Sunday, October 2, 2011
Some foolish questions for the erudite Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Dy. Chairman, Planning Commission, in regard to the very illuminating definition of the poverty line
Dear Sh. Montek Singh Ji,
I confess at the very outset that I am no economist and my questions are bound to be naïve and unlike the difficult questions the likes of you have to field at national and international forums of enlightened economists. My questions are very simple and here they go:
1. When did you last visit a neighbourhood grocery – not a Mall, they tend to be a tad expensive – to buy your daily necessaries?
2. When did you last travel cattle-class – this was an expression used by an erstwhile minister in the UPA government for the likes of us who travel by buses and in second-class coaches in Garib Raths – and pay for your meals and Rail Neer?
3. When did you last meet someone managing to live with less than Rupees 32 a day in a city? Sir, I am not talking about clothes, shoes, education and other such accessories which one may not require for being alive. My query is limited to managing food with Rupees 32 to keep body and soul together, provided of course, the Planning Commission makes for some allowance for such people having a soul at all!
4. When did you last pay for your stay or even one meal at a Five Star hotel which free-thinking economists like you often patronize? (Forgive me for my ignorance about the existence of any hotels with more than Five Star rating.)
5. I don't know, but I have been told that at such hotels even a bottle of water costs more than Rupees 32. Perhaps you would know better?
6. Why is it that since the day the Holy Trinity comprising you, the suave Sh. P. Chidambaram Ji, and our eminently honest P.M. Sh. Manmohan Singh Ji has started guiding our economy to dizzying heights of close to double digit growth, our country has slid below Bangladesh and Nepal on all indices of Human Development?
7. Why has the agrarian crisis exacerbated despite all that you and your team have done for rural uplift?
8. Last but not the least: does being a blue-eyed boy of our P.M. entitle you to insult those who are today's God's lesser children (read liberalization, privatization and globalization for God since I believe we are living in a godless world, if God is understood in a conventional sense)?
Sh. Montek Singh Ji, lest you should misunderstand me, let me tell you that I do not belong to that novel BPL category you have recently defined in your affidavit to the Supreme Court; people who belong to this category don't raise such questions, they just cannot. I enjoy my middle-class security for which I am rally grateful to the system. But as a concerned citizen who buys his groceries daily and who knows the immeasurable value of Rupees 32 and what this huge sum can buy, I believe I have the right to ask you these questions.