What government should do for various marginalised sections in the new year

As the year 2020 approaches its end, it is painful to note that even after 70 years of independence, the story of marginalisation of the poor and downtrodden in India is far from ending

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Dr Pallika Singh

As the year 2020 approaches its end, it is painful to note that despite 1.3 billion strong population, mostly young and democracy of over 70 years, the story of marginalisation of the poor and downtrodden in India is far from ending.

It is equally painful to see India slipping two points down to rank 131 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) in this passing year.

And the Corona pandemic, which was unknown to the world a year ago, has fast forwarded marginalisation of the poor and downtrodden in our country more than any part of the world.

People ask if India had any plan or mechanism by which the pain and sufferings of the marginalised could be lessened.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is one such programme which could have lessen the pain and mitigated the sufferings of the marginalised sections, had it been implemented honestly.

Delivering quality health care services to all at affordable cost in a comprehensive and integrated way is the stated aim of the policy but this cannot be achieved without encompassing the marginalised and the vulnerable population who are unable to cope with the pandemic.

People struggling for basic needs and amenities as safe and potable drinking water, nutrition, housing and sanitation, should be given priority, if India wants to go forward in the path of development.

Senior citizens who constitute 8% of the total population are the most marginalised section, apart from the poor.

In this year the government and we as the society failed to do what was needed for them. The main reasons for the marginalisation of senior citizens are disease, disability and absence of secure and sufficient income to support themselves. I am hopeful, in the next year, the Indian state will spend enough resources and fund on them.

Women and children are always at the brink of marginalisation. Starting from poor nutrition to access to quality education, gender-based violence and trafficking, they face challenges at every step of life.

Patriarchy, unequal representation, low literacy and lack of economic opportunities among women make them vulnerable.‍

It is sad to note that India has the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world, and in this passing year situation remained the same.

Health for All is incomplete without discussion about the Tribal health. According to the census 2011, 40% tribal population of India were below the poverty line with poor health indicators such as high infant mortality rate, malnutrition, anaemia and diseases like malaria etc.

Implementing programmes and action plans with adequate budgeting for tribal welfare with focus on the infrastructure, service delivery and accessibility to quality healthcare is something that we need to do in the coming year.

Another marginalised section which is often neglected by the society is the LGBTQ. They are stigmatised, and face challenges in accessibility to healthcare, education, and employment.

Often ridiculed by their own family members, these people are left at the mercy of God and the community network with a very limited support system. Their need counselling for good mental health but it is often brushed aside.

India needs to put a strong mechanism in place to help this section which also has prevalence of HIV among them higher than the general population. To study their health demands and provide them equal rights should be our priority.

The UNDP reported that 260 million people will be pushed to poverty by 2020-2021.  During the time of UPA, 271 million people were lifted above from the below poverty line.

Daily wagers are another marginalised section which needs special attention. We have seen lakhs of daily wagers migrating across the cities in search of bread and butter.

The people belonging to the lower caste always face high financial burden due to healthcare expenses, eroding them of their incomes. Strengthening of primary healthcare with improved referral systems across the states can help mitigate the difficulties faced by the community and thus improve their health status.

Here are the five things which government should do for the betterment of the marginalised sections:

  • Health, housing and nutrition for the poor
  • Implementation of pension schemes and incentive-based healthcare services
  • Strict punishments for the female foeticide
  • Strengthening of labour laws,
  • New laws for the transgender community
  • Introduction of specialised health services for the tribal

The writer of this article is a Resident Doctor at Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi and National Co-ordinater Vichar Vibhag, AICC & incharge Delhi-NCR

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