Fighting Poverty & Identifying The Poor

There are an ample number of reasons for the failure of the welfare schemes initiated and implemented by the Planning Commission of India for the poor. The first and foremost problem lies with the identification of the poor. The statistics revealed from time to time by the Planning Commission are erroneously flawed and contradict the figures of many other independent outfits conducting surveys to measure poverty. This error comes into play because since a long period of time we’ve been dependent on a uniform definition of poverty. A uniform definition of poverty cannot rightfully point out towards all those who are poor. For correct and clear identification of the poor we need to have multiple definitions of poverty measuring poverty on multiple parameters. The figures obtained should be further classified and they should plainly put all those afflicted by poverty under different categories.

The first one should consist of all those who are living in a totally deprived state referred to as absolute poverty by economists. The second and third, should shell out the names of those who are poor but somehow are able to meet day to day expenses and who are vulnerable to poverty in the near future, respectively. The second problem lies with our bureaucracy. We’ve created a giant sized bureaucracy which incurs astronomical amounts of administrative overheads. 60-70% of the funds allocated get exhausted by the time all the administrative and management expenses are met, the next 10-20% get swallowed courtesy corruption. In such a scenario only 20% of the funds targeted at the people actually reach them. We’ve got to fix our bureaucracy. This handicap can be outdone by simplifying the procedure of implementation of schemes which will not only ensure cost effectiveness but will also lead to timely execution of the work to be done.

Bureaucracy needs to go through overhauling to get itself back on track in order to ensure that we are able to allocate 70% of the total number of funds allocated for the poor. If these small steps are performed as desired then we can surely achieve planned growth and eliminate poverty. We’ve got to stop concentrating on GDP. It just represents trade. The real growth is in desirously rooting out poverty and in improving the quality of life which is categorized by health, happiness and human resource development. Quality of life should always come prior to the standard of life because standard of life is economic in nature and the numbers game associated with it is can be easily manipulated with the help of the amount of money earned by the super rich. In an economy as unequal as ours it takes a far greater amount of pain to enhance the quality of life rather than the standard of life but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need to enhance the standard of life. 

 

UPA Govt. & Political Mismanagement

The Congress led UPA Government seems to be in a hurry to demit the omnipotent office of the Union Government. They seem to have overlooked all their past wrongdoings and are learning nothing from those bitter experiences which is evident from the fact that they have deliberately pushed on the accelerator which seems to be heading them towards a political dead end.

The striking feature of this Government is the astronomical amount of governance deficit associated with it. All the Ministers, Ministry’s and Party Officials seem to be officiating with the sole intention of ensuring that whenever they are questioned, they field an impeccable argument of self defence and self justification. Government representatives refuse to come out and take a public stance on an issue until and unless a massive hue and cry is generated. Today, we saw two senior officials of the Government, namely, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson Planning Commission and Noted Economist Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister Rural Development, most noted for his stint in the Ministry of Environment & Forests, enforce upon a truce between themselves (as has been the case with other members of this Government whenever a dispute has been brought to light in the public domain) and issue a joint communiqué which was in no way convincing and satisfying.

The Planning Commission strategically dissociated itself from the BPL figure of Rs 32 saying that it does not represent its view. Mr Ahluwalia further added that the schemes of the commission have been so devised that in most of the cases the beneficiaries of the schemes happen to be both the sections of the society (Below Poverty Line [BPL] and Above Poverty Line [APL]). It’s good to hear such a kind of a clarification but the question remains as to why did the Planning Commission file an affidavit in the apex court of justice ie the Supreme Court of India stating that anybody who spends more than Rs 32 in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas is not poor ? And if these figures don’t represent the view of the Planning Commission then whose views do these figures represent? On one hand you table reports indicating such figures in the Supreme Court and on the other hand you say that we are aware of the gravity of poverty in India and such figures would not be relied on during the implementation of welfare schemes. If you yourself don’t agree with these figures then why don’t you change them? The common perception is that the BPL happens to be a yardstick via which people living in a deprived state are categorized but today we had Mr Ahluwalia coming out and saying that these figures will not be made use of. In such a scenario the whole objective of devising a Below Poverty Line fails. Such contradictory statements are the reasons for the sorry state of the UPA Government. The UPA Government has lost the faith of the people. Public discontentment, outrage, anger and hopelessness to succeed looms over this Government and nothing short of a miracle can bring them back to power but logically speaking the current scenario clearly shows that victory will elude the Congress led UPA in the 2014 polls.