January 9, 2014
Government is bent upon irradiating poverty. This is a welcome step. Every government at regular intervals and now spontaneously goes on announcing whopping rewards or gifts, or call them schemes, to uproot poverty. The dream of great Gandhi is being realised!!! Everybody has suddenly become conscious of the drudgery of the poor people. Every political party has scores of welfare schemes for the poor. The schemes were initiated much before independence, they started to flood in the post-independence era and now in the modern period in every move there is a welfare scheme to eradicate poverty and to uplift the poor. The greatest irritation in my mind in the form of questions is; “When, if at all, will all the people of India become rich? If even after 66 years of independence we have not been able to eradicate poverty, will it be possible in the future?”
In my archives the second article I had written is resting in peace. If you remember, I had titled the article as “Government Bicycle”. This was the result of a novel idea that struck to the mind of the then CM Sri Yeddyurappa. Everyone felt happy. More than anyone the bicycle factory felt very happy. The bicycles were distributed to the girls, some of them knew to ride them, rode them for a month or two, they broke and they were parked in the places where they had to be. Those who couldn’t ride just handed them to their people at home or dusted it for one or two days where they were allowed to meet their sad end. I do not want to reproduce that article once again. But I want to show to you the photo of one such bicycle which never came out to the road even for a single ride.
If this is the sad tale of the bicycle “scam”, oh, sorry, correct me, “scheme”, there are other popular scheme of the same colour. All these schemes are not to eradicate poverty but to paint the poverty. May be I think these are schemes to make someone poor perennially. Needless to point out the political motivation behind them. One of the enchanting quotes which keeps on reverberating in my mind is; “Don’t give fish to the needy, instead teach him to fish.” How meaningful this quote is. For how many days can you give fish? Instead if you can provide the required artefacts to a person to catch the fish will he ever remain hungry or wait for the crumbs from others?
Our government is concentrating on the first strategy. Giving rice at the cost of one rupee per kilo gram is easier than providing the people with a piece of cultivating land. Providing milk to the children in the school is easier than providing the families with a cow which would give milk. Providing groceries and other things for the poor people is easier for the government than providing with a shelter, electricity, clean water to drink etc. I smell two things here. One, if a person who is poor becomes rich he becomes empowered and starts thinking independently and there is a fear of his shifting loyalty. Second, if you are not in the race continuously announcing these schemes a number of companies might have to draw the shutters, which is not a good sign in terms of economic development.
Once my father came back home from the market place with his eyes red, fuming fire from his nostrils. He could for some time neither speak nor rest. When my mother forced him to divulge the reason for his predicament he slowly opened up. In the market place somebody insulted him calling him a poor man. Nothing was wrong. Whole village knew he was poor. But when somebody called the same in the public, it was a humiliation. This is an old story. Nowadays I have seen persons who are well off, earning in thousands, standing in the queue, with the minister's recommendations in their hands outside the government office to be certified that their are poor! What an irony! The popular schemes of the government are responsible for this. Real poor people, just because they don’t have the address proof to produce, are deprived of these facilities. Many reservation schemes do not reach to the people who are really in need.
I do not want to prolong this argument. The person who gets rice for one rupee a kg doesn’t take it home. Instead he sells it for 10 or 15 rupee a kg. Why should he eat that substandard rice at all when he can earn four to five hundred rupees a day and his wife earns two to three hundred rupees a day. They can afford to cook biryani every day. But the poor person without a BPL card begs the government; “please give me something to eat, please give me water to drink, please provide me a shelter.” Government has no provision for such people. They will get a sari or some liquor or some money from one election to another.
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