Cannon fodder

At Karimati, a village in Simdega district of Jharkhand, a 11-year-old girl has died under questionable circumstances; locals have claimed that the child died of starvation as her family was denied rations from the local Public Distribution System outlet on grounds that their ration card was not linked with Aadhaar.

According to the locals, the family did not have an Aadhaar card and was, therefore, unable to get it linked with their ration card. It may be dismissed as an isolated incident, or collateral damage. But it is a pointer to the faulty implementation of an ill-intentioned scheme.

This story is not limited to Jharkhand alone. In Orissa too, the situation is similar. Every government scheme in this state has also been perverted because of the compulsion being exerted to link Aadhaar.

In schemes such as Mamata, meant to help pregnant mothers,the government staff at the village level are happily depriving the hapless women from getting any benefit on the pretext that they have not produced their Aadhaar card as yet.

In the Jharkhand instance, the child’s father was mentally unsound and the mother and sister were earning a pittance working as grass cutters. Their circumstances were not taken into consideration while ration was being denied them.

In a country with a population that is well beyond the billion and half mark and counting, it may be difficult for the government to reach out to each individual. But its policies are verging on cruelty. It does not allow room for exceptions in cases where leniency is deserved.

These exceptions in states like Orissa and Jharkhand are huge in numbers.
 In the given instance, the PDS outlet operator should have been provided with the powers and means to take the matter up with civil supplies authorities, who, in turn must be given the responsibility of ensuring uninterrupted supply of PDS rations until the family complies with the set rule.

But that still is too much to expect from a country where every so-called elite considers the PDS as another name for corruption and a den for contractors. The belly that has not suffered hunger will never understand the brink where a majority of the poor of this nation are forced to live.

The urban mindset ruling these states and the country is vigorously imposing the concept that linkage to Aadhaar alone will stop leakages of government money. Harsh realities of survival being completely unknown to such people, no kindness can be expected from them.

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