Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


The Poor are Always with us ?




The Poor are Always with us ?


Dr T H Chowdary*


“Noise, like the poor, will always be with us was” the conclusion of a Nobel Laureate scientist, who working at the famed Bell Laboratories , Holmdel, New Jersey, USA investigated the source  of radio noise and discovered that noise spread over the entire radio frequency spectrum, originated at the time of the Big Bang, about thirteen billion years ago, leading to the creation of our universe.  So, just as radio noise will persist for the life of the  universe, so would the poor exist as long as humanity exists, a sad thought indeed. It is the existence of the poor among humans from ages past that led to the  birth and growth of belief  in gods, faiths, theological religions like  Judaism, Christianity and Islam and political theories like socialism, Marxism/ communism,  political revolutions (like those in France and Russia) and also human sentiments like compassion, charity, caring and sharing.


2.  The Sanatan Dharma ( Hinduism) and its  derivatives, Buddhism and Jainism elevated the poor to divinity, calling the  poor, daridra Narayana.  Jesus Christ  showered benedictions and honour on the poor in profusion ( as recorded in the Gospels).  He told them that he was bringing the Kingdom of God : “ Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.  Blessed are you who are hungry, for you shall be fed.   Blessed are you who mourn, for you shall soon be laughing (Luke 6:20-21).  In the kingdom of God, wealth will be redistributed and debts cancelled. “The first will be last and the last will be first” (Mathew 5: 3-12 , Luke 6:20-24).  When the kingdom of God is established”  the rich will be made poor, the strong will become weak and the powerful will   be displaced by the powerless. “How hard it will be for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23) (4) .  “ Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are  full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you laughing now, for soon you will mourn “ (Luke 6:24-25). God’s rule cannot be established without  extinction of the present leaders .  There is no evidence that Jesus had himself openly advocated violent actions.  But he was certainly  no pacifist. “Do not think that  I have come to




bring peace on earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but the sword” (Mathew 10:34, Luke 12:51) .  With so  much flattering of  the poor by Jesus , the only  begotten son of God.  Militant proselytization  of the “pagans” in the  Roman empire  led to so much strife and  violence  on so  large a scale that  the emperor Constantine had to make peace with the  Christians, the beloved  of God, by himself converting and  declaring Christianity as the state religion. Everywhere  in the world Christianity was first embraced by the poor . In no Christian country in the  world , are there no poor – they abound in Latin America, Africa, in Philippines and even in the world’s richest and that too Christian USA, where the 55 million (black) Afro-Americans (former slaves converted to Christianity, with separate churches and segregation till the 1960s) are still steeped in poverty.  The God’s kingdom promised by Jesus  two thousand years ago has failed to arrive.


4. Prophet Mohammed too brought God, Allah’s message, Islam to the people in Mekkah, Medina and the whole of Arabia in the 7th century, six hundred and some years after Jesus Christ.  The  poor were converted both by word and sword.  Many a  merchandise – carrying caravans  of rich Arab tribes were raided and the  loot distributed  among his Muslims .  So were the properties and wealth of  some exiled and some  butchered Jewish tribes settled around Madina  distributed among Prophet Mohammad’s  warriors and his Muslim converts.  Islam spread by conquest and conversion of the people in defeated countries (India is an exception; so is Spain ( Andalusia) where the conquered  Christian people were converted to Islam but when  the Muslin  rule was ended by Christian conquest, the people were reconverted to Christianity.  In the lands where Allah’s Islam prevails, poverty Is not eliminated.  The poor abound   despite Islam’s profession of brotherhood  and equality of all Muslims across boundaries of all states.


5. The political theology, Marxism - Communism  too preached and promised a class -less society of equality and fraternity  of toiling masses; rule of the proletariat.  It called upon the poor of the world to unite and  fight with the  message, “ you have nothing to lose  but your chains”.  The call of the  revolutionaries  in France was “liberty, equality, fraternity”.  The Marxist- communist dictatorships could only make all equally poor, as in north Korea even as  the State becomes  militarily powerful.


6.  In India,  authoritarian Indira Gandhi trounced her detractors in her party, and ineffectualised all the parties opposed to her by her inspiring and frightening slogan “Garibi Hatao” (throw out poverty) in the general elections to the Lok Sabha in 1971.  She even declared “Emergency” to shut down   opposition to her “programmes for eliminating poverty”. Indira  launched  20-point” programme and her son Sanjay launched a  five-point” “program” to hatao garibi.  Some banks were nationalised, privy purses to Princess where abolished and ceiling on possession of urban and farm lands was imposed . Yet the poor in India have increased from 23.2 crores in 1975 to over 80 crores in 2020  (white ration card beneficiaries and the Food Security program of PDS - Public Distribution System and food grains, pulses, sugar etc) .All “right” and “left” politician’s and their parties have been incessantly, repeatedly affirming their commitment to eliminate poverty, even more stridently than Indira Gandhi in the 1970’s (One may recall R.K.Laxshman’s cartoon- a politician addressing an election rally asks and answers : “Who says we forget our promises? We made them in 1952,’57 ,’62……..1971 and even now we make the same promise…..”).  Yet, the poor are proliferating. Indeed without them, politicians will go out of profession ( and business – garibi ke saudagars)


7.  Poverty has never been non-existent in the history of organized mankind anywhere in the world, except when human groups or tribes were in a state of what Karl Marx called “Primitive communism”(Com.S.A.Dange, described this stage in his book, “India from Primitive Communism to Slavery -1951”). In the era of primitive communism, land was owned by the whole  tribe collectively not by individual  families.


