Every day, a high-ranking political figure or two leaves us all red-faced with their cringe-inducing ignorance and unforgivable disregard for the plight of the common man, particularly those below or barely above the highly contentious ‘poverty line.’
While on the one hand, the UPA government declares that poverty has been reduced from 37 per cent to just about 22 per cent in the course of seven years (2004 – 2011) of its regime, its representatives ignobly wrangle over how cheap can a square meal get, arbitrarily decreasing the price from Rs 12 to Rs 5 to even Rs 1! It is, of course, another matter that the politicians, such as Raj Babbar, Rashid Masood or Farooq Abdullah -- even as they implore the virtues of the (imaginary?) low-cost meals that they miraculously proffered in regions that are plagued by inflation and price rise, with vegetable prices touching the sky and the aam aadmi routinely harassed by the ravages thereby – would not even dream of foiling their expensive palates with food that have a price tag below the globally accepted level of what constitutes the gastronomical extravaganzas that they are used to.
It is disturbingly ironical that in a country ravaged by poverty and internationally castigated levels of malnutrition among infants, children, women and the poor; where the government-sponsored or subsidised food is under the scanner for causing deaths of 27 hungry children in the state of Bihar; where the economic disparities between the haves and the have-nots have skyrocketed; where the social indicators of development and human capabilities are one of the worst in the world, even below many of the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa – the politicians have the gumption to frolick around publicly with the figures.
The ignominious manner in which the politicians have turned the mid-day meal tragedy into a political shuttlecock, tossing it around to score cheap brownie points and indulge in ludicrous oneupmanship is shameful, to say the least. It is a travesty of democracy that the politicians preach from the pulpit the benefits of Rs 1 meals while having their gourmet food at expensive and exclusive restaurants.