(Bi-monthly Kannada Paper of the New Socialist alternative)
Recently certain authorities from the ministry of finance, who thought very clever of themselves, by stating that the situation of poverty in India is not as bad as claimed by the Arjun Sengupta committee on unorganized workers and that the living wages of the poor has actually increased! According to Sengupta committee report (2007), more than 77% of the Indian population lived on less than Rs. 20 a day. But the sycophants of the World Bank, IMF and WTO to sideline the committee report have gone on record stating that the urban poor today live on Rs. 35 a day and the rural poor around Rs. 20 a day.
The pro neo-liberal advocates like Manmohan Singh (PM), P. Chidambaram (Former finance minister), Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Pranab Mukherjee (Finance minister) have no understanding of poverty in India. These people having never had the misfortune of living on either Rs. 35 or Rs. 20 a day, that in today’s India, both urban as well as rural, a single individual needs to spend a minimum of Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 to satisfy the minimum subsistence level.
Having always served the needs of the rich and the upper classes, to these representatives of the ruling classes unemployment, lack of housing, ill health, ration subsidy etc are nothing more than figures on the computer. The last two decades of growth terrorism has literally wrecked the lives of working class people, rural people, Dalit, Adivasis and women.
According to the Global Hunger Index, out of 88 nations, India stands at a low ranking of 66. In the UNDP Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), 55% of the India’s population i.e., 65 crores (650 million) suffer extreme poverty. Even more mind boggling is the fact that in 8 districts of the country comprising of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, have more people suffering from poverty than the 26 extremely poor nations of Africa.
In 1993, 69% of India’s population lived below the poverty. Today, after two decades of neo liberal reforms, 77% i.e., 836 million live below poverty. According NSSO, 77% of the population live on than less than 2400 calorie diet per day. Despite these striking figures of poverty in India, the Government of India in the name of National Food Security Bill (NFSB) has embarked on a plan to do away with Public Distribution System (PDS) altogether. Instead of providing food they want to provide cash instead! Cash transfer for food must be vigorously opposed and defeated by the working class people.
The representatives of the Indian capitalist class i.e., Congress, BJP, Janata Dal factions, DMK and not forgetting the watchdogs of rotten Indian capitalism i.e., the so called Communist parties are all advocates of these anti people and pro neo-liberal policies. The defeat of some of these parties in the recent elections is in a way a reflection of the growing people’s opposition to the neo liberal policies of the government. Hundreds of struggles are going on today to oppose capitalist globalization and liberalization of the economy involving working class people, Dalit, Adivasis, landless labourers, women, peasants and others. The anti – POSCO resistance in Orissa (and also recently in Gadag in Karnataka), struggle against Vedanta (in Orissa) , against Tata in Kalinganagar (in Orissa), and more recently in the Maruti Suzuki workers strike in Gurgoan and the Gorakhpur yarn workers’ struggle are all symptoms of the coming eruption of a mass movement against the system as a whole.
(Translated from Kannada)
Jagadish G Chandra