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Somebody should feed George Bush a morsel of plain rice with red chilli powder. This should act as a substitute for his ordinary diet of beef, pork, potato chips, beacon, bread and numerous sauces. He should know that 200 million people in India still have that as their staple food and 200 million more are forced to remain hungry. He dare accuse us of eating a lot of calories while he sits in the Oval Office, away from the reality in the average Indian household.
An average American consumes 1012 Kg of food in a year.
An Average Indian; merely 172 Kg in a year.
More than a third of the world’s poor live in India and 40% of our population lives below the internationally recognised poverty benchmark of 1$ a day. If we are eating a little more food on an average, then more than the growing middle class and their tastes; its to stop the starvation deaths, farmer suicides and people from going hungry everyday.
I was reading Gurcharan Das’s India unbound where he wrote that the poor seem to be at the forefront of every economic policy, election manifesto in India; but they just don’t seem to be coming up and being uplifted. Other than on paper, the poor in our country just don’t seem to matter; neither to the Indian bureaucrats or George W Bush. We all live such shallow, superficial lives that we seem to ignore the existence of those few who should matter. And there are times when we must care.
If the above picture is the cause of inflation and the world food shortage, then its good. Because in India, below is how most of the people generally live;
So I think George Bush should retract his statement and P Chidambaram shouldn’t Tact worse and attribute it to the use of bio-fuels. There is a limit to stupidity and both of them are crossing it.
In the last post I had displayed this cartoon from the Times of India,
xntricpundits commented the following on it,
Brilliant cartoon.Look at the way the cartoonist sketched it.You can see convoy of cars to your top left,ropes hanging to trees to your top right.Politician wearing goggles..mota golmatol babu in sharp contrast with lean thin frames of farmers and the dog by the side of cot.Politicians PA holding a file named SEZ.
The irony in the carton hits the solar plexus.
Truly India is shining.
Some more facts and figures to add to the previous post,
$ 41.2 billion is the total money earned by the top 5 rich people, India’s budget for the health sector is only 4.2% of the GDP.. i.e. around $17 billion.
47% of the population of the city of Mumbai still lives in slums. Plans are underway to make Mumbai Shanghai. Wonder what would happen to the slum dwellers.
Only 7% of the Indian population holds a graduate degree.
In as much as more than $ 40 billion have been poured in the various poverty schemes since 1982, none of them have been successfully implemented.
PS: readers may also see my post on ‘ How the Other India Lives’
The Times of India cartoon below aptly describes the title of my post.
Truly we are shining. Newspapers report that the ten richest people in the Country have increased their net worth by 51% in the past seven months. That amounts to roughly $ 41.2 Billion. And yes, people still die.
Capitalism seems to have taken a new course in this Country. the rich become richer and the poor don’t seem to be a priority anymore. The left seems to have become a shadow party and the Congress’s AAM AADMI seems to be the rich man who wants to make his millions.
Traffic jams still occur; the cities still have bad infrastructure. I still hate Bombay because of the traveling hassles. So the question is; Where does all the money go? Surely not only into the pockets of the top 10.
There is this very interesting article by Amit Sengupta in the May-June 2007 issue of Combat law. In this article titled, “The Will to Hope”, Mr. Sengupta explores the diffusion of the Left in India and the rise of a new power in the form of Hindu fundamentalism. He argues that the BJP and the RSS would come down heavily and learn from their past mistakes. What would then ensue is something similar to what is happening presently in the BJP ruled states, blatant HR violations, communal clashes and prejudices in the name of religion.
“Instead, like primordial creatures of sacred cults who can undergo multiple metamorphosis, the octopus-like parivar, with its many fronts and institutions (unlike the official or radical Left), blooms and flourishes under State patronage. That is why, the Gujarat hate lab is a 100 percent success story; and Gujarat’s prototypes and microcosms are actively spreading, like slow epidemics, in all BJP-ruled or BJP-coalition states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, even Karnataka where they tried to communalise a site of shared, secular synthesis: Babubudangiri.”
After Nandigram and incidents in Kerala, indeed the left has had to go through rough stages. They seem to be losing their identity in the States they rule. To quote Amit, “West Bengal’s openly joining the race as to who owns more malls and multiplexes, big industries and factories”. However, in as much as this article is written to show that the left influence is fading, the central theme in the article shifts to a vehement attack on Modi and the BJP ruled states. Amit seems to be talking more about justice to the victims of Gujarat than about Karat and his influence on the left.
True however is the premise that despite a Left backed government in our country, Leftist ideals dont seem to be followed. We looked towards the left when it came to Petrol prices and nothing happened. Nandigram is a black stain on the left that time and again talks about atrocities in Gujarat.
“Meanwhile, the 10 percent growth remains an elusive category for the 93 percent of our unorganised workforce in the informal sector, in urban and rural areas, mostly the poorest. They are compulsively isolated outside the paradigm of social safety, social security, health, education, food, drinking water, or shelter, as constitutional rights, with not even 100 days of employment in a year, despite the fudged up National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the scrapped National Advisory Council. So what does the neo-liberal State want them to do: line up outside the SEZs and commit mass suicides?”
The above and a reference to farmer suicides seem to divert from the main issue of the article. In the end, Amit states that the UPA- Left must wake up to tackle these issues. True that they must wake up. But the reason should not be that otherwise the BJP would come to power and the consequences would be bad. In not allowing the ‘devil to rise’, we are asking the squirrel to gear up.
In a one liner to this article, Mr Sengupta looks at a lot of issues to adjust to the Central idea. However, the premises he uses to justify them are baseless.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), formulated consequential to the NREG Act, 2005, has no doubt, been of benefit to a vast number of families from rural India. This social-welfare legislation has proved instrumental in creating employment, albeit temporary, to those lacking adequate means of livelihood. The present context upon which I wish to comment, is one that exemplifies the connection, or rather the absence thereof, in the spheres of law and society. The exclusion of single women and widows from the ambit and benefit of the NREGP is no small matter.
The background to this comment is based on P. Sainath’s article in the Hindu dated May 22, 2007 and can be read here: http://www.hindu.com/2007/05/22/stories/2007052200840900.htm
The article, in essence, deals with case-studies of single and widowed women in Andhra Pradesh who have been refused employment under this Programme on the ground that they lacked a male partner joining for work. Many of the widows’ farmer-husbands committed suicide in light of the extremely miserable conditions for agrarian production which have been long prevalent in A.P (and many other parts of the country) now. Such reports have even received confirmation from officials in the Government. Digressing slightly, it can be stated there is a complete lack of awareness as to the fact that the widowed women of farmers are all the more in need of employment as a result of the deficient means of livelihood.
If one observes the reasons for refusal to provide employment to these women, it can be noted that such employment is contingent on the presence/ absence of a male partner at work. The fundamental assumption, therefore, is that productivity and work will be compromised if single/widowed women are employed without male workers to “compensate” such depletion in productivity. In short, only male workers can be trusted, so to say, to maintain standards of efficiency at work. Inherently discriminatory in nature, such tendencies do well to perpetuate the myth of the “able-bodied worker”. It would be truistic to say that the very purpose of the NREG Act is destroyed if such notions are encouraged. If employment were to be provided on such fallacious grounds based on efficiency, rooted in gender bias, we would only be promoting discrimination; not to mention the fact that livelihood of families run by women (no meagre number, that) would be thrown into (further?) economic backwardness.
The law in its implementation has to be conscious of ground realities in society. A social welfare legislation is absolutely redundant if in practice, it encourages such myths and discriminates on the basis of norms clearly unconstitutional. An understanding of social and gender equality is critical to the benefit of its subjects in society.