Due to the efforts of the Modi government, India is moving fast in the direction of poverty alleviation.

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The need to make a new India – a strong India is not that a lot of capital should be accumulated in the hands of a few people, the distribution of capital should be such that it is easily available to millions of villages and crores of people of the vast country.

In the nectar of independence, auspicious signs have started to shape the resolve of a poor-free India while creating a strong India and a developed India. In the plans and targets set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for the centenary celebrations of independence in the year 2047, comprehensive plans have also been made for eradication of poverty. The schemes made by the Modi government in the past have brought miraculous results for poverty alleviation. In a recently released study report by the United Nations Development Program and Oxford University, it was told that in the last fifteen years, India has managed to lift 415 million people above the poverty line. Undoubtedly, this news paints a happy picture of the Indian economy. Another good economic news has come that according to the famous financial agency Goldman Sachs, the Indian economy will become the second largest economic force in the world by the year 2075.

In the last nine years, the Modi government has established many dimensions of development and empowerment, the government has implemented such schemes for the welfare of the poor, due to which meaningful efforts have been made to wash away the stigma of the shame of poverty on the face of India. Those living below the line have been elevated. From the year 2005 to 2020, about 41 crore people in the country have come above the poverty line, yet India is the only country in the world where poverty is highest. In the basis of the success and possibilities of India and its economy, political stability, Modi government’s far-reaching and poverty alleviation plans have a big role. The figures of UNDP’s Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) also confirm the same fact. In the year 2005-06, about 645 million people in the country were living below the multidimensional poverty line. At present, this number has reduced considerably, according to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, there are a total of 23 crore poor people in India.

Despite this, it is a clear indication that in spite of all the welfare schemes, the country is in dire need of economic self-reliance-self-employment for the poor with discussion on new ideas and welfare schemes to achieve the goal of poverty alleviation. A balanced social structure can be made only by overcoming the selfish political mentality of distributing free hawkers to the poor and collecting their votes. The Modi government has been politically stable and poverty alleviation has been one of its priorities. The government of the great economist Manmohan Singh was also stable and he too took concrete initiatives to eradicate poverty. This effort has been going on continuously since the time of his government. The unique thing is that both these governments have stood on two opposite political poles, but their economic philosophy has been the same. But the policy makers of the Indian economy need to take a serious look at some of its anomalies. As much as it is necessary to end poverty in the country, tackling economic disparities is no less important than that.

A recent Oxfam report had revealed that 60 per cent of the country’s wealth is held by just five per cent of Indians, while the bottom 50 per cent own just three per cent of the national wealth. We should and should be happy that we have lifted so many crores of people above the poverty line in a decade and a half, but we cannot ignore the fact that more than 80 crore people are being provided free ration. A significant number of our millionaires and billionaires are also settling down in other countries. Shouldn’t there be an effective penal system for billionaires who give up Indian citizenship? Indian ruling establishments have to find logical ways to control these anomalies. We cannot forget that even above the level at which our poverty line is fixed, life is very difficult. That’s why efforts should be made to make these happy economic pictures pleasant for crores of marginalized Indians.

The two agencies which have presented a happy and prosperous economic picture of India, in that picture one is related to present India, the other is related to future India. Both the pictures are highlighting the point of becoming the biggest economic power of New India, Strong India, Developed India and others. More caution and vigilance is expected in these happy moments. These are more challenging times, as India’s growing gap between rich and poor is a cause for concern, which should have been a major political issue, but unfortunately never became a political issue. Perhaps the shops of political parties are run on the strength of these rich and persistence of poverty is the biggest weapon to bring them to power. It is unfortunate that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. What better issue can there be before the opposition?

For the reduction in poverty figures, mention of two developments is being heard these days. First, massive cash payments through various programs like the Rural Employment Guarantee and second, subsidized fuel and free food grains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana. There is a basis for measuring the impact of these programs on the level of poverty. For example, these programs have provided employment to people and they get income from wages, this is an effective way to remove poverty. Cheap gas in the form of welfare schemes means savings on a major household expense. On the other hand, free food means savings in the expenditure on food means increased income.

The need to make a new India – a strong India is not that a lot of capital should be accumulated in the hands of a few people, the distribution of capital should be such that it is easily available to millions of villages and crores of people of the vast country. But what is the reason that the leadership of the erstwhile power-worshipping Mahatma Gandhi has been shrewdly setting aside the principle of his trusteeship. This is the reason why on one hand there are high skyscrapers of the rich and on the other hand there is poverty crawling on the footpaths. On the one hand, splendor gave luxury to a person and luxury awakened cruelty within a person, on the other hand, the tragedy of poverty and deprivation kindled the fire of rebellion within him. He started burning in revenge, many evils came home uninvited.

Inflation is increasing rapidly these days. Tomatoes have turned red, should they never become a big political weapon like onions? Certainly, the solution of inflation is a burning issue, in addition to the efforts of the Central Reserve Bank on the monetary front, more efforts are expected from the Central and State Governments, such as reduction in excise duty, VAT etc. taxes, adequate supply of essential commodities, prohibition of black marketing, Simplification by way of customs duty reduction in imports, promotion of trade and enterprise at the grassroots rather than large industrial and trading houses, etc. With this, the deposit-capital and income of the poor will be safe and the way will be prepared for them to come out of the poverty line. Like countries like Japan and China, every citizen of India has to be linked to the product and enterprise.

-Lalit Garg

(The author is a senior journalist and columnist)

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