8. Prophets and sages, philosophers and statesmen have been highlighting and preaching the qualities of human-ness ….-  compassion, charity, caring and sharing. Once these were individual and socially organized efforts. Politicians in their quest for power (and private prosperity) have been pushing poverty alleviation from individual and community   effort  into government’s domain. Parties are competing to promise  and implement varieties  of poverty “elimination” (nirmoolana)  programmes. Just as poverty is part of life, corruption is part of government. Its extent and its intensity vary and mutate but don’t disappear. In India, political competition has been making poverty less and less painful with governments distributing tax and debt- raised money to the poor.  This distribution of money  involves all the traditional forms of corruption. The latest addition to the familiar forms, is some chief ministers from regional parties  naming these give-aways (gifts) of government money after themselves. (Examples: In Andhra Pradesh Chandranna and Jagananna (and YSR) pasupu kumkamulu and kanukalu and toahfas and Jaganannas deevenalu, Amma  void, Navaratna give-aways, distributed caste-wise and (minority) religion-wise. As welfare payments to the poor increase in variety and amount, use of the financial resources of the State  the function of the State have been changing from development (economic, education, health and culture) to welfare (helping people who strive to get out of poverty by one’s  own effort) and further to charity (as investment to reap votes as dividend for self and progeny ) .


9.  The appetite of the poor for more unearned  money  through government  Kanukalu ie, give- aways felled Chandra Babu Naidu’s Telugu Desam party (TDP) and propelled his rival, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP ( Yuva Sramika  Raithu  Congress Party) to an outstanding  victory (151  wins for YSRCP; only 24 for TDP ) in the 2019 elections  to the AP State Assembly as Jagan made fantabulous promises to the poor.  Sri Chandra Babu Naidu  distributed government money in his own name. Jagan Mohan Reddy is following   Naidu with spectacular  amounts.  In the first year of his rule ,  he distributed Rs. 41,000 cr to the  poor. AP borrowed Rs. 15,000 cr in three months, April -June 2020 .  In Telangana , government will  gift Rs. 1,350 cr ( in 2020-’21) to the poor on the occasion  of their marriage;  it has borrowed  Rs. 12,541cr in the  period April -June 2020!  Pension amounts to the old, widows, single women etc, are increased . Pregnancy  rites (seemantam) of the poor are funded and organised by government. Muezzins, Imams and Pastors  (but not Hindu Archakas of temples) are paid salaries; millions of houses are constructed and gifted to the poor  ; GOI funds about Rs. 40,000 cr per year to provide  “work” for the rural …Thus  poverty is made  less and less  painful but the number of poor swells year after year as borne out by the number  of white ration cards ( for the poor).


10. Finally we have to consider  why there are poor people throughout mankind’s  existence .  Why is one born into a poor family? Is it God’s will? Is God so unkind to consign a  child into a poor family? If all life is God’s creation, is He partial to some? The Abrahamic religions  Judaism, Christianity , Islam and  Marxism-communism have no reasonable  answer.  But Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) and its related Buddhism have an explanation – concepts of cause and effect; karma and rebirth.  Creation, evolution  and dissolution of the universe is cyclic.  It has no beginning and end. In the process , man is  one phenomenon. So are birds, animals, all living beings. Death is certain to the one who is born. So is re-birth  to the one who is dead. What we do has a reason and a consequence; a cause has an effect. If one steals, he may not get caught; if caught, he may not be punished; judges don’t sentence him for want of evidence beyond doubt. But the moral wrong or sin of theft, must have a punitive consequence. That may be experienced in the next birth. For a serious crime or a series of small crimes gone unpunished in this life, the sinner gets punished by say, being born in a poor family and undergo pain of poverty to start with. Poor people can be virtuous. Virtues deeds may reward him in the next birth. Slokas 40 to 45 in Chapter VI of Bhagawad Gita explain the process. Many a poor, quit poverty, become prosperous and virtues and famous, celebrated by the world. Valmiki, a hunter; Vyasa, a fisher – woman’s son;  William Ford, Dr APJ Kalam and Dr B R Ambedkar  are some examples of those born poor becoming so great to be remembered and  celebrated  and memorialised  for generations. It is education, learning, yearning and discipline(yoga is such) and work that lift a person out of poverty. Society and governments should encourage and reward work and self-help instead of  indulging in a policy of “We feed. You breed” and vote for us .


11.  Is there no  virtuous way to reduce the number of poor people  and hence reduce the national outlay of keeping them alive?  There is.  China has shown the way by requiring its  people to limit the number of children to one per family and enforcing it strictly from 1973 onwards.  By 1993    it has been  able to provide  gainful work  to every person ,  almost eliminate poverty  and by now  it  has become the  world’s second largest economy with a GDP  of $ 15 trillion. It has become a super power  challenging the USA ( and Russia) .   A country’s population must be limited to what its  GDP can sustain  to keep people above poverty and upwardly moving . To have limited family must be an enforced  fundamental duty. To be poor  will then  be a choice to be suffered.  India can  quit poverty by following the Chinese way.   In  no other way can it reduce poverty to the minimum . Demography can yield dividend of prosperity if  demos ( people)  are healthy, educated  well, and inspired  to work and improve oneself with the state facilitating the creative energies of on efforts of people  to become upwardly  well-doing.



In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. Ina  country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

- Confucius


“ No improvement is possible with unimproved people and advance  is certain when people are liberated and educated . It would be wrong to dismiss the importance of roads , rail roads, power plants, mills  and the  other familiar furniture of the economic development  .


- John Kenneth Galbraith 



Those who have much to hope and nothing to loose will always be more dangerous

- Edmond Burke 



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