Sunday, October 13, 2013


Poverty costs the nation. Poor need subsidies. Politicians need to keep them poor as they need votes. They do a cost-benefit analysis. It costs tax payers’ money. Benefits are accrued to them. There is another kind of poverty. It is called “token poverty”. They feign poverty to gain mileage in elections.
Once, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu was said to have commented about Gandhi Jee’s stay in the houses of poor and the elaborate arrangements Congress had to make for his night stay there.  “It is proving costly to the party to keep this man poor”. When Mahatma intended to travel by third class in a train, then a whole bogey had to be cleared so that he could be secure. The tokenism of third-class travel was an effective tool to please illiterate masses. The cost was rather more mind boggling than the Congress was willing to go on. Mrs. Sarojini Naidu took potshots on Gandhi on these issues.  Ways of Congress did not change. Tokenism multiplied in tens of hundreds. Nation is paying, not Congress. So, if Rahul Gandhi today travels by a Metro train, stays in a Dalit home or visits a Kalavathy, it costs nation/Congress a lot.

Veerappa Moily, the other day, reached office by a Metro train to which station he walked. Good to hear and read it in news papers. How many travelled by train after Gandhiji and Rahul Gandhi Jee? Moily’s sojourn was recorded and taped by hundreds of media men who used their cars, vans, scooters and all other vehicles o reach the spot consuming huge amount of oil, which we import at huge cost. One day they will release these tapes and name them “Moily’s train tapes”, what he saved and what they spent. So what? Moily travelled by train and saved a little oil to the nation.  Not only that all other officers working in the oil ministry travelled either by local train or cycled all the way to office. And they all vowed to do it every Wednesday. What happened on that Wednesday in the Oil Ministry office and what will happen every other Wednesday?

All the convoy of vehicles, except that of the Minister would have reached his office empty as all his Z+ category security men might have accompanied him in the train. His own car must have been driven empty by his chauffeur to his office. Mind you! He did not travel back in train and hence might have used the car in the evening along with the convoy. What did he save? Added to this, a thorough security drill might have been undertaken on the route he walked that might have cost huge. At least one compartment must have been reserved for him as a security measure. So, the railways might have lost revenue to that extent. Even if the minister and his coterie purchased tickets, it must have been government money. The travellers who could not make it by the train to reach offices by that train might have got delayed by an hour. Loss of man hours was an indirect cost on the nation.

Now, let us muse about what would have transpired in the ministry office on the first Wednesday. Half the officers that rode bicycles to office might have got cramps in muscles as it was a rare experience. Their man days were as good as lost. The others who accompanied the minister might have spent the day discussing about the greatness or stupidity of the experiment. So, their man days too were an indirect loss.
So he saved a litre of oil and spent equivalent to 10000 litres of oil more of the nation. What did he achieve? Did anyone in India follow suit, left cars and travelled by trains? If that happened, what would have been the position of trains already overcrowded by travellers? Will there be tracks on which they can travel? Whom are they fooling?

“Over the years, I have learned that the best way to make sure your experience does not go waste is to invest in the people” Quote Politicians will do well to invest in the vast human resources in the country, improve infrastructure, build factories, invest in research, explore and use the natural resources for common good. Do not make the nation pay for your assumed ‘poverty’.