We have come across two different types of development in a small time gap but they are worth comparing. On the one hand, an RTI revealed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has written off over Rs 68,600 crore loan taken by 50 wilful defaulters like Mehul Choski, Vijay Mallya and others. This was reported on April 28.
On the other hand, the migrant workers who are returning to their home states through the Shramik special trains are being charged the train fare. For example, the Odia migrant workers boarding the train from Surat to Puri on May 2 had to pay Rs 710 each, reported Indian Express. Similarly, workers travelling from Agra to Ahmedabad paid Rs 250. And so on.
How does it sound? The defaulters who should be behind the bars are being rewarded while migrant workers who have lost their jobs and were almost in hunger for more than a month, who hardly have any money are being punished!
In fact, the clarifications started coming in on each case. There were charges and counter-charges made by Rahul Gandhi and Nirmala Sitharaman on loan waiver. On the Congress leader’s charge that the finance minister did not answer his question to disclose the names of the bank scammers, which have come out now, the finance minister accused the latter of misleading people. She said loans were also written-off between 2009-10 and 2013-14. This was when the UPA government was in power. She asserted, “Provisions are made for NPAs as per the four-year provisioning cycle laid down by the RBI. Upon full provisioning being done banks write off the fully provided NPA but continue to pursue recovery against the borrower. No loan is waived off.” She gave figures related to seizure of assets of Mehul Choksi and others by the government.
Similarly, in case of charging the train fare from the hapless workers, a clarification came from the government that the Ministry of Railways devised an 85:15 ratio with the Centre bearing the major share and the states giving the minor share. Amid this, one continues to wonder why the Railways should have not ferried the workers for free! Why because of administrative confusion should the burden fall upon the hungry migrant labourers, whose present and future are uncertain with no jobs in their hand, and who are desperate to return home?
In both cases, systemic clarifications were given which are technical in nature. And for obvious reasons, they are beyond the understanding of a common person. But what comes out clearly is that while on the one hand, the system favoured the Mehul Choksi type – the rich and connected, on the other hand it became heavy on the poor. And that the conclusion! Irrespective of the claims and counterclaims made by different political parties, the fact is they create a system, which is clearly tilted towards the rich and mighty!