India: Highlights and Lowlights
India is a diverse and culturally rich country with much to offer. In recent years, India has been making headlines for its rapid economic growth and technological advancements. The country’s software and IT sector are booming, and Indian companies have become significant players in the global market. India is also home to an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna, with some of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Additionally, India has a vibrant and colourful cultural heritage, evident in everything from its music and dance to its iconic cuisine. Despite some challenges, such as social tensions and occasional political upheaval, India remains a land of great promise and potential. As the country grows and develops, it will stay at the forefront of global innovation and progress.
The future of Indian society looks bright as the country continues to progress in various fields. The rise of people of Indian origin in leadership positions across different industries is a testament to their hard work and determination. With a focus on building better infrastructure, India is creating opportunities for its citizens to contribute towards the country’s future. The thriving Indian communities in places like New Jersey are evidence of the success that Indians are achieving abroad. India is becoming more inclusive and diverse as it reconciles its multi-lingual and multi-cultural society. While challenges do exist, the optimistic tone of Indian society is paving the way for a better future for all its citizens.
On the other side India, once a shining star in the global economy, is facing many challenges. India’s current social issues are a cause for distress and concern. Rampant unemployment, poverty, and discrimination against specific communities have led to many problems plaguing the country. The level of poverty and ignorance is such that it allows politicians to exploit religious differences and create hatred between communities for their gain. The increasing crime rates and the lack of safety for women and minorities further add to the dismal state of affairs. The recent diplomatic crisis and the deteriorating relations with certain countries have added to the nation’s woes. While India may have made progress in certain areas, it cannot ignore the pressing social issues that threaten the country’s development and must be urgently addressed.
Our visit to India
ADDRESSING INDIA’S SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Visiting India can be an eye-opening experience, but it can also be disheartening. The House of Hope team visited India several times. We visited New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Siliguri, and some places in Gujarat and Assam. The country is plagued with social problems that seem insurmountable. Rampant unemployment, poverty, and destitution are commonplace, contributing to a significant issue of homelessness. Hard-line nationalist groups continue to point the finger at those they blame for dividing India into two states, which has resulted in continuous animosity between religious and social groups. Male-dominated social practices plague society, and even though efforts are being made to address issues of poverty and inequality, much more needs to be done. We felt pessimistic about the situation, as these problems appear too immense.
Despite the challenges India faces, there are reasons for optimism. The government and NGOs are taking steps to address issues such as communicable diseases, malnutrition, unemployment, casteism, dowry, and many more. Though there is still work to be done, House of Hope is confident to contribute to making progress. Observing these issues firsthand can be sobering, but it also allows House of Hope to appreciate the resilience and determination of the Indian people in working towards a better future.
House of Hope efforts are critical in addressing various social problems nationwide, particularly in more underserved regions. Despite facing multiple challenges, House of Hope will grow into a stable entity. We wish to strategies and coordinate efforts of different pillars of society together. House of Hope is confident in creating awareness and garnering support for these causes. By working together and utilising the strengths of like-minded people, House of Hope can make a real difference in the lives of people who need it most.
Pillar 1: Children & Youth
India has the world’s largest youth population aged between 10-24 years at 356 million, yet they continue to face numerous social challenges. (source: United Nations Population Fund)
- According to UNESCO, 258 million children, adolescents, and young adults are out of school in India. This means one in every five young people globally who are not attending school is from India.
- Child labour remains a significant issue in India, with an estimated 10 million children working. Boys are more likely to be involved in child labour than girls, working in various industries, from agriculture to household work.
- Despite laws prohibiting child marriage, it remains prevalent, with 27% of girls getting married before 18. Early marriage often leads to early pregnancy, increasing maternal and child mortality risk.
- Gender inequality continues to plague India, with discrimination against girls starting before birth. Female feticide and infanticide persist, and young girls face lower levels of education, poorer health, and higher rates of child marriage.
- Youth mental health is another concern in India, with a massive burden of mental illness among young people. According to a survey by the World Health Organization, one in four youths aged 13-15 years suffers from emotional distress.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated existing social challenges for Indian children and youth, with school closures, economic hardship, and increased vulnerabilities to exploitation.
In conclusion, India’s children and youth face significant social challenges that demand urgent attention and action from policymakers and civil society. It’s time to give this generation the support they need to flourish and lead India to a brighter future.
Pillar 2: Prostitutes
- A Rising Number of Prostitutes: India has a growing number of prostitutes, with an estimated 2.8 million women and girls working in the industry. This is a staggering 76% increase in the last decade.
