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Stop sops shops!

Stop sops shops!
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A sop is an appeasement or a bait to win a favour. In the real sense, according to Oxford Dictionary, it is a piece of bread dipped in gravy, soup or...

A sop is an appeasement or a bait to win a favour. In the real sense, according to Oxford Dictionary, it is a piece of bread dipped in gravy, soup or a sauce. It will not satisfy your hunger. It will not answer your need. It is a gesture that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, watering it longing for more. It is at best an appetiser. While the common man is entitled to a sumptuous meal, he is being served a spoonful. Instead of being apologetic, our leaders are becoming proud, boastful and emotional.

When you are very sure that you cannot satiate his hunger in a regular way or answer his long-term needs, you tend to meet his immediate needs to give him temporary solace. Why temporary? Because he has not earned it and, more importantly, not been tutored to nurture that ability. A colour TV? Why not! A bicycle? Yes! And a computer? Oh! When the Tamil Nadu government, during the rule of Karunanidhi, promised the choicest rice for Rs.2 per kilo, in the footsteps of our very own N.T.Rama Rao, and served them with quality rice, many lorries with the commodity were seized at the borders of Karnataka and Andhra while they were smuggling it into the neighboring States.

A poor man will not eat quality rice! He would like to translate it into his immediate need: 100 mls. of country arrack, or gutka because he was not set into a proper atmosphere to make his life that much better. He is not sure of his better tomorrow. Nor does the political party care. Why? It is not sure whether it can survive the next election. I am quoting judiciously and cleverly instances from the neighboring State to keep my slate clean.

When a political party is anxious to win power by luring the voter with all sorts of sops, the voter, by now a clever customer, has learnt two new things. 1.The vulnerability of the party. 2.The fact that it is not willing to address his plight, but confine itself to cosmetic redressals not from the point of view of what one needs but a vulgar generalization of what catered to everybody, unmindful of one's specific requirements.A Naturally, the voter construes this as the bait and not as concern for his plight. And, hence, he will ask for his price and take his pound of flesh. That is the game called 'democracy' in this country.

It is very easy to promise the sky to the people when you are outside the establishment. Let us see the tamasha of two main dispensations in our State; one in power, the other in the Opposition. In the concluding speech after his padayatra, the Opposition leader promised these sops (some of several he had promised earlier)- waiving all agricultural loans, relief to women suffering under the proliferation of belt shops, speedy courts to try cases of atrocities on women, 100 seats to BCs, a sub-plan of Rs.10,000 crore, reservations for Kapus, Rs.500 crores for Brahmins, interest waiver for DWCRA women, houses for government employees, housing for the poor, a church for every village , incentives to weavers, priests, students, eight per cent quota for Muslims in politics, education, employment and annual budget, interest-free loans of Rs.50,000 for Muslim women.

This is beside the package of every girl child getting a money packet on her birth. All the imams and muezzin of all the mosques in the State will be paid monthly salary of 3000 and 5000, respectively; monthly unemployment allowance in the event of an educated youth not getting employment. He has also agreed that he had committed some mistakes as Chief Minister and was ready to correct them.A And now let us turn to the Chief Minister: Financial assistance to students, money package for those who pursue higher studies abroad, each SC, ST student will be given a grant of Rs. One million and, if necessary, a bank loan of Rs.500,000. The subsidy being given to SC/ST farmers for purchasing agricultural land will be enhanced from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakhs per acre.

Free power supply to poor Dalit families consuming less than 50 units of power per month (as of now 8 hours power cut is the order of the day in villages!); nine essential commodities will be distributed free of cost to all people living below the poverty line in the State. That means one kg each of palm oil, red-gram, wheat, wheat flour and salt, half kg of tamarind and sugar, a quarter kg of chilli powder and 100 grams of saffron powder every month at a cost of Rs. 185. For house construction a loan from Rs 65,000 to Rs one lakh for SCs. Pre-metric scholarships to IX and X class students; for day scholars the government will give Rs.2250 and for hostelers Rs.4500; Rs.750 as book grant; Rs.100 crores for two lakh pregnant and lactating mothers. An additional grant of Rs. 884 crores (12.9 lakh households at Rs. 6,850) to all these rural households.

One can see a shining Utopia here, where every person, be he a Brahmin, Dalit, Kapu, SC, ST, Christian, Muslim, man, woman,- has been taken care of. We have to draw a balance sheet between both the parties and see who will outweigh the other in promising that extra sop. A politician who can think of the next election and certainly not sure of the next generation cannot do any better. A It will be wise for the common man to take the benefit of the benevolence of our leaders and make hay while the sun shines. But in political parlance, the buck doesn't stop there. Anyone who can draw more or who can blackmail the system to earn his pound of flesh will be the winner. In a political market, we don't have any choices between the devil and the deep sea.

A poor man will not eat quality rice! He would like to translate it into his immediate need: 100 mlA of country arrack or gutka because he was not set into a proper atmosphere to make his life that much better

(gmrsivani@gmail.com)

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