The rich ones are God in this country, the middle class constitute the Congress category of 'aam admi' and the paupers are not even eligible to be treated like humans, they have to compete with rats for the basic amenity ‘food’. The government prefers to feed the 500 million tonnes of food grains to the rats than distributing it free to the starving populace, When the judiciary intervened and ordered the government to freely distribute the grains that were stacked in the warehouses,the able prime minister opened his mouth wide for the first time in his political career , subtly bashing the Supreme Court that the ‘policy matters must be better saved for the governments to work upon." There can be no doubt that it is the policies of the successive governments that have led to the pathetic state of the teeming millions.
Coming back to the aam admi again , The aamadmi would act decisively only once in five years when it votes but the poor ones are the desperado who commit suicide, take to arms struggle and yes... they even cast their vote. The biggest tragedy with the government is that it has even lost count of the ‘poor terrorists’ as various committee put across various figures. Thus the government has been trying hard to fix numbers.
Last December, the government announced that only 27 per cent were living below the poverty line in 2004-5, based on National Sample Survey data However, the Planning Commission has now put the new figure at 37 per cent, based on Tendulkar Committee report.
While this committee estimated the number of BPL families at 80 million, the Planning Commission has fixed it at 74 million, while its own earlier figure was 65 million. Interestingly the Tendulkar Committee had been set up after the March 2009 National Development Council meeting, to look into the methodology for estimating poverty, because there was widespread criticism that the Planning Commission was producing unrealistically low poverty estimates.
P Sainath in his article dated "How right are you, Dr Singh" writes "What too, does the Supreme Court do when the government's 2006 promise of a new Below Poverty Line (BPL) Survey to be completed before the start of the Eleventh Plan never materialises? What do they or anyone do when the government sets grain allocations to the states based on poverty estimates of year 2000 based on the 1991 Census. Twenty-year-old data which result in 70 million fewer people getting BPL/Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) grain than should be the case."
With the food inflation increasing day by day and the income levels of the poor remaining almost unchanged, the current numbers of the people living (dying) below the poverty line is surely more than the 'accepted' figures of the government.
What has the government done ?
To mention its few (mis)deeds:
For purposes of food security, the Planning Commission finally accepted that the number of people living below the poverty line in India is 37.2 per cent . The Plan panel, mandated by the empowered group of ministers chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to finalise the BPL numbers, will now meet the secretaries of food and expenditure to calculate the cost of providing food security to so many poor.
While the process of meetings, deliberations and discussions continue and the government finally calculates the ACTUAL number of poor, I am sure the population would have increased by that time and the time would be ripe to form another committee to calculate the number of poor.
The centre has generously decentralised the prices of the petrol, ...... the government rationale is that the complete deregulation of auto-fuels and sharp hike in the prices of cooking fuels would help the government in reducing fiscal deficit and thus curtail its borrowings. Since fuel is a basic commodity, diesel prices rise will increase the carriage charges, which will be added to the commodities being transported. It will mean a hike in the prices for everything that is sold in the market and more money has to be shelled out.
Also, it is a well-known fact that the subsidised kerosene is not reaching the needy poor, rather it is being used as adulterant in diesel and it constitutes a roaring business.
The government has asked banks to ensure that micro finance institution (MFI) they lend to, do not charge beyond 24% interest from final borrowers.This directly contradicts the RBI policy that there should be no interest rate caps, and the RBI is the regulator of banks. It remains to be seen whether the RBI will assert itself or give way on this. While the government preaches SC not to intervene in the policy matters it forgets its own boundaries.
The main source of credit for the poor farmers has been the moneylenders and their interest rates exceed 30% in most of the cases. The main advantage of the MFI has been that it has been delivering credit at the doorsteps of the needy.
The question is how long can the trio (the aam aadmi and the government and the Gods) continue to turn a blind eye to the poor Indians, it is indeed a national shame to talk about the GDP rates, boast of soaring sensex figures and go gaga over the great Indian growth story where the ‘growth’ hasn’t even touched the majority of the populace. In the year 2010 when more than half of the population is malnourished, 17% are slum dwellers, 35% of the homes still live in darkness,One woman dies every eight minutes due to lack of medical facility... Indian growth figures seem hollow and shammed.