- Stigma and Discrimination: Despite the growing numbers, prostitutes in India continue to face severe stigma and discrimination. They are often seen as social outcasts and are denied fundamental human rights.
- Violence and Abuse: Prostitution in India is often linked with violence and abuse. Prostitutes are vulnerable to physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and many suffer mental health problems.
- Health Risks: Prostitutes in India are also at risk of several health problems, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse. Many cannot access healthcare, tackling these problems even more challenging.
- Lack of Legal Protection: India’s legal system does not adequately protect prostitutes. They are often subjected to arbitrary arrests, police brutality, and sexual harassment without legal recourse.
- Child Prostitution: Child prostitution is a significant problem in India, with an estimated 1.2 million children working in the industry. Many of these children are forced into prostitution by poverty or trafficking.
- Lack of Rehabilitation: Few rehabilitation programs exist for prostitutes in India, making it difficult for them to leave the industry. Many are forced to continue working as prostitutes, even after they have been rescued.
- Overall, India’s social challenges of prostitutes continue to be significant, with few solutions. More action must be taken to address the root causes of prostitution and support those who have fallen victim to this industry.
Pillar 3: Drug Addicts
India is facing a growing social challenge of drug addiction, affecting individuals and communities nationwide.
- Recent statistics suggest that drug abuse is rising in India, with many young people falling prey to addiction.
- According to a 2019 report by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, there are an estimated 3.1 million drug addicts in India, expected to rise to 5.2 million by 2021.
- The report highlights that drug abuse is not limited to any particular state or region, with addicts found in urban and rural areas.
- While several factors contribute to the rising incidence of drug abuse in India, poverty and lack of education are significant drivers of addiction.
- The report also suggests that the use of new and emerging psychotropic substances, such as synthetic cannabis and designer drugs, is rising in India.
- The impact of drug addiction is felt not only by the addicts themselves but also by their families and communities, with increased crime rates, health problems and social dysfunction.
Pillar 4: Homeless
- According to the 2011 Census, nearly 1.8 million homeless people are in India.
- The actual number is believed to be much higher, as the definition of homelessness used in the census is narrow and doesn’t include those living in slums or informal settlements.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the challenge, leaving many more people without a roof due to job losses and economic hardship.
- The situation is particularly dire for women and children, who are often forced into vulnerable situations, including prostitution and begging.
- Many homeless people in India struggle with access to essential services, such as healthcare and education, making it difficult to break the cycle of poverty.
- The lack of affordable housing and basic amenities in urban areas exacerbates the problem, forcing many people to live on the streets.
- The challenge of homelessness in India reflects deeper societal and economic issues, including inequality and marginalisation.
Pillar 5: Prisoners
- Overcrowded Prisons: According to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), as of 2019, India’s prisons were at 117.6% occupancy.
- Lack of Resources: The NCRB report also highlights the shortage of resources, such as inadequate staff, healthcare facilities, and legal aid.
- Poor Conditions: Indian prisons are deplorable, with insufficient food, water, and sanitation facilities. Many prisoners are also victims of physical and sexual abuse.
- Health Concerns: Prisons can become hotspots for diseases, and India’s prisons are no exception. The risk of infections such as tuberculosis and HIV is high due to overcrowding and poor healthcare facilities.
- Economic Vulnerability: Most prisoners come from low-income families and lack access to education, job opportunities, and social programs, further fueling the cycle of crime.
- Challenges to Reintegration: The stigma of being a convict hampers the chances of reintegration into society for released prisoners. The lack of skills and education opportunities within the prison system makes it difficult to find employment once they are out.
- Inadequate Legal Aid: Access to legal aid is a fundamental right, but many prisoners in India do not receive it. Most inmates come from a background of poverty and lack the resources to engage competent legal counsel to defend their cases in court.
Pillar 6: Refugees
- According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, India hosted around 307,000 refugees as of January 2019, mainly from Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- Despite India’s long history of providing refuge to those in need, the government’s policies towards refugees have become increasingly restrictive in recent years. For example, the government has been cracking down on Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, refusing to recognise them as refugees and seeking to deport them.
- The situation for refugees in India is worsened by discrimination, poverty, and limited access to essential services such as healthcare and education.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse, with many refugees losing their sources of income and struggling to access food and other necessities.
Pillar 7: The Sick
- India struggles with a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, which account for 60% of deaths in the country.
- Despite being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India still faces the challenge of providing quality healthcare to its people, especially the poor and marginalised.
- The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the deep fault lines in India’s healthcare system, with a shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment, and oxygen supply causing thousands of deaths.
