Double standards

17Mar07

‘In February 2006, Randall Tobias, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) briefed the media in Washington DC that ‘US has decided to cut aid to India’ because India has become a donor country’ examines Chandrabhan Prasad. Please go through the article and comment!

On February 28, 2007 India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram proved Randall Tobias right in his Budget speech. The ‘rising’ India has so much of money today that the Federal Government knows not what to do with it – dump it in the Indian Ocean – as the US had allegedly once dumped excessive wheat stock in the Pacific Ocean. Chidambaram it seems followed the US pattern in this Budget – got rid of the “excessive rupee stock”. Consider the following:
 
Subsidy on fertilisers: Rs 22,422 crore,
 
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: Rs 10,671 crore
 
Mid-Day-Meal Scheme: Rs 07,324 crore
A colossal Rs 40,417 has been drowned on three schemes – all with suspect economic rational.Most of the fertiliser subsidy will be plundered by affluent land lords. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan can easily be described as one the biggest officially mandated frauds. The middle man’s paradise, the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme was launched in Tamil Nadu decades back, but the drop-out rates in the State remain at par with the national average.
 
Since the Indian Government has so much of money, it is free to spend it wherever it wishes to. But, doesn’t the Dalits’ education deserve a share in that “excessive rupee stock” particularly when the Constitution mandates to take special care of the education of Dalits (SC/STs). To Dalits in India, education has been the fundamental tool in their emancipation. A significant section of Dalits, stand relatively liberated because of education. In Dalits’ relative rise in education, the Federal Government’s fully funded PMS (Post Metric Scholarship) scheme has played a key role. Launched in 1951, PMS money is given to States, which act as postmen, distribute PMS to Dalit students- from Class XII onwards. In 1951, a total of 1,664 Dalit students claimed PMS. Today, the number of PMS beneficiaries has crossed the two million mark.
 
 
Given in two installments in a year, almost every member of the first generation Dalits who went on to become a Civil Servant, doctor, engineer or a teacher benefited from PMS. If there has been one Government scheme benefiting millions of Dalits, it is PMS.
So much so that it has become a household name and meant for poor Dalits. Only those Dalit students are eligible for PMS whose parents income does not exceed Rs 8,333 a month, or Rs one lakh annually.
 
In other words, children of even a lower division clerk with 15 years of service are not entitled for PMS. With so much of “excessive rupee stock”, how has Chidambaram treated PMS scheme in this Budget?
 
The allegedly common man’s Finance Minister, Chidambaram has allocated a paltry sum of Rs 611 crore for PMS!Let’s calculate how much money would Dalit students get under the PMS per month? The Class XII Dalit students not staying in hostels would get Rs 140 a month- or Rs 4.66 a day. Those living in hostels would get Rs 7.83 a day. Dalit students in post graduate courses – Medicine, Engineering, Management would get Rs 11 a day. Those living in hostels would get Rs 24.66 a day.
 
In the very same Budget, Chidambaram is offering one lakh Means-Cum-Merit scholarships of Rs 500 a month or, Rs. 16.66 a day to the students of Classes IX, X, XI and XII irrespective of their caste background.In other words, under PMS, Dalits students of Class X1 and Class XII would get Rs. 4.66 a day, but under Means-Cum-Merit scheme, students would get Rs. 16.66 a day. What you have is one country – but two rules for two sets of people!A bit mind boggling. Has the UPA Government become totally heartless? Would it be expecting too much of Sonia Gandhi if she summoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram to 10 Janpath, and seek an explanation for this difference?

Source: The Pioneer



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