You had started a number of popular schemes in general and some special schemes for the Sahariyas. Do you feel they have served their purpose?
The new (BJP) government came to power with a huge mandate. We expected that they would examine the ongoing schemes and projects and continue with the good ones. But this seems to be a confused government. They seem to have lost out on a whole lot of good schemes, whether widows’ pension, old age pension, affordable medicines, etc. These schemes do not seem to be on their priority list. In fact, the government does not seem to be serious as it has no time for governance. Eight months have passed and it has taken no clear decisions. The chief minister has not even had time to expand the cabinet.
Have the special schemes for Sahariyas been useful. How important was the nutrition supplement you started for them?
Sahariyas are an extremely backward tribe. Their traditional habitation of forests is no more there to provide them with resources for generating income. That is why we had accorded priority area status to all those blocks where there was a sizeable Sahariya population. We were providing them special job quotas and free supply of 35 kg wheat under the Antyodaya scheme for BPL families. The new government has done away with all free schemes for weaker sections.
How did the five-kilo kit help? Do you feel it is important to continue with it?
You must have seen for yourself how poor and backward most of the Sahariya families are. It was to help improve their lot and supplement their diet that we provided free wheat in the ration and introduced the 5-kg kit. Unfortunately, the new government is too filled with pride and have become indifferent to the food and nutritional needs of the Sahariyas. I would say they have become indifferent to the needs of the people and forgotten about governance. After doing such a lot of welfare and development programmes, the Congress failed to win the people’s mandate. I wonder if development work always has political worth. Nonetheless, it’s important to continue the welfare schemes, else it will impact the growth of backward areas and tribes like the Sahariyas.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
At all, if the Hon`ble CM of previous govt.feel - the schemes which their govt.launched in real sense,were for the welfare and betterment of poor and down trodden communities, are not being continued or have been given up by the current govt. why do they not raise their voice and get them continued ?. They ( congress party MLAs ) are now occupying opposition benches in the legilative assembly so they must raise their demands,convice the present govt.making them understand how the schemes started during their tenure were purposeful ,fruitful and were with pious objectives to serve Sahraia and other downtrodden communities. It`s their duty to do so, if they really feel and consider themselves to be the people`s servent,and wish people being benefited by said schemes. Just by keeping mum and not protesting appropriately,things are not going to yield any result Inaction would not serve any purpose.
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