Modi bachao, Beti padhao

Loose talk dominates the Indian political scene. The ground realities are often scary. Consider a report tabled this past week by a parliamentary panel that noted that around 80 per cent of the funds allotted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-trumpeted ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme was spent on media advertisements. Nothing goes to show even the balance 20 per cent benefited India’s poor children in any way. What this goes to show is that the Prime Minister himself took little interest in the implementation of what was one of his most-touted welfare schemes. Worse, his minister Smriti Irani who runs the department of child development and the bureaucrats who implement the programmes couldn’t care less. They together diverted the money meant for the poor and used it to buy media support for Modi and the NDA government.
From the pulpit, Narendra Modi as Prime Minister never tires of speaking up for the poor or presenting himself as the son of a chaiwalah. Indira Gandhi raised the Garibi Hatao slogan and won the parliamentary election in the 1970s to retain power. Yet, India, now celebrating 75 years of Independence, left the poor to fend for themselves for most part other than in the introduction of a subsidized food grain scheme during UPA-II. The UN global human development indices often put India at the worst levels. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) last year put India at a low of 101 on a scale of 116 nations –a deterioration of its ranking from 94 the previous year. Only a few African nations fare worse than India. Pakistan’s ranking was 92, Sri Lanka’s 65, Nepal’s 76 and Bangladesh’s 76. India fares worst when it comes to wages and salaries, set against the levels in neighbouring nations. Yet, the Indian manufacturing sector is down in the dumps despite Modi’s highly-publicised ‘Make In India.’ Another of Modi’s projects, the Smart City, is more of a paper tiger.
Politics has degraded into a drama for fooling the poor and making vote banks out of them. The rhetorics must be treated with the contempt they deserve. The spending of almost the entire funds meant for uplift of the poor girls, to educate them and empower them, ended up in a heinous attempt at building the image of the government. When politics becomes an obsession to win elections and warm one’s seat, democracy loses its essence. Democracy is defeated when people vote with their feet and re-elect pretenders to run a nation.

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