After the mindless propaganda of most of the national news media over the mammoth survey conducted by Telangana State Government, The Indian Express editorial came like a breath of fresh air. It mentioned what it saw – an unheard level of planning and pain to collect citizen data on vital issues, which dictate India’s biggest welfare programs and Government spending.
While Governments, one after the other, come to power on tall welfare promises and dole out freebies and splurge thousands of crores, somehow none knew the exact figures, either of population, households or the number of people actually availing those welfare schemes. And when a 2 month old Telangana State wanted to make an effort, mindless allegations and crooked theories surfaced that whined about 2 successive ‘shutdowns’ in State, the pains people went through because of non-availability of public transport, the unwanted questions on bank accounts etc etc. But none appreciated the fact that the survey turned upside down trusted figures on population and household and revealed a complete new set of numbers!
The Indian Express editorial titled ‘Telangana Sets Model for Scientific Data of Citizens’ not just appreciates the Survey, but recommends this for every State! Here are the excerpts –
“By any measure, the unprecedented exercise, undertaken by the Telangana government, of enumerating the socio-economic status of over four crore people on a single day needs to be appreciated. The initial concerns expressed by many, including by us, were allayed once the government had the wisdom to drop certain controversial queries such as nativity of the citizens. In the end, the participation of citizens was voluntary with even VVIPs like the neighbouring state’s chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu willingly submitting information.
Though the whole state was virtually shut down to facilitate this, it is no cause for grumbling as the need for such an exercise exists beyond doubt. By a very conservative estimate, close to `10,000 crore public funds in Telangana alone are going into the wrong hands. The fact that the number of white cards—meant for BPL families—exceed the total households in Telangana speaks volumes of the extent of pilferage in almost every welfare scheme being implemented. The economic data collected by the enumerators such as the monthly income and personal property will now come in handy to weed out bogus beneficiaries and thus reduce the burden on the exchequer while ensuring that the needy continue to get protected.
We have no hesitation in recommending that it is time every other state follows the Telangana model and gathers scientific data of its citizens, given that governments, both at the Centre and in states, implement varied welfare measures aimed at different sections.
All that we have been doing so far is merely cry over large-scale leakages without actually doing anything substantial to plug them. Care should, of course, be taken by the states to ensure any such exercise does not infringe on the rights guaranteed to the citizens under the Constitution by avoiding such divisive questions as seeking their nativity. While the lowest strata of society do require support from the state, there is no reason why anyone should object to any effort that aims to cleanse the delivery mechanisms.”