Child Poverty

by Dalit Ki Beti, CM of Bimaru Pradesh

First, I just want to say it’s a pleasure writing for a blog that is not politically correct.

I was asked to write this column to explain the front page news in an English daily about children in my state having to resort to eating mud to satiate their hunger. I know what real economic hardship is like and so am the person to tell them, there is not a single politician alive who knows more about the misery that poverty inflicts on the poor than me. I know about it because I have lived it and may have also helped create a lot of it. Let me tell you this, my friends, I didn’t get to the CM’s post or on the Forbes’ list of billionaire politicians by mollycoddling the poor. Helping the needy will only empty my personal treasury, the state exchequer, and make them go soft. Slightest amount of mollycoddling and before you know it they’ll demand jobs with a fair wage.

Jobs for all? Fair pay? That’s not how things work these days. Do you ever hear me complain about a fair day’s pay? It’s not easy for me despite what the poor may think. The CM’s salary and perks are laughable and so I have to supplement my income by accepting garlands of 1000 rupee notes to fulfill my worldly desires and pay my flunkeys to harass people to keep me in power. If I lived on just my salary, I would be as skinny as Kate Moss.

So now you know where I stand on mollycoddling the poor. I see poverty not as a crisis but nature’s way of controlling the population by keeping alive only the fittest amongst us. Yes, I have read Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ and couldn’t agree with him more. Too many people in the world have forgotten their place, too many people have got ideas above their station. I too got ideas above my station when I was young but now that I’m the CM, I don’t want others to get ideas. Start helping the disenfranchised especially the non-Dalit kind and you are heading for a slippery slope that leads to the overthrowing of the established order.

So how will I stay in power? I’ll stay in power by doing what colonizers did. Empires were built on keeping the poor in poverty and ignorance. There was no crap about educating the ungrateful wasters then, and there won’t be any crap about educating them now at least not on my watch. I don’t give a shit about the Right to Education Act because education only gives people ideas and as you know, I don’t want people to get ideas. Bimaru Pradesh is my personal fiefdom and I will do my level best to keep it that way.

If we educate children free of cost, who will do the mindless, repetitive, back breaking work that is required to keep my lifestyle and fiefdom going? Machines are expensive and need skilled people to maintain them and the problem with skilled people is they have ideas above their station. When people live in poverty and ignorance they are happy because they know their place.

If it were not for all these liberal idiots mollycoddling the poor and teaching them they have rights, there wouldn’t be a crisis now. How can we politicians-entrepreneurs be expected to govern a state where we’re not allowed to exploit the disenfranchised?

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23 thoughts on “Child Poverty

  1. This made me mad. This was so unbelievable. Will she still win the next elections?

    My mom’s drivers, both from UP, say she has controlled crime. Is that the feeling all voters have about her? And now with Mulayam Singh whistling brilliance with every word he utters, she probably feels she has no competition 😦

    Me: She probably will…Anyway, they are all the same…I’m just glad that she didn’t become the PM…

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  2. Before you proceed to read the following comment, let me clarify I do not approve of divisive politics, and I do not approve of corruption, and I do not approve of not promoting education. And also that I enjoyed reading your post. 🙂

    Why am I writing in this comment is for one single reason – warning against looking at politicians in pure white or black.

    Media projections of politicians are not accurate. Remember, the political party to which Sibal belongs is precisely the one that had not promoted education & population control – out of either ulterior motives or the lack of motivation and foresight. The only difference being, they did not even give an excuse to keep the whole nation this way for decades.

    But important questions are how do we know if Mayawati had indeed said that she does not have money to implement RTE? Or how do we know she does not have alternate methods to promote education in her state? How do we know her response was not more nuanced with technicalities & possibly not as audacious as it being made out to be?

    Probably I am indeed acting as devil’s advocate. But that is because primarily the source of all our information is directly or indirectly her political adversary.

    I had been open to the idea of deliberate maligning of regional (read, non-Gandhi family) politicians by the media we’re exposed to, but I was disgusted by the manner in which Vikram Chandra had interviewed Melinda Gates on NDTV. Firstly, he had the crudeness to ask, “how do you handle the pressure of giving away 1.5 billion dollars every year to charity? to a person who was doing so voluntarily. Yet, she had been graceful enough in answering that question with tact. Then he had proceeded to ask her in a mildly mocking tone, “You had met the CM of UP, Mayawati, how was your experience working with her?”

    I do not remember her exact response, but it was something on lines of: “Oh, she is a very good administrator. She had all statistics & knowledge of status of polio immunization program in UP.”

