Rahul Gandhi playing safe

via Dr Mrs Hilda Raja published on August 11, 2010

‘Rahul springs a surprise with IRMA visit’, screamed a paper. Strange that the print media is so very soft on Rahul and when he makes an appearance then it goes all out to project him as the great expert and does not matter if his expertise pronouncements are all muddled up. Till date RG has not utter a word on inflation, on wheat rotting (poor aam admis-the rats are better off in India ) Kashmir Common Wealth Games etc. He was conspicuous with his absence at the train disaster, had no opinion on the Bhopal gas victims plight, leave alone his father’s role in guaranteeing the safe transit of Warren Anderson. A man projected as the next PM by the present PM has no opinion on anything substantive. But appears now here and now there and to the utter delight of the media!

He took a British minister to have a peep into a hut to catch a glimpse of rural India-he ate in a SC’s house to show empathy or to understand their food habits .Such tokenism is what the Congress is good at. And now he springs a surprise in IRMA-Anand, to caution the experts not to categorize the country into rural and urban segments. ‘The old concept of rural and urban is fast changing. People move from smaller villages to bigger ones. Their incomes are partly from agriculture and partly from other sources. There are people in rural India who are more urban than their counterparts in urban areas. Over 500 million people are in a state of transition and hence the focus must be on individuals” states RG

What a great knowledge input for developers and policy makers.

RG is ignorant of the fact that rural urban divide and understanding the push and the pull factors that trigger such a process is essential to draw up programs and plans for ‘individuals’ living in these areas. He has completely mixed up ‘urbanism’ ‘urbanisation and rural urban divide. It is not as though when we talk of rural people we are subsuming them as ‘individuals’. The habitat, the infrastructure and the the development inputs need to be planned, set up, engineered and monitored for ‘individuals’ in these areas. The categorization of the area counts. The flow from the rural areas to the urban areas has been a process initiated long ago and accelerated by the policy of the British. When the rural areas were neglected people in these areas were pauperized and had to move out seeking their livelihood. This is a process which needs to be kept very much in focus in planning to prevent the urban areas from becoming a proliferation of slums. There is hence the need to catch this rural-urban flow midway by creating satellite towns and infrastructure to help the flow  not be single channeled into urban metros.A road map must be planned.

A place is categorized as rural/urban depending on revenue, income of the people, occupation, concentration of population per sq.mile plus the facilities, infrastructure  and availability of water and transport et al. Policy makers need to grapple with these basics and towards this rural and urban areas and their respective population must be contoured in detail.

It is wrong to ask experts to do away with this segmentation and to talk of all as ‘individuals’ At the most it exposes Rahul Gandhi’s complete lack of understanding with development and at the least his inability to focus on essentials. It would rather have been relevant if he had made a case against caste census-that’s segmentation of people giving it legality and a constitutionality. It would still be valid for him to demand the baseless and illogical shameless categorization of housewives and prostitutes as one segment which is unproductive. The Congress specifically, and the GOI must apologize for these humiliating references to housewives and prostitutes.

These glaring innuendoes do not prompt Rahul Gandhi with any response. But to ask for doing away the rural/urban segmentation of people because they are individuals is sheer ignorance in policy making and planning-what even if they are categorized as such-does it make them non ‘individuals? Mixing up urbanism and urban- rural flow is laughable. One is an attitude and a mindset and the other is a process. A process cannot be set back but can be slowed down, redirected and gradually arrested when rural areas become urban with all the necessary facilities and infrastructures and the revenue rises from these centers-then no matter whether people have an urban mentality or not they will live as worthy Indians.But lets no muddle up with urbanism, urbanite, ruralisation, et al.

What is inexplicable is the fact that Rahul Gandhi speaks and comments on non essentials but on crucial problems and policies and on burning issues he is silent-Should we then consider that he has no opinion on these-or that he is playing safe?

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