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Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole

While moving through the narrow lanes in the small village of Korba in Uttar Pradesh, the sight of youth sitting idle at home, who at this time should have been either studying or doing  a job, was worrisome. Under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA), people who didn’t get job for the whole 100 days got “free allowances”, which made their slothful and indolent, reluctant to find job, study or increase their skill. Clearly,this scheme wasn’t actually lending a hand, but was actually proving to be a dole.

Let’s try to comprehend the meaning of this statement. “Lending hands” in literal sense is supporting someone. This support may be in the form of consoling wordsimplementation of schemes on ground level, instilling faith by providing basics (education and health),empowerment,humanitarian support and technical assistance. The second part of the statement says “better than giving a dole”. Dole here means “grant“, an “allowance” or a “benefit” being transferred basically understood in economic terms. The following write-up will find an interconnection between the two statements, and look for different aspects including economy.

First,let’s try to look into history about how this statement holds water. Despite the plight that the Women and Dalits had to face in the Indian society, Gandhi made sure they participated in Non Cooperation Movements. This idea evolved not only by announcing the fight against the colonists, but by making sure women and dalits were accepted by the majority. The impetus to national feeling wasn’t evolved as a dole(for free), but it took Gandhi’s helping hand to invoke that feeling in them.He himself did the works of the harijans and fought for the rights of women.

After independence, reservation was provided for a period of 10 years on the premise that the dalits had suffered years of  injustice, grief and dejection. But little focus was given on empowering them. Result? Reservation still continues, not for the betterment, but for vote-bank politics.

In the present national context, while the 14th Finance Commission recommended for the devolution of power and revenue to the state government, the other necessary budgetary allotments like for health and education along with maintenance of biodiversity was cut to eliminate duplication of efforts and hence putting oil in the fire already burning. But what the GOI forgot was that most of these benefits needed an expertise. Teacher training, capacity building and opening  new government colleges for future doctors, necessary recruitment for the trained teachers was their work, they have been failing in these.The solution lies in the problem itself.

Apparently, India’s poverty index is calculated on a very narrow basis i.e the family income. While it may be one of the basic parameters, it doesn’t count the people who are “extremely poor”, those who can’t even think of earning because of their infallibility to move, due to social depreciation or due to low confidence. We call this strata the “pauperists”. What did the government do? They went for Public Distribution system. This effort of the government, though a welcome step, proliferated the infallibility of the poor to come out of misery, because now they were getting food without working for it. Can we think of eliminating pauperism merely by giving them food, or instead instilling confidence in them?

Apparently,the government is focusing on Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT). Although a good step, it may be utilized by households for non-food purposes and end result will be adding to malnutrition. Increased responsibility towards health, higher education and marriage of a girl and hence dowry eliminates the basic idea behind DBT, it is instead pushing people towards more miseries and more debt traps. The solution lies in changing the mindset of sahukars, and not merely giving money to the poor. Dalit Capitalism is on a rise and Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry is focusing on Dalit entrepreneurship to socially uplift them and pave a way to end caste discrimination.

Thankfully, there has been a paradigm shift in the thinking of government and now it focuses more on making “job befactors” rather than “job appellants”.The coming up of SETU, Start up and Stand Up India has enabled this. Government is now focusing on research and technology driven start-up’s and hence working on giving an enabling environment for these and also techno-financial benefits and incubation centers are being started. But the solution isn’t only about giving these “benefits” but making sure the funds are actually allotted, there are no bottlenecks and there is a commissioner in place to look for the loopholes in the system.

Moving on, nowadays there has been a rising fudge about how women have been denied cultural rights and how they are not allowed to enter the temple to offer the praying to the deities. The constitution, although under Article 15 calls for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, and Articles 25-28 talk of right to freedom of religion and its practices, they are denied equal rights. Why this discrimination that too in a country where women is worshiped as Durga and Kali? The solution is not in giving provision in the articles under the constitution, or setting up of National and state commissions, but the solution is in changing the “mindset” of the people, so as to make sure patriarchy is uprooted.

How can this be done? Many recent surveys reveal that as the inclusion of women into the Panchayati Raj Institutions increased, there was a steep decline in the cases adjoining domestic violence, alcoholism, dowry and child marriages went down. So, empowering women is a solution. The same goes for the menace of child labor. Although various laws in place to eradicate child slavery, the real solution is in providing education to the children and maybe some pension schemes for the families who are forced to send their children to work for living.

