P. Sainath's article was incisive and well-researched. With his characteristic wit and sarcasm, he has laid bare how blissfully negligent and ignominiously indifferent people in the higher echelons are to the plight of the poor and the needy. The elite and the affluent will never understand the hard, cold, painful ground reality of millions of destitute people who are perennially condemned to suffer and perish.
People like Montek Singh Ahluwalia have spent most of their life outside India. They frame policies with no understanding of India. Last month, Kaushik Basu spoke about policy paralysis (a statement he clarified later) and this month Montek on the absence of it. The Planning Commission needs to spend more time understanding real India. Its Deputy Chairman must see India more as an Indian, than as a globetrotting global citizen would.
That our netas preach austerity measures but never practise them is well known. With skyrocketing prices of food, transport, education and housing, it is anybody's guess how a family with a meagre income survives. The common man who is being told to follow austerity measures has to pay even for drinking water.
Does austerity mean burdening the poor by withdrawing state responsibilities and framing policies that benefit the affluent? While the poor find it difficult to manage two square meals a day, subsidised diesel is used to drive luxury sedans. I am reminded of the famous Satyajit Ray movie, Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen. The weak king and sycophants of the royal court, swallowing a hearty meal, wonder why the poor want food!
One hopes that at least some of those named in the article — economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dr. Ahluwalia and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee — will read the article and do some introspection. God save the poor of this nation!
The problem with our elected government is that it depends on experts who are rooted in the World Bank and western countries. They are oblivious to the realities and have no idea about rural economy. They are influenced by economists of the West.
Gandhiji wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, on March 2, 1930 before embarking on the Salt satyagraha: “...Take your own salary. It is over Rs. 21,000 per month besides many other indirect additions ...You are getting over Rs.700 per day against India's average income of less than two annas per day. Thus you are getting much over 5000 times India's average income.”