    At this point Chandra had become visibly perturbed, & instantly asked her an entirely different question (to change the topic). What was the point in asking Melinda about Mayawati? He could have simply asked, “how was your experience of working UP, which has the highest incidence of polio?” What was the need to link the question with Mayawati? And once he did, why not let Melinda speak?…

    Me: I’m sure her policies are not all bad…At least she pays her taxes and is ranked among the top 20 taxpayers in the country…What irks me is her ostentatious display of wealth when millions in her state have nothing to eat but mud…

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    • But doesn’t Mayawati have at least as many resources as Mulayam? If he can put out press stories, so can she. In the battle of the presses, the two will cancel out each other and the overall impression is one which is pretty close to reality.

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  3. …I am not saying we must go by Melinda’s testimony of Mayawati’s abilities, but just urging people to remain open to the possibility of there being distortions/exaggerations & concealment of important facts by the media when it comes to her.

    Moreover, the cleverest thing that Sibal has done is to make all of us believe that RTE is indeed the best way to improve condition of education in India. He has cleverly shifted the responsibilities of providing new buildings, teachers, other staff, their salaries, perks, pensions, health care, etc. to states without assurance of additional funding to do so. This despite the facts that probably it is the Union government that collects some sort of education cess & education happens to be on concurrent list and not merely state list. So, in the end because of clever propaganda RTE will make Sibal look like an angel, & other politicians, the villain, as is currently happening.

    With this, I rest my case & hope subtleties surrounding RTE, its implementation & politicians’ concerns & motivations will be better appreciated.

    Me: Ketan, as far as I know, up to 65 percent of the cost to implement the RTE Act will be covered by the Central govt. and the rest met by the states…Apparently, she does not have money for education but has Rs.550 million for a special ‘police’ force to protect Dalit monuments…Her priorities are a bit quirky, I must say…

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    • Sraboney,

      There are few issues I have already raised above with regard to the said force. Has she categorically stated that that money allotted would be spent exclusively in protection of Dalit monuments? Or would it also protect other monuments & the common man at crowded places?

      The very same idea could’ve been carried through the following headline:

      “Maya provides income to thousands; protects cultural heritage, people in a single stroke”

      And then possibly we would’ve looked at things differently.

      We can go on juxtaposing two unrelated fund allocations, & one would definitely look illogical & cruel in comparison.

      Consider the following hypothetical headlines:

      1. “Gov. spends crores on PET-scan; mothers & kids die due to bad ultrasonography machines”

      2. “Gov. unmindful of suicidal farmer’s hunger, builds Worli sea link for motorists”

      3. “Gov makes army buy dysfunctional Arjuna tank for billions, gives Rs.150 per month pension to retired soldier”

      All the above events are true, only the headlines are hypothetical. Throw in a few figures (say, at least a few crores must have been spent for sea link function), and the entire thing would look all the more gory.

      Lastly, 550 millions is Rs. 55 crores. Even if it is unjustified expenditure, would we be logical in saying shelving the scheme would have enabled implementation of RTE, which apparently requires thousands of crores?

      This monument protection force has become a convenient stick to beat Mayawati with, but in final analysis, that money is insignificant to effect most of the important schemes.

      With regard to 65 % contribution to be made by the Union government, have they already given that money to Mayawati?

      It is a fact that the union government makes itself look very good through the press, but when it comes to actual release of fund they are not reaching the states. I believe same problem is being faced by NREGA.

      Lastly, how graceful was it of someone as intelligent as Sibal to conflate allocation of Rs. 55 crore with requirement of Rs. 10,000 crores on primetime TV?

      Mayawati is just bad or good as the next CM, as Charakan pointed out, but of course, we can criticize her where she is wrong.

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  4. I really wonder if she’ll be thrown out of government next time. The concept of staying in power by keeping people ignorant is hardly new. “Bread and Circuses” as one emperor of Rome said…(though in UP, the bread is missing)

    It takes time to educate and change people, so while I have no doubt that change will come given time, Mayawati may already be out of politics by then.

    But the Indian voter has often surprised us. Let’s hope they give us a BIG surprise and throw this wasteful politician out of power.

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  5. Bhagwad,

    If it seems I’m making out a case for Mayawati, then that’s not the case. I’m just providing alternative perspectives.

    As to her political adversary, depends on whether we’re talking of media at state or national level. At national level, it’s the Congress that’s much greater sway with the media, & state level it must be Mayawati (possibly, partly responsible for her electoral success). Plus, there’s a divide between Hindi & English papers & news channels.