Moving on,at the Banking level, Priority Sector Lending quota is a way to penetrate the financial support by the banks to the rural areas, but banks shift it towards NABARD and SIDBI to reduce risks.So basically, there is an enabled provision but their but no ground implementation. Similarly, Indira Awas Yojana aims at free housing for the poor, but their is corruption in allotment processes,lobbying issues.So lot of poor become mere pavement dwellers. They want to make smart cities but they don’t want poor to reside there.

For coping with the aftermaths of disasters, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) was made and various agencies took power. Funds allotment took place at various level. But no nodal agencies was made which could integrate the works of the various departments, which leads to duplication of efforts, leakages and delays in field work. Also, much of the amount is spent on post-crisis management, the bulk expenditure of which could have been used for better plan of basic reduction risk infrastructure. The solution lies in a better framework for technical assistance to prevent the disasters instead of focusing on mitigation.

For curbing corruption, a legal framework was made and acts like Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) was enacted. But instead of just giving the PCA, enforcement procedure needs to be focused on. Even though there is a code of conduct of various government official levels, but there has been no commission officer in place to punish the wrong-doers. So even though means is provided, the “helping hand”( in this case a commissioner from the house of legislature) isn’t provided.

Internationally, there is a focus more on “long term investments”, on “soft loans” rather than donations. Japan’s assistance to India with a soft loan worth a $100 Billion to build the Bullet, or be USA’s assistance to Vietnam and China’s building of Chabadar port in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(POK), isn’t merely a “dole” but a “helping hand” by giving technical assistance and “special status” for trade too, though with a more focused motive of long term interest.

Similarly, during the earthquakes in Nepal, India was one of the first countries to provide the relief funds and the Indian Army was the first to give assistance for evacuation and rescue operations. Was monetary help the only way for showing out empathy for the misshaping? No. Apparently, the humanitarian support that was provided by Indian Army was much appreciated both by Nepal and around the world. Mere dole wouldn’t have increased this reputation of India.

Thus, we saw that the solution doesn’t merely lie in allotting funds for a particular work, but it has a social, humanitarian and political motive that needs to be connected too. The solution isn’t merely giving money, the solution is finding a long term measure. The government shouldn’t merely be focusing on how “laws” are made, but how they are “implemented”, not on how much “money” is given, but how they “earn” it themselves, not on how “reservation” should empower, but on how “instilling faith” would help us eliminate the menace due to reservation, not on how they get the “free money”, but on how they “give money” to others.

 

 

45

The real crisis in India – Moral or Economic?

moral-crisis1                                             OREconomic-crisis-definition                                 Which one is India facing?

The probationary trainees during the Bharat Darshan went to a small village -Rasuali in Bihar. The motive was to get an insight of the socio-economic condition of the people residing in this small village. They had an astonishing view in store for them. The toilets built under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan(SBA) Program were actually being used as an alternative for store houses. On being asked the reason- the Sarpanch’s reply was even more surprising – “Most of the pits get filled up very quickly and the Dalits who are meant to clean them up are reluctant to do this. “Jab se padhne likhne lag gaye, hume hi dhokha dene lage” (Since they started getting education, they have been betraying us). The irony is, one of the provisions of SBA is the eradication of manual scavenging, and the Sarpanch wasn’t aware of this.

So, the question is, is the government to be blamed for this kind of behavior? In a way it may be correct. The recent times has witnessed a growing debate on whether “moral” or “economic”crisis has withheld India. There are two sides of the coin, one which says “Immoral mishaps have contributed an economic mishap” and vice-versa. Let’s closely look the first side.

As a matter of fact, the changed mindset comes from education, and believe it or not, seven decades since independence, though we have made a remarkable movement ahead, there is still a whole chunk of the population which is illiterate. Those who get educated know that this discrimination against the lower strata, which in most cases are socially deprived thanks to the age old concept of untouchability holding its root from the later vedic times, is still being followed. Shudras have got new names over the centuries, be it dalit, harijans or the scheduled castes and tribes now.But if only the status of these people changed the way their “nicknames” did. They have been a subject to inhumane, immoral, unethical sights over the years, deprived of status, education, health care. As a result more than half of their population have not contributed to the economy of ours. How can we expect someone with a defamed status to have the confidence to contribute?

