A National Program For Organized Looting

On the eve of Indian independence, Winston Churchill thundered in the House Of Commons: 'Liberty is man's birthright. However to give the reins of government to the Congress at this juncture is to hand over the destiny of hungry millions into the hands of rascals, rogues, and freebooters. Not a bottle of water or a loaf of bread shall escape taxation. Only the air will be free and the blood of the hungry millions will be on the head of Mr Atlee (the then Prime Minister of UK). India will be lost in the political squabbles.' The final stage of this tragic drama is being enacted in India today.

When Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister in 1991, he realized that he was heading a very shaky minority government, which could survive for its full term of five years only if several other parties extended their full outside support to the Congress Party. As a political Chanakya he understood the simple fact that an uncertain regime of Ayarams and Gayarams could be saved from collapse only through a spectacular system of consolation prizes made available to all the Members of Parliament. Keeping this in view he made the Parliament accept what is called Parliament's Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) in 1993. Under this scheme an amount of rupees one crore (today it has become two crores) will be provided to each MP per year during their five-year term, for the purpose of funding schemes chosen by them for development in their constituencies. A colossal amount of Rs 10,000 crores was spent under MPLAD till March 2004. All the MPs have viewed this Program not as a development-oriented Program but as a Program that gives a wonderful opportunity combined with freedom and discretion for diverting the money in the manner and measure required to meet the political exigencies of each MP in his own constituency.

Starting with Nehru's tryst with destiny on 15 August,1947 – which in effect meant destiny of his family and its commercial interests represented by the Private Limited Company called the Congress Party which Mahatma Gandhi wanted to be wound up in 1947 itself – most of the development programs for the rural poor in India have been only on paper. Have we really achieved oft repeated words like 'equality', 'growth with equity', 'peace', 'democracy', 'rural development', 'full employment for landless labor', 'women's rights' and 'child development' etc? In every Five Year Plan report starting from 1951 till date, on paper and strictly on paper only, it has often been stated and restated that progressive reduction of unemployment is one of the principal objectives of economic planning in India Programs like National Rural Employment Program (NREP ), in actual practice National Rural Emasculation Program(!); Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP), in actual practice Integrated Rural Devaluation Program(!!); and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Program (RLEGP), in actual practice Rural Legislators' Enrichment Guarantee Program(!!!) Launched in the 1970s and 80s failed to achieve their stated objectives because of wide spread corruption emanating right from the office of the Prime Minister downwards to the last village level officer in India.

The emphasis from the beginning was on pious and vain political verbiage and not on organized and purposeful implementation. Employment generation as an objective does not mean the adoption of a static technology. Issues of technological up gradation, modernization and scientific advances in production process which constitute the essence of growth of productivity whether it be in organized industry, agriculture or small industry were completely ignored or lost sight of in all the rural employment generation programs.

It is not advisable to insulate the economy from the world trends in technological changes. A clear view of efficiency and employment effects downstream should be formulated before setting about the management of technological change. There must be suitable arrangements and adjustment policies in terms of education, training and retraining and re-orientation of workers in order to avoid dislocation effects and make the process of technology adoption smooth. Unabashed and uncontrolled and unsurpassed supply of money, men and material to all the MPs, MLAs, party functionaries and their families and relatives – mostly functioning as middlemen turnkey contractors – has been the crucial plank of these rural employment generation programs ever since their inception till date. This money-spinning without tears technology originally developed by the Congress Party, has been now adopted and perfected by all the other political parties in all the states with suitable local modifications!

Starting with Nehru's 'Tryst with destiny' in 1947 and 'Ushering in Socialistic Pattern of Society' in 1956, Indira Gandhi's 'Family and Child Welfare' in 1969, 'Garibi Hatao' in 1971, 'Drought prone Areas Program' ( DPAP ) in 1972, 'National Rural Employment Program' (NREP) and 'Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Program' (RLEGP) etc in 1980, the Congress Party has been using and abusing the English language for its own political purposes from time to time.

