A National Sample Survey Organisation study done for the Unicef paints a dismal picture of traditions hampering development in the country. Data from 43 districts of 15 states may not be truly representative, but does indicate a pattern of retrograde practices making development go haywire. The study has revealed that the gap between the literate areas and the rest is often too wide.
For instance, it points out that 80 per cent of women in the Tonk district of Rajasthan married before the legal age of 18, while the more literate Dibrugarh district of Assam is a shade better with 13 per cent minors being married.
Less then 10 per cent births take place in health institutions of the backward districts of West Singhbhum of Jharkhand, Dangs in Gujarat and Koraput of Orissa, while the figure is 84 per cent in Tiruvellore district of Tamil Nadu. And in Gaya district of Bihar just five per cent children are immunized, compared to more than 90 per cent in Tumkur district of Karnataka.
The survey states that the biggest cause for worry is the poor awareness about AIDs, which is fast spreading among states with low literacy. In many such districts, the awareness about the mode of transmission is as low as 5 per cent. That when the nation is estimated to have 4.58 million HIV/AIDS patients.
The survey says that in Dholpur district of Rajasthan the awareness about the disease among women in the age group of 15-49 is just 11.2 per cent. The situation is the same in Jhalawar and Alwar districts of Rajasthan and Koraput district of Orissa. It’s only in the relatively more literate state of Andhra’s East Godavari district the awareness among women is as high as 73 per cent. Men in these areas fare a little better than the women in these areas.
Releasing the study report, GK Vasan, Minister of State for Statistics, said the solution is delegating the power of development to Panchayati Raj bodies. “This has been ensured through the 74th Constitution amendment but has not found feet in absence of strong commitment,” he said.