With the assembly elections for Assam round the corner, its voters are again getting to hear plenty of promises. Political parties are busy proclaiming their pious intentions to do good to the people. After 15 years of Congress rule ‘developing’ the State, the Chief Minister solemnly declared in the Assembly recently his resolve to go on putting mosquito nets and blankets in the hands of the poor. Other opposition parties like the AIUDF and the AGP found common cause with the ruling party’s grouse against the Centre for squeezing funds to the State and depriving it of special status. As for the BJP fancying its chances in the coming polls, it has promised to impart skills, end unemployment and bring about development in the State. Their ears assailed by raucous claims and promises, voters are having a hard time who to believe. Sometimes though, some set of facts offer food for thought — like those furnished recently by IndiaSpend, a non-profit organization dedicated to public-interest jourlism efforts. Citing various government reports, its survey has revealed that Assam had the country’s worst infant mortality rate at 54 deaths per 1,000 live child births in 2013, the same as the African tion of Burundi. Almost 41 percent children in the State were stunted (against the tiol average of 38.7 percent) while 9.7 percent were wasted and 22.2 percent underweight as per the Rapid Survey of Children report of 2013-14. Assam has the lowest number of schools with electricity in the country at 22.4 percent. It also has the lowest number of schools with toilets for boys at 54.8 percent, and the second lowest with girls’ toilets at 74.9 percent. Among the Northeast States in terms of literacy rate, Assam stands second lowest at 72.2 percent, even as Mizoram and Tripura are figuring near the top at the tiol level. All these figures give an idea how the very young are coming up in Assam. It is now up to its voters to sift through independent facts, find out who has broken old promises, examine those making new promises, judge wisely and act accordingly.
food for thought