Netas need lesson in hunger

Poonam I Kaushish
Q) How much does it cost a poor man to satiate his hunger and keep body and soul together per day?
A) “One can get a meal for Rs 12 in Mumbai”, boasted MP Raj Babbar, not to be outshone cooed compatriot Rasheed Massod, “in Delhi the cost is only Rs 5”, bragged Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, “nonsense, one can fill one stomach on Rs 1.” Really? Are you joking?
Ok, fellow countrymen let lose the volley of expletives, curse all you want of how rotten the State of Denmark is. But this sums up the tragic reality of our heartless, callous desi Marie Antoinettes who have made poverty and hunger into a nautanki. Remember the French Queen’s infamous remark, “If the people have no bread let them have cake!”
Alas, our netagan’s intemperate remarks are not going to change the reality of the aam aadmi crippled by aamdani adhani karcha rupiya of soaring vegetable and oil prices and still higher inflation. Where even Rs 33 fixed by the Planning Commission or Rs 20 by the Arjun Sengupta 2007 report cannot buy one two square meals a day and sounds ridiculous.
Raising a moot point:  Do our leaders know the reality of Asli Bharat which they ad nauseum vow to protect. Importantly, do they care a damn? Clearly, underscoring that what ails India and its burgeoning poor is not poverty, which can be corrected, but the ruthless heartlessness of our netagan who not only lack humility but also empathy for the garib. Worse, it exposes their sheer ennui and paucity of ideas along-with accentuating their moral bankruptcy. What to speak of a perspective completely divorced from reality.
Put it down to the economics of politics. Forget eradicating garibi there is no sight even of the much promised roti, cheeni, chawal and dal. Our netagan’s remedy? Consume less sugar it leads to diabetes. Bluntly, stop whining and swallow the bitter pill. Mera Bharat is indeed Mahan!
True, the Planning Commission has tried to rationalize even the irrational. It would have us believe a family of five can live on Rs 5,000 a month in urban and Rs 4,080 in rural areas? And that 1800 calories per person per day is the minimum food intake criteria to define the below the poverty line (BPL) down from its earlier 2400 calories in rural areas and 2,100 calories per person per day in urban areas.
But its arguments do not cut much ice. Despite the statistics, the neatly doctored figures of easy virtue, it reels off in support. Obviously, the tweaking of figures helps the Government project a better image at international fora.
Simultaneously, this extremely low expenditure is aimed only at artificially reducing the number of BPL persons to reduce Government expenditure on them and smacks of statistical jugglery and abstract. Wherein, today it proudly asserts that poverty has declined to a record 21.9% in 2011-12 from 29.8% in 09-10 whereby we have only 269.3 million poor people of which 216.5 million reside in rural India.
Why blame them? They don’t know what poverty is. They haven’t suffered hunger pangs? Why should they? Think. They are more equal than us, the carpet-baggers who thrive on un-ending free lunches all at the aam aadmi’s hard-earned taxes. Chicken biryani for Rs 30, two idlis for Rs 1, dosa Rs 2.4, vegetarian thali (dal, 2 sabzis, raita, rice and 4 rotis) for a princely Rs 10 against Rs 45 from a footpath vendor for the same.
Shockingly, we pay them for this boorishness. Our MPs alone cost the tax payer Rs.1.30 lakhs per month. Topping this, is rent-free accommodation in five acre Lutyens Delhi bungalows, costing the aam aadmi Rs 60 crore annually. Scandalously, on those who can afford the most luxurious of homes or hotels, given that 315 of the 543 lawmakers in the Lok Sabha are crorepatis!
More. If one goes by the per capita equation, our MPs cost to the nation is 100 times what an aam aadmi makes. Thus, obfuscating the harsh reality whether it behoves a poor country to pay such high dividends to its undeserving leaders.
Undeniably, our rulers are playing a game of see-saw with the number of the country’s poor. Over six decades post Independence, after spending trillions on education, health and food two thirds of our people continue to be hungry, illiterate, unskilled and bereft of basic medical care. Disillusionment and discontent is spiraling. Borne out by rising farmers’ suicides, crime, unemployment, chakka jams et al.
Inexcusably, India has not only a third of the global poor but also there are more hungry people than any other country, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. The World Food Programme (WFP) is more candid. It says India is home to about 25 per cent of the world’s hungry poor.
It quotes Government figures to stress that over 230 million of the rural poor are mal-nourished which accounts for nearly 50% of child deaths in India and 43 per cent of children under-five years of age are underweight and more than half of all pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 suffer from anaemia. In absolute terms the figures are staggering. Worse, hunger stalks every State and the condition of its mal-nourished, over 50 per cent, is worse than some sub-Saharan countries. With food prices continuing to rise, naturally more would be pushed to poverty. Yet, over the years, our netagan have turned this dictum on its head and converted populist politics into economic nonsense.
Clearly, the more the polity indulges in the politics of food, more will go hungry. They must stop this pantomime of poverty. Who should one turn for redemption and solace? And where does the buck stop? At our leaders doorstep.
Plainly the callous remarks underscore that the Congress’ poll gambit of hamara haath aam aadmi ke saath is a charade. The time has come for the Government to stop making a mickey of the people, arrest galloping inflation and hurtling prices.
The writing is on the wall. In the ultimate, if India cannot provide the aam aadmi with adequate resources to meet his basic needs, it will cripple his full participation in the country’s progress. Our leaders must grasp that the Planning Commission’s ‘poor’ joke is no substitute for poverty alleviation.
It needs to remember you cannot continue fooling the people. They need to beware: Agar bhook aur mehangai se aam aadmi ke aankhon ke aansu mit sakte, toh din dur nahin hain jab netaoan ke vote bhook  ke chhakkey choot jaygahn! (INFA)


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