Developed By: iNFOTYKE
Who will address income inequality in Meghalaya?
The manifestos of different political parties for the ensuing Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Elections, 2018 do not address the issue of increased inequalities of incomes and assets in Meghalaya. In the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, all countries unitedly condemned inequality globally and in their own countries and region. One percent of the world population which is classed as top rich received 22% of the global incomes. When Meghalaya was created in 1972, there were very few rich people but after 46 years of statehood, there are now about 0.30% very rich families. (152 candidates contesting MLA election, 2018 are crorepatis -ST 23.02.2018). Middle class families have not increased much compared to very rich people. The low income group in the rural sector are amongst the 85% of the total rural families. The level of Below Poverty Line (BPL) in the urban agglomeration of the State indicates a significant downward trend of only 9.5% whereas, the BPL families in rural Meghalaya are still continuing in the range of 45% to 50%. The focus of changing governments or changing politics in Meghalaya should be on bridging the inequality of incomes and assets of the very rich and very poor people. Policies and programmes by the new state government must adopt stringent measures to reduce extreme wealth and put a check on tax evasion. Public revenues are to be used to improve basic living conditions and facilities of citizens in the rural areas and the urban slums; to mobilise better wages and working conditions to reduce social and economic discrimination.
In my short tenure in the District Administration of Ri-Bhoi District, where the land is very fertile and known as the Rice Bowl of Meghalaya, the district per capita income is still at the level of the most economically backward. Changing politics/governments should not be only on routine anti-incumbency and a lip service of improving infrastructure, project sectors, tourism, health, education, etc but a mission to uplift the economic development of the very low income group.
Banks need a paradigm shift
In his article, “He robbed PNB but blamed it for destroying his ‘brand'” (ST, Feb 24, 2018), Amlan Home Chowdhury has underscored a glaring fact ~ “Unbelievable it may sound but the “Economic Powerhouse India”, as dubbed by the current Modi – led government at the Centre, witnessed 25,600 cases of bank frauds totalling Rs. 1.79 billion up to December 21, 2017.” As a matter of fact, macro bank defaulters are modern bank dacoits. They have been looting astronomical amounts of public money in a country where 48.2 million children have stunted growth as a result of malnutrition and hunger. It is no wonder why India further slides two more ranks from 79 to 81 in just one year in recently published Corruption Perception Index 2017.
In a recent interview, Nobel laureate, Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh touched a very important point when he said, “We lend money without collateral or any guarantee, and we haven’t had a problem of getting the money back. So I see that entire financial system rejects more than half of the population of the entire world that’s the root cause of poverty.” We know that Yunus gave micro loans to the poor and even to beggars through the Grameen Bank and the pay back rate of such loans was highly satisfactory. It stands in total contrast to the pay back rate of macro credits. Macro credits have indeed created huge bad loans amounting to Rs. 2.86 lakh crore in just one financial year in 2016 – 17 itself. Now, Nirav Modi’s Rs. 11,400 crore PNB fraud triggers an economic reign of terror in our country.
It is interesting that we are very severe when it comes to a poor pickpocket, but we are not showing such an emotion in the case of perpetual bank frauds through which our own money are being siphoning off. And it is a new normal that we, the victims, should be penalised for the loot of our own money in a number of ways like penalty for not having minimum balance in a bank account, lower interest rates on EPF, GPF and bank accounts and high rate of inflation in essential commodities, education and health expenditures.
Though such adjectives as anti-nationals and terrorists are freely being used in our everyday vocabulary even to describe those who raise a voice of dissent, those financial terrorists have not yet been described as such. Things have come to such a pass that Nirav Modi has recently been mentioned as a gentleman!
But this cannot go on and on. Our banking sector must have a paradigm shift in their policy to replace macro credits by micro loans for farming, cottage and small enterprises that mainly contribute to current livelihoods in our country. It will generate more employment and thus boost the market by enhancing the purchasing power of the masses. We must create, so to speak, an employment bridge that can connect excess food and hungry mouths. That bridge can only be built with the help of labour intensive technology, land reforms and micro loans. This trident can banish poverty and hunger and improve India’s abysmal 131st position in Human Development Index.