New Delhi: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh attacked the states for the crumbling health infrastructure in the country, saying even Kenya has lower infant mortality rate than India. Ramesh's statement on the state of health infrastructure assumes significance as public health and sanitation; hospitals and dispensaries come under the State List (Constitution Seventh Schedule, Article 246, List II). He also targeted the states for not decentralising power, even though some of them were very vocal supporters of more power to the local bodies.
Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit 2012 on Friday, Ramesh said that India is taking several steps to tackle poverty but there are certain areas where the progress has not been satisfactory. "Health poverty is another form of poverty. Health system in India has collapsed and in some parts the public health system does not exist at all," Ramesh said at the summit.
The Union Minister stressed on improving the health infrastructure, saying," The highest priority is health. Nutrition and sanitation are crucial issues and not just building health infrastructure. We have horribly lacked on investment on health, sanitation, nutrition," he said. Pointing out that fertility rates are drastically coming down in India. "It will be a younger population in India and this will be an advantage to some extent," he added.
Taking another swipe at the states, he said, "The greatest voters of decentralisation, that is the states, are the ones who are most resistant to decentralising to the next level. The role of panchayats is crucial."
Ramesh said that the dimensions of poverty are changing in India. He categorised poverty into different types of poverty, saying some of it going down while there has been no tangible change in several other types. "Dimensions of poverty have changed. Economic growth in India has created ecological poverty which is the deprivation of natural resources to the poor. There is ecological poverty in India, the poverty caused due to inefficient use of natural resources," he said.
"The problem is not quantity of education but the quality of education is a problem in India," he added.