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Monday, February 9, 2015

3 padi arisi - Oru roopa ..... when 532 year old woman received cycle !!!

Do you have a Ration card ? and when was the last time you visited the Ration shop ??  As you would know, there are 3 types – Green, White and White.  Green is all commodity card where one would get rice as well as other essential commodities.  There is Sugar card, for those who opt for sugar instead of rice.  They can buy all other essential commodities other than rice.  There is also the ‘no commodity card’ – for those who do not want any commodity under the Public Distribution System.

By-elections in India, especially in Tamilnadu are festivals – more of prestige affairs, may not change the composition in the Assembly, there are times when opposition have turned away from contesting – yet good amount of money flows.  There is the much touted Thirumangalam formula – that of money distribution – and now parties are complaining and seeking action by EC alleging that the ruling party is distributing wads of money to voters in Srirangam. 

Freebies are nothing new to the State – way back DMK rose to power with slogan  "Moondru padi latchiyam, oru padi nichayam" (3 padi is the goal, 1 padi is for sure). That was a time when rice was in short supply and there were winding queues in front of ration shops – after coming to power the Govt did implement ‘one rupee, a measure’ which had to be withdrawn later.

Goods are rationed and made available in fairprice shops. The Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation was formed as private Company in 1972 under the Companies Act 1956. From 1975 the Corporation becomes a Public limited Company and caters to the  settled policy of the Government to procure, purchase, store, process, move and distribute the food grains and other essential commodities under public distribution system. Similar systems exist in almost all Indian States.  With passage of time, more things became free.  The DMK Govt issued free colour TVs ~ the next Govt bettered it and now the freebies include – cycles for Corporation school children, laptops, mixers, wet-grinders, table fans …….  Last year, the TN Govt allocated around Rs 3,100 crore towards procuring laptops, electric fans, mixies and grinders.

With this lengthy background, Chattisgarh Govt’s sewing machine became a laughing issue – not because of the item per se or its distribution but for its recipient.   According to the New York times, the oldest woman on this planet, Jeanne Calment of France died in 1997 at the age of 122 and the Ecuador times reported that the oldest woman alive, Ms. Misao Okawa of Japan, celebrated her 116th birthday on March 6 this year.
The Hindu, TOI and host of Press reported that -  according to the information provided by the Chhattisgarh Labour Department under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Pushpa Sahu, a resident of Abhanpur area in Raipur, is the world’s oldest woman at the age of 732, and she received a cycle under ‘Mukhyamantri Cycle Sahayata Yojana’ (CM Cycle distribution scheme) last year.

According to information obtained  under the RTI Act, over 7000 women from Raipur district in the age group of 100-732 years have benefited through Chhattisgarh government’s women welfare schemes. The two schemes, Mukhyamantri Silai (sewing) Machine Yojana and Mukhyamantri Cycle Sahayata Yojana were initiated in 2008 by the state government to support women labourers working in the unorganized sector under which cycles and sewing machines were distributed to the female members of the identified families. According to the Chhattisgarh's Labour Department, the state government distributed around 19398 sewing machines and 4936 cycles to the women worker from unorganized sector in Raipur district, but as per its own data, 6231 out of 19398 beneficiaries (sewing machine scheme) and 1368 beneficiaries out of 4936 (cycle scheme) were aged above 100 years including 532 year-old Usha Jamgade.

Chhattisgarh Labour Department  blamed “software glitch” for the “faulty” data. “It happened because of software discrepancy. We had outsourced the work of data entry. There was a data entry gap which culminated in the process of one RTI activist getting some wrong data,” Labour Commissioner of Raipur is quoted as saying. 

Padi is a local measure approx equivalent to 1.5 kg.   Azhakku, Kuruni, Padi, marakkal were all measures of olden times. 5 Azhakku = I kilo; 8 Azhakku 1 padi !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Feb 2015.

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