Dignity is in short supply and govts are responsible for it

Social Watch report blames inaction of governments and mal-action of private sector for inequality

More than anything else, dignity seems to be in short supply the world over. Take dignity as a sum total of basic human rights, or the freedom to shape one’s future, and you will see why the world is angry, why the just concluded year witnessed so many street protests. 

Though ‘dignity’ seems more a state of mind than a piece of statistics, Social Watch International has broken it down to its components and analysed it. This is what it has found: the world faces a growing dignity crisis, as many countries have not been able deliver on the basic indices of development like tackling hunger, infant mortality rates, malnutrition and poverty.

The “inaction” of the governments of these countries “and the mal-action of business as usual are amassing a mountain of social and ecological liabilities,” states a Social Watch report titled ‘The right to a future’. Those hurdles have provoked “social and political tension and unrest […] from Cairo to Manhattan to New Delhi,” says the report. 

Read the report here: http://www.socialwatch.org/node/14034

Read the chapter on India here: http://www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/india2012_eng.pdf

“If fulfilment of basic dignity levels of enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights is not incompatible with sustainability and achievable with existing resources, not doing so is not just an ethical fault but also a threat to the global system…,” wrote the coordinator of Social Watch, Roberto Bissio, in the overview of the report.

The report also says that high economic had little bearing on setting aright social disparities. “In rich and poor countries alike, only a small minority benefitted from the excellent economic performance of the world up to the financial crisis of 2008,” Bissio points out.

It also says, “The world as a whole is more unequal than any country, with a Gini value of around 70.”

The report says that several governments have cut down their social sector spending since the financial crisis began in 2008. “Austerity fiscal policies that cut on social spending started to be implemented in debt-affected countries and are now spreading even to countries that do not suffer from debt problems or fiscal deficit,” said Bissio.

“Citizens around the world are demanding change… people have right to a future and the future starts now,” the report held. 

As for India, Himanshu Jha of Social Watch India writes in a chapter in the report: 

“The country faces several social challenges, such as inequitable economic growth, poor natural resource management, the exclusion of the majority of the population from decision making and from access to basic services, unabated environmental degradation and failure of institutions to sufficiently integrate environmental and social development considerations into economic policy objectives. Over the last decade it has been hit by a series of natural disasters that have severely damaged the economy and depleted natural resources, threatening the livelihoods of millions. Currently, 77% of the population lives below the poverty line.”

If our policymakers and planners want to prepare agenda for 2012, they can begin with this paragraph above.