A glorious moment in the history of this orchestrated fraud was reached when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Program (NREGP) at Bandlapalli (Anantapur District) in Andhra Pradesh in February this year. Like Nehru in 1947, Indira Gandhi in 1971, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared with fanfare from the official pulpit about the national need for leveraging the 'historic and revolutionary' National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA or simply REGA) for creating new rural infrastructure, improving road connectivity, school buildings and water supply to villages. In the august presence of Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Singh hailed the event as a 'landmark in our history in removing poverty from the face of the nation.'

The Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which came into effect this year, guarantees 100 days of wage employment in a year to every rural household in 200 districts across the country. With solemnity Dr.Singh said: 'We must ensure full transparency and accountability in the implementation of this guarantee.' He suggested use of the Right to Information Act for effective implementation of NREGA. He said the implementation of the NREGA offered the Government an opportunity to strengthen the grass roots democratic processes. With a clear focus on the poorest of poor, it provided livelihood security and reduced distress migration. He concluded with pontifical piety: 'It will help us get rid of the scourge of poverty, disease and indebtedness.' Laying emphasis on Plugging Leakages, Dr Manmohan Singh said the NREGA transferred power to the people, making the Government accountable and responsible for providing employment wherever there was a need.

The cruel joke about Congress sponsored Indian democracy is that the phrase 'Plugging Leakages' was stressed by Nehru from 1947 to 1964, Indira Gandhi from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984, Rajiv Gandhi from 1984 to 1989, V P Singh in 1990, Chandrasekar in 1991, Narasimha Rao from 1991 to 1996, Devegowda in 1996, I K Gujral in 1998, Vajpayee from 1999 to 2004 and from 2004 till date by Dr Manmohan Singh. We can only pray to God as ordinary citizens to help us by plugging our helpless ears against this vicious verbal onslaught!

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was formally launched on 2 February, 2006 in a few districts and is expected to cover the whole of India in the next five years. For the financial year, 2006-2007, the budgetary support for this massive Program is Rs 11300 crores. Of the Rs. 6000 crores released by the Union Rural Development Ministry in the last 9 months, vast sums have been embezzled by the bureaucrats, middlemen down the line, politicians and political activists, and of course hundreds of ministers. We are indeed near the precipice of a monumental swindle, unprecedented in our history. In this National Looting Program (NLP!!) spearheaded by the Congress party in India, serious complaints of criminal diversion of funds have come from Andhra Pradesh and many other States. The stark fact is that the Congress Party is in power Andhra Pradesh and it is in that State, our paper Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and our Super Prime Minister Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the NREGP in February 2006.

Who is the chief designer of this NREGP? He is Jean Dreze, a Belgian economist, who is currently with the Delhi School of Economics. His powerful hold on the Congress Party and UPA government reminds me of another character called Grigori Rasputin (1860's?-1916) in modern Russian history. He was a bizarre, dissolute and religious con-man whose close ties to the Russian Imperial family allowed him to become a major political player, with tragic consequences for Russia and the Russian people. Winston Churchill was dead right when he complained about 'the essential unteachability of mankind.'

The Congress party's passionate concern for the Aam Admi (common man) exists only on paper. The Congress party's 'Vilayathi' RASPUTIN has let the rat out of its bag by declaring - A strong national REGA is likely to lead to flourishing of activist organizations that would help mobilize the poor in their interests. It is a political initiative. As Swapan Dasgupta has succinctly concluded: 'Rename REGA as Corruption Guarantee Scheme (CGS). Cut out the sophistry and here is one of the regime's favorite Jhollawala economists admitting that REGA is just a ruse to nurture countless NGOs that can be put to the service of the Congress and Left during elections. Dreze's sincerity is unquestioned and his concern is to create more NGOs. What he ignores is that the Congress is not all about grass-root's self-initiative. As a party, the Congress is built on a network of patronage. Earlier, it was the public sector that ensured an unending supply of funds. Today, the focus has shifted to a mega scheme called (REGA) that will be funded by the productive sectors of the economy'. 


More by :  V. Sundaram

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