Darjeeling is a strange land, here people don’t bother with issues that should actually concern them, but they will happily believe in rumors, and start to outrage.
Some of you may remember when a rumor started that “SALT (of all the things on earth) was running out of stock,” and our people rushed in like crazy to shops buying numerous kilos of salt at triple the price.
A few months ago, rumor spread that keeping a bottle filled with blue liquid will keep your house safe from stray dogs peeing into it. In every neighbourhood in Kurseong, you could see people dangling a bottle full of blue liquid, many of which were themselves getting peed on gleefully by the neighbourhood dogs.
Such is our land.
So it comes as no surprise that today OVER SMART idiots are rushing in to spread panic among the people that the digital ration cards being distributed puts us under AAY status, which will make us “Sukkumbasi”. Even those OVER SMART morons who till four or five days ago didn’t know what “Sukkumbasi” actually means, are busy commenting online and spreading rumor on the ground that Bengal government is hell bent on making us “Sukkumbasi” by issuing AAY ration cards.
|TRUTH About AAY Ration Cards|
Q. WHAT IS AAY?
Answer: AAY means Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) initiated by the Govt. of India in 2000, which aimed at reducing hunger among the poorest segment of the population by making Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) benefits more substantial in terms of both nutrition and cost. In West Bengal, AAY was introduced in October 2001.
AAY contemplates identification of poorest of the poor families from amongst BPL families covered under TPDS and providing them with 35 kgs of foodgrain at a highly subsidized rate of 2 per kg for wheat and 3 per kg for rice.
Q. WHY IS EVERYONE IN DARJEELING INCLUDED UNDER AAY?
Answer: This is a complicated question, but here is a layman’s answer – i) due to the laziness of the West Bengal government ii) Seeding the grounds for Upcoming Elections.
i) Due to the laziness of the West Bengal government
Under the regulations, the identity of the families eligible for AAY have to be made by local elected representatives - Panchayat and Municipal Commissioners. However, due to the laxity on the part of WB government they could not fulfill this duty.
In a Supreme Court ordered investigation a report was prepared in 2011 “Food Entitlements in West Bengal