    We tend to wrongly assume that we’re aware of the issues peculiar to a region. One of my friends from Lucknow vociferously criticizes Mayawati for wasting money on parks, statues, truncated constructions & divisive politics, etc., but he too, just like IHM’s drivers, expresses great satisfaction at reduction of crime in the city. We might be tempted to believe crime is a small concern, & easy to tackle but how can we be sure till we actually live there? I was explained how she had reduced crime. It was by recruiting ‘bouncers’ at bars on part time basis for day-time ‘surveillance’. This had firstly provided them with additional source of income, & effectively prevented them from turning to crime.

    We do not know how the people of UP view the raising of “force to protect statues”. Will that force also act against chain snatchers, eve teasing, kidnapping of kids? Or will it act only against couples expressing their love in parks & those trying to harm Mayawati’s statues? Will it also protect monuments like ‘Bada imaambada’ where there are no Mayawati statues? Will the force reduce chances of terrorist attacks at monuments where crowds gather? What will be “our facts” would depend upon what media highlights.

    Also, will such force provide employment & income to large number of families? Will this income promote health & education of children of relatively less educated people who constitue the majority? Will all this raise the general level of satisfaction with governance among her subjects? Again, I am not saying employment must be provided for sake of providing it. But if the things that I have suggested indeed happen, then we would be surprised by her winning the election again (if she does) not so much because of naivette of people UP, but simply because of our partial knowledge/assessment of issues.

    What if Mayawati is currently the least of all evil for the state? 😉

    All this is merely my speculation, not necessarilly very rational. 🙂

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    • Ketan,

      I understand all the problems plaguing UP have not been created by Mayawati…I just feel that if she has the will to provide education and food to the needy, she’ll find a way of doing it…Yes, money is a problem, but can’t she be creative in channelizing the resources she already has? For example, she wanted to erect statues, she found the resources to fulfill her dream…The desire should be there, that’s all…This applies not only to her but to other leaders as well…

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      • Thanks, Sraboney for your patience!

        I agree, building of statues when there are much more pressing needs is absurd. But my major aim was to demonstrate how media’s projection is responsible for our disliking her more than other politicians despite being similar to them.

        With regard to politicians’ acumen to provide education & food, let me digress a bit. 🙂 I’m not an economist, but I believe India is doomed to remain poor for single reason – its population density.

        Consider (my conjecture): total number of people required to generate basic necessities & luxuries (all the goods & services) is significantly less than the available work force. This creates apparent & disguised unemployment. A good administrator would at best be able to provide for food & education, but they will not lead anywhere further. Because even after people get educated they are not required to work!

        Moreover, providing education & food are much more difficult than erecting statues (probably, that’s why they’re so numerous!). I understand there must be lot of corruption in UP & hence even funds expended are not reaching where intended. We would also need to know how much is she currently spending on food & education situation to best understand to what degree-statue erection has affected provision of food & education.

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  6. The situation in UP appears to be horrible, going by what we read. And Mayawati seems to think that Dalits benefit just because she glorifies herself.

    I do agree with Ketan, though, that the news reports are probably biased against her. Other parties are not much better- they get better press, though.

    Me: Newspapers are biased against her at least the English ones…I don’t know about the local ones though…

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  7. What we read about politicians is only from newspapers and TV channels.
    Do we trust the TV channels?I dont.
    How can one explain a total black out of Hyderabad riots by the media?
    How can one explain Modi bashing but Sajjan kumar is a good man.
    How can media go on with Godhra and not talk of 1984?
    How can they explain total black out of 30 farmer suicides in Maha in the last 10 days?
    Be it Mayawati or any other politician, they are all the same but we are stuck with TINA factor.
    Most of politicians are corrupt, not accountable, greedy and see politics as business.
    After Mayawati released pictures of Sonia G with garlnd of Rs, media has gone quiet on Maya.
    But this does not mean what Mayawati is doing is right.

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  8. Mayawati was and is always a good punching bag for the National media and bloggers.See the link here
    The headline from Times Now says Maya opposes RTE Bill,but no where in the text of the news such a thing you can see.