One of the most peculiar and immoral mishaps the country witnesses is the women being deprived of the equal rights in the country, both on personal and professional level. Honor killing has most cases of women being killed, the skewed child sex ratio(ever decreasing rates of girl child since independence), the innumerable instances of female infanticide are the reason why the GDP of the country has not been according to it’s potential. As pointed out by the recent report by Mckinsey, India could have an astonishing 60% growth in the GDP if the female participation in the labor force increased manifold. Not only this but most women are considered to be laborers at home, looking after their family. The sad thing, they are never paid for this work. So this patriarchy is not only disrupting the potential women force on the national level, but also depriving them of their personal finance. Apparently, cases of female in the economy are forced to leave job because of either low pay scale, sexual abuse or family obligations. Isn’t this a loss to the economy in a way?

Most of the women (approx 71% of girls) are forced to leave or drop after 8th standard. What are the other complications that follow? An uneducated girl becomes an unaware mother later, not knowing that government has provided for the pre and post natal services, not knowing that breast-feeding is most imperative for the child’s overall development. Result? A malnourished child devoid of immunization, direct pressure on government’s spending to provide nourishment and immunization. More spending on government schemes has been the major reason for an current account deficit country. Also, how can we except a unhealthy child (who as empirical evidence show, would have a bad physical and mental strength) to contribute to the nation’s workforce?

Recently there was a case where certain subordinates of the bureaucrats were served tea in plastic cups while the officers were served tea in expensive utensils, along with dry fruits. Not only was it unethical and immoral, it was discriminatory and against the principle of equality for all. This kind of a behavior fuels the notion of arrogant seniors, and their juniors would be reluctant to do work for them. The ground implementation of most of work is in the hands of these juniors (sahukars,tehsildars). What if they channelize their anger to the public, by not allowing implementations to fall in place? The government’s money getting wasted. So what could have been avoided morally, took along a different turn of events affecting the economy instead.

We throw garbage, litter around,pee in public, spit chewing gums on the road, don’t use public dustbins, throw plastic bags and empty bottles on highways,dispose  waste in the Ganga and say the government’s schemes (Namami Gange, SBA) aren’t working. Another instance of how we ourselves waste our own money (the tax’s payers money.) It sometimes feels like only the government has to keep spending, and we won’t change (Tax dete hai bhai!)

Corruption, which starts from a bribe to the traffic policemen to cross the red light, goes above till the corporate level. Tax evasions are very prominent in India, and we are just behind China in the league of developing countries to be corrupt. Tax evasions, fund the terrorist activities,move out side the countries through Benami transactions and enter the share market as P-notes as claimed by certain media houses. Speculations in the share market may lead to a potential disrupted market, having a major impact on the economy.

There have been cases of lobbying and nepotism in the inclusion and admission in government jobs and government colleges. The collegium system in Judiciary is the best example for the same. This deprives genius minds jobs of their potential and compels them to move to different countries in search of jobs and opportunities, resulting in loss of potential economic boost that they could have provided.

The recent sessions in the Parliament were mostly disrupted as the opposition claimed of the government using unethical means to defame it’s leaders. But who were the ultimate sufferers? It was our economy, the market which has been awaiting reforms in the form of better tax regimes like GST which is still on stay. This not only diminishes our chances of capitalizing from the China slowdown, but also portrays India as an irresponsible nation.

RIGHT WRONG

Looking on the other side of the coin, is “economic crisis” forcing towards immoral activities? It can be true as well. Lack of employment opportunities, government overshadowing  “bimaaru states” have pushed people there to take up arms against the states (Naxali Movements in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh). More and more youth are getting radicalized and leaving towards joining ISIS.

Similarly, too regressive a tax regime (specially for the MicroSmallMediumEnterprises’s) has compelled them to use unethical means to attain environmental, inspection clearances and cross cutting in labor facilities, which is immoral for the workers as well as the environment.

In agriculture the developed countries imposing high import duties on the foodcrops,horticulture from the developing countries have forced the farmers to use unethical means to use cheap urea to increase production. Isn’t this all in a way loss to economy, maybe having tertiary effect?

For every problem, there is some solution. Government has been focusing on building more entrepreneurs so that they emerge as “job providers” rather than “job seekers” through schemes like Start up stand up. The focus of the government is to change the mindset of the people who consider women as liabilities by providing them with reserved seats in the third tier, and the recent Women’s reservation bill. Similarly, refinancing agencies (Mudra) and collateral free loans (Mahila bank) have contributed in making the women self dependent and contributing their bit to the economy by opening small enterprises and start-ups. Initiatives like Beti-Bachao-Beti-Padhao have been successful in providing cent percent primary school enrollments along with “selfie with daughter” to create awareness about girl child.

