Sense of poverty
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Nobel laureate Amartya Sen may have given the UPA a shot in the arm by slamming the opposition for disrupting Parliament and blocking passage of the food security bill, but the Left too has lapped up his remarks to hit out at the government. In an article in the CPM's People's Democracy, leftist economist Prabhat Patnaik notes that his argument that several hundred children would go hungry or die from under-nutrition if the bill is not passed only underscores the problem of hunger and under-nutrition in the country, contrary to claims made by successive governments that poverty is on the decline.
"An expose of this seriousness coming from a person of Sen's eminence is of great significance, for this is precisely what the Left has been saying all along and what the government, whether NDA or UPA, has been denying all along. Successive governments have claimed that poverty has been declining in India. The World Bank too has claimed that India's poverty ratio has been declining," Patnaik notes. To say that poverty has come down while hunger has increased, he says, will mean that either the price index used is wrong or that people, even though they have adequate real purchasing power, choose voluntarily not to spend as much on food as they should have.
The CPI's mouthpiece New Age talks about the Karnataka verdict. The electorate, it says, had no option but to chose the bad over the worse. Interestingly, while noting the JD(S) had an impressive performance, it says the party ruined its chances by adopting a confused approach: "Former chief minister Kumarswamy... in place of projecting alternative sets of policies to fight communalism, corruption and crony capitalism of both the BJP and Congress, continued to dream of emerging as a king maker... Another mistake committed by the JD(S) leadership was adopting all deserters from both the Congress and BJP and awarding them tickets," it says. The article argues that the significance of the victories of non-Congress and non-BJP forces should not be minimised.