Where shall non-poor go ?

Shiban Khaibri
At the outset, let the reasons of the “Sonay Ki Chidya” or the golden Sparrow as our country was known to be, turning into a poverty ridden country, be not enumerated but the fact remains that poverty has been institutionalized in our country by most of the political parties to a larger extent but the credit of monopolizing the concept and sustaining the institution of poverty has been the prerogative of the Congress Party.  After finding Anna’s Jan Lokpal movement either finally not converging into a political outfit or his acquiesces to jump into one not forthcoming, in 2013 one of the runners – up of Anna’s movement made an experiment of floating a new outfit in Delhi. It was craftily preceded by theatrics like electric pole climbing to join the ends of wires together which were temporarily separated on account of nonpayment of the bills of some defaulters. The easy path of invoking the conventional rhetoric of poverty and exploitation etc was resorted to the hilt. Electricity tariff was promised to be cut by as much as 50%, water was promised free, casual labourers to be made permanent, vegetables and milk to be sold for half a song and all-round comforts and better living assured.
One more thing, for making catchy slogans and delivering “marvelous speeches” was to whip the demon of corruption. In this, even an austere life, very simple – sans pomp and show and flashing of beacon lights, preferring manual rickshaws or at best Metro ride was promised. At the top of voice “BJP Chor Hai Ji” , “Congress Chor Hai Ji” was uttered in public speeches and when a few asked the chief of this new outfit as to why BJP first and the Congress at number two , he feigned  as simple as innocent , “I said in alphabetic order Ji”. Rest is all story of taking the support of the same Party which witnessed attacking spree left and right by him, Dharnas, sloganeering, demonstrations, demeaning the Republic Day celebrations and finally that odd figure of 49 days and that is all but not as it appeared then. A post of Delhi CM is not as big as that of the Prime Minister. So bidding adieu to governing just Delhi only was not without proper calculations, he first went with a list of “omissions and commissions committed” by the present PM, direct to his office in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad when he was the CM of Gujarat, to seek his instantaneous “explanation”. Then he chased him in Varanasi using every trick of the game and fielded 400 “capable honest” candidates to be elected to the Lok Sabha .  As the saying goes – back to square one, Delhi – and fresh  elections for 70 seats , he is out seeking votes braving pleasant Delhi chill with as many as three  mufflers asking for  just 5 years “to solve all problems Delhi has”, just note “all problems”,  putting all stakes in the muffle of the battle, tall promises,  honesty and transparency,  cheap electricity , free sweet potable water, free roads, reducing inflation, safety for all women- children, the old,  free CCTV cameras, free new schools and  20 free or cheap colleges,  cheap health services,  power projects,  full statehood, in short realization of Ram Rajya.  Laced with all it is Dr. Goebbels’ craft of political salesmanship, if not a thing “which is not”. He has full support of communists, socialists,  JD(U),  RJD, TMC, JD(S), Imam Bukhari and all.
Take the case of Congress, currently undergoing a trying resuscitation process. It promises cut in power tariffs, waiving off pending water bills, easing ration cards issuance for the poor, hike in wages of Anganwari workers, cheap passes for the poor in Metros and host of programmes for the poor.
Take the case of the BJP. It says to regularize unauthorized colonies, provide cheap water, flats for residents of juggi clusters, affordable Hospital services, new universities, smart city, women security, civic infrastructure and all that. It can be observed that the manifestoes, the vision documents and other programmes and policies of the political parties in the fray are centered round the poor, the underprivileged, and the lead being taken by 2013 born Aam Aadmi Party. Imagine if there is no poverty in India, what shall be these parties doing to fight elections; how much of sweat, tears and toil shall these be expending to motivate the voter, can be any one’s guess. It is a matter to be rued that none of the Parties have in their manifestoes or vision documents,  any tangible policy to implement strict measures to control population explosion due to which there is 29.8% of the Indian population below the poverty line as per the estimates of the United Nation Development Programme as on Dec31, 2012. It could be more as on date. As against the revised definition and the benchmark to measure the poverty line, the World Bank puts it at $1.25 per person per day or nearly Rs.60 as against Rs.26 and Rs.32 in Rural areas and urban areas respectively by the yester years’ UPA government. In US, the poverty line is at $11670 per person per year or Rs. 6 lacs.
The question is not to discuss whether high population growth rate is a symptom or a cause of poverty but at more than 1.3 billion at present with comparatively lesser areas of land, forests, water resources and other natural resources as against 300 million as in 1948, where is this country going with a continuous callous and “touch not” approach to the population problem? Why those who should put it atop their manifestoes to enforce two child norms and incentives for one, fear losing votes under  conventional or religious  alibi? Who shall break the ice and when? Is by any calculus, therefore, poverty being sustained and curated to keep the vote bank intact and rejuvenated?  Do not continuance of subsidies and other protectionist policies deserve a review from feeding the less income groups with discounts, concessions, subsidies, waiving off liabilities etc rather than strengthening them economically by pushing up their money wages to lead to better consumption and spending? “Garibi Hatao , desh Bachao” did little and accomplish less. 4% of all funds allocated for economic development went to anti poverty programmes and precious few of these reached the poorest of the poor. 20 point economic programme too was an election slogan. MGNREGA scheme has not been free from the charges of irregularities and corruption in addition to be not promoting productive and semi technical labour output. Series of elections were fought and won, playing the poverty plank. It continues even now with more zeal, added now is the rhetoric to “protect secularism” from designated “communal and fashist forshez (read fascist forces)”.
AA Party is noising about “costly” electricity and the need to provide cheap or even subsidized electricity even when as on date, the power tariff in Punjab, Bangalore, Himachal or Chennai is more than that in Delhi. Its chief’s charges of political parties having  supported only the big wigs and not the poor while self championing simplicity and honesty, is silent about the four cheques of Rs. 50 lacs each allegedly from shell companies and the source of funding for “hoarding” Delhi with AA posters and banners. Rahul Gandhi in one of his few and far between “Darshans” the other day said, “Congress is the party of the poor, the landless, the roofless – all of the poor, by the poor and for the poor”.  BJP says the next decade belongs to the poor. Where the “non- poor”  shall go is a big question, however, poverty and votes are looking inseparable in the political firmament of our country.


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