No doubt the government would like to put a positive cast on the “quality of life” indicators published this week. It is true that in the past decade large numbers of subsidised houses have been built and many more people have access to water, sanitation and electricity. “Severe” malnutrition among children has dropped, immunisation has spread, more youngsters are in school and adult literacy is increasing. The official unemployment rate is down and so is the number of people officially living in poverty. However, the picture of a nation decently housed, properly nourished and educated, generally healthy and productively employed is far from the truth. The incidence of malaria may be down, for example, but the number of tuberculosis cases has increased rapidly and there can be no more telling indicator than the four-year drop in life expectancy for men, down to just 48 in 2007.