Monday, April 25, 2011

Success in Space and Poverty on Earth

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) crossed another milestone in space research. Its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) set two satellites into space on 20 April. With this, Indian scientists, since the country's independence, have achieved great success in space exploration apart from other achievements. But there remains one field where it has failed dismally and that is removing poverty in the country. All countries that have failed in this most important field, their other achievements have come to naught and become meaningless.
In the eyes of the world, India is a rapidly growing economic power. Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is in nobody's doubt. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who appointed him to the post, also points out that there is no shortage of his capabilities. He has always been praised. But now the Supreme Court has raised objection to his policy, and it cannot be considered inappropriate.
Hiding Real Picture
Ahluwalia tried to remove the stain of poverty by hiding the truth which was often laid at India's door. He considered those earning Rs.13 per day income in rural areas to be living above poverty line. This was his attempt to remove the stigma of poverty. To do this, he shelved the UN criteria for assessing poverty. His announcement helped in getting down the difficulties of the union government because, according to this standard, below the poverty line is reduced to 36 percent.
The Supreme Court, however, did not think much of Ahluwalia's attempt of reducing poverty and the court could not resist asking him what was behind his scheme which is reducing hundreds of thousands of people in this country to dire poverty. Then what is the meaning of hiding this truth and painting a rosy picture of the country? Instead, what the government should have done is to wipe out the black mark of poverty from the face of the country. Such rhetoric is not going to benefit any.
It seems strange that Ahluwalia had to listen to the truth from the Supreme Court. No benefit is going to come by doing gymnastic with figures and the Supreme Court ultimately ask Ahluwalia what was the reason for such optimistic predictions when the country is going through such a phase. What is the hidden reason for such optimistic predictions? It is a pity that Ahluwalia had to listen to such talk from the court. In the past also, he has been against the growing subsidies to farmers. What seems appropriate is that he seems more interested in eliminating farmers than poverty and fulfilling the basic needs of people. This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has raised its voice against poverty. It has raised its voice several times. Before this, the Supreme Court insisted that the rapidly rotting grain should be distributed free among people.
Antipoverty Programs
What happens is that the government has seriously thought about its policies but has not as seriously implemented them. Because of corruption the money that is allotted has not reached its rightful targets. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has acknowledged this failure himself that corruption is a very big challenge and a hindrance to progress.
Poor states have benefited from the antipoverty programs but what to do about the money that gets siphoned off on the way. There seems to be no care about it. When high officials themselves siphon off large amounts then what is the government going to do with the empty treasury.
Shortage of Food Grain
It is strange that there is no shortage of food grain in the country but still people are starving. Many states have informed the union government that there is no shortage of grain and have requested it to distribute it properly. The real reason is poor distribution. Increase in poverty is causing brigandage. Indians are out on the streets looking for employment. The court remarks are enough to remind the public. Our policies should be made on the basis of humanity. There is no denying that owing to wrong policies the poor are getting poorer and the country is facing t he challenge of poverty. All talk of progress sounds hollow.

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