Is Delhi really the richest state?

Delhi is the richest state in the country’ said Chief minister Sheila Dikshit last week while launching the Delhi Statistical Hand Book of year 2013. What comes to our minds when we hear the term ‘richest state’ – swanky malls, hi-end restaurants, having a glass of imported wine, multiplexes or brands? 

Well, to our surprise even the Chief Minister also thinks so, never mind the teeming middle-classes or the poorer sections of society. The report says, on an average, a Delhiite earns Rs 2.01 lakh a year, has more than two mobile phones, gets a supply of 49 gallons of water each day and consumes over a case-and-a-half of liquor in a year! Brought out by the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics, covering various socio-economic parameters of the City, the report fails to take into account those living hand-to-mouth, and those barely make earn meals a day.

And what part of the City was she mentioning? Are malls and liquor the need of the poor who cannot even afford to buy onions and can’t afford to buy a gas cylinder? She declared Delhi as the richest state on the basis of per capita income increasing by Rs 27,397 as compared to 2011-12. This apparently reflects ‘prosperity and sound economic situation.’

Metrolife spoke to few experts about this report and this is what they have to say about this ‘superficial truth’. Shomojit Bhattacharya, economics lecturer at Kirori Mal College, says, “The globalisation has surely done good for one part of the society. The malls and movie theatres are doing well but the reality is actually different. The report is a superficial truth as it shows disturbing trends. The layer between the rich and poor is increasing by the day. One should go to slum areas and see how they survive without gas and electricity. Vegetable prices have touched the sky. How can Delhi be the richest state? One understands that Delhi being the capital of the country enjoys more benefits but the ground reality is way ahead of these malls.”

According to the report, there are 150 cinema theatres and multiplexes in the City which together offer 514 shows per day, with 1.07 lakh persons visiting theatres to watch movies every day.

In a bid to make Delhi a world-class City, the report also stated that there are nearly 44,000 beds across 940 hospitals – supposedly an indicator of expanding health infrastructure. But has our CM ever seen the queue of patients outside government hospitals and private healthcare facilities where patients die for lack of medical care and proper infrastructural support?

Nandini Dutta, Associate Professor at Miranda House, says, “This chief minister is for the rich and the upper-middle class. It shows the rush to prove her successful tenure as a CM. But it is an insensitive way of putting things, showing malls and theatres as part of her career graph. There is a large section does not even have access to clean drinking water and rations. And if you are a rich state then why can’t you spend money on the development of its people?”

“And the power price is the direct functioning of the large corporates lobbying with the government. How can anybody talk of growth with such insensitivity?” asks Nandini.

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