Why being poor is a sin in India

Why being poor is a sin in India

More than 70 years after Independence, economic progress is just a mirage for India’s underprivileged

COLUMNS Updated: Aug 13, 2018 12:31 IST

Shashi Shekhar

Shashi Shekhar 

rape,sexual harrassment,poverty

The Muzaffarpur and Deoria cases are unravelling and with every layer that is coming off, the ensuing stink has made the nation recoil in horror. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

As I write these lines, the anguished cries of innocent girls in Muzaffarpur and Deoria are weighing heavy on my heart and my mind.

Why don’t those eager to celebrate India’s Independence Day pause and think about this: In more than seven decades, what have we contributed to the nation’s childhood and adolescence? We should also introspect about what becomes of sentimental slogans such as “Today’s children are the citizens of tomorrow”.

As an Indian, when I look back, I discover that in the name of progress, even as roads and infrastructure were being created and enormous modern aircraft began soaring over people’s heads, prosperity was just a mirage for those on the lowest ladder of society. These ‘ignorant’ people are not aware their nation has become the sixth-largest economy of the world as their lives are spent worrying about three words: roti, kapda aur makan (food, clothing and housing). To make these three words meaningful, what have politicians in our independent nation done? Just raised slogans election after election and then conveniently forgotten their promises.

Our politicians may agree or disagree on trivial matters, but they are one when it comes to policy and honesty of intent.

Indian politicians keep two masks handy. They keep changing them depending on whether are in power or in the Opposition. What doesn’t change is the destiny of ordinary people. You may recall the outrage over the brutal gang-rape of Nirbhaya . The entire nation stood up to defend women’s rights, it appeared. As a result, the already stringent laws were made even stronger. But criminals don’t carry out heinous crimes after reading the legal fine print. The repercussions are before us. The Muzaffarpur and Deoria cases are unravelling and with every layer that is coming off, the ensuing stink has made the nation recoil in horror. The Opposition of that time is now in office. Yesterday’s office-bearers are today in the Opposition camp. So they can claim a right over unleashing slogans and outrage. They are exercising this right. Because of this, the nation is seething under a deluge of charges and counter-charges. All this may take a toll on a few officials, but just change of faces isn’t enough to fix a flawed system. Also, rapes and poverty don’t go away with enactment or amendments of laws.

Here I would humbly like to bring up Delhi and the national capital region. As per government statistics, 54.57% people staying here can be classified as affluent. In the same Delhi, three innocent girls became victims of hunger deaths and within a week, another such incident came to the light in Ghaziabad. We are a land of contradictions! How can the rich be so irresponsible and insensitive? Even if the people were callous, why did the political system created on the edifice of their votes stay oblivious to all this? Instead of helping these innocents get nutrition and dignity, the system merely tried to carry out a whitewash. They have been doing this and they’ll continue to do it because our political system is not committed to finding a lasting solution to these problems. Our honourable politicians know that the outrage will last just a few days. The people’s attention can soon be diverted to something else.

This process of distracting and misleading the common man has turned our republic into a system of tumult.