N.S. Venkataraman for BeyondHeadlines
While the income in terms of rupee has gone up for all sections of the people, the fact is that the rupee fetches less and less due to its falling value. In such a scenario, the standards of living of the large segment of the people have really not improved, though it may look that their incomes have gone up. This is particularly so, in the case of poor people.
The poor and deprived citizens who constitute around 30% of population largely constitute the unorganized working class or those physically crippled and unable to take up any productive work. They do not have steady income and they are not protected from the inflationary conditions and uncertainties of life to the extent needed. Such people are those who desperately need the support of the government to improve their living conditions.
In recent years, most of the benefits due to any improvement in national economy have largely benefited only the organized class who get regular increase in wages and have reasonable level of living standards. Improving the life conditions of the unorganized class of people are the primary task and responsibility of the governments, which have been found to be wanting.
What the poor people need today is opportunities for education and skill acquisition at reasonable standards and at affordable cost, which the governments are not able to provide them. If such opportunities are extended with good efficiency, the poor people will remain somewhat satisfied and can strive to improve their conditions to the extent possible for them.
The fact is that poor people do not have such advantage to a very large extent. What the government does for the poor people is more in terms of extending freebies to them by way of free or subsidized ration, ,which is not a substitute for tangible and worthy welfare measures. The freebies do not contribute to the basic improvement in the confidence and morale of the poor people but really hurt them in the long run by making them lead a life with a begging bowl and with an attitude of ever dependence on government support for their survival.
In the last several years, whatever economic growth that has happened in India have largely benefited those who belong to middle and upper income group, who are in a position to seize the opportunities. On the other hand, the poor people remain in the ring side and are reduced to watch helplessly the growth taking place around them, without such growth benefiting them in equal measure.
It is extraordinary that such poor people remain tolerant of such conditions and continue to believe the vague promises made to them by those in power and authority. As a matter of fact, the governments are fooling them by extending freebies periodically, which have become regular practice now even as the governments fail to improve their basic conditions in quick time in worthwhile manner.
It is extremely disturbing and unfortunate that the governments in India have practically withdrawn from the field of education, by largely looking up to private sector to fulfill the emerging needs. Not only the governments are not investing adequately on their own in building educational institutions but also allowed the standards of education imparted by the government institutions to deteriorate gradually. The net result is that whereas the poor people have no alternative other than going to the government owned educational institutions; they are condemned to receive poor quality of education, which make it difficult to survive and grow in the competitive world.
Just as in the educational and medical fields have been largely left to the private institutions to meet the growth in demand, the poor people have no alternative other than going to the government hospitals where the administration is tardy and attention is inadequate.
When education and medical facilities now largely under the control of private sector have become very expensive and beyond the reach of the poor people and the standards of the government run institutions are so poor, the poor people are left with all the disadvantages and therefore, are forced just to stay where they are. In many cases, even staying at the same status have become difficult and they helplessly further go down.
This is the crux of the issues and the poor people expect that the governments should sort out such issues quickly and competently. This requires a government whose leaders who have extraordinary level of commitment and capability to meet the expectations of the poor. The corrupt leaders in the government cannot do this.