Congress determined to communalise poverty

via Dr Mrs Hilda Raja published on January 21, 2010

The Congress Government is toying with the idea of automatic inclusion of Minorities in  Below the Poverty Line (BPL) list accordingly to Rural Development Ministry under the Congress leader C.P. Joshi. A close scrutiny is called for. What comes automatically from the UPA 2 cannot be automatically accepted by the people. It leaves no doubt that this is a vote catching strategy not a development one.

Having stated that lets us do some probing.

What does Minority mean-is the Congress fighting shy of stating Muslims and so substitutes the word Muslims with Minority ?Then it should stated so. Muslims form the majority of the minorities groups. If the Congress really means minorities then it means the inclusion to this automatic dynamics of falling below the PL applies to the Jains, the Buddhists, the Christians the Parsees. I am not sure whether the Jains and the Parsees will like to be automatically pushed below the PL. So the Congress must first of all be clear on its target group and not hid behind Minority and mean Muslims-the majority of the minorities.

How does one measure the Poverty Line and what is the PL?

A clear understanding of poverty, estimates of poverty and its impact must be the first premise for policy makers and politicians before they shoot their mouths on strategies targeting poverty. Unless this is grappled with strategies are only cosmetic cover ups for this the indepth poverty. There is a structural basis which throws up poverty. One cannot apply a strategy to catch the thrown up effect and think that is the solution without rooting out the lopsided structure that is oppressive and exploitative. The structure needs to be pulled down or at least dismantled and a humanistic, equity structure set up if poverty has to be tackled. Without directing and focusing attention to this but camouflage it with poverty alleviation programs which means using the tax payers’ money without any accountability and qualms for wrong strategies and for communalizing poverty cannot be tolerated. To think that the same structure can alleviate poverty is foolish to say the least.

One cannot sow potatoes and want to reap tomatoes!

It is in this context that one must look at the politicians and their thinking. Strengthening the existing structure with a little bit of luck-galvanizing the structure with youth power is no solution to poverty. It will only make it more unjust. Leelavatis are throw ups of this unjust structure which the Congress set up and is reinforcing with its dynastic regime. To be the most powerful woman and the most popular leader in India is no great achievement but is a concomitant of an unjust structure- which keeps millions in starvation and semi starvation and projects a dynastic regime and fills the corridors of power with an elite coterie. Are we not inching steadily towards a banana Republic? Youth power to only reinforce such a structure is an anti-people move. The dynamics of such a structure will only push more and more people BPL and we will have any number of crumbs throwing strategies to keep the BPL population on a survival state. Unable to challenge-incapable of demanding, still worse of seeing through the deception of the politicians, the hungry millions watch the development momentum of our politicians who complain of no work but draw salaries and are given all the comforts. But the Congress has chalked out a 100 day work program for a pittance.

No work-no pay is the Supreme Court ruling-this is meant for ordinary people who stand and serve. Poverty impact is not a single point lifting up process-its structural impact encompasses a whole range of human/inhuman living and activity. It even touches on culture. This is exactly what is meant by impact of poverty. With half filled stomachs they go about trying to survive-if pushed too hard then they commit suicide giving an opportunity for the High Command to rush to wipe the tears and offer solace. Does the agriculture minister for example know what it is to lack purchasing power for a kilo of rice? How many crores does he own? The path to power is soaked with the tears and the misery of the powerlessness of the poverty groups. That is how the unjust structure of the polity is set up and made to work. The Hand can wave to them and in their trance they willwave back- waiting for the green pastures promises held out to the hungry millions election after election.

Another aspect of poverty structure it is dehumanizing and emit’s a nauseating and stomach churning stink. No wonder money and the muscle powers become the determinants to the power seats. The contradictions in this poverty upholding structure are evident in the corruption that has eaten into the entrails of Indian polity. With money anything can be achieved. There is a whole gamut of impact of poverty. The poor must be ghettoed in fences of poverty. It suits the political class especially the Congress who was at the helm of affairs the longest period in Independent India.

Look at the number of strategies it had devised for poverty alleviation. It started with Community Development Program. As the nation marched through its decades of freedom, poverty alleviation strategies were tagged under different categories-Area wise, sector- wise, occupation -wise, group-wise, and household-wise.-To name a few Intensive Agriculture Area Program, Drought prone Area program, Desert  area program, Tribal Area program etc.

