Welfare schemes, policies in India not oriented towards poor: Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the various welfare schemes and policies in the country are "not pivoted to the poor".
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram

Kozhikode (Kerala) | Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the various welfare schemes and policies in the country are "not pivoted to the poor".

Chidambaram said an egalitarian society can be created only if the schemes and policies are oriented towards the poor.

The former union minister was speaking on the topic 'Inclusive Growth: Myth and Reality' at the M P Veerendra Kumar Commemorative event organised by the RJD here.

He said, "Unless we understand the economic and social hierarchies that mirror each other, and reorient our policies towards the bottom, especially the SCs, STs and other depressed sections, it will not be possible to call us an egalitarian society".

He pointed out that the present society is not equal or reasonably equal, fair or just.

"Not that it can never be. You can build an egalitarian society. Purely capitalist and rich countries have built egalitarian societies," he said.

Chidambaram said that egalitarian societies can be built by making healthcare and education universal and free.

"Unfortunately, our concept of an egalitarian society does not include universal and free healthcare and education. In most western countries, especially European nations, education is free from kindergarten to post-graduation. Healthcare is free from a minor illness to major surgeries," he said.

"So we can build an egalitarian society by making our policies oriented towards the poor." Chidambaram cited the example of gas cylinders being provided for free under the Ujjwala scheme to women of BPL families, and alleged that it is the middle class that has benefited from it, not the poor.

"This is a classic good example of how our policies are not pivoted to the poor. There are many such examples which can be given," he said.

In his speech, Chidambaram also spoke about M P Veerendra Kumar with whom he had worked from 1996 to 1998 in the Finance Ministry of the then United Front government.

He said that Veerendra Kumar was a "lifelong socialist, a scholar, an author, a lifelong rebel and a protestor".

"If you look at his life, the number of days he protested against injustice would be more than the number of days he lived as an author or writer," Chidambaram said.

He also recalled the order passed by Veerendra Kumar during his brief stint as Kerala Forest Minister in the 1987 Left government led by E K Nayanar, prohibiting the cutting of trees in forests, and termed it a "brave" and "unprecedented" decision.

"The then government asked him to overturn it. He refused to do so and resigned. The order he passed is now the law of the land," the senior Congress leader said.

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