Similarily, governments push towards “e-governance” by providing internet till the last mile(Digital India), connecting panchayats and hinterland with the main land (National optic Fibre Network), Direct Benefit Transfer, public domains to look for the working schemes, Jan-Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) have made sure the public sovereignty, transparency and accountability is maintained. Also, educational loans, and scholarships like Ramanujam have also made sure the young minds remain and contribute to the country.

So basically, there is a strong blend of interconnection between what is moral and economic, and how it has been stirring a crisis in the country. They both have in a way been collectively contributing, going hand in hand. What Gandhiji thought a dream country would be, was unfortunately shattered by the intervention of the colonial rule, breaking the country two-fold. But how can we contribute our bit so that the country becomes the one which it used to be in pre-colonial period. Can we give up discrimination on the basis of caste and creed, can we consider the girls as being the same as boys? Can we contribute our bit to our country by being here and not moving out? Can we live happily, with tolerance for each other’s religious notions, work hard till we are on our feet and not merely criticize the government? Can we be the long lost “sone ki chidya” again?

 

0

Should women be allowed in the combat services?

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India’s step on allowing women to fly the jet fighters in the IAF has been seen as a welcome move by the government towards their women candidates, keeping in mind their aspirations and also to be at par with developed countries like US and even arch rival Pakistan, who already have women women flyers in their force. The latest move not only marks the maiden entry of women in combat roles in the IAF but in any branch across the Indian armed forces.Following the statements back this year by the defence minister, questioning the physical abilities of women as they were “incapable of being a part of the combat services” had received much of the criticism.
Seeing all this as an optimistic move, the question arises as to why the women members shouldn’t be allowed in the combat. The opponents of these had many points.

Prisoners of War: “Have you wondered what would happen if women become prisoners of war?” While the statement has its edge of a slightly practical picture, this factor can never be a sole reason as to why they shouldn’t be allowed. Of course there is a great possibility that if caught, they will be subjected to sexual and physical exploitation, but if people remember, Indian movements for independence got an edge only after women started being a part of it. Not to forget the contribution of sarojini naidu, who was one of her kind, moving along with mahatama to complete the salt march. Morover after the Geneva conventions following the 2nd world war, there are provisions that protect the basic human rights of a citizen, which includes protection from humiliation and misbehaviour. But since unfortunately since these rules cannot be said to have made a difference, it cannot solely be relied upon. So this topic remains controversial.

Physically less stronger : “The women cannot fight as they are physically and mentally less stronger than men”. According to many studies conducted worldwide, women and men both went through the same stress level and mental issues after firing a weapon in combat, handling human remains and witnessing death. According to another study of women and men in responses, it found that men in case of emotional stress developed “more aggressive attitude” than women, and we know aggressive attitude cause more likely the accidents and injuries to take place. Women though maybe having less muscle power, but analytical skills are an important attribute of a person in combat. Besides the women being the one giving birth to a child, how can some stereotype them being physically and mentally less weaker, when giving birth requires so much of physical and mental hardships for a women?

Women leaving the services and combat more often: This has been found to be true according to the empirical data. But until and unless we let go off the patriarchal mindset which includes having this women as the sole member to look after the family and be involved in family affairs letting go off their aspirations and dreams, how can we even expect as any other conclusion out of it?

As long as people are perceived equally and fairly in practice and training, it gets over it. There’s actually no evidence that males break down when females are injured in battle or are distracted by their fellow female warriors. As long as they go through the same rigourous practice and the armed forces are trained to protect each other regardless of what chromosome we possess. The problem comes with the stereotypes from the society as well as those already in service about female sexuality, not from facts and science, as science says an altogether different story.

A country like India who has seen women leaders like Rani laxmi bai and Bezum Hazrat Mahal fight against the egregious suppression from the Britishers, does it suit to have such an approach and mentality for women ?

In the end, they are service members first and women, second. Caliber and ability are the currencies of the armed forces. As the females are trained equally, they can prove that they can do anything fellow men can do. We need to trust the tactical and analytical abilities, until they support and aspire to be member of the combat forces and serve the country.