A Critical Situation

Where is India’s Social Health?

Harasankar Adhikari

According to Russell (1973), social health is "that dimension of an individual's well-being that concerns how he gets along with other people, how other people react to him, and how he interacts with social institutions and societal mores". In broader sense, it determines individual's personality and social skills. It is the reflection of social norms and "bears a close relationship to concepts such as "well-being", "adjustment," and "social functioning."

In 1947 World Health Organisation (WHO) includes the concept of social health as one of the important pillars of individual's health like physical and mental health. WHO emphasises to treat patient as social being who lives in a complex social context. It is evident that well integration of a patient into communities tends to live longer and recovers faster from disease because social isolation is a risk factor of illness.

The social health in terms of adjustment considers as 'a person's fulfilment of social roles—how adequately a person is functioning compared to normal social expectations'. Further, mutual support is another important aspect of social health which determines an attribution of a society as well as a sense of community. Thus, a feeling of mutual trust and reciprocity in a community yields social capital which is also an important indicator of social health.

Hence, "a society is healthy when there is equal opportunity for all and access by all to the goods and services essential to full functioning as a citizen". Indicators of social health of a society include the existence of the rule of law, equality in the distribution of wealth, public accessibility of decision making process and the level of social capital.

But what is the condition of social health of Indian population? After 70 years of Independence, majority of the population has to survive with hunger, ill-health, illiteracy, shelter-less and so forth. Even, in spite of their voting right they are till spectators. They have no power to demand their basic needs. While only a few percentage of Indian meddles the major portion of the wealth and they are dominants and ultimate decision makers. Thus, poor is becoming poorer day by day and rich becomes richer. The govenments (central and state) are taking programmes as relief to the poor. This is the paradigm of Indian democracy. Poor are the capital of the political parties. The leaders at different levels do business with poverty and other social, cultural and economic distances and differences. Their false sense of promises makes poor people dependent and opportunist. The leaders (representatives from lower houses to upper houses of India) have no such initiative to protect social health of people through equity in wealth and other aspects. It is only a banner heading slogan.

Several studies show that 'poor does not simply mean not having enough money but having a lack of access to resources enabling a minimum style of living and participation in the society within which one belongs'. According to Census Report, 2011-12, altogether (rural & urban) 21.9% the population lives below poverty line and number of poor is 269.8 million. Governments publicise the economic progress and development with reference to GDP, infrastructural development and such types of development indexes. Economic differences are making poor, less educated, unskilled and unemployed a neo-slave to the comparatively better classes of people in India because they are mostly doing the jobs of domestic help i.e. car driver, care-taker, maintenance work, dog grazing and so forth. There is no future security of these informal jobs. It is fully contractual and no work, no payment basis. Thus, the country drains huge potential human resources. The agricultural surplus labours are increasing daily due to less work opportunities in this sector and this sector is no more a profit making sector. The governments have less priority in this sector. They are more concerned with urban centric development and economy. The rural population has to migrate into urban places and urban affinity of them makes difficulties in their personal and family lives.

The leaders feel proud to serve the rich and their socio-economic status is their assets of advertisement and marketing. Situation of poor is becoming critical and they are only the capital of vote-market.

Vol. 50, No.11, Sep 17 - 23, 2017