Slum Dog rides on White Tiger

Written by Malarthamil

Malarthamil is a civil engineer and writer-poet inspired by Thirukkural.

The Purchase of English cricketers Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff for 1.55 million dollars each, in the bid for IPL cricket, may project outlandish scenario of erstwhile slaves buying their former masters . Already Forbes lists four Indians among the top ten billionaires of the world and the most number of Billionaires in Asia are living in India. But the portrayal of India by Arvind Adiga and Danny Boyle contrast these facts. Strange, the world is fed with misleading facts on big bellies in the media and left to see the reality of small bellies in fiction works.

Who thinks about 390 million Indian people living with a paltry earning of just Rs.20 ( $0.20 )a day? No one knows because their faces are unfit for repeat telecast. India is placed at 127 in Human Development Index, when compared to China at 85 and Sri Lanka at 93 out of the total 177 countries surveyed by United Nations. Millions of poor hungry Indians went to bed for another sleepless night while their fortunate fellow citizens visited Mangalore pub to take a kick from fundamentalist thugs.

What we have done to eradicate Hunger if not Poverty so far from this entire planet??

From the curse of an ancient sage,

“If some must beg and live
Let the creator himself beg and die.”

To the fury of a modern poet,

“If even a single man starves
We will destroy the world.”

our civilization has shamelessly traveled about 2000 years while millions perished for want of food. As an individual many share their food as a religious duty but the Governments have miserably failed in their responsibility to achieve Economic Justice. Universally we have evolved the Government as a system of sharing the wealth gained through individual labor. Therefore only the Governments of this world should have a policy and plan to wipe out Hunger.

At present the UN agencies rush to help only when the poor Governments fail due to famine or internal disturbances. United Nations have not evolved to run a world Government for sharing the wealth to address the hunger. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is the first of the eight millennium goals set by United Nations. There may be many schemes to achieve this goal in Africa and Asia, but the unique experience in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. calls for splitting this goal into two, tackling Hunger first and Poverty next.

It started in 1959 when the Government of Tamilnadu provided free lunch to the students in the Primary schools run by local government mainly to protect children from class room hunger. In 1982 it was extended to all the enrolled children of the state in Government schools under nutritious meal scheme. Later, with the inclusion of free eggs thrice a week, the scheme is still continuing indicating that eradicating poverty is not yet achieved. After caring for young ones, the Government turned to adults by providing heavy subsidy on the rice, the staple food grain of south Indians, distributed to the poor families through Public Distribution System(PDS)

In 2006 the price for this rice was drastically reduced to just Rs.2 per kg .And in 2008 it was further reduced to Rs.1 per kg. A middle class family spends Rs.400 to 800 for 20 kg of quality rice whereas a family living below poverty line ( BPL) needs only Rs.20 for 20 kg. per month. Such schemes are now adopted by other states of India and in other countries.

If the Government of India brings a national scheme for free grains of at least 10 kg per BPL family, it could be a good movement towards food security to ensure that every citizen is fed and freed from hunger first since eradication of poverty is not to be achieved in near future. We hope the billionaires are not inhuman and they will show their responsibility by sharing the finance.

. “Food for all” should no more be a dream. Back to the poetic words cited, there is indication of a connection between the food and the end of the God or World. We should only wish our future generations live long in the endless world along with or without God.

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2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Ulag, I share your concern too but with a difference.

    The Chinese tale is appropriate only when the teacher is willing, available and the learner is not hungry.

    That is why feeding the young learners was given priority in Tamilnadu in 1950s and 60s and now this state has achieved in Primary education when compared to many other states.

    The Chinese tale is related to poverty alleviation and not Hunger. This is the point I wish to inform, do not club the two goals for reducing poverty and feeding the hungry.Even UN which has clubbed these two should have to split the goal.

  2. I think the most important need to be fulfilled that will help alleviate poverty is education. Education and Education alone can turn the country around. Reading your article im reminded of an old Chinese folktale. — “A poor man comes to the house of 2 brothers and asks for food. The first brother takes pity on him and gives him a fish to eat. The poor man is very happry and he goes away. The second day the poor man comes to the house again and this time the second brother takes him out to the lake and teaches him fishing and helps him learn how to catch the fish by himself. After that the poor man starts catching his own fish and soon becomes a successful businessman and becomes rich and famous. He comes back to the house of the two brothers and thanks the second brother for teaching him how to fish instead of just giving him a fish and sending him away. ”

    The moral here is that the people need to be taught the right skills and given value education. There is no point of populist welfare measures if it isnt backed up without sound measures to improve the govt education system in the country. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons, one of them being powerful teacher unions, the education system is allowed to rot in the mess it is in by our politicians. Unless we reform the education system the poor of the country will always remain poor. Its time people realised this.

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