Ramon Magsaysay Award-winner social activist Aruna Roy on Wednesday criticised political parties for not talking about the “poor” in their political manifestos released before the Lok Sabha elections. “The national election is in progress and the manifesto of none of the political parties talks about the poor. Political parties talk about development, progress, growth, but they do not talk about poverty,” Roy said, while addressing a gathering during the 33rd annual convocation of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). Roy, who has played a key role in the formation and implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, emphasised on the need for the government to acknowledge the existence of poverty and work towards its alleviation.
“Poverty exists and it is going to increase because more and more of us are getting unemployed, because more and more machinery is coming,” she warned. “The marginalisation of the poor and the indifference to them, is not only short-sighted but also dangerous in a country so contrasted by the gap between the rich and the poor,” she added. “That is why concepts like MGNREGA, which empowers workers to demand work and equality, is anathema to ‘profit-walllahs’,” she said.
She further said that the effort of the government to take the benefits of the policies aimed at reducing poverty has been a failure because of “corruption,” “mis-governance,” and “arbitrary use of power”. “It would take decades (for benefits) to trickle,” she said.
Roy also trained her guns on the UPA government over the poverty line figure. “Whether we crunch them (the numbers) or fling them at people, they are a part of the attempt of the system to stymie common sense,” she said.
The institute awarded degrees to 119 students of its flagship Post-Graduate Diploma in Rural Management (PGDRM). Six students were conferred doctoral degrees for Fellow Programme in Rural Management (FPRM).
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Speaking to the passing-out students of the institute, chairman Deep Joshi said there was a need to deepen democratic process to ensure that policies and programmes are translated into practice on the ground. This year marked the first year of the implementation of the IRMA’s five-year plan, which includes, among other things, increase of batch size, expansion of infrastructure and addition of centres of excellence, director Jeemol Unni said. She added that the institute’s Management Development Programme (MDP) achieved revenue target. “We had a total of 39 on-campus MDPs, including two coordinated by resource persons from outside IRMA, and 19 off-campus MDPs,” she said.