We are going to be burdened (indirect effects of which we are to feel later that might come in form of some more subsidy cuts) a bit more and as usual, it is the immense wisdom of our comfortably numb prime minister Manmohan Singh that is (or going to be at play again) at play again.
But before going into that let’s scratch our heads to know a little that what Rs 200 crore can do the life of some ordinary Indians:
Let’s take a simple corollary. India is the youngest nation in the world and millions of its young representatives are staring at the prospect of a stable livelihood.
To go into that let’s pan across some data:
- ‘Around 7 crore people are unemployed or underemployed in India’ said Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge in Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) last December.
- According to an assessment from the latest Economic Survey of India report, the per capita income of India at current prices in 2012-13 was around Rs 5200 (with the national average of Rs 61,564 an year).
According to an exclusive story by the daily DNA (www.dnaindia.com – DNA exclusive: UPA-II’s India story is going abroad, for Rs200 crore, June 6, 2013), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is planning to launch a massive advertising campaign to go for an overseas image makeover to address the brand UPA hara-kiri and disgrace. The report says: “After being battered at home and abroad, the UPA government is planning a Rs200-crore blitzkrieg to shore up its nirman story with a desperate bid to woo foreign institutional investors, particularly from North America, western Europe and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations.”
What does it mean for you and me and for an Indian who elects the people who make the governments like the UPA?
Nothing, except, some more misuse of the resources that were supposed to be used for the betterment of the public by the ‘people from among the public elected by the public’!
Rs 5200 per month, we all know that it is not a level of income to lead a satisfactory standard of living but let’s see what 200 crore can do for a rich country of poor where millions survive on less than 2$ a day.
This Rs 200 crore can employ around 3.2 lakh people for a year with Rs 5200 in monthly emolument. If we consider an average family size of four members, it effectively adds to the support system of 3.2 lakh families or around 1.3 million people in those families.
See! This much of the resources are going to be wasted again and this much, like always, like the Rs 150 crore for the recently re-launched Bharat Nirman campaign, would be taken out from the public fund that is supposed to be used for the public betterment. Okay, the government would justify it with more than one reason, in reality, nothing can justify it, especially when the very same government is shedding the crocodile tears to reduce the energy and fuel subsidies under the garb of increasing burden on the financial health of the nation.
Simultaneously, Rs 150 crore can effectively add to the support system of 2.4 lakh families or around 9 lakh people in those families. It becomes even more glaring if we take into account the ad-spend of the UPA-II government since 2009 when it retook the office.
According to the reports, the ad-spend figures available till February 2012 show the UPA-2 government had already spent Rs. 2246 crore on advertisements by then. Going by the corollary of the Rs 5200 per month per capita income, it could have translated to an effective aid to the support system of 3.6 million families and around 14 millions of individuals of such families.
We all know who Rajiv Gandhi was and what he did for India. Why do we need multiple advertisements across multiple platforms by most of the government departments and ministries commemorating Rajiv Gandhi on his birth and death anniversaries?
Okay, if they have to do so, why don’t they do so from their own, private funds? Why to waste the money meant for (and must be) used for the betterment of the public?
Okay, the argument may be propagated that the ad-spend was necessary but such an argument easily gets punctured in the light of the related developments.
Such arguments sound sham when we come across regular reports of massive corruption in almost every government project. Almost nothing, not even the rural India centric massive projects with an ambition to cover the most parts of the nation are beyond the web of the neck-deep political and bureaucratic corruption.
Advertisements by the government departments and ministries are supposed to act as tools to aware and empower the people intended to be the beneficiaries of different programmes and projects to ask for what is rightfully and legally theirs.
Instead, their ignorance and their inability to convey the wrongs happening as reflected in the large-scale corruption tell either the government efforts to aware and empower the people are failing or the government is not at all serious about the ultimate aim of such initiatives – making aware and empower and instead is busy in bushing the beat making such advertisements a personal branding exercise for the person or group of persons involved. And if that be the case, it is certainly not an acceptable practice. Such wastage of public funds is deplorable.
But, as has become clear, the insensitive political class doesn’t even think about such considerations. Rather, they prefer to suppress the voices trying to show them the reality. As the election time is approaching near, the UPA government and Mr. Manmohan Singh are ratcheting up the (empty) rhetoric again with heavy advertising to showcase what is not there; literally, to befool us again.
Coming back to where we began, on youth and unemployment in India, Manmohan Singh recently said: “The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increased in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs. Employment in the unorganised sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011.”
But his assertions fall flat when we see the larger picture that is not what Manmohan is trying to make us see.
According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal (Young, Jobless and Indian, November 23, 2012): “The latest World Development Report by the World Bank says India’s youth unemployment — as a percentage of the youth work force — was 9.9% for males and 11.3% for females in 2010. In 1985, the figures were 8.3% and 8%, respectively. Youth unemployment in India, like most countries, has consistently been above the national average. But of late, the data indicate rising youth unemployment, now virtually 50% more than the national average, or total unemployment rate.”
Qualitatively disturbing! Now see this assessment from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
ILO says in its Global Unemployment Trends 2007-13, released in May 2013: What does it say about unemployment in India: “In India there is evidence that youth unemployment rates are higher for families with incomes over the $1.25 poverty rate than for those with incomes under this poverty line. “In developing countries such as India, as much as two-thirds of young workers receive below average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either over-qualified or under-qualified. Over-education and over-skilling co-exist with under-education and under-skilling. Such a mismatch makes solutions to the youth employment crisis more difficult to find”
A mismatch! Indeed it is. A population of over a billion with majority of them quality-illiterate, poorly-fed and living a sub-standard quality of life needs a political and bureaucratic class that could understand this mismatch to work out effective solutions.
Instead, we have a political and bureaucratic class that has become synonymous with corruption, nepotism, insensitivity and elitism.
Instead of addressing such grave problems with the seriousness demanded, the Manmohan Singh led governments is pouring the money from the public funds freely into massive cover-up operations to create an illusion of the achievements that are not there, to create a layer of propaganda to hide the utter failure that his government has been during its second terms in the office since May 2009.
The insensitivity and the rashness reflect in the advertisement campaigns like Bharat Nirman or this reported campaign targeting the overseas audience or the reports of a Rs 100 crore campaign by the UPA government in September 2012 to justify the retail FDI decision and diesel-pricing deregulation and price hike or the Hindustan Times report (UPA ad blitz gets Rs. 630 crore more, June 6, 2013) that says the Finance Ministry okays Rs 630 crore more for the Bharat Nirman campaign.
Mr. Manmohan Singh, the youth from the 7 crore of the unemployed or underemployed people or 70 crores or more of the Indians, quality-illiterate, poorly-fed, the Indians forced to live a sub-standard quality of life, cannot buy your sham every time. NDA had learnt this lesson in a bitter way in 2004.
This time, it may well be a telling development for your government the signs of which you are not reading. Stop wasting millions that could give livelihood to the millions. That is not your private money. It is rightfully theirs.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/