- India’s healthcare spending, around 3.5% of its GDP, is much lower than that of other developing countries, such as China and Brazil, which spend around 6% and 9%, respectively.
- The lack of access to healthcare is particularly acute in rural areas, where most of India’s population lives and where there is a shortage of doctors, nurses, and medical facilities.
- As a result of these challenges, India’s healthcare system is marked by rampant inequality, which has resulted in a two-tier system where the rich can afford quality healthcare. At the same time, people with low incomes are left to suffer.
House of Hope Strategies
Pillar 1: Children & Youth
- Promoting Lifelong Learning: House of Hope will promote education and skills training to prepare youth for the job market.
- Ensuring housing stability and emotional well-being: House of Hope will also promote housing stability and social and emotional well-being for vulnerable children and youth, including victims of domestic violence and runaway and homeless youth.
- Partner engagement: House of Hope will collaborate with like-minded organisations, government, and stakeholders to implement effective policies and programmes.
- Social justice for all: House of Hope strives for racial, economic, and social justice. We will work towards ensuring that all children, youth, and families have access to equal opportunities and are not discriminated against.
- Effective services for indigenous communities: We will work towards preserving and promoting indigenous cultures and supporting their socio-economic development.
- Safeguarding mental health: We work to safeguard the mental health and psychosocial well-being of children, adolescents, parents, and caregivers. House of Hope will work towards better mental health support services, psychological counselling, and trauma-informed care.
- Promote adolescent development: Adolescents constitute over one-fifth of India’s population. We will focus on promoting adolescent development by supporting education, health, and well-being services.
Pillar 2: Prostitutes
- House of Hope would rescue and rehabilitates human trafficking victims.
- We will conduct intelligence-based operations with the assistance of the police to rescue sex trafficking victims in brothels.
- House of Hope will work with social workers, counsellors, lawyers and researchers to fight the menace of human trafficking with a victim-centric, end-to-end approach to facilitate rescue, access to legal support and rehabilitation, and reintegration of survivors.
- We aim to free women and their children from brothels by ending their dependency on the criminal nexus involving drugs, sexual exploitation, mafias, police and politicians.
- We are committed to bridging the skill gaps between the women in prostitution and those rescued by providing self-employment opportunities.
- House of Hope strategies involve supporting victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution and providing legal intervention.
- We wish to create favourable economic and social policies for the full development of women, enabling them to realise their potential.
- House of Hope is also committed to providing support and information to sex workers.
Pillar 3: Drug Addicts
- House of Hope will serve the welfare of drug addicts by providing them with necessary support and rehabilitation.
- We will create awareness about drug addiction, identify patients, and provide them with timely treatment and support.
- Our bottom-up approach emphasises community engagement and participation in building a strong foundation for combating drug addiction.
- We will closely work with government bodies to create and implement policies and programs that facilitate drug addiction recovery and reintegration into society.
Pillar 4: Homeless
- House of Hope strives to provide shelter, food, and basic amenities to the homeless population.
- We also seek to empower them by providing education, job training, and healthcare services.
- House of Hope will work with government agencies to access funds and support their programs.
- House of Hope will collaborate with local businesses and individuals to secure donations of food, clothing, and other resources.
- We will create awareness campaigns and advocacy efforts to generate public support and highlight the issue of homelessness.
- We will target the street-dwellers, people living in temporary shelters, and those destitute. We want immediate relief through food, clothing, and healthcare services.
- We wish to provide permanent housing through community-driven initiatives and access to government schemes.
Pillar 5: Prisoners
- Promoting education: House of Hope believes education is a fundamental right, and prisoners should not be deprived. We will work towards providing educational opportunities to inmates through various programs and activities.
- Health and Hygiene: We promote better health and hygiene practices inside the prisons. We will work towards providing clean water, sanitation facilities, and medical services to inmates.
- Re-integration: House of Hope aims to help inmates reintegrate into society after release. We will provide them with vocational training and job opportunities to help them lead productive and fulfilling life.
- Advocacy: House of Hope advocates for better policies and practices concerning prisoners’ rights. We will raise awareness about the living conditions of inmates and promote changes in the criminal justice system.
Pillar 6: Refugees
- Legal protection and humanitarian assistance: House of Hope will provide refugees with legal protection and humanitarian aid.
- Identifying and referring refugees to resettlement programs: We will identify refugee cases and refer them to them. This helps to increase the number of refugees who can access resettlement programs.
- Improving living conditions: House of Hope works to improve refugees’ living conditions by providing them with shelter, food, and other necessities. This helps ensure that refugees live in a safe and healthy environment.