    Mayawati like almost all the non-congress CMs are complaining abt lack of funds.The fact that only a nominal provision is alloted in the budget for implementing the act raises doubts abt the Central Govt’s seriousness in this issue.Even Vinod Raina member of Central Advisory Board on education writes href=”http://www.educationforallinindia.com/RighttoEducationBill2005.html”> here that the allocation in central budget is less than half of what is needed for first yr. The Center is taking more and more frm ppl as taxes but giving less and less to the States.So most State Govts will find it difficult to fund the scheme.
    Mud eating children are there in many of the States in India. Conditions are worse or similar in Bihar,M.P,Orissa and even parts of Maharashtra.Of the 63 years since independence Mayawati was the CM only for a handful of years.She deserve only a small proportion of blame.
    Mayawati is as good or as bad as most of the other politicians.Only difference is she flaunts her wealth [got via corruption] while others hide it in swiss banks.

    Me: I couldn’t agree with you more…Sibal should have worked out the logistics before announcing the RTE…All PR…

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  9. @Charakan
    Thanks for the link! Turns out Mayawati has made the same points as I had speculated.

    Your observation as to how the body of the news does not match the headline is very accurate. This is done for 2 reasons: first, many people just read the headlines to form their opinion; second, if headline is so striking & evocative, we start reading the news from the intended perspective.

    Incidentally, I have another take on currency note garland, too! 😉 Though it had looked totally audacious, by displaying it so prominently, she has only furthered accountability by having invited IT-scrutiny & raising her voters’ expectations. If the voters see so much money they will naturally expect it being spent on them. On the other hand, if politicians maintain austerity but stash away millions illegally there is no way such money would come back to voters or be accounted for.

    You might like to read this:

    http://www.bspcn.com/2010/03/17/6-subtle-ways-the-news-media-disguises-as-fact/

    It must be remembered that the financial burden borne by any of the states would be directly proportional to the deficit in facilities & inversely proportional to current facilities. In that it should be obvious that UP would have to bear one of the largest burdens both because of size & overall greater lack of infrastructure.

    Me: Her ostentatious display of wealth may be her unsubtle way of showing people how social dynamics in her state have changed…Now a Dalit can do what only high castes were allowed to do for centuries i.e. take bribes…

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  10. Sraboney,

    I have already stated the garland display was audacious. I am only making those points that I have not seen made by others. That does not mean I do not agree with the points others or you have already raised. That is the only reason I had clarified in the beginning itself I am against corruption & divisive politics.

    As to what Dalits themselves think of such display of wealth can only remain a conjecture. They may take pride in a Dalit leader indulging in corruption, or eventually better sense might prevail & they would dislike her for cheating them. But it might so happen that Dalits might find their condition improved from the previous decade. If that happens, this fact won’t be reported by the media & she’d be still voted back & we would still be at loss to understand the voting preference. I feel, to guage a government’s performance, what proportion of children are going hungry is a better indicator than whether some children are going hungry or not. Even more important is to determine if this proportion has increased or decreased with Mayawati’s administration. Lastly, we will require to see how other states have performed in the same area – whether they have been able to decrease hunger and starvation?

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  11. Even though I know this is yet another piece of writing afflicted by upper-caste bias, I couldn’t help smiling!

    On a more serious note, there is no denying the fact that the government of the SP in UP and the RJD in Bihar saw to it that there was no rule of law. Bihar, it seems, is changing under Nitish. Perhaps UP will also change under Mayawati.

    This is not to condone bad administration, poverty or malnutrition, but I think these existed under the SP, and even under the Congress when they ruled the state decades ago. And they exist in other states as well. Mayawati hasn’t been the cause of these. If, on the other hand, it is true that Mayawati actually succeeds in improving law and order in the state, I think most other improvements will follow. And if she succeeds in doing that, I don’t care if she builds all the statues she wants.

    Of course, there’s a big, big IF in all of this….

    Quirky Indian

    Me: I know all these problems existed even before but I wrote it for fun after reading the article about children eating mud…I’m personally biased against politicians, not against dalits or other classes…

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  12. By the way, the first line of my comment was written in jest. Just in case anyone thought otherwise!

    Me: Just like my post – all in jest…All politicians are alike…What I can’t understand is why Mayawati’s caste is brought up every time she’s criticized…All her actions or inactions are not related to her being a Dalit…

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  13. Awesome! Cant help laughing, even though my blood boils at the thought of it!
    But on maturer reflection, it is pbly a little unfair to blame Mayawati solely. Like Charakan mentioned, this is not something that has surfaced now. It`s an age old issue and Mayawati has been in power for a very short time, in the larger scheme of things..:9

    Very well written, Sraboney!

    Me: I agree…She can’t be blamed for everything…This was supposed to be a fun post…

    Like

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