Monday, June 24, 2024

Rahul Gandhi reignites debate on minimum income guarantee for poor

Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 19: Rahul Gandhi has reignited the debate on a minimum income guarantee for the poor, iterating that the deprived sections of society cannot be ignored when the State does so much for the big corporate houses.
In a conversation with vegetable vendor Rameshwar, whom he invited home earlier this week, Rahul said: “Our Nyay (Nyuntam Aay Yojna) scheme envisaged Rs 72,000 in the accounts of every poor family in a year. We thought this should be done. Because the billionaires get so much, so many loans are written off… some assistance is needed for the poor as well.”
Nyay was a minimum income support scheme for the poorest Indian families that the Congress had promised in its 2019 general election manifesto.
Rahul asked his guest: “What do you think about such a scheme?”
Rameshwar, who had choked up while talking to a journalist about the high prices of vegetables in a YouTube video that has gone viral, said: “There can’t be a bigger solace than this. If this happens…the poor deserve this!”
The Congress leader had shared the video on Twitter and later visited the Azadpur wholesale market to find out how the high prices were impacting the people in the business.
Rameshwar was invited to 10 Janpath, where he came with his wife and daughter. Rahul on Friday posted a video of his interaction with the family. The Congress leader had asked Rameshwar about his family, where he came from, his struggle and his aspirations. He also served them lunch, bringing fruit for Rameshwar’s wife when he learnt she was fasting.
At one point, when Rameshwar said he had lost interest in life because of the wretched poverty, Rahul asked him not to give up ever. He tweeted later: “Rameshwar ji is the voice of that India whose pain, concerns and challenges are not reflected in the mainstream discourse. It is the moral duty of all of us to listen to this voice and support them in their struggle.”
He appeared to be suggesting that fundamental problems of existence are getting drowned in the lofty rhetoric of India’s rising power in the world.
Posting the video, party’s communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “When the Bharat Jodo Yatra started, we repeatedly said that this exercise is aimed at listening the people’s voice, not to lecture them. Conversation with Rameshwar ji is part of that exercise. Listening to his views, it is clear that the worker who builds this country with his blood and toil mean nothing to this Government. The poor yearns to tell his miseries and needs a shoulder for support. This is the purpose of Bharat Jodo Yatra ~ We want to restore the broken trust.”
Rameshwar explained how he came to Delhi from his village in Uttar Pradesh in the fond hope of a better life, but his life has become more miserable. He repeatedly said he was broken from within and had no courage, nor the physical strength, to carry on.
For a man who has laboured for decades and whose only wish is to provide two square meals for his family, to end up in a situation where even that becomes difficult is a grim reminder of the need for better distribution of wealth and social security systems in the country.
Rameshwar appeared heartened simply by the fact that someone had noticed his pain and was treating him with respect.
A country which ignores the tears of such people struggling for survival and celebrates an Indian becoming the second or third richest person in the world requires a rethink about its policies and development paradigm. (Courtesy: TT)