Why are the government and media spreading panic in India about swine-flu? There is almost none of it.
The population of India as of August 2009 is near 1,163,698,689.
Something between 19,782,878 and 115,206,170 people among this population may be suffering some kind of ailment or other at any given time (don’t forget headaches, runny noses, upset tummies, sore backs etc). The lesser figure comes by taking the minimum rate of morbidity across regions, 17/1000, the greater figure comes by taking a supposed national average morbidity rate of 99/1000. I shall be happy to yield to more accurate figures from any source.
Of these millions, some 1,200 (twelve hundred) are said to have been isolated due to and are being treated for swine-flu as of today. That is, statistically speaking, zero.
As for deaths, India experiences something between 20,405 and 26,398 deaths per day from all causes, depending on whether you use 6.40/1000 or 8.28/1000 as the mortality rate.
The number of deaths in India attributed to swine-flu since August 3 is twenty — or about 2 per day on average. That again is, statistically speaking, zero.
Of course governments at Union and State levels and the public health authorities and medical authorities need to follow their protocols and procedures – for swine-flu and every other disease that afflicts us. But, please, closing down cities and towns or holding so many ministerial meetings due to a purported swine-flu epidemic in the country is quite simply a nonsensical waste of resources. Time for a little rationality please.
Close to 389 million valid votes were cast in India’s previous General Election in 2004 to the 14th Lok Sabha, according to the Election Commission’s volume STATISTICAL REPORT ON GENERAL ELECTIONS, 2004 TO THE 14th LOK SABHA VOLUME III (DETAILS FOR ASSEMBLY SEGMENTS OF PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES).
Unfortunately, the Election Commission, like the Government of India in general, remains extremely uncomfortable with using Excel or any spreadsheets at all, and hence much of the information they provide remains unproductive — reflecting, I am afraid, rather obsolescent technology and organisation and management. From an Excel spreadsheet I have had to create for myself using EC data, my calculations give the following breakdown of the votes received in 2004 by most of the larger political parties:
2004 Lok Sabha Elections
ADMK AllIndiaAnnaDravidaMunnetraKazhagam 8,547,014
AGP AsomGanaParishad 2,069,600
AIFB AllIndiaForwardBloc 1,365,055
AITC AllIndiaTrinamoolCongress 7,863,220
BJD BijuJanataDal 5,082,849
BJP BharatiyaJanataParty 86,181,116
BSP BahujanSamajParty 21,037,968
CPI CommunistPartyofIndia 5,484,111
CPI(ML)(L) CommunistPartyofIndia(Marxist-Leninist)(Liberation) 1,280,240
CPM CommunistPartyofIndia(Marxist) 22,065,283
DMK DravidaMunnetraKazhagam 7,064,393
INC IndianNationalCongress 103,118,475
IND Independents 16,523,857
INLD IndianNationalLokDal 1,918,943
JD(S) JanataDal(Secular) 5,732,296
JD(U) JanataDal(United) 9,129,366
JMM JharkhandMuktiMorcha 1,846,843
MDMK MarumalarchiDravidaMunnetraKazhagam 1,679,870
PMK PattaliMakkalKatchi 2,169,020
NCP NationalistCongressParty 7,019,236
RJD RashtriyaJanataDal 9,384,147
RLD RashtriyaLokDal 2,463,603
RSP RevolutionarySocialistParty 1,689,794
SAD ShiromaniAkaliDal 3,506,681
SHS ShivSena 7,050,432
SP SamajwadiParty 16,822,902
TDP TeluguDesam 11,844,811
TRS TelanganaRashtraSamithi 2,441,405
That accounts for 372,382,530. The precise total of valid votes that I get by tabulating EC data using my spreadsheet is 388,920,557. The EC itself reports in the very same document a total of 388,672,504. The percentage difference is close enough to zero but it should be zero itself; I shall be delighted if my spreadsheet’s total is the incorrect one somehow, even though it uses the EC’s own data; but it does lead me to ask: “Who, if anyone, audits the Election Commission’s numerical calculations and vote tallies? Why is India’s ordinary public not informed about all this and other processes of the Election Commission perfectly transparently as a matter of routine? Is reform necessary of the processes and procedures of the Election Commission itself?”.
(Incidentally, the slight discrepancy in the totals could have arisen perhaps because my spreadsheet does, correctly, include the relatively small number of postal ballots, whereas the EC’s total possibly has not done.)
Raw votes like those described above do not of course translate directly into seats in Parliament but even so they indicate the state of popular political opinion in 2004. By how much will that popular opinion be found to have changed in 2009? How will demographic changes, and the delimitation exercise that has redrawn constituencies, affect the new outcomes? These are the kind of grown-up adult questions to ask yourself if you get bored with the endless pretentious waffle that emerges from our talking-heads on TV etc regarding the ongoing election.
Notice too the 16.5 million people of India who voted in 2004 for Independents! What on earth has made Dr Manmohan Singh recently initiate an absurd debate against them?
Here below as well is the full list of all parties that were in contention in 2004; if you want to know the vote-share any of them received according to my spreadsheet, send in a comment to this post and I shall try to respond. Better still, look up the EC volume mentioned and create your own spreadsheet from its data, and tell me how accurate mine is. (But beware, the spreadsheet will have some 60,000 rows to start with!)
List of parties in 2004
Citizen & Voter
Two years ago, I said in “Political Paralysis”,
“[I]f Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani could bring themselves to honestly walk away from BJP politics, there would have to be a genuine leadership contest and some new principles emerging in their party. There is an excellent and very simple political reason for Vajpayee and Advani to go, which is not that they are too old (which they are) but that they led their party to electoral defeat. Had they walked away in May 2004, there might have been by now some viable conservative political philosophy in India and some recognisable new alternative leadership for 2009. Instead there is none and the BJP has not only failed very badly at being a responsible Opposition, it will go into the 2009 General Election looking exceptionally decrepit and incompetent.”
Lest anyone think this was a tirade against the BJP, most of the article was actually a criticism of the Congress and the Communists!
Mr LK Advani’s claim that Indian resources have been illegally shipped overseas is hardly new or interesting — what is truly grotesque is the sheer irresponsibility of his claim that if somehow this could be reversed, it would suffice to
” Relieve the debts of all farmers and landless • Build world-class roads all over the country – from national and state highways to district and rural roads; • Completely eliminate the acute power shortage in the country and also to bring electricity to every unlit rural home; • Provide safe and adequate drinking water in all villages and towns in India • Construct good-quality houses, each worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, for 10 crore families; • Provide Rs. 4 crore to each of the nearly 6 lakh villages; the money can be used to build, in every single village, a school with internet-enabled education, a primary health centre with telemedicine facility, a veterinary clinic, a playground with gymnasium, and much more. “
This is simply appalling in its sheer mendacity. The BJP is going to give an amnesty to all those with such money and then confiscate it or requisition it or forcibly borrow it to make these resources equivalent to tax-revenues for the purposes of Indian public finance? What can one say beyond this being grotesque in its incomprehension of both facts and economic principles? Could someone who supports the BJP please teach them some Econ 101 asap?
As I have said elsewhere, only quackery, fallacious finance and multitudinous intellectual fraud seem destined to emerge from New Delhi’s governing class of all political parties and their media and businessman friends. “Government finance requires scientific honesty, especially by way of clear rigorous accounting and audit of uses and origins of public resources. That scientific honesty is what we have not had at Union or State level for more than half a century.”
Subroto Roy, Kolkata