ABHAY JAIN | 10 MARCH, 2018
The Degrading Yellow Star of Poverty Moves from Rajasthan to MP
’Mera parivar gareeb hai’
I am Abhay Jain, student of National Law University Odisha and I have been working on Access to Justice in Shivpuri, Gwalior region of Madhya Pradesh.
In December 2017, we were visiting the drough hit villages in Shivpuri and as we went from one Panchayat to another we noticed something strange and unusual. Outside every BPL Household alongwith BPL No. and name. it was written 'Mera Parivar Gareeb Hai'. On asking the villagers, they told us that “government people “ had come to write that and in case they dont write this outside their houses, the entitlements won't be accessible by BPL households.
I complained to NHRC, who received and accepted the complaint issuing Notice of Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh to submit the Action Taken Report in four weeks. ATR has not been submitted till now, no action has been taken against officer passing such order.
My colleague, Abhinav Vijayvargiya filed RTI with CEO Janpad Shivpuri asking for a copy of the letter ordering Sarpanchs and Panchayat Secretaries to write BPL No., name and specifically 'Mera Parivar Garib Hai' on the walls of BPL households. It was a clear warning that in case if this is not done within 2 days, penal action will be taken against Sarpanch and Panchayat Secretaries.
It is utterly shameful and dehumanising act of the Government of Madhya Pradesh requiring households Below the Poverty Line (BPL) to declare their poverty by painting outside their houses- “Mera Pariwar Garib Hai” in order to get ration and other benefits under welfare schemes.
The pictures (taken on November 20,2017) attached with this email show the declaration painted on a yellow patch with the name of the beneficiary and identification number on the walls of every BPL house of the Village Binega, Panchayat Chandanpura in Shivpuri District. This has been so painted on the directions of the State Government in order to identify people under certain schemes for providing ration.
This is extremely humiliating for the BPL villagers and is in gross violation of their right to live with dignity. Further, those who refuse to paint the outside of their houses with such degrading declarations are refused the benefits under various schemes. Not just that, even some of those who have painted their houses with such declaration have not received ration in months.
Poverty is not a privilege. It is not something to be worn as a badge and displayed. It is a bane that requires economic and social interventions if it has to be meaningfully addressed. Forcing the villagers to declare that they are poor and that they take ration is no means of alleviating poverty and is in gross violation of their right to live with dignity.
It is very shameful and callous on the part of the Madhya Pradesh government and it reminds one of the Yellow Star badge that the Nazi Government mandated for the Jewish people to wear to identify and segregate them.
The NHRC has previously taken suo motu cognisance of media reports regarding BPL families being forced to mark their houses declaring- I am poor, I take ration through the National Food Security Act (NFSA)- and issued notice to the Rajasthan Government.
We demand strict action against the CEO Janpad Shivpuri for passing such orders, knowing about the fact that a lot of BPL families are not able to receive entitlements because their name is not figuring in the Samagra ID and the machine at PDS Shops. The villages of Shivpuri have majority villages inhabited by Sahariya tribe who are PVTG and have been dying either of malnutrition or of tuberculosis.