IIPM Admission

Monday, March 18, 2013

Labelling welfare schemes with the "Garib" title is an ignominious act

Our political parties, which have a reputation of being fierce advocates for the poor people have some phony means in their vault to connect to them – branding them as garib! Political machines are stepped up to address the poor in an attempt for an instant connection with them using the catchword. The launching of schemes and programmes for the poor, more often than not, carries the tag of garib that the policy makers think that they will successfully keep the beneficiaries in their pocket.

One of the most bizarre forms of identifying the poor is designed at Dabhiya village of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, where the walls of the BPL families houses are painted with clear word – Main Garib Hoon (I am poor)! This has drawn stark criticism not only from families but also from activists and rights groups. The BPL families are seeing this calling a spade a spade by panchayats as stoking class wars and stirring humiliation. Another programme, Kanshiram Shahri Garib Awas Yojna – a housing scheme for the poor that came to an abrupt end with the change of guard. The programme had promised housing (corruption and ad hoc implementation notwithstanding) that was strengthened by 1 lakh beneficiaries in the first phase, followed by construction of 42,000 houses in the second and a targeted 42,484 house construction across 62 districts in Uttar Pradesh in the third phase. This programme was launched by the Mayawati government – and was scrapped by Akhilesh Yadav after the state election victory. Mayawati introduced another scheme called Mahamaya Garib Balika Ashirwad Yojana. Narendra Modi has also tried to cast a deep reflection of loyalty from the deprived section by introducing Garib Kalyan Melas with a commitment to build 16 lakh houses, which he claims has already been implemented. In a scathing attack on Congress, he asserted that while Congress for the past 40 years boondoggled with welfare schemes in Gujarat, he raced with the pro-poor schemes that benefited the deprived. And of course, why should we forget to mention the quintessential Garib Rath train introduced in 2005 by the then Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav. The train was ostensibly introduced to provide air conditioned and elitist train travel to the 'garib' in the society.

Time and again our profligate politicians have used the reprobate catchphrase of garib to secure their loyalty showing few qualms about using it purely for political aims. But really, wasn't the adminstration supposed to ensure that rather than accepting poverty as a part of normal society and even brand positioning, the same should be wiped out? So what should we expect next? A day when poor people are advised to tattoo the garib nomenclature on their bodies as fashion statements?

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