India has been a rich country for generations as it’s land has provided it’s people abundantly. It’s no secret that the battering of the Mughals and thereafter the British for over 1000 years has left the country to build itself back from scratch and with scars that keep showing up from time to time.
Post independence, the socialistic move to create behemoth government organisation to provide stable jobs and also the need to constantly offer SOP’s created a different kind of scar. One that made the larger population which lives below $150 per month to believe that the government will save them from their woes.
The government, using the opportunity of the burgeoning poor, instead of focussing on the basics like clean water, education, healthcare continued a rampage of promises just before elections and the gullible poor succumbed to these promises and voted in incompetent politicians who spent the next year’s in enriching themselves. This was a time of radios and newspapers and the television and internet were not major players.
Poverty over the next 7 decades post independence has just grown and the promises and odd dole by the politicians has become more rampant.
Circa 2019, statistics shows that there a little over 6 crore registered taxpayers and under 2 crores actually pay taxes. For a country with 135 crores population and over 70 years of independence, you could say that’s abysmal.
However, some 80crores individuals are occupied in agriculture which feeds the entire country. This in fact makes India rich as the fact that with 97% of the population being poor, the population has grown some 4 fold since independence. This can only be attributed to the fact that regardless of there being money, Indians can live on what they produce and barter within their communities.
Does this make them self sufficient? For sure it does. Does it make them lazy? You could say that lazy is harsh but content would be more appropriate.
So why is this continuous promise of dole or the different terminologies used to offer the poor these upliftment schemes a thing even in 2019? As a result of the smartphone revolution and internet being available at reasonable prices, people have become aware of the power of their vote and the things they can squeeze out of the government to keep them in power. When you have 900 million voters, the governments only focus will be to find the mantras to keep them in power. Once in power, the smart move for the politicians will be to share some of their spoils with their people.
Education, clean water, healthcare, housing, toilets, electricity infrastructure, etc will be slow implementing promises as most of the money will go to buying people’s votes.
India needs billions of dollars to uplift the poor and this can only happen if schools teach skills to the population more critically in agriculture especially in ancient medicinal practises in Ayurveda asides the many other skills which have demand. Currently, the skill training is happening on the job and this does not provide deep learning or understanding unless augmented by skill centres which go into depth of each subject.
It’s also imperative that this 1.5% tax paying base be increased to 10% and not just with oligarchs but millions of small industries. The government instead of penalising taxpayers who actually work hard and earn money for the nation, should go after the ill gotten wealth of the government officers which by itself can remove some 300-400 million out of poverty and provide homes, education and healthcare for all.
The classic adage “teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for life” is what exists in India as the people have always learnt the hard way that dole is a sham. While hope is always a function of human nature, in time the new generation will realise that these promises are empty. Information dissemination through phones and media will be the rise of a new India and the government has to embrace this with both arms and change before it’s too late.
The continuous promise of dole will not remove poverty but push a large believing section into distress and death which the government can refrain from. However, greed for power will never go.
Raj Kaushik – Vitarkka