From 1980 the attack on poverty shifted to specific groups –like the SCs and STs. Three major programs were launched: namely the Integrated Rural Development Program, National Rural Employment Program, the Rural Landless Labour Employment program .These were launched because the area wise  and sector wise did not have any impact and poverty numbers kept increasing. A special noting here. The much toted Congress’s Rural employment Guarantee program is not the brain child of Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi. To make the programs effective all the poverty alleviation programs were amalgamate and Integrated Rural Development Program was intensified. It was specified that that at least 30 percent of the beneficaries should be SCs.

The attack on poverty continued but was more shadow boxing and today we are told that poverty numbers are increasing and not progressive on the decline, Any fool will realize that the strategies which aimed and simulated as lifting the BPL people did not actually lift them but saw them slipping deeper into poverty and the head count numbers increasing. Any sensible government will realize that there is something basically wrong with the strategies and the approach and the operation. But government after government continued with the same structure which could not and will not deliver.

 The crux was poverty was always an economic variable- factors which assessed this economic variable were deprivation of basics, and lack of food and clean water, inability to access food and basics, unavailability of basic services etc were factors to be assessed because it was a direct result of lack of money .Poverty globally and nationally cannot be measured in any other yardstick but economic. Be it wages, calories, assets, purchasing power-give it any name it is economic. You can call it assetlessness, powerlessness, or simply deprivation, starvation etc.

Now this is not based on a religion. Poverty knows no religion and is not communal. The crux of the problem is the Congress latest enlightenment to attack poverty so under C.P Joshi it has communalized Poverty and has projected itself as State sponsored proselytizer. A new variable has been identified to net in poverty group-namely muslims. It is demeaning to even think that by following a particular religion one falls automatically BPL.

There are a number of implications. The root cause then to alleviate poverty  is to get out of that religion-it is as simple as that! Why blame a religion for poverty-Is the religion responsible for making its adherents poor? What happens to the Wakf Board assets across the country? What happens to the crorepathis- muslims?Why had Islam not made them poor? The next thing to ask is  should we believe that the Khans of Bollyhood, A.R.Rahman  of Tamilnadu, the former cricketer Pataudi and his family, Wipro Azim Premji,  Ansari the  Vice President of India (who was a bureaucrat) the film actors, those in the fashion world, MF Hussain will all automatically fall below the PL? What happens to all the flow of petro dollars from the Islamic world? The Congress forgets that business is also in the hands of the Muslims-why waste 16 to 20 years in an educational institution deemed or doomed and then look for a job? The Muslims are smarter-at a young age they enter business even if it is to set up a small bunk, get an auto, etc and in no time they earn and are financially independent.

The Congress cannot look at the migrants from Bangla Desh and Pakistan and make them the sample of poverty among the Muslims As stated earlier poverty knows no religion. In fact the Muslims are hard workers and know to stand on their own. A National, survey sample (NSS) of the government of India came out with the data that Christians are the poorest. This is understandable because the majority of the Christians are converted SCs and MBCs . This takes us to caste-Religion cannot become an identifying factor for poverty or a yardstick but caste can. This has historical empirical data. The SCs and the MBCs were deprived and denied of access even to drinking water. They were barred from certain professions (not any more) education institutions they could not think of entering. This has changed too. But there is a cumulative culture of poverty when it comes to SCs. The Constitution and the Directive Principles point to this and makes the government accountable for their upliftment. Here again a caution-positive discrimination cannot be a permanent cure. It speaks volumes of the inability of the government to continue pushing larger and larger sections of the population as backward. So the bottom line would testify that after 62 years of Planned Development there is an increase in backwardness and

Do we need a government at all for this downward trend?

Will not the ‘automatically’ falling BPL be an allurement for conversion to Islam?

Is the Congress blatantly violating the Constitution?

Is the Congress determined to communalise every aspect of this country and its governance?

Yet have the deception and the audacity to call itself ‘Secular’. A ministry for Minority (read Muslim) affairs-a special budget for them Institutions like Madrasas, Haj subsidy all financed by the tax payers money,

add to this extension of the Aligarh Muslim University-should we call this secularism?

Where does all this end?

Communalism based on region (Telangana for example) caste religion, numbers majority- minority all are the divisive forces sowed and nurtured by the Congress-the great Secular Party the mother head of Communalism.

(The author is a Development Consultant in Vadodara)

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