ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gorakhpur Tragedy

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Hegel once famously noted that “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only when the dusk has fallen.” Nothing would be truer than in the case of the recent infant deaths in the Baba Raghav Das hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Low human development in the state is a well-known fact and was brought to light by Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze in two of their works India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity and Indian Development: Selected Regional Perspectives. In these works they have specifically pointed out the abysmal situation of neonatal mortality, infant mortality, maternal mortality, overall longevity and a host of other demographic indicators in UP, when compared to other states in general and South India in particular. Nothing has changed in UP so far as the human development and public health issues are concerned since Sen and Drèze wrote in 1996.

Who is to take responsibility for this? The first responsibility is that of thecurrent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The blame for the evolution of such a state of affairs is shared equally by the Congress party, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). For Congress, it has been a useful backyard for its leaders to get elected. For the BJP, SP and BSP, the state has been ahotbed of identity politics. Caste, religion and identity have been the main sources of political mobilisation in UP. In engaging the public in such an emotionally loaded identity politics, all the parties have ignored the cautions provided by social scientists regarding its abysmal performance in improving public health, literacy and all the above-mentioned demographic indicators. The political terms of discourse in UP politics havealways been those of religious identity politics or caste identity politics. This has been the bane of UP. Sen and Drèzeindeed have pointed out in their books that there is a need for all states to learn positive lessons from the Kerala development experience.

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Updated On : 8th Sep, 2017

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