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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Have you heard more of MGNRES or IPL ??

If one were to tell what causes sharper pain than poverty, the answer can only be poverty.  (Thirukural : Adhyayam : Nalguravu)

The IPL extravaganza is about to conclude. More than cricket, everything was in thousands of crores. To view some, Kingfisher Airlines signed up as official umpire partner at Rs.106 crore. When the expansion of Teams took place, Kochi franchise was brought at 1530 crores and there was news of a beautician closer to a Minister being gifted stake worth 70 crores. Suddenly the taxmen have woken up and hundreds of crores are doing round. How much would really be realised would perhaps never be known.

Then there is the murky side of betting which according to tax authorities is generating between 25000 to 40000 crores. Virtually betting is on everything - wins, losses, runs per ball, the number of runs scored by a batsman, the number of wickets taken by a bowler, the Man of the Match, third umpire decision etc., The punters place their bets from illegal betting rooms in various cities that feed a master betting room in Dubai. They also use online betting sites such as the UK-based Bet365, Ladbrokes, Victor Chandler and Paddypower as well as the London Stock Exchange-listed William Hill, besides the popular Betfair, BetClick, BlueSquare and others. When the expectations are tight as in the case of CSK game the odds are less and more money is pumped in. Betting sites accept Indian registration and payment to foreign web sites are made through legal money transfers in foreign currency.

Is India land of poor ? It infact is a land of great inequalities. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livehood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Here is a news item that appeared in Times of India but not much in local press and not many would have bothered to read this even, when there are other burning issues !!!

The IPL extravaganza rained money for players, officials, franchisees, administrators, Ground authorities, BCCI, technician, physio, non playing manager, batting coach, keeping coach, bowling coach, media manager, kit assistant, computer analyst and so on…….. the city breds did their part in expending huge amounts by way of tickets which at some places included after match entertainment

As all these continued, the rural India continues its struggle for a simple meal a day (their meal is much much cheaper !)

Way back in 2005 National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was framed to provide for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do skilled manual work and others works connected thereto. The objective of the Act is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The Govt. measure is aimed at creating a safety net for the vulnerable groups by providing a fall-back employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate; it is also a growth h engine for sustainable development of an agricultural economy. Effectively implemented, NREGA has the potential to transform the geography of poverty by empowerment of rural poor. NREGA aims at fostering conditions for inclusive growth ranging from basic wage security and recharging rural economy to a transformative empowerment process of democracy.

Under this Govt. administered scheme, adult members of rural household willing to do unskilled manual work can register themselves with Gram Panchayat and will get a Job card with photograph. The workers are to get wages according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 for agricultural labourers in the State, - which is not less than Rs.60/- per day (@ 100 days it is Rs.6000/-)

With this background, you will be able to appreciate Karupayee better. She was one of the first at Madurai Panchayat Union Office volunteering to work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MNREGS). Is it a benefit that she and millions of other Indians get from the Govt. programme !!!

Karupayee is officially 101 years young though she claimed to be around 110 and her age calculated by her living son @ 82. This pioneering lady hails from Thanakankulam village in Thiruparankundram panchayat union in Madurai district and is probably the oldest NREGS employee.

Her villagers rightly call her 'suru surupu paati' (brisk granny) as even at a ripe old age she hasn't stopped working. Karupayee has worked for 60 days so far, between April 2009 and March 2010, and says it has helped her live with dignity. "My husband always said we should be independent, and that is what I am doing by earning and cooking my own food," she says. She married Chockanvirumandi, a mill worker, over 80 years ago. He died 50 years ago, after contracting rabies when a street dog bit him. She kept her family afloat by taking up various jobs. Only three of her seven children are alive today, but she has 15 grandchildren and a handful of great-grandchildren. She also avails of the monthly widow pension of Rs 400 given by the state government. She lives in a small portico outside a house.

Her story was represented recently in Times of India. Not many local newspapers could devote space for her. It is reported somewhere that this self-reliant elderly lady claims that she has never visited a doctor for minor illness and uses home remedies but was surgically operated for cataract. Apart from this Govt work, she earns briskly selling vegetable / fish. Karupayee is already 101 (officially) and perhaps continue with the same vigour till her last without depending on others.

She deserves special appreciation on all possible ways for her indomitable spirit and positive attitude.

BUT whether mere appreciations are going to help thousands of Karupayees or whether anything individually or collectively could be done to stop Karupayees having to work at their ripe age is the question every right minded citizen need to ask themselves. Spare a thought. Life is not all about money making and cheap entertainments – there are very many meaningful ways in bringing a change in the way people live even if in a smaller way.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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