Saturday, February 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Antyodaya sounds good

I would like to thank you for your editorial on Antyodaya  "Antyodaya sounds good" (The Tribune, Jan 25).

I was, however, surprised to find a reference on Antyodaya Scheme becoming a source of rampant corruption in Himachal Pradesh. On this, I would like to put the records straight. The scheme as launched in Himachal Pradesh, when I was the Chief Minister, primarily concentrated on focusing on various government schemes to provide succour to the poor.

You are well aware that there is a lack of coordination among the various departments of the government and schemes are implemented without a clear goal. Antyodaya was envisaged as the ultimate objective whether it is agriculture or animal husbandry, forest or rural development, horticulture or welfare. Each department was directed to redraw its programmes to subserve the larger goal of providing welfare to the poorest of the poor.

The process of identification for Antyodaya families was conceived in a way that left little scope for wrong selection. After careful identification, 19 thousand families were identified in Himachal Pradesh. During the detailed survey of these families, it was found that out of Rs 68 crore that was distributed as loan in the State by various banks, only 3 lakh had reached these families. No member of these families was in the government job whereas there were 77 graduates, 488 matriculates and 1571 middle pass in these families. Out of about 50,000 acres of land distributed to the landless in the State, only 860 acres could reach these families. The poorest of the poor were at times left on the fringes and all developmental efforts bypassed them.


There was neither a separate department nor was a separate budget provided for the scheme. Only the existing schemes were directed towards these families.

No help was given in cash. Antyodaya families were asked how they would like to increase their income. Accordingly, they were helped from the existing schemes. In 1977, when we had launched the Antyodaya Yojna, we had identified 19,000 families covering a population of 1 lakh. Besides, focusing all our schemes on these families, we also gave them priority in government jobs. I remember that with these efforts about 18 per cent of these families were able to cross the poverty line.

I recall that during my tenure as Chief Minister, there was not even a single case of corruption reported. Even after I demitted office no such case was reported. Moreover, there was no element of cash in the scheme. So the question of rampant corruption does not arise.

I hope the information given above would clarify the doubts and remove the reservations about the scheme.

Shanta Kumar,
Minister, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Government of India, New Delhi

Let the PM explain

ONE of the biggest tragedies has struck Gujarat and a large number of organisations have started collecting funds. Every donor will wish that this money is judiciously used for the cause for which it is collected. Millions of people like me will like to have a clarification from the Prime Minister because he was the first to make an appeal for help for the victims.

What is the rough estimate of the loss.

What is the amount received from other countries and foreign organisations including NRI’s (figures should be published every week).

Whether the aid received from other countries is a loan or non-returnable aid. The Prime Minister’s statement has caused a confusion. If it is a loan, who negotiated it and what are the terms of repayment.

What is the amount collected from Indian states, citizens, organisations and institutions (figures should be released every week).

Which is the nodal agency to monitor utilisation of the funds. Since the credibility of our politicians and officials is low, at least half the members of this agency should be from outside the Government.

Before imposing an additional cess on the industry which is already in bad shape the Government should explain what amount will be available by reducing its own expenditure.

It should also be made known what percentage of the funds collected actually goes to the victims and what will be the administrative cost. Past experience shows that hardly 20 per cent of the funds collected reach the victims. The balance ends up in meeting the TA/DA bills of officials and arrangements for ministers’ visits.


Call to religious bodies

In this hour of Gujarat’s agony, religious body like the SGPC, Mata Vaishno Devi Trust and other similar institutions should come forward and donate generously for the relief of the victims. God does not need any money, but the people of Gujarat do. Service of mankind is the greatest service of God.

Medical students should also go to Gujarat for internship. Not only will they get ample experience, but also learn much that will help them in the future.




Selfless act

The news of young girls defying tradition and donating blood in a silent and selfless manner for the earthquake victims of Gujarat is highly encouraging and commendable. These simple and sensible college girls have made a significant and valuable contribution which far overweighs the contribution of money and material. The way these girls wanted to remain unknown is praiseworthy.

People all over the country are doing their bit for the earthquake sufferers. But the example set by these village girls by giving blood silently without any fanfare is worth emulating. The district administration of Sriganganagar and the Rajasthan State Government should honour these girls.


Courteous cops

On the night of February 3, one of my patients lost his scooter in front of my hospital and I accompanied him to the City Kotwali to report the theft. The S.H.O. and his men on duty very courteously and promptly responded by flashing information about the theft to all check-posts after recording the complaint. They also offered us tea. The gesture was very reassuring. May their tribe increase.

Dr AMRIT SETHI, Bathinda

Spiritual Nuggets

The quotations under the column “Spiritual Nuggets” being regularly published in The Tribune are commendable. If practised in our daily life, these can bring about a sea-change in our attitude and outlook. The column represents thoughts of all religions.

The Spiritual Nuggets published on January 28, say that everyone has his strong as well as weak points. Instead of finding faults with others and making oneself uneasy and miserable, one must form the habit of discovering only the good points of others and attain peace of mind. One should forget others’ faults and errors and try to appreciate their good points.

R. K. JAIN, JagadhriTop

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