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DMK manifesto promises prohibition in Tamil Nadu

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DMK manifesto promises prohibition in Tamil Nadu

Jayalalithaa vows phased prohibition of liquor if re-electedDMK joins hands with Congress for the 2016 assembly election in Tamil NaduPermutation, combination of alliance politicsRainfall abates in Tamil NaduTamil Nadu rains: State suffers losses worth Rs 15,000 cr

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Sunday promised total prohibition, setting up a Lok Ayukta, a cut in state-run Aavin Milk price by Rs 7 a litre, revival of the Legislative Council, and implementation of the Sethusamudram project in its manifesto for the May 16 Assembly polls.

DMK did not, however, announce any populist freebie schemes on the scale of free colour televisions it had made in 2006, though it promised a slew of concessions and waivers, catering to various sections of people.

These include mobile phones for the poor at government expenditure, free Wi-Fi Internet for students, waiver of crop and educational loans, inclusion of free milk in the nutritious meal scheme, and Rs 60,000 assistance to women for marriage.

Currently, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government provides Rs 50,000 assistance and gold for mangalsutra.

DMK said it would dismantle TASMAC shops, which sell alcohol in the state. About 6,700 shops across the state generate around Rs 26,000-crore revenue. The party said employees of the state-run liquor outlet would be provided alternative employment.

The party also promised to waive loans of farmers and micro, small and medium entreprises completely, and said it would pay Rs 3,500 for a tonne of sugarcane.

It assured 'Anna (the name of DMK founder C N Annadurai) Unavagam," in place of Amma Unavagam, a chain of state-run canteens.

Releasing the manifesto, M Karunanidhi attacked AIADMK chief and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa over her promise of implementing prohibition in a phase manner and dismissed it as "deceitful". He said Tamil will be introduced as "co-official language" in central government offices too in Tamil Nadu and there would be a separate budget for agriculture.


TRIBUNE, APR 8, 2016

Deprivation amid affluence

S Subramanian

Representations of America’s poverty
ALL too often, the poor in rich countries are excluded from a consideration of the global reach and scrutiny of poverty. For example, the World Bank's 'absolute' poverty line is pitched at US$1.90 per person per day in purchasing power parity terms: this line has been derived as the average of the national poverty lines of fifteen of the world's poorest countries (in terms of per capita income).   It is instructive to contrast the global poverty line with the U.S. national poverty line. Poverty thresholds of relevance to the US are provided by the Census Bureau for families of different sizes: the lowest per capita threshold applies to a family of nine or more persons, and is set, in 2012, at $47,297 per year, which works out, for a family of nine, to a per capita requirement of $14.60 per day. Let us take this relatively modest estimate as a working figure for the US poverty line. The latter, by this reckoning, is already more than seven times the global poverty line, which suggests that application of the global standard of poverty to the U.S. would result in a severe underestimation of income-deprivation in that country. 

Indeed, it turns out that, for the year 2011, if we take the U.S. poverty line to be $7.30 per person per day — a figure which is just one-half of the conservative estimate of $14.60 mentioned earlier — then the number of poor people in the US corresponding to this poverty line is 8.3 million. Since high-income countries are left out of the reckoning in the World Bank's global poverty calculations, this is 8.3 million more poor people in the U.S. alone than the bank allows. One can well imagine how the ranks of the global poor would swell if the poor in all high-income countries were to be brought into the count. This is just one instance of the failure to take proper account of the status of the poor when the wealth of a nation is allowed to obscure the deprivation of its poorer members. 

Another example is provided by statistics on an important indicator of deprivation — mortality. Writing at the turn of the millennium, Amartya Sen noted that the probability of African-American males surviving to relatively higher ages was uniformly lower than the corresponding probability for males in Kerala or males in China. Indeed, the probability of survival to age 40 was higher for Bangladeshi males than for the black male population in New York's Harlem district. Homelessness in rich countries is another aspect of deprivation that is frequently overlooked (notably not, though, by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity). Briefly, rich countries too have a lot of poor folk in them; and both the people and the phenomenon involved are often subjects of neglect.

While it is easier to ignore poverty in a rich country such as the US than in one like ours where the poor are always with us (not that this has prevented our upper classes and castes from having done a reasonably thorough job of turning their backs on their less fortunate compatriots), there have also been distinguished reminders of such neglect and omission. Confining oneself to the US, in the field of fiction one must draw reference to John Steinbeck's portrayal of the Depression years in his book The Grapes of Wrath (in contrast, for example, to the portrayal of the rich and the beautiful in the frenetic 1920s of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby). Material and social aspects of deprivation and disparity in America's Deep South were similarly a distinctive feature of the novels of writer Erskine Caldwell in the 1930s (Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre). By this time, the camera had also begun to establish itself as an instrument of both art and visual communication. It was employed to great effect by photographer Margaret Bourke-White in a pictures-and-text collaboration with her husband Caldwell for the book titled You Have Seen Their Faces, about poverty in the South during the Depression. (Bourke-White, however, has sometimes been accused of sensationalism, and of exploiting the vulnerability of her subjects by portraying them in their most damaged and humiliated conditions.) 

Perhaps the most searingly honest and moving account of poverty in America is the work of collaboration between writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans, which was published under the title Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee and Evans were commissioned, in 1936, by Fortune magazine to report on the living conditions of impoverished share-cropping families living and working and dying in the southern US. The two young men attached themselves to a few such families in Alabama to study their lives and to report on them. Very soon, they discovered that their mission was beginning to be aborted by their own conscience. For one thing, they were moved and appalled and angered by the destitution and betrayal they witnessed around them. For a second, they found themselves being overtaken, in their assigned role of researchers and reporters, by their involuntary love for and loyalty to the subjects of their study. For a third, they were seized by distaste and revulsion for the job they were effectively being asked to do: namely, to spy on the lives of people they had come to love and respect, for the sake of the profit of their employers and for the edification and satisfaction of consumers who found it convenient to have poverty delivered at their doorstep in acceptable forms and quantities.

Agee and Evans rebelled. The reports and pictures they sent to Fortune were an uncompromising indictment of the American state and American society. This was not what the magazine was looking to publish! Fortune cancelled its commission, but Agee and Evans completed their work, and decided to publish their findings in a book that came out in 1941. It had a poor reception, and went out of print, before it began to be gradually recognised as an important work, and is  now an acknowledged masterpiece of American letters — a judgement that ironically validates Agee's own observation that it ‘…might in time achieve the emasculation of acceptance.’

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a great reminder that the study of phenomena such as poverty must be informed by respect for facts, values, and human beings. The title is from a moving passage in The Book of Ecclesiasticus, which pays due homage to 'famous men', before it addresses also the claims of the vast numbers of obscure and unknown and anonymous and invaluable persons who, essentially, are the impoverished inhabitants of Agee’s book: “And some there be which have no memorial; who perished, as though they had never been; and become as though they had never been born;…Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.”  As Walker Evans said of his friend James Agee, “After a while, in a round-about way, you discovered that, to him, human beings were at least possibly immortal and literally sacred souls”.  

 The writer is a retired Professor of economics



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