The central theme of Harish Khare’s article (“This perverse rage against the poor,” editorial page, Aug.30), in connection with the National Food Security Bill (NFSB), is right — the electronic media is at its loudest whenever any scheme with a significant allocation of financial resources is announced for the welfare of the poor. There is no denying the fact that India’s growth story is one of growing inequality. Those in the ascendant are uncomfortable with the idea of empowering the poor. The media has yet to convey the reactions of the marginalised sections of society on this issue.
Rameeza A. Rasheed,
Mr. Khare sees and says things that no one else seems to. The India story is intact as long-term foreign investors are continuing to repose faith in an economy that has a huge demographic dividend, an excellent savings rate, a stable democracy and a mushrooming, young, entrepreneurial class, as opposed to the old Bombay Club. What should breathe life into the poor and give them a leg up is unfortunately seen as charity which will spoil them and make them lazy! The UPA government deserves applause for this brave law.
Mr. Khare deserves credit for his strong and eloquent write-up on the partisan reaction from the stock market satraps that the large fall in the equity market is consequent to the food security bill being passed. The only concern most of us have is in the implementation of this dream project. The benefits must reach the right people.
In his eagerness to list out the virtues of the Congress led-UPA government which has introduced the bill, Mr. Harish Khare, as always, has attacked the “millions and millions of middle class” as having prospered in the last decade. In reality, only a handful of them have. Was not the so-called 2008-09 stimulus which was used by “the super-rich to buy real estate in London and other European cities” the brainchild of the same UPA government? The middle class did not have a voice then nor do it have one now. It is nobody’s case that the bill would not benefit the poor and underprivileged, but Mr. Khare did not justify why the UPA government brought it in towards the end of its term.
The article reminded me of the Congress’s empty “Garibi Hatao” to gain power decades ago. The perverse rage which started then continues even today. Perhaps, the same trick is being played today to divert attention from the real issues. The food bill is not the panacea of all ills. We have neglected agriculture for decades. Instead of ensuring legislation to guarantee agro-production, we only seem to be encouraging agricultural consumption. Already, the cash guarantee scheme is discouraging farm workers from farms.
The opponents of the bill cannot be brushstroked as greedy, self-serving corporates. There are many concerned citizens who feel the government is not doing enough to alleviate poverty. The NFSB, a short-term fix, should not implicitly perpetuate poverty by making people dependent on handouts from the government. Investment in physical and social infrastructure that provides skills and employment to the poor is a far better bet.
The harsh, judgmental tone of the writer completely vilifies the arguments raised against the food bill which, in fact, are related to the successful implementation of food security amid an economic slowdown. Portraying all critics as “Schadenfreude-wallahs” and the middle class as “anti-welfare” is akin to him being painted as “anti-capitalist” and “anti-growth.”
I disagree with the idea that corporates are fighting tooth and nail against the bill. The lack of transparent communication from the government and contradicting economic logistics are the issue. Perhaps a simple “how and what from where” analysis published by the government would have averted this whole episode.