With 200 million people, equivalent to the population of Brazil, but with an economy the size of Qatars — which has 2.4 million people, the same as the town of Bijnore — the new government of Indias most-populous state Uttar Pradesh faces myriad problems.
The GDP of Uttar Pradesh is comparable to Kenya’s, and its infant mortality rate rivals Mauritania, a poverty-ridden, west-African nation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an unprecedented victory in the state in the 2017 assembly election, with 312 out of 403 seats, but with some of India’s worst development indicators, there is much to do.
We analysed six major challenges and the corresponding promises made by the BJP to fix them in its election manifesto, called the””Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra-201″”.
1. Second-highest maternal mortality, half the child population stunted
Despite having the largest population, Uttar Pradesh spends Rs 452 per capita on health, 70 per cent less than the average spending by states.
One in two children in the state is not fully immunised, and it has Indi”s second-highest maternal mortality rate (258 deaths per 100,000 live births) and highest infant mortality rate (64 deaths per 1,000 live births), according to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (NFHS-4).
There are 84 per cent fewer specialists than needed, 50 per cent fewer nursing staff, and the lowest share of health workers (19.9 per cent) in India.
As many as 46.3 per cent of the stat”s children are stunted (low height-for-age), 17.9 per cent are wasted (low weight-for-height) and 39.5 per cent are underweight, according to NFHS-4.
What the manifesto said: The BJP has promised to have a primary sub centre in all villages with the latest equipment and technology. Further, it promised to set up 25 new medical colleges and specialty hospitals and one hospital at par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in every six blocks.
The BJP has promised a malnutrition-free state in five years.
2. Low learning levels, high absenteeism
Uttar Pradesh has achieved high enrolment of children in primary school, with 83.1 per cent of primary school-aged children enrolled in in 2015-16, according to the data from the governmen”s Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE).
Major issues for the new government now include low learning outcomes, high absenteeism, and lower enrolment in grade VI and further — 60.5 per cent of upper-primary school-aged students enrolled in school in 2015.
In 2016, about half (49.7 per cent) of Grade I students surveyed in households could not read letters, while 44.3 per cent could not recognise numbers up to nine, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), a citizen-led assessment of learning in rural India.
The survey also found that a little over half of students (56 per cent) were present in primary school on the days of the survey.
What the manifesto said: It majorly concentrates on inputs – free education, books, uniforms, teacher-student and classroom-student ratios, along with laptops and free internet for college students, and a Rs 500 crore scholarship fund for poor students.
3. High youth unemployment, high migration for jobs
The low quality of education in the state (and dearth of jobs) is reflected in high unemployment. In 2015-16, more people per 1,000 were unemployed (58), compared to the Indian average (37). Youth unemployment was especially high, with 148 for every 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 years unemployed, compared to the Indian average of 102, according to 2015-16 Labour Ministry data.
Between 2001 and 2011, over 5.8 million people between the ages of 20 and 29 years migrated in search of jobs, but, for most of these migrants, low educational attainment likely resulted in low-paying jobs in the informal sector.
6. More than half the households unelectrified
In Uttar Pradesh, power cuts were the leading election issue for one-third of voters polled. It remains one of Indi”s most poorly electrified states — with 51.8 per cent of rural households unelectrified — despite having the third-largest installed coal capacity in the country by end-January 2017.
Corruption and red tape within electricity distribution companies, which are responsible for the timely disbursal of funds for electrification projects, are a major factor in the lackadaisical progress of electrification across the state.
What the manifesto said: Every household in the state will be provided with 24-hour power supply, while poor households (below the official poverty line of Rs 816 per capita per month for rural areas) will be given electricity connections free of cost. Poor households will also be provided the first 100 units of electricity at a discounted rate of Rs 3 per unit.