Sunday, August 21, 2016

In how many different directions will we pull our government?



So, Sakshi Mallik and P V Sindhu win medals at the Olympics. Countless hours are spent in television debates on how India has failed her sportspersons. People talk about how they have won medals despite the system rather than because of it. All very true.

All this will be forgotten in a few weeks and people will be talking about how the government failed some other section of the population. And then another. And then another.

People like me who've been affected by health issues and who are in the healthcare industry and see people dying due to lack of access to decent healthcare would always argue that the government's focus should be on providing good healthcare. Even among healthcare enthusiasts, there would be differences on whether the focus should be on primary healthcare, preventive healthcare or chronic diseases.

Then you would have people who would argue that education should be where the government should focus. Some people would contest that poverty alleviation should be the focus. There would be some who would say that the government should concentrate on the public distribution system and ensure that no one is hungry.

In a severely resource-constrained country like India, sports, honestly will never be on the list of priorities. When we do not have the basics like food, education and healthcare taken care of, we cannot expect the government to focus on sports and Olympic medals.

While each section of the population that demands that the government focus on one particular aspect is justified in doing so, it is a fine balancing act that any government must perform in order to ensure that it is seen to be spending every rupee in a meaningful manner. At the end of the day, this will mean only incremental progress on many aspects rather than completely eliminating the most basic problems first. 

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