- Local integration: We will work towards local integration of refugees, ensuring they have access to education, healthcare, and other essential services. This helps to ensure that refugees can access the resources they need to improve their lives.
- Advocating for refugees: We will advocate for refugees by raising awareness about their plight and lobbying governments to provide more support. This helps to ensure that refugees can access the resources they need to build a better life.
Pillar 7: The Sick
- House of Hope addresses the lack of healthcare access in rural and underprivileged communities. We will work towards establishing clinics, mobile medical units, and telemedicine facilities to reach those who can’t access healthcare services easily.
- We will also conduct health awareness campaigns to educate rural populations about the importance of health and hygiene.
- House of Hope will promote preventive healthcare measures such as vaccination and regular health screenings.
- We will work towards improving maternal and child health by providing nutritional supplements and promoting safe health practices during pregnancy.
- We also focus on preventing the spread of communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
- House of Hope will work closely with local healthcare professionals to improve healthcare systems.
- We will provide training on healthcare practices, infection control, and emergency response. We will also support the development of healthcare infrastructure and management systems to provide better healthcare services.
- With our experience, we are confident in playing a crucial role during public health emergencies such as pandemics, earthquakes, and floods. We provide vital medical aid, food, and essential supplies in emergencies. We work closely with local governments and national health agencies to coordinate and deliver relief efforts.
- Ultimately, we aim to improve healthcare access, quality, and affordability for all communities, regardless of socioeconomic status. We are instrumental in supporting the healthcare system in India and work tirelessly towards providing a healthy future for all.
Our initiatives in India
Hope Center Mumbai
With the help of local leaders and partners, House of Hope has initiated work in two pillars of the need in Mumbai, ie. Children & Youth and Prostitute. House of Hope team visited India, conducted meetings with vital local leaders, and has started executing our strategies.
Children & Youth
House of Hope protects children’s rights and ensures their welfare. We strive to safeguard children from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse. Our efforts focus on providing education to children lacking access to formal schooling. We aim to create a learning culture among children and youth, allowing them to build a better future.
House of Hope will prioritise the nutritional needs of children and youth by providing nutritional support. We aim to address malnutrition and promote healthy development among children.
We will continue to work towards generating employment opportunities for youth in Mumbai. Creating jobs and training programs will empower youth to become self-reliant and build a better future for themselves and their families. Through various initiatives, House of Hope ensures children have access to quality healthcare, mental health support, and safe spaces to grow and thrive.
In Mumbai, we continue to work towards protecting the environment, providing children and youth with a clean and safe environment to live in. We will create awareness and promote sustainable practices among children and youth.
As per our execution plan, we will support children with special needs, providing them with access to education, rehabilitation, and community support. We strive to create an inclusive society where every child is valued and supported.
Prostitution is a pervasive issue in Mumbai, with many women and girls being forced into the industry due to poverty and lack of economic opportunities. We have been working tirelessly towards improving the welfare of prostitutes in other parts of the world and will continue working in Mumbai, empowering them to lead better lives.
Our primary goal is to improve the health and safety of sex workers. This includes access to regular health check-ups, STI testing and treatment, and adequate medical care. We also work towards increasing awareness about safe sex practices and condom usage, which helps reduce the spread of STIs and HIV.
We have realised that the root cause of prostitution is poverty; hence, Houe of Hope focuses on empowering sex workers economically. We will provide vocational training and education to help sex workers acquire skills that can help them transition out of the industry. We will also offer microfinance loans and support sex workers set up their businesses, giving them the necessary financial means to lead independent lives.
Many sex workers in Mumbai are denied legal protection, and hence House of Hope will work towards advocating for their rights. We will help sex workers understand their legal rights and provide legal aid when required. We also collaborate with policymakers to push for laws that protect the rights of sex workers and decriminalise prostitution.
Prostitution can take a toll on the mental health and well-being of sex workers. We recognise this and hence provide social and emotional support to sex workers. We will organise support groups, counselling sessions, and mental health services to help sex workers cope with the trauma associated with their profession.
House of Hope has started four pillars in Chennai after meeting key leaders of different segments in the city. We have started the Sick, Education, and Economics pillar. The fourth pillar consists of leaders who are available to contribute to other pillars of need. We are in the process of initiating projects in the medical and educational segments.
House of Hope could begin four pillars in Siliguri after a successful meeting with grassroots social transformers. We have started Children & Youth, the Sick, and the Economics pillars. We were able to identify and meet volunteers who have committed to contributing to other pillars.
HOUSE OF HOPE PICTURES TAKEN ON OUR EXPERT TOUR
Impressions from India
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