Former Prime Minister Chandrasekhar has written in his autobiography that a professor from Yugoslavia, who was doing research on the ‘problem of refugees’ all over the world, while answering a question from him, said that ‘Mahatma Gandhi in our country also suffers from the pain of poverty’. The experience of this happened, when he had to face various kinds of torture in South Africa and taking inspiration from it, he became directly involved in the life of the poor. The real enlightenment of Mahatma Buddha came when he was forced to eat Sujata’s Kheer. Without understanding the pain of hunger, no one can satisfy hunger. In the year 1867-68, Dadabhai Naureji first proposed the end of poverty. Subhash Chandra Bose also initiated it in the year 1938. When the country became independent in 1947, two out of every three people were poor. Today it is said that one out of every three people is poor. Then after independence, the slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao Desh Bachao’ was raised in the 1974 general election by the former Prime Minister Late. Indira Gandhi gave Later his son Rajiv Gandhi also used this slogan. This slogan was used in the fifth five year plan.
Today no one talks about eradicating poverty in our country. If poverty remains, then how can one make his country developed by staying hungry? A new thing has started in our country since last few days that we will develop the country. So has the country not developed since independence? The truth is that the country has developed. Yes, the country which had been hollowed out by the British by exploiting it for centuries, it definitely took time to bridge it. Because of this, the same development could not take place, as happened with other countries that became independent with India. We start to consider ourselves developed because our roads have been built, electricity has become good in many states, but what have we done for employment, good education, good health! What did you do for the benefit of the farmers? What did you do for the slums to not stay in the country?
Today, hundreds of slum dwellers are living in front of the glare of big cities and the palaces of high profile people. Why was no effort made to remove their poverty? Those who take care of him come to him only when he has to win elections. Politicians know that those living in luxurious bungalows also have the same right to vote as those living in slums. If he is developed and he is educated, then who will he lure in the election? In such a situation why should anyone take such a risk that there should be a systematic effort for ‘Garibi Hatao’ movement.
If we go to the bottom of history, Akhand Bharat was very vast. There was no dearth of wealth, but the team of foreign robbers kept coming and making this prosperous India poor. With this, heavy rains and famine forced him to starve to death. Referring to the Bengal famine, the historian has written that there was no rain that year. The land dried up, the ponds dried up, the black shadow of famine spread throughout the Ganges valley. Women with delicate bodies and seven veils, who had never stepped outside the threshold of the house, came out on the streets, bowing their heads on the ground in front of the pedestrians, asking for a handful of rice for their stomach.
The bodies of thousands of famine victims were flowing into the sea every day in the flow of the Hooghly in the middle of their bungalows in front of the British’s chambers and bungalows. The market-ways of Calcutta were littered with dead bodies. People were unable to carry the dead bodies of their relatives to Marghat or to the Ganges. The dead bodies were rotting wherever they lay. Vultures and jackals used to scavenge and eat them in broad daylight.
Even in this terrible condition, the food grains were rotting in the houses and godowns of the British. It was our compulsion that we had everything, but the right was not ours. When the time cycle turned, our condition kept improving. Elections to five states are going on now, but now the issue has become secondary that poverty removal. Now by talking about India-Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim, the only objective has remained to win the election by spreading anger among the public sentiments by giving its slogan. The world saw the situation of poverty even in the Corona period. The country had to face the poverty of the Corona period, worse than what happened in the famine of Bengal and which today’s generation had not seen. Thousands of men, women and children walking on the road got absorbed in the cheeks of time.
It is not that everything is all right now in our country. Hunger deaths happen even today, but what does it matter to someone that some people die. So many slogans are given now, but we do not hit the root of the original problem. Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. Its purpose was that no one should look at the borders of our country and if the farmers are prosperous, then no person of the country will remain hungry and he will not die of hunger.
Now let us also understand that what is poverty? Poverty or poverty is the condition of lack of means of living or money for this. ‘Poverty is the absence of an adequate supply of goods that are necessary to maintain the health and well-being of the individual and his family.’ Thus, the problem of poverty does not end only by the provision of food, clothing and housing. Now the poverty hatao slogan is ridiculed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Meerut, targeted the Congress fiercely. He said that when I was eight-ten years old, I used to hear that the government was talking about poverty alleviation. When he was 20-22 years old, he heard the slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’ of Indira Gandhi. In the subsequent generations also, the Naamdars of Congress kept talking of poverty hatao, but poverty did not go away. The Prime Minister said that after independence, the way Congress has betrayed the poor in the last 72 years, today the poor of the country is saying – ‘Remove Congress, poverty will automatically be removed’.
It is okay that there should be criticism for not fulfilling the promised work, but after all, who will fulfill that work? What benefit does one get from criticizing what doesn’t exist? It is said that telling a lie over and over again does not make it true. And, then if we raise one of our fingers for another, then three fingers remain on our side. I don’t know who can say about our petty leaders, how does anyone in the top constitutional post forget that many such promises were made by him too, but later it was termed as an election gimmick. How can someone who has three fingers on his side point his finger at the other, but this is what is happening.
In the last seven-eight years, the way the dying Congress has been revived by criticizing the ruling party, it is not possible to end it now. The way Congress has been criticized unilaterally by the ruling party, it revived that party.
If our public representatives and top leaders will remove poverty and motivate the people of the country to lead a happy life by putting their full strength towards them, then there is no doubt that it will not take us long to remove poverty. Why can’t we stop ourselves from fighting with each other? Has it become the goal of our politicians to get the seat of power? We can never think of public interest.
If so, then we would have removed poverty so to say, but it would be a sheer lie and the house standing on the lie would fall down and end its existence at any time. So avoid lies and follow the difficult path of truth, only then you will be glorified in history and you will become immortal. Such has been the history of India’s past. Look from the past till today, whenever someone tried to be autocratic, history has destroyed his entire existence.
(The author is a senior journalist and political analyst. The views expressed here are his personal views.)