Friday, October 10, 2014

For the India of my dreams

An auto driver earns about 350 to 400 Rupees each day he plies his auto. However, very few children of auto drivers complete schooling and reach college. By the time his children are in 8th grade, his earnings are no longer commensurate to his expense, and he is not qualified for credit.

A sweeper with the local municipality gets about 150 Rupees per day. Paid out on a monthly basis, to his bank account. Most children of municipal sweepers, beat constables, government drivers, postmen, mail guards etc., will go on to reach a notch higher in their lives than their parents. Unlike the auto drivers kids whose fortunes will swing like a yoyo between bursts of jackpots and stretches of hunger, the municipal sweepers kids will eat low nutrition rice and rasam, but they will have something to eat everyday of their young lives.

Poverty is a complex state of existence. I have seen it widely splattered across my country's diverse fabric. It stains the very soul of our motherland and is an immense strain on its conscience. As the law makers of my country hurry to change our so called archaic laws, I want them to pause and think before they strike out any age old provision.

I once worked as a plantation manager. Plantations are like small Towns of about 10 thousand people. Each one of their lives are connected intrinsically with a small safe in the managers' office. As long as there is money in there, there is food, there is credit, there is future. A labor strike would rarely live beyond seven days. The management run school, creche and dispensary or hospital will shut down on the first day. Water supply and power backup dries out by second day. From the seventh day onwards, the local traders would stop giving stuff on credit to workers family. On the eighth day, kids will come from school and ask the worker if they could afford next month's fee. On the ninth day, the wife will ask the you think I should sell the little gold we bought from last years' bonus? On the tenth day, workmen would assault either a trade union leader or a management representative. Everything is connected. If the money in the safe dries up, women turn to prostitution, and kids take to petty crimes to feed themselves.

If our auto driver meets with an accident or has indigestion or takes a slightly longer break... His story will be no different.

It is not the big salaries that help the poor climb out of poverty, it is the promise of sustainable income and the social security that the erstwhile laws mandated. Unlike modern day sez's that pay four times what the plantations paid, but provide no housing, no schooling, no hospital, no creche, no water supply; traditional Factories Act mandates that you set up a town where successive generations will ensure that the factories survive and so does the town and its people. SAIL, TATA STEEL, DRDO, NMDC, HINDALCO, BHILLAI STEEL PLANT, TATA COFFEE, HARRISONS MALAYALAM...the names of large institutions that gave India thousands of educated professionals is a long list. Children of steel workers, telecom workers, coal workers...going on to become directors and chairmen of the largest corporations in the world is long.

Modiji, before you change any law, study how it will impact the grandchildren who are yet to be born. Poverty takes at least three generations to eliminate. Don't try to feed one at the cost of those that are yet to come.


  1. I don't think Modi can do much at that end.. We the people have to change at various levels. The population explosion was once a major issue on the Indian soil but now it is almost non-existent, why? If you'll do a deep study of the facts, you'll realize how the Indian politics has led down the nation at every front. Instead of tackling the basic issues, it is busy promoting crony capitalism.

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