It was astonishing to read about the Planning Commission's affidavit in the Supreme Court (“Is Rs.25 all that you need for a day?” Sept. 21), which says that an individual income of Rs.25 per day is sufficient to make both ends meet. Even with Rs.100, the aam aadmi might not be able to meet his prime needs of food, education and health, thanks to inflation. How come such an affidavit was filed?
When even a rickshaw puller and vegetable vendor can understand the minimum daily expenditure, why does it appear elusive to our expert committees? If after 60 years of independent democratic governance a huge chunk of society still lives a substandard life, it is because of a failure of our developmental planning.
The article “Our Union Cabinet gets healthier” (Sept. 21), by Mr. P. Sainath, reveals more than what it intends to: that assets and their value declared by ministers are only voluntary disclosures. Now that information on assets is in the public domain, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner should suo motu take cognisance of the enormity of the variation in assets in a short period. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should order a transparent investigation.
The Indian Political League is definitely a more profitable entity than the Indian Premier League. No other commercial group or industry can give such huge returns in such a short period, with such a low risk!
What a telltale commentary on our state of affairs! On the one hand, we have the Planning Commission's affidavit, and, on the other, ministers are amassing wealth. The statistics are revealing. The politicians named in the article must now explain how they managed to make such a huge amount of money.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan,
Why does Dr. Singh need an economic advisory council at all when he has such an entrepreneurial Cabinet at his disposal? Why do we need a Planning Commission which is striving hard to achieve nine per cent growth rate when our MPs have defied all logic of economics and grown at a phenomenal rate of 400-800 per cent? Why do we need the IIMs to groom entrepreneurs when we have such entrepreneurs sitting in Parliament who have mastered the art of making money?
The Hindu deserves great appreciation in revealing the extent of wealth amassed by certain ministers in a short period, as per official records. Though the math is absorbing, astonishing is the swiftness with which the scores have been piled up, lacking all logic and reasoning. Real transparency does not stop with publication alone. It needs further probing. After the Planning Commission's affidavit, it is no wonder that crores of empty stomachs have to shrink further to make a few very fat.
It takes years of persistence and diligence for a student to crack top competitive exams in India. Thereafter, with constant work and performance he is able to earn a lakh or so, rather paradoxical in comparison to our ministers who can make this money within hours. With 836 million Indians living on Rs.20 or less a day it is hard to imagine their plight. The solution is simple. If the government cannot stop politicians from multiplying money in their accounts, then at least make sure they divide a part of it through valid tax returns.
I was expecting such an article ever since Team Anna scored success! Recently “The Great Wall of India” bid adieu to the ODIs. Our ministers are also no less consistent performers, in terms of building corrupt empires. One has to wait and watch till the 2014 polls on who will remain a top performer in turning public wealth into personal fortune.
I hope that readers of vernacular newspapers will also have the opportunity to read a translation of Mr. Sainath's article. The cruel irony of contrasts is palpable. On the one hand, we have a government which is bent upon ‘pushing' the poor above the poverty line by whimsical determination of the borderline daily income.
On the other, we have the unedifying spectacle of the ruling elite getting richer and turning India into a de facto plutocracy. The declaration of assets by ministers hides more than it reveals. Nepotism and corruption are allied evils.
The concept of economic justice appears to be used only for vote bank politics. Plutocracy appears to have taken over democracy.
The demarcation of shining India from the starving one cannot be better exhibited. In 2006, Dr. Singh on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of liberalisation policies addressed a gathering of over 903 CEOs of big corporates and companies as the “children of reforms.” It prompted some social scientists to point out that the vast multitude rendered paupers by neo-liberal policies were also children of the very same reforms. So we are a nation that won its freedom at the cost of invaluable lives of selfless martyrs but ironically led by a team of self-serving satraps in arrangement with profit-hungry mega corporates.
A thinking mind is at a terrible loss to reconcile the paradoxical contrast wherein an average Indian earns Rs.50 a day by dint of his hard work, while a typical politician gains Rs.50 lakh every single day, backed by cloudy reasons.
As put up on the Ministry of Finance's website, concessions and tax breaks for the corporate sector by successive governments for the last decade are put at a whopping Rs.26 lakh crore — enough to raise the per capita income of the poor from Rs.20 a day to Rs.100 a day. When many a public sector unit (profit-making or not) is often put up for sale, it is because of the myriad policies imposed on them by the rulers. The sale is a process unaffected by ups and downs in the stock market. The looting of the country, in the name of liberalisation, as natural resources or otherwise, has gone on unhindered because everybody wants a piece of the cake.
Leaders like ministers and members of Parliament earning around Rs.5 lakh a day have “risen” from the masses out of whom 83.6 crore are compelled to live with less than Rs.20 a day. Our political class seems to have boarded a basket attached to a balloon only to be tethered to the ground by us every five years. What they do while floating above us, we never get to know.
The timing of the article couldn't have been better in the light of the Planning Commission's affidavit to the Supreme Court. Not many would have calculated the difference in the declared assets between 2009 and 2011.
While not wanting to detract from the importance of the findings of Mr. Sainath, I wish he would consider this fact. A flat worth Rs.8 lakh in 2008 in a modest apartment complex, two kilometres away from the centre of Thrissur, was sold recently for Rs.24 lakh. One can imagine the escalation of values of properties in bigger, more prosperous cities and towns!
Pat for this initiative
The notion that every Indian settled in West Asia (editorial, Sept. 21) leads a life of happiness and luxury has been dispelled. The timely help rendered by a group of Indians for securing the release of compatriots jailed in the UAE offers hope to other stranded Indians. As the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” They have understood the meaning of the word “fraternity.”
Many of the countries where our countrymen work have not signed most of the international human rights and labour rights treaties which includes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, and the Convention against Torture.
Of all the articles published in TheHindu coinciding with “Teacher's Day,” it was the one titled “Our sterling teacher in the prison” (Sept.17) that flowed from Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim's heart, rather than his pen. Sister Ethu Kutty's ability to transform a prisoner into someone who is capable of writing an “arresting” piece speaks volumes of her skills and strong belief in herself.
Stingy messages do spoil the language (“Stingy texts in vogue, God save the English language!” Sept. 17). When I bought a cellphone for the first time, my friends started sending me stingy texts. Initially I found it difficult but I too started to send them in the same way. In class when our teacher dictated notes, I found it very easy to write using such short language. But it was a mistake. Unknowingly, I used short language and scored low in my University exams. Now I text friends not omitting any letter.