By Shameer Kunnathpeedikayil
I did my part while joining the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by the Member of Parliament, and Senior Congress party leader, Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Yes, I joined his Yatra at the Wadakanchery constituency in the Thrissur district on Sep 7, 2022.
Before I joined him in my hometown, he had already covered over 250 kilometers en route to his 3500 kilometers of such a historically long walk. No other leaders had done such type of walk in the modern history of India. Why does he walk? What is he aiming for by this walk? What would be the outcome of this long walk?
Ever since this walk began, the people of India, from the various phases of life, very eagerly looked forward to knowing the daily updates of the Yatra, and many people cheered for the Yatra by actively participating in it. People joined this mass movement from far and near and waived their hands to Yartra leader Rahul Gandhi.
Moreover, they offered their space and property to the permanent members of the Yatra so that members could take a break and nap in between the breakpoints. The long walk would be significant from a political perspective, a senior party leader trying to meet people at their doorsteps and discussing matters that matter to them, listening to their everyday sufferings, consoling them with humility and solidarity, and requesting that people should treat and respect their fellow citizens as humans and finally unite them abundantly for a better India that one could ever imagine for. What else do we, the people of India, lack contemporarily?
Though the government says, India is a superpower, the fastest growing emerging economy, and home of startups and opportunities, who gets these benefits and advantages? The corporates of India enjoy government policies. For instance, AIR INDIA, the national airline of India, sold for Rupees 18k core to one of the conglomerates of India. The actual valuation of the enterprise would be more than that.
Similarly, the government allocated a budget for the national rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREA) was Rupees 78000.00 cores. But it was lesser than the estimates for the program. The covid-19 pandemic has widened social inequality, and hence sustainable creation of rural employment is vital. Unfortunately, the government could do nothing to promote growth in rural livelihoods.
In the last five years, Rupees 10.09 Lakh cores of the worth of non-performing assets of businesses have been written off technically by the leading public and private banks in the country. So who is benefiting from the government schemes and policies? Where are jobs for the youth of the country? Skill India, and Make in India, were the flagship programs of the government to address youth labor in India. But unfortunately, these programs failed to deliver jobs for everyone in the country at a scale. They are in the informal economy, posing severe threats to the labor system.
Youth aged between 15-24 suffer a lot to get into the labor market, and poor wage is always a concern for the millions of youth in the country. In 2020, the unemployment rate in the 15-25 group touched 25%. Thus one in fifth were unemployed. So who is benefitting from the government agencies and policy? The everyday lives of the typical person in the country are unthinkable. Yet, the prices of everyday goods and items are roaring up day by day. The cost of petrol, gas, electricity, water, and cereals has tripled since 2014. Did the government do any interventions to support the economy to control the cost of those items? So who is benefiting from the government and its policy?
Similarly, Bharat Jodo Yatra aimed to meet people and educate them that what the government promised to deliver is not happening. But instead, their reliable companies and loyalists are benefiting from it. To sum up, Bharat Jodo Yatra is making progress in solidarity with the people of India regardless of one’s political choices, color, creed, culture, income, and region. I hope India’s people will decide whether to unite or divide, embrace the openness of democracy or live in the darkness infinitely.
(the views expressed in this article are personal views of the writer)