Cheer up, things can only get worse!

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Food Security Bill
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am depressed, very depressed. There is so much cynicism all round. It’s difficult to take anything at face value. As journalists we have been mentally tuned to disbelieve anything we are told. Often, that penchant for taking with a pinch of salt anything we are told, has transgressed from our professional lives into our personal.

You can’t really blame people for feeling the way they do. The ordinary citizen is getting squeezed for his last rupee while the corrupt politician is busy raking it in. The ordinary citizen is paying his taxes and then he finds the government blowing it away in daft populist schemes that are only going to increase the burden on the tax-payer.

Of all the hair-brained schemes (MGNREGA, Aadhaar?) this UPA government has come up with, the Food Security Bill has to be the stupidest. I don’t say this because I have any antipathy against the poor and the downtrodden, but because I am convinced that not even five per cent of those living below the poverty line will benefit from this idiotic scheme.

Just like the funds meant for NREGA are being siphoned away by the contractors, the food meant for the poor will be forcibly taken away by the landlords, hoarders and black marketers and sold at double the price in the open market. The worms in white Gandhi caps and their cohorts will steal even the rice that the government promises to give to the poor for three bucks. That is their mentality and that will never change. Scum they are, and scum they remain.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to understand that the Food Security Bill is just a squalid vote-grabbing exercise. No government scheme for the poor since Independence has helped improve their living standards, and neither will this. The PDS is a good example.

There is another troubling fact. Where are we going to find the funds to feed so many? If one heard Sonia Gandhi, it would seem to the whole country that it is not her problem what happens to the tax-payer. The implication in her speech was clear. She needs the money to buy the votes and if she has to ram more taxes down the throat of the tax-paying citizen, so be it. And all this when her son-shady in-law is busy making crores through even shadier deals! So can you really expect the middle class taxing paying voter to trust this government, anymore? More importantly, can you expect them not to be cynical?

And it is not just silly schemes that are leading to this all round depression. In 2008, Mumbai was attacked by a bunch of Pakistanis. Yup, never mind the cock and bull story about “irregulars”. They were Pakistanis and they waded in and set the ‘maximum city’ on fire. The Centre and the State promised a lot to make its citizens feel more secure. Then there were more bomb blasts. We were again told that the State government would (metaphorically speaking) stand on its head to ensure the safety of citizens. Then some idiots with backpacks blew up the German Bakery, killing seventeen people who were probably enjoying their Chocolate Latte or Mocha or whatever. More promises. Then the bombs went off on Jangli Maharaj Road. More promises. If that wasn’t enough, the Pakistani Army kept up its relentless barrage of gunfire on the border, pushing in terrorists into India. And Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet keep telling us that all is well. In this situation, expecting the honest tax-paying citizen not be depressed and cynical is asking a lot of him.

Even an earnest 21-year-old asking for help is looked upon with disdain. This young girl, who teaches in a school for children of the economically weaker sections, sent me an email a week ago to ask me whether, firstly, I could find a journalist to address a bunch of 11-14 year-old from her school on what the future holds for them, and secondly whether she could bring them over to our office to show them what the inside of a newspaper office looks like.

My first response: What does a 14 year-old know about journalism? I was just being me – cynical and condescending.

Another email from her turned the whole issue on its head. It won me over: …8th is an extremely crucial year as that is currently when free education stops. If the kids and their parents aren’t invested enough in the idea of education to pay for a private school, they may drop out. So, because of the limited opportunities the kids already face, we start conversations about achievement, college and opportunities with even a 3rd grade class. Most of my students haven’t ever seen an office of any sort, and apart from what I have told them, have no knowledge as to how a newspaper works. So, I think that this would be pretty beneficial for them.”

Her earnestness won me over. I personally offered to talk to the children at her school and also got an immediate approval from the Editor to show them around the office. And then I thought… if the poor children from this school can actually get out of the cycle of deprivation and poverty and make a better life for themselves, it would be a fitting reply to the idiotic schemes launched by this government for the poor – ones that would only end up making beggars of them, instead of giving them a better life.

So cheer up, things can only get worse from here on…!

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Comments
  1. Shyama Dutta says:

    ….ooooo…the young are still there! It may just get better

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