A large number of people in India are below poverty line. The Govt of India as well as all the State Governments want to remove poverty from India. Irrespective of which party comes to power the Govt always have some programs to remove poverty from India. Similarly all the State Governments also form certain programs and projects to remove poverty from India.
Criteria to declare somebody as poor and calculation of percentage of poor people in India are variable, debatable and confusing. Government criteria are ridiculous which need no elaboration. But in general any sensible person can definitely say that the number of poor people in India is definitely more than the number of rich people and mediocre people combined.
Purpose of this article is not to go into the details of the different criteria for the poverty line in India and to calculate percentage of people below poverty line accordingly. Such calculation creates more confusion than conclusion. The Government claims something which supports their projects and programs without revealing the truth.
Philosophically man’s wants are unlimited. The more he gets, the more he wants. The rich desires more than the poor. So most probably I am not wrong if I say rich people are poorer than the poor. Philosophically a man who is contented is rich and a man, who is not contented, is poor irrespective of how much of wealth he possesses.
With due regard to the above philosophy I can definitely say that in view of the prevailing situation in India it may have high moral value but little practical value. The high morality of contentment has no attraction for the modern youth of India. The general trend of the common people is also against this high morality.
Let us consider what a common man in India desires at present
As I have already stated, man’s wants are unlimited. The criteria for poverty line fixed by the Govt are most of the times ridiculous. From common sense we can know what are the minimum needs of a common man in the present situation in India.
A common man needs a pukka house with minimum adequacy to accommodate his family and protect them from rain, cyclone, sun and theft etc, two principal meals and two tiff-ins, education for his children, clothes at least to protect them from shame. A family in India means husband, wife, one or two children and the old parents. To maintain such a family one should earn minimum Rs 500 (five hundred rupees) per day. To maintain with minimum dignity Rs 1000 (one thousand rupees) per day may be necessary. People who are below this criteria may be regarded as poor for all practical purposes.
Some people may laugh at the above-mentioned criteria for a poor man, because if you go by this criteria a large percentage of population of India would be under the category of the poor. Of course the above criteria do not mean the income of one individual. It means total income of the family per day. If the active head of the family is the only earning member in the family, then his individual income is regarded as the income of the family.
The recent report of Mr C Rangarajan states that he who is able to spend Rs 32 in rural areas and Rs 47 per day in towns and cities should not be considered as poor. If we think over this statement we will find that even a beggar in rural or urban area may earn this amount by begging and may spend this amount per day. Does it mean that even the beggars are not poor people?
If the Govt think that to live a life equivalent to the status of a beggar is enough for a common man in India, then I have nothing to say. But without going into the details of statistics (I wonder how such ridiculous statistical reports are prepared!) one can say out of common sense to manage a family in rural areas Rs 10000 per month and in urban areas Rs 15000 per month per family should be the bare minimum income. If not every year, at least every two years this amount should be modified in accordance with the prevailing situations.
To achieve the above-mentioned status the Govt should ensure that at least one member in the family (preferably the active head of the family) should earn the above-mentioned amount failing which all the “garibi hatao” projects and programs of the Govt will remain only as ineffective slogans.
The above-mentioned status can only be achieved if the Govt can create enough job opportunities for common people and fix the salary of the minimum paid employee at not less than Rs 15000 per month or at least not less than Rs 10000 per month.
There should be no beggars. Begging should be completely banned. All the beggars should be suitably engaged. Those who are completely unfit for doing any sort of work should be paid a stipend of at least Rs 50 per head per day (preferably Rs 100 per day).
If we can achieve the above status, then only we can say that we have removed poverty from India. Otherwise “garibi hatao” will remain only as an ineffective slogan for ever.
The central as well as state Govt should make sincere combined efforts to achieve the above-mentioned status. But the Govts themselves are poor. How then the poor Govts can remove poverty from India? So the Govts have to be satisfied with the empty slogans only for the purpose of gathering votes to win elections and make some programs and projects just to eye-wash the voters.
But to a mind which thinks sensibly many a times a question spontaneously comes: “Are the Central and State Govts really so poor that they cannot make effective projects and programs to remove poverty?” Let us think over the following issues and ask our conscience whether the Govts are justified to make these huge expenditures?
Whenever a VIP or VVIP makes a tour too many officers move along with him. A lot of money is spent towards their expenditures for fuel, breakfast, tea, tiffin, lunch, dinner etc. These expenditures are usually met from Govt Funds or adjusted somehow or other from Govt Funds. Nobody spends from his own pocket. Most of these tours can be reduced to the minimum and the money saved may be spent to feed the extremely poor people who remain either starving or almost starving every day.
A lot of money is spent on decoration of meetings which may be omitted or cut short. The money, thus saved, may be spent for feeding the extremely poor people.
Similarly many Govt expenditures can be either omitted or cut short and the amount, thus saved, may be utilized for feeding the extremely poor people. But who will do it? How will it be done? It is extremely difficult to answer these questions. However strong will power and determination of the Govt can show them proper methods to really help the poor (not mere slogans). The oldest proverb “Where there is a will, there is a way” is an evergreen proverb which carries immense practical value.
But in removing poverty from India responsibility lies not only with the Govt, but also to a large extent with the public. Without co-operation of the people Govt can never be able to remove poverty from India. Let us think how general people can help removing poverty from India:
When a ceremonial function (like marriage, thread ceremony, birthday etc) is observed, most of the times meals offered are much beyond the eating capacity of a person. Some times the surplus food of the feast is wasted. If this over-eating and surplus food is prevented and the money, thus saved, is utilized for the purpose of feeding the extremely poor people, then many starving people can get food to survive.
Many rich people go to the big hotels to take their food for which they spend thousands and thousands of rupees. They take surplus rich food, increase their obesity and thereby invite many diseases. They never think that minimum 10 to 20 poor people can survive with the surplus money they spend for a single meal.
The amount of money the rich people spend daily on drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, if they stop these habits, then a large number of poor people can be fed with that money.
A careful thinking may reveal many such other facts which will provide clues to help the poor. For example while taking a lavish meal in a big hotel (or even at home) nobody thinks that a large number of people in India cannot afford even a single square meal a day.
Many affluent people have large pet dogs in their house. The amount of expenditure they make for one such dog’s daily food may be almost equivalent to about four poor men’s daily food. I do not know how these dogs are helpful. They may guard against petty thieves, but useless against the dacoits. Only if they stop petting these large dogs and feed poor people with that money, they can feed a large number of poor people in India.
Nobody cares to do any such thing as mentioned above. People think it is the duty of the Govt to remove poverty. We have nothing to do in this regard.
Most probably the simplest and the most definite method to prevent and remove poverty is family planning. Govt has so many family planning and family welfare programs since long. These programs are neither successful nor unsuccessful. The family planning programs are not highly successful mostly due to lack of proper co-operation of the public. The programs are running. Huge expenditure of Govt money is made. But population explosion is not significantly prevented.
The only definite way by which the population explosion can be prevented is by realization of the fact that every couple in India irrespective of cast creed and religion should produce only one child irrespective of whether it is a boy or a girl. Govt cannot enforce it. The rich, the poor, the beggars as well as all others should realize this fact and act accordingly. By this there will definitely be gradual reduction of population and poverty will spontaneously be reduced to the minimum. A day may come when poverty may spontaneously disappear. Govt tries to convince people of this fact. But people donot realize it. Without people’s co-operation the Govt’s programs can never be effective.
It causes mental agony to me when I see a beggar begging in the street, in front of a temple or in the market. But it is still more painful when I see two or three children (or even more) with some of the lady beggars. When the beggars do not realize the value of family planning (they should not reproduce at all), why should we blame the rich people and others, and of course the Govt?
The Universe is mysterious and wonderful. The entire creation is mysterious and wonderful. Man’s intelligence is mysterious and wonderful, because he makes so many wonderful scientific inventions and discoveries by dint of his intelligence. But the most mysterious and wonderful is the fact that beggars and the poor live, sometimes smile and laugh, and also reproduce many children! Still more mysterious and wonderful is the fact that the affluent and rich people, the youth and people of all other categories commit suicide occasionally (sometimes even due to very silly reasons) except the beggars who rarely commit suicide. Of course they (the beggars) sometimes die due to starvation.
Science has discovered methods of preventing reproduction, but cannot discover methods to create realization that reproducing more than one child is a sin at present in India (and also in the world). Science can never generate realization of sin inside man, because it itself does not believe in the concept of sin.
The concept of sin is mostly in the domain of religion. But almost all religions of the world opine that adoption of sterilization methods is a sin. Even-if the religious people would teach the reverse and opine that to reproduce more than one child is a sin in the present situation, who cares for the concept of sin in this age of science?
Then why not kill all the beggars and extremely poor people as compulsory euthanasia for the welfare of mankind? This will be the most definite method to remove beggary and poverty from India and also from the world. Even-if all of them are killed simultaneously (with legal permission) for the purpose of welfare of mankind and at the same time giving permanent relief to them from their life of utter agony we are not outside the range of pure religion (If a man destroys the entire creation for the noble purpose of welfare of mankind without ego, selfish interest and attachment, he is deemed to have killed no body, Shreemad Bhagabad Geeta, Chapter XVIII Shloka 17). But who can do such a vicious-cum-pious act?
If the Govt cannot remove beggary and poverty from India, they should better remove the beggars and the poor by compulsory euthanasia. But all the Govts neither have the sincerity and capability to do the former nor the courage to do the latter. So the beggars and the poor are left to their destiny to suffer for ever.
If a tea-seller can become Prime Minister and grand son of a cook can become President, who knows a street-beggar may one day become a millionaire (if fortune smiles over him)! Keeping these occasional and rare incidences in view (which do happen at times) most probably Govt is highly justified to leave all the beggars to their destiny to suffer for ever. After all it is almost impossible to know who amongst them would be the lucky one in future?
With this hope for them, compulsory euthanasia is neither justified nor desirable. Hence the poor Govts (central as well as state) are left with no other option except to leave the poor and the beggars to their destiny to suffer for ever!
By: Dr. Narayan Udgata