Any neutral visitor travelling across Haryana will find it very hard to see any development or change here over the last several years. In fact, in certain pockets it would seem as though time hasn't moved at all.
Development for any state refers to the quality of life its citizens have and include standard of living conditions, education, health services, jobs and per capita income of the people. These along with quality of infrastructure development such as roads, rail, airports, telecommunications, sports, housing all make a developed state. Can anyone who has visited all parts of Haryana confidently claim that the state is a developed one?
After being impressed by the glitz and shine of swanky glass facade buildings of Gurgaon, just drive 10 minutes out of Gurgaon and you will see the same poor condition of living that was prevailing at the time of India's independence. Even in the so called developed city of Gurgaon, one can find a slum right behind the glitzy multi-storied residential complexes with swimming pools and jogging tracks.
It is appalling how two extreme lifestyles can co-exist right next to each other and life goes on as usual. How can one accept the filth and squalor and terrible living conditions of one set of people who continue living an ostrich-like life? Is this what we would call a developed state?
In most of Haryana, people are living in abysmal conditions in dilapidated houses, most without electricity connection or clean drinking water. Everywhere one goes, one can see dilapidated houses that have not seen any maintenance in a very long time.
In most places, the roads are virtually non-existent and where electricity connection is available, the power is supplied for only a few hours in a day. Public transportation is virtually non-existent in towns and villages and people have to struggle to travel from one place to the next. Children suffer the most in trying to reach their respective schools, especially in peak summer months.
The educational system for schools in Haryana is in a poor shape. School buildings need repair, classes lack blackboards, there are no fans in most classes and where available, there is no electricity supply! The children are forced to use filthy toilets which have nobody to maintain them. This, along with the poor quality of teaching staff, where many are not really interested in teaching but are merely collecting their salaries at the start of each month.
The state lacks quality institutions for higher learning and very little effort has been made to invest and develop top quality institutions. The few that are available are essentially funded by central government. Students of Haryana who are keen to pursue quality higher learning have to migrate to other states.
Health infrastructure and services are in a very bad condition. Most government hospitals and public health centres are poorly maintained and lack 24-hour electricity supply. In addition, the medical equipments in most places do not work and most lack facilities to provide quality medical care in emergency cases.
Most of the medical centres are understaffed and the quality of staff present is questionable. Critical medicines for free distribution in government run facilities are rarely available and people are forced to buy the same in the open market, at exorbitant rates.
Absenteeism is a bane in Haryana and extends beyond schools and colleges, into all government offices. Corruption has become the norm and can be seen in all arms of the government. In fact, getting any work done without greasing palms is impossible.
Through lopsided land acquisition laws and rampant conversion of rich agricultural land to commercial use, has helped only a select few to create substantial wealth. This has resulted in a skewed development pattern where wealth is concentrated with a few while the rest is living around the BPL standard.
The same is true for agriculture. The farmers with large land holdings are wealthy due to increasing agricultural output while the ones with small land holdings are barely able to make ends meet and are mostly in debt. This economic divide is causing a tension between the rich and poor, who are increasingly resentful of the vulgar display of wealth by some.
Haryanvi society was never a victim of social divide on the basis of economic status, however this is a new phenomenon that is adding further tension in a society already reeling with tension amongst various castes.
On the Human Development Index, Haryana would score poorly. The state still suffers from traditional social evils like female infanticide, child marriage, objections to inter-caste marriages, subjugation of women to second class citizen status, are all areas where Haryana has a long way to go before it can make any claims of being a developed state.
While Haryana has managed to attract some industries to set up shop here, it has not been able to capitalise the advantages of its agrarian strengths and proximity to NCR, for bringing in the size of investments it could have.
New job creation has been very poor, with the state witnessing very high unemployment rates. The state has ignored the development of MSMEs that could have harnessed the entrepreneurial capabilities of the youth and helped in further creation of jobs. The state has a rich heritage in history and monuments and the same could have been an excellent platform to develop tourism in the state, which again could have led to further job creation but again the state has failed to capitalise on its obvious advantages.
The debate on whether Haryana is a developed state or not, is not really valid as the status is rather obvious. Haryana has a long way to go before it can make any legitimate claim of being a developed state and the debate can be left for another day.