About a week ago, I was going back home from a conference. What I saw, was a healthy capable man, begging near the streetlight, and what was even more ignominious was that his kids were begging with him. A little boy with his mother sitting beside me in the bus, asked me,” Bhaiya, I’ve read in the books that my country is great and I love it too. But why do these people beg? Is there no-one in the country to lend hand to these people?” I was dumbstruck by such an honest question and that too from a kid. I said,” Yes dear! Our country is working on that front”. “And How!” he said with an enthusiastic look at this face.
Well, I can’t dodge the little kid’s question now as he had every right to know about these problems which were making him ponder. So I asked him to listen to me first and then respond. He agreed.
And then I started, “The world we live in today, is much more complex as it was in the beginning of life on earth. Survival was the only goal then. Still, it is today. But as we began to progress in every aspect of life, our demands grew. With the passage of time things began to revolutionize and with that our need and greed grew more.
As there was British rule in India before we got freedom, they exploited us in many aspects but main damage was done socially and economically. The banks at that time didn’t help the peasants at the time of need, but only lend money to big English businessmen. There was some ‘so called help’ provided in the name of dole by the rich moneylender at high interest rates, only to exploit them more. This was also one of the reason that they didn’t connect with the freedom struggle so well, earlier.
During British rule, different revolutionary came who through their ideas inculcated the feeling of patriotism in the people who were just Indians by name. Some people like Rabindranath Tagore lended their hand in form of writing poems and generating the feeling of nationalism in the people. This was the real help which people needed at that time.
Mahatma Gandhi, during freedom struggle, rather than earning money after becoming barrister and spending that in form of dole to help Indian society, took a different path. He just lend his hand to the people and showed them the right path to gain freedom and how to fight for one’s right, and the rest is history.”
Suddenly, the little kid interrupted in between and said,” Yes! That sounds great. I have read a little about this. What happened next?”
I continued,” After we got Independence, our Government took the responsibility to make every person capable in this country. For that, we started ‘Five Year Plans’ which focused on different goals and development. Our government started different schemes to empower the people and to lessen the growing divide in social and economical front.
Socially, Government have abolished untouchability and passed different laws for backward people. Reservations are being provided by government in education and jobs to uplift the lower strata of the society. Women have been given equal rights in the constitution as that of men and different schemes are run for their welfare.
Economically, government gives subsidy in fertilizers, loans, electricity to the farmers so they do not get deprived of any facility and production can be increased. Work is provided to unemployed unskilled people under MGNREGA for at-least 100 days in a financial year. Food is provided under PDS to poor people at subsidized rate so that they can save their hard earned money”
The little kid said,” Bhaiya, don’t you think this is like giving a dole. The schemes like these are run by government from so much time, but still the results are not much great? I can still see people who live in poverty and die in poverty. Sorry, if I’m wrong”
I was taken by surprise by his question and told him,” Yes! You’re right in a way. What government is doing is not a solution for such problems. It is like giving a crutch to a person who can’t walk. The government is becoming financially burdened each year after providing such huge facilities for the welfare of the society. If these subsidies, though you can call them doles, are withdrawn, it will become easy for the poor to die than to live.”
The little kid said,” Is there no way by which Government can lend it hands and help people in long run rather than making them dependent on these doles and making them more crippled?”
This was a very big question by the little kid. I said,” The government now is coming out with more ideas to empower the different section of the society. Schemes like ‘Stand up India, Start up India’ will help entrepreneurs in the long run by providing them the platform for their innovation. “Make in India” is a step towards making our manufacturing industry more strong and to generate more blue-collar jobs in which both men and women can participate and even skill will be provided to them by “Skill India mission”. The development of “Smart Cities” will provide better living options to the people and also better opportunity for work. Also, to help farmers, government is investing in innovative ideas like GM crops, molecular breeding and organic farming”
The little kid jumped with happiness and said,” Yes! That sounds like lending the hand, as it will make people much more self-dependent and I think it is much better than giving the dole”
I said,” Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. And yes! As we become more strong with time, we can gradually remove these doles, but it should not be done instantly as it will put a lot a strain on people as well as the economy.” The little kid seemed satisfied with my answer and we started enjoying our journey and if we all, rather than giving doles, just lend our hands to the needy one, then in the long run, India too will enjoy its journey.