude of bacteria to host their disease party); 35% of households do not have a nearby water source; 85% of villages do not have a secondary school and over 40% of these same villages do not have proper roads connecting them to the major cities.
Another issue is that India’s billion-strong population is not only poor but also marvelously diverse. It is comprised of a rich mixture of ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Domestic violence features an extreme array of perpetrators and victims. Low caste Dalits, despite reductions in caste prejudice, continue to be terrorized, he New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management registered 27,000 “caste-crimes” against Dalits in 2007. Right-wing political parties such as the Shiv Sena (and its more violent offshoots) periodically sponsor attacks on migrant workers and have driven terrified laborers from the western state of Maharashtra. Nearby, in the southwestern states of Kerala and Karnataka, and in the eastern state of Orissa, Hindu nationalists target Christian minorities. Meanwhile, in the northeast, more than 10,000 people have died from separatist violence over the last decade. Dalits (the untouchables), women and some minority ethnic tribes are not included in the official poverty count because it is easy for politicians to announce a massive reduction in poverty by just not including them in a census. It is simpler to pretend they do not exist at all. There is a continuous rise in women and child abuse in recent years, different non-governmental organizations highlight this issue, but still the government is unable to address it.

The paradigm of human security has evolved considerably since its foundation as an alternative to a traditional security framework. Despite the various arguments against the increasing securitization of socioeconomic concerns, human security today provides the moral fiber for many foreign policies, state actions, and international interventions. However, in India state centric frameworks continue to make policymaking. Although reforms are under way that seeks to make the government more accountable, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the people, implementing these reforms is challenging, given the high levels of corruption, the criminalization of politics, and weak institutions of governance. The problem is further complicated by the lack of understanding of the elements of human insecurity. For example, the poor define poverty in multidimensional ways that “encompass self-respect, autonomy, access to land, and so on, rather than income alone,” while according to the government organization poor is the one who is starving. When these affected communities in India revolt as a result of the loss of dignity or access to land, the government is only able to view such unrest as a law-and-order problem that requires police action, rather than implementing responses that are as multidimensional as the causes themselves.

Instead of addressing these human security issues the focus of Indian state is to increase its military capabilities and to address the traditional security threats. According to some credible military spending of India in 2015 were about $51 billion, it was increased 10% in 2016. And in 2017 it was increased to 2.74 trillion Indian rupees (INR) the allocation is about 12.78pc of total government expenditure, which is INR 21.47tr. Only 1% of its total budget is spent on health sector same as in education. India spent a lot of its budget on repressing the separatist’s movement, but if they try to address their grievances, it would be more reasonable. Poor governance and total administrative apathy for the developmental needs of marginalized communities have resulted in pockets of acute human security deficit. The rise in regional radicalization and the growing influence of left extremism, such as the Naxalite or Maoists movement, are only symptoms of emerging disaffection with the government. Moreover, it is possible that global trends of radicalization now emerge from India, there is an increase in links between organized crimes and terrorism and if it continues, may cause a unique challenge to the nation-state.
In summing up the argument, it can be said that, if India wishes to gain the future benefits of a vibrant economy, it must address the growing economic inequalities in its population and corruption. Most significantly Indian government and policy maker should divert their attention basic human necessities of the people instead of increasing defense budget and arms race in the region.

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