In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us.”
Hence goes the lines from the famous 1996 single of Michael Jackson that earned notoriety due to its anti-Semitic references. Though the song might have been at the hearth of turmoil and underwent alteration before making its way among the music lovers, the words still hold relevance amidst a season marked by frisson of despair and hopelessness.
A lot of things construing in the ambience add grist to the mill and inadvertently call forth rumination. Amidst those who mull about the travails of the many lying at the bottom of the pyramid, a foremost name happens to be that of the economist, Esther Duflo. A professor of Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she is credited with being at the helm of affairs of her Poverty Action Lab a funded venture, an aide of hers including another economist of repute, Abhijit V. Banerjee. Her findings have had a profound effect on world leaders and philanthropists alike with the likes of Bill Gates taking keen interest in her endeavors. Her findings that are based on an extensive field-work conducted in India, Ghana and Kenya spread over a period of fifteen years are an eye-opener.
For instance in order to allure the rural masses into a de-worming drive, a part of an immunization program there have been instances of offering them a bag of lentils for doing so. Bizarre as it might appear but as this ‘Randomista’ (term often attributed to Esther Duflo for her practice of introducing random control trials in her areas of study) believes that corrupt practices are tip of the iceberg the actual problem with poverty alleviation programs is the lack of far-sightedness.
A middleman taking away a chunk of earnings that belongs rightfully to the farmers has been the catastrophe cited with regards to the MGNREGA. The dramatis personae in this entire tableaux is not only a hapless Natha for whom things have gone bad horribly, but also the mandarins being regulated by their honchos in the government who create the interminable mess in the first place. Another seemingly Horcrux that drops by at this stage is the startling revelation coming from the aegis of the Union Government’s statistical compendium, 2011, according to which every eighth child putting up in urban areas in the age group of 0-6 years is in fact inhabiting the slums. And we take immense pride in gloating about the fact that India would ride in times to come owing to its economic dividend. If this is the talent pool we seem to be banking upon then I’m afraid the future has a grimacing face unlike that which is being painted via word of mouth.
While the entire nation especially those humbugs hailing from the middle class jubilate with the victory of Sushil Kumar, the blue-eyed boy who won Rs. 5 crores on KBC, quite a majority overlooked the HDI report that came and went by without budging a single strand of any individual. As per the UNDP’s human development report, out of 187 countries, India ranked at 134 in terms of human development index. Sri Lanka fairs better than India in terms of human development and indicators with regards to Bangladesh were better than the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar. Very few care two hoots about that, come on now, we are a developing nation and are promised of a double-digit GDP growth, so these pitfalls are actually a part of the illustrious journey towards a well-inflated mirage you see!
The worst thing is this that a paracetamol is yet to be invented for this febrile state of the surging groups, the FB generation in particular!
There was this scene in the film, Swades (2004), a movie by Ashutosh Gowatrikar focusing on the detour of a man stuck up between his aspirations abroad and yearning to stay connected with roots in his native place. “Paani lo Paani, Pacchis paise me pani, pani lo pani” shouts a child as he tries to urge the travelers on board a train to take a Kulhad of water from him for a measly amount of 25 p, invoking empathy on part of the protagonist, Mohan (Shahrukh Khan). Perhaps a mid-day meal scheme wasn’t enough to hold on to him within the premises of a Paathshala (school) as he had no time to caress those future plans with the fangs of the present protruding right in front of the naïve toddler.
Oops, I forgot that he has a latest counterpart in Nargis Yadav, the seven billionth child to have taken birth in a sleepy village of Uttar Pradesh!
Does that imply bidding farewell to the Keynesians and welcoming the Randomistas?
Perhaps Jairam Ramesh and Kapil Sibbal should spring into action and find an answer to that one.