Supplying essential items at subsidised rates

28/04/2009

Note: 1 crore = 10 million

Note: US$ 1 ~ Rs. 50

The government of the Indian state of Kerala has decided to supply rice and wheat at ration shops at the rate of 25kgs per month at Rs.2 a kilo against the present rate of Rs.3 a kilo to 20,00,000 families living below poverty line. The government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs.5 crore per month or Rs.60 crores per year. The benefit to a family is Rs.25 per month. Cannot a person earn additional Rs.25 per month by working? The wage rates are around Rs.150 per day for males and Rs.80 per day for females, i.e. Rs.230 per family of two working people (one male and one female). Instead of giving rice at Rs.2 a kilo, if the government provides jobs for just one additional day in a month, the government need not supply rice at Rs.2 a kilo. They can even price rice at Rs.9 a kilo. The cost of one month’s supply would be Rs.225, the same as the wages for one day.

Now coming to the creation of jobs, it is very easy in India compared to countries like Japan, US and other developed countries. Every village needs at least 5 or 10 public toilets. The unskilled people can be asked to dig pits. Every village is dirty. The unskilled people can be asked to clean the village and wages at Rs.150 for males and Rs.80 for females can be given. Every month, people can be asked to clean the village once in a weak. In every village, the lake can be deepened and cleaned. Roads and streets can be repaired. Such works are sufficient to provide additional one day work for all families below poverty line.

In towns and cities also, a large number of works can be undertaken. One is cleaning of the streets and roads. The other is transporting the garbage. The third is washing the public transport vehicles (at present vehicles are not cleaned as they should be). The potholes in the streets and roads could be closed. The public places like railway stations, bus stations, vegetable and other market places could be washed. The lakes around the towns could be deepened to hold additional water during rainy seasons. Trees can be planted in parks, on the sides of streets and roads wherever possible, watering the same etc. Used water can be recycled and used to water the plants and trees.

Supplying essential items at highly subsidized rates will only make people lazy and the number of people below poverty line cannot be reduced.

This applies to all developing countries in the world.


Framing Foreign Policy- to b guided by aspirations of people

27/04/2009

The handling of the Sri Lanka issue in the recent past by the Government of India raises the following questions:

Should the central Government of India not take the inputs of the State Governments in framing and conducting its Foreign Policy on the ground that foreign policy is the responsibility to the central government according to the Constitution of India?

Is India a democracy where the wishes and aspirations of the people are to guide the policies of the government or a meritocracy in which merits of an issue as viewed by those considered to be meritorious alone should guide the government?


Sri Lanka

27/04/2009

Sri Lanka has objected to the advice of the US and UK asking it to stop the war with the LTTE, which is seeking a separate homeland – Tamil Elam – for the country’s Tamils. Sri Lanka argues that the US and UK are interfering in its internal affairs.

Consider the analogy of a spat in a neighbor’s family; when there is misunderstanding between members of a neighbor’s family, it is an internal affair and one should not interfere in it. If on the other hand, the quarrel in the neighbor’s family leads to blows, one cannot treat it as an internal matter and refrain from taking interest to stop the quarrel. And if the quarrel exacerbates to killing, it definitely cannot be treated as internal affairs. One not only has the right, but also the obligation to intervene and stop the quarrel. It is with this same sense that the killings of thousands in Sri Lanka cannot be seen as an internal matter, irrespective of the reasons leading to it.

At this juncture, one has to seriously think, whether any country, particularly the UK, which once ruled Sri Lanka and which handed over power to the local people, based on Ceylon Independence Act of 10.2.1948 of the Parliament of UK, and India which is geographically close to Sri Lanka and which faces the influx of refugees and political problems, can be silent spectators of destruction of a race just to respect the independence and sovereignty of Sri Lanka as demanded by the government of Sri Lanka. These countries which are concerned with the situation in Sri Lanka, should seek UN intervention to bring about peace there.


Couplets

21/04/2009

No one is good or bad all the time and to all
Every one is good or bad to some at sometimes

Hard work for long periods could change
A criminal into a good human being


Duty to work

21/04/2009

Raj is an unskilled agricultural worker in the state of Tamilnadu. Five years ago, he used to work on an average for about 15 days a month. His daily wages then were Rs.60. Thus he used to earn about Rs.900 a month. His wife used to earn about Rs.400 a month. Their combined salary was Rs.1,300. This was not sufficient to run the family. So they used to seek work from potential employers, particularly during festive seasons as they needed more money for celebrating the festivals.

Today, the daily wages are around Rs.150 for men and Rs.70 for women. Raj and his wife earn Rs.1,320 in six days, more than what they would have earned five years ago by working for 15 days.

The prices of essential items have not gone up during this time. Actually, prices have come down in the Public Distribution System (PDS). One kilogram of rice is now sold at Rs.1. Prices of dhalls and sugar are also very low in the PDS ration shops. For festivals, all additional requirements of food items are sold at nominal prices in these shops. Raj also got cooking gas and stove free of cost. However, Raj’s family continues to use firewood. People like Raj are reported to allow their gas supply to be used by some others and in return, they get about Rs.200 from this transaction. Raj has also got a television set from the Government free of cost. He is expecting to get 2 acres of agricultural land also free of cost shortly in addition to house site.

Now there is shortage of labor in the agricultural sector. Raj can get work for a minimum of 20 days a month, on an average. But he does not want to work for 20 days. In fact, he does not work even for 15 days a month, as he used to work, a few years ago. He works just for 5-6 days and this is sufficient to run the family in the same way as he used to run earlier.

Raj does not see any change in his life style. But the country has lost production because of his idleness. His contribution to the country’s economy has come down by about 60% as he works only for 40% of the days he used to work. Assuming that the value of his services per day is Rs.150 a day and Rs. 1350 for 9 days (earlier he used to work for 15 days and now only for 6 days. The country has lost 9 days of his work). In other words, the GDP of the country has come down by Rs.1,350 per month or Rs.16,200 per year. Like Raj, there are about 1 crore people in Tamilnadu. The combined loss to the GDP of the state is Rs.16,200 crore in a year. In the whole of India, the additional output will be to the tune of Rs.259,200 crores in a year. The loss to the nation would be much more, if we consider that a person like Raj should work for about 25 days a month.

The grants and subsidies are depriving the nation output of approximately Rs.259,000 crores per year. If the policies of the government are framed in such a way that every able bodied person is made to work for 25 days a month and 8 hours a day, India’s GDP could surpass that of USA in the not too distant future.

In India, there is dire need to ensure not only EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE BUT ALSO DUTY TO WORK.


Study of Languages in India

13/04/2009

Children in India are made to spend a lot of time learning languages. A child in the state of Andhra Pradesh learns three or four languages – the mother tongue Telugu, English, Hindi and sometimes Sanskrit. A child in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and China learns only one or at most two languages. To that extent, the child in these countries has more time to learn other subjects like science, mathematics, history, geography and geology. This child also has time to think and analyze.

The argument in Andhra Pradesh is that children should learn their mother tongue, Telugu. There is no dispute about this.  There is also a case for learning English because it is an international language and higher scientific and technical knowledge could be obtained only through English language. Not only advanced countries like Germany and Japan, but also the less developed countries in Europe and countries like Malaysia have only mother tongues as medium of instruction, not only at school level but also at the university level.

As regards Hindi, the argument is that people seek employment in Hindi speaking areas in India and hence they should learn the language. This argument is not tenable. Out of 100 students hardly 1 or 2 go outside the state to Hindi speaking states. For their sake, the remaining 98% of children need not be made to learn Hindi. Their time for learning more of science and mathematics need not be robbed. Again 1 or 2% of the people may go for jobs to neighboring states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Orissa and Maharashtra. Does this mean that every student should in addition to the other subjects, learn Tamil, Kannada, Oriya and Marathi? Thousands of Hindi speaking people come and work in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and Karnataka. Do they learn Telugu, Tamil and Kannada at school?  No. If a Hindi speaking person can work in non-Hindi speaking state without learning the language of that state in school, why not a Telugu or Tamil speaking person work in non-Telugu or non-Tamil  speaking state without learning the language of that state in school?

Regarding Sanskrit, some may argue that it has rich literature. But most of the Sanskrit literature has already been translated into Telugu and children can read the translated works. If any one has special interest he or she can learn, but for that, others need not be taxed. Tamil also has equally rich literature. It does not mean that every child in India should learn Tamil language at primary stage.

It is clear that burdening school children with several languages has deprived the nation of outstanding scientists and technocrats. Learning several languages, not only takes away the time from other subjects but also makes the students lose focus and concentration. It is important to correct this trend.


Coalition Government in India

13/04/2009

There is a view that for the economic development of India, the central government should be strong, meaning that the central government should have full majority and should have more powers than it has now. The growth rate of the economy during the first 30 years of independence when the central government was very strong under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, was less than 5%. However, when the central government was run by coalition parties in the recent past, i.e. when the central government was supposed to be weak, the growth rate of the economy has been very high – about 7% and in some years touching 9%. This growth was achieved from an even higher base than what it was during the rule of Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

It appears that in the coalition governments, all the ministers in the cabinet are motivated to work hard and deliver progress. This is logical because their reputation and future electability is at stake.

For a large and heterogeneous country like India, a two-party system is not at all good for the country. There are no two parties that can faithfully reflect the interests and aspirations of the diverse sections of the society and regions of the country.