Food Security Bill: Pro-poor or pro-poverty – Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat“The government will not spend on productive assets … and we will never have good infrastructure, schools or hospitals. So what? At least we care for poor people. We`ll keep caring for poor people until our money totally runs out, the nation gets bankrupt, inflation is out of control and there are no more jobs.” – Chetan Bhagat

Value of the RupeePoverty is a terrible thing. There are few things as demeaning to a human being as not having the means to fulfil his basic needs in life.

India is one of the poverty havens of the world. We have all heard of India’s teeming millions, probably since childhood. While one could blame the British for all our mistakes pre-1947, it has been almost 67 years since they left. We are still one of the poorest nations on earth. Many countries in Asia, which started with similar poverty levels in the 1940s, have progressed faster — some of them dramatically. We, however, remain poor.

The continuance of poverty is particularly surprising because there are so many smart and powerful people who claim to be representing the poor. Politicians, academics, poverty economists, NGOs — there are so many people trying to help the poor. It is baffling, then, why we can’t seem to get rid of poverty. Our public debates are virtually controlled by left-leaning intellectuals, who are some of the most pro-poor people on earth. And yet, they seem to be getting nowhere.

Well, they won’t. Because while they may be experts on the poor and their suffering, they have little idea about the one thing that eventually removes poverty — money. Yes, it is over-simplistic, but it is perplexing how little our top thinkers and debate-controllers know about wealth creation, true economic empowerment, productivity and competitiveness. For, if they did, they would not support one of the most hare-brained schemes to have ever come out of our illusionist politicians’ hat — the food security Bill.

It is a tough Bill to write against. The fashionably left, almost communist, intellectual mafia will almost kill you. The subject is sensitive. You may argue that the numbers just don’t add up — that we will ruin our already fragile economy further if we do this. The retort will be ‘at least a poor mother will see her child sleep peace-fully at night on a full stomach’.

Try arguing with that! You may see financial ruin for the nation, but how will your data-filled presentation ever compete with the picture of a malnourished hungry child in an Indian village. You can’t. I submit all economics, basic arithmetic, common sense, rationality, practicality fails when someone confronts you with ‘so basically you don’t want to help the poor, right?’

Sonia-G's Food Security Bill Nobody does not want to help the poor. Nevertheless, after being labelled anti-poor, you will be labelled an MNC-favouring, FDI-obsessed capitalist. Stay long enough; you will be branded right-wing, perhaps with a ‘communalist’ slur added too. Welcome to India where one doesn’t debate on reason. We debate on emotions, moral one-upmanship and attacking the debater rather than the argument.

Therefore, like any sane, self-preserving individual, I’d say my official line on the un-opposable Bill is this: Bring on the food security Bill. In fact, I propose a better Bill. Why just two-thirds of India, let’s extend free grains to the entire country. Moreover, why not some vegetables and fruit too? And don’t poor kids deserve fresh milk? We should provide that too. If the debate is going to be won by the guy with the noblest intention, then I am going to make sure I am the one.

Every Indian family must get grain, fruit, vegetables, milk and whatever else it takes to have a healthy balanced diet. It should be free. There, am I not the good guy now?

When irritating questions pop up in my head on who will pay for it, or how will so many commodities be secured, or how will the already debt-ridden government finances look after this, I will tell my mind to shut up. I’ll avoid looking at the astronomical bill (lakhs of crores over just the next few years). If I feel this money could be used to transform rural education, irrigation or road networks, which would make our poor empowered, employable and richer, I will scold myself for thinking with my brain.

It is not important to remove poverty. It is only important to come across as a person who cares for poor people. And I do, more than you. That is why my Bill has fruit and vegetables. Does yours? So what if our fiscal deficit swells, the rating agencies downgrade us to junk credit and foreign investors stop investing in our country? We don’t need them. They are all our enemies anyway.

Sonia-G's Food Security BillThe government will not spend on productive assets, we’ll scare the foreigners away and we will never have good infrastructure, schools or hospitals. So what? At least we care for poor people. We`ll keep caring for poor people until our money totally runs out, the nation gets bankrupt, inflation is out of control and there are no more jobs.

Of course, that means far more people will be poorer than from where we started. But isn’t that a good thing? After all, it gives us a chance to care for even more people. So, bring on my Food, Fruits, Vegetables and Milk Security Bill. Did I miss something in that? Oh yes, nuts. We do need nuts. Some nuts for all Indians, please. You know the kind of nuts I am talking about, right? – Times of India, 12 July 2013

» Chetan Bhagat is a best-selling novelist.

Sonia-G & Manmohan Singh seek asylum abroad after 2014 elections.

5 Responses

  1. please visit http://www.indiaelections2014.info for India elections 2014 details

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  2. Sheer brilliance!

    The food security bill is is another example of how our politicians love to look pious at the expense of the middle-class taxpayer. We have the following examples:

    *The kleptocrat Y. S. Rajashekhara Reddy who bled the economy of Andhra Pradesh with his poorly conceived irrigation and healthcare sops

    * The “rationalist” politicos of Tamil Nadu who shower TVs, mixer grinders, and gold jewellery on voters

    * The Yadav goons of UP who have gifted laptops and cycles to their voters

    * The feckless Rajiv Gandhi who bankrupted the economy with his Jawahar Rojgar Yojana but lost power anyway

    Why can’t these worthies spend a fraction of their ill-gotten gains on the charity they seem to love indulging in? Why does the middle-class tax payer have to foot the bill for these flights of fancy and get nothing in return?

    The principle here seems to be to give the voter fish instead of teaching him or her to fish. But, then, if our leaders helped the poor to fend for themselves, would the poor continue to sell their votes for sarees, liquor, and a handful of Rupees

    When Rajiv Gandhi bankrupted the economy, the World Bank and IMF arm-twisted India into economic reforms. Hopefully, after Sonia Miano and Raul Vinci are done with rear-ending the country, we will be forced by these institutions into many much-needed structural reforms.

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  3. they are unlistening monarch.they will do in their personal interest to be followed by parties and also by peoples.even peoples will not like opposition to bill.this is the reason that congress rule in poor india is continuing.person like amartaya sen are not seeing anything.

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  4. Instead of borrowing with high interest from private western owned banks who create money out of thin air (Quantitive Easing), why cannot Indian central bank do the same and avoid the interest ? This solution can help India (and any other country) invest in itself cheaply.

    This is the solution that has worked for countries like Iceland and also for some state governments within the USA itself!

    For obvious reasons the bank-controlled media does not allow this simple easy solution to become known. However it is worrying that Mr Bhagat also seems to be unaware.

    Any country must own and control it’s equivalent of the ‘Federal Reserve’. This most NOT be in private hands, as that allows the banks to continue profiteering at public expense.

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  5. Very True – Indian Politicians have been successful in perpetuating the poverty mindset and therefore poor thinks he is poor and he needs to be fed otherwise he would die hungry. He does not have to work as there will not any jobs too and there is no need to do any job. What kind of society we are building. I go to a number of African countries for consulting and feel sad about what I see there. However, when look back in my own country, I feel sometime that we are doing worse than most African countries.

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