Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chinese Confucius via India’s confusion Conferred by government fiats

From a article by Mr.Shreekant Sambrani on fishing the NREGA:
  • The great Chinese sage Confucius said that he gave a hungry man a piece of fish which took care of his hunger for a day. Teaching him how to fish would have taken care of his hunger for life. Poverty alleviation has two dimensions: its manifestation and its causation. Relief activities, feeding programmes and curative medicine address the manifest symptoms of poverty. They are akin to giving the Confucian hungry man a piece of fish. Augmenting assets to enhance their productivity, education and skills training to improve employability on a sustained basis, and preventive medicine together with added nutrition to increase vitality, all attack the factors that cause poverty in the first place and attempt to break the poverty trap. They teach the man how to fish and, hopefully, provide him a fishing tackle. 

  • A Keynesian perpetual employment model of digging ditches and filling them up (or its modern Indian equivalent of rebuilding kutcha roads washed away after the monsoon year after year) may provide relief indefinitely, but does not address the root cause of the problem. Rural connectivity accounted for 40% of the NREGS activities until 2009. Having to undertake drought relief year after every drought year means that there is no drought-proofing worth the name. 
  • NREGS is as yet in the nature of an entitlement. Conferred by government fiats, it could create dependencies and sycophantism. Power gained through economic means, be it higher income from productive activities or greater control over local developmental expenditure, is far more lasting and elevating. The ultimate test of effectiveness of NREGS is that it is no longer needed. That would be a true tribute to the valiant fire-fighter Mr Kanga 40 years on. 

  • You see those hills?” Jamshed Kanga, an illustrious IAS officer, then divisional commissioner, Pune, asked the noted development economist John Lewis who was visiting him in 1972, pointing to the barren Sahyadri range behind his office. “I will break every one of those if necessary, but will not let a single person starve.” It was the worst drought in the history of independent India, with a monsoon deficit of 25% from the normal. Maharashtra and Gujarat were the worst sufferers. Kanga was true to his word. Massive relief works, mostly of the nature he had indicated, warded off starvation.

1 comment:

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