Rs 12 meal is Not that illusive! We can believe Congress…
The Day Congress led UPA government spokespersons publicly announced the existence of a Rs 12 or Rs 5 meal in India; they are at the target of a large section of middle class Indians. The reason for the disappointment with Cogress MP Raj Babbar or National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah’s statements is the perceived callousness the statements convey.
So this brings us to a question: Is Rs 12 Meal that illusive in India?
I think it’s not. Let I put some reasonings here:
1) Suppose a daily wage earner gets Rs 400 a day in a city. Suppose he has to support a family of 5 with this money. This makes for Rs 80 per family member. Now this Rs 80 has to be spent not only on food, but also in education health care and accommodation. If 60 percent of the money goes to food, then we are left with Rs 48 for the three meals a day. This gives us Rs 16 per meal.
We don’t need to pretend here too much. In B and C class cities a construction labourer is even getting Rs 200 a day. Imagine how much he would be able to spend in the food of his family.
2) If the governments start giving Rs 2-3 per kilo Rice or wheat to people, then Indians will be able to feed themselves at a much lower cost. Now, there’s an important distinction here. When a Government in India claims to feed its people, it simply claims to feed them. That’s the government is simply ensuring that the poor is not going to bed without food. Indian governments don’t see the food as a balanced diet or one that is nutritious. The biggest proof of this is that in the APL or BPL system, part of PDS system in India, people only get wheat, rice and sugar. These three are the sources of carbohydrates. What about protein? the nutrient which is required for growth and repair of wear-tear of the body; and which is necessary to prevent malnutrition among children. Pulses are the main source of protein, and governments in India don’t give pulses under PDS scheme.
Thus anyone who tries to link the malnutrition in women and children in India to the lack of food for the poor in India; he/she is either not understanding the situation fully or is simply misleading the people. The reason for high rates of malnutrition in India is the absence of protein in the food of millions of Indians. And unless the governments include pulses under the PDS scheme, malnutrition can’t be tackled in India. But on this front any Government in India will be ineffective, as India doesn’t produce enough Pulses to distribute them under PDS.
I’ve always believed that a politician must speak carefully. Since he/she holds a lot of clout, he/she can easily hurt people feelings. The Congress spokespersons must do their homework well, especially at important times like Food Security.
To conclude, the article is not defending any irresponsible statements. It’s simply offering a perspective into a real problem, so that the debate on the issue doesn’t get reduced to a non serious exercise. Like the one we are witnessing on Facebook and Twitter of late.
Poor in India is simply filling its stomach. The governments in India are not solely to blame (in fact, they are at least trying to ensure that no poor goes to bed empty stomach). Some blame goes to us, the people, as well. Majority of poor in Indian urban areas work in unorganized sector, that’s under the employment of the private individuals or entities. When we employ them, we too don’t pay them a dignified wage.