Sitting in his jail ward, Ghandy, one of the senior members of CPI (Maoist) politbureau and known for his intellectual inputs to the Maoist movement, presented a paper at the National Seminar on Development on Monday.
The two-day seminar, which ended on Tuesday, also had representatives from corporates like Microsoft India and the Tata Group, who tried to find ways of development that could include the masses.
Interestingly, the seminar — organised by Forum for Promoting Includisve Growth — that included speakers like CPI leader Sudhakar Reddy and civil society members like Sujato Bhadro among others had Ghandy’s eight-page hand written paper read out.
Apologising for not being able to write a better paper than the one that was presented for “lack of access to relevant information in jail”, he quoted profusely from government data as well as from UN reports to build his case that there is tremendous imbalance in development in the country. He quoted from the Atharva Veda and the Bible to explain the need to maintain an environmental balance while undertaking overall development.
Criticising the government’s lack of “spending on poverty alleviation measures” that could produce “long lasting and tangible” welfare measures that could sustain a people, Ghandy said, instead the government is spending on “airports, expressways, internet connectivity,” which he claimed “primarily benefits industry and businessmen.” He criticised the government welfare schemes, saying, “the bulk of government schemes are mere doles like the NREGA, SJPSY, AAY, APL, BPL etc. None of such projects are geared to create something tangible that can benefit the country in the long term and also benefit the individual in the form of providing irrigation, employment, health care, etc.”
NREGA, he explained, involves 36% in Tripura, 14% in UP and MP, 8% in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. “So where did all the money go?” he asked. He accused the government for not even building proper infrastructure for storing food grains, which are rotting when so many people go hungry.
Parliamentarians, he pointed out, have given themselves a 300% hike in salary and perks. The approach “requires remedial measures.”