India, often described as the world's largest democracy, is home of 18.3 million slaves, the highest number of people trapped in modern slavery anywhere in the world, according to Global Slavery Index 2016 report.
|Global Slavery Chart|
The report says ten countries with the largest estimated absolute numbers
of people in modern slavery include some of the world’s most
populous countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Uzbekistan, North Korea, Russia, Nigeria, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia.
In terms of percentages, North Korea (4.37%) tops the slavery list followed by Uzbekistan (3.97%), Cambodia (1.6%), India (1.4%), Qatar (1.3%), Pakistan (1.1%), Democratic Republic
of the Congo (1.1%), Sudan (1.1%), Iraq (1.1%), Afghanistan (1.1%) and Yemen (1.1%).
The Global Slavery Index defines modern slavery as a situation where “a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception, with treatment akin to a farm animal.” Others in the category of modern slavery include victims of human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.
In addition to the 18.3 million slaves in India, there are hundreds of millions of Indians trapped in abject poverty in one of the most unequal societies in the world today. Depth of deprivation in India can best be judged by Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that comprehends 10 indicators, with equal weighting for education, health and living standards. Indian farmers are among the worst affected with a farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes. An OXFAM report on inequality released by the World Economic Forum 2017 at Davos, Switzerland, said the richest 1% of Indians own 58% of the country's wealth.
In spite of India's serious socioeconomic problems of slavery and poverty, the country now boats the world's third largest military budget. India's leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi is flexing his nation's military muscles with nuclear missiles, fighter jets, attack submarines and helicopters on Republic Day celebration in New Delhi today.
While India ranks 3rd in the world in military spending, it spends just 0.72% of GDP on social safety net, ranking lower than its neighbors Pakistan (1.89%) and Bangladesh (1.09%), according to the World Bank.
In the new Trumpian world of "alternative facts", India stands out as a leader in "post-truth" era described by Indian writer Ranjit Goswami, Vice Chancellor of RK University in Gujarat, India. Here's an excerpt of what he recently wrote in "The Conversation" journal:
"....as the US and UK wake up to this new (post-truth) era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy (India) has been living in a post-truth world for years.
From education to health care and the economy, particularly its slavish obsession with GDP, India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics.
India’s post-truth era cannot be traced to a single year – its complexities go back generations. But the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 can be marked as a significant inflection point. Ever since, the country has existed under majoritarian rule with widely reported discrimination against minorities.
India’s version of post-truth is different to its Western counterparts due to the country’s socioeconomic status; its per capita nominal income is less than 3% of that of the US (or 4% of that of the UK). Still, post-truth is everywhere in India.
It can be seen in our booming Wall Street but failing main streets, our teacher-less schools and our infrastructure-less villages. We have the ability to influence the world without enjoying good governance or a basic living conditions for so many at home.
Modi’s government has shown how key decisions can be completely divorced from the everyday lives of Indian citizens, but spun to seem like they have been made for their benefit. Nowhere is this more evident than with India’s latest demonetization drive, which plunged the country into crisis, against the advice of its central bank, and hit poorest people the hardest.
Despite the levels of extreme poverty in India, when it comes to social development, the cult of growth dominates over the development agenda, a trend that Modi has exacerbated, but that started with past governments.
The dichotomy of India’s current post-truth experience was nicely summed up by Arun Shourie, an influential former minister from Modi’s own party. He disagrees with the prime minister, just as many Republicans share sharp differences of opinion with President Trump.
Shourie said the policies of the current administration were equal to his predecessors’ policies, plus a cow."
Inequality in India and Pakistan
India's Military Budget is World's 3rd Biggest
Modi's Demonetization Disaster
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Abject Poverty in India
Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India
Farmer Suicides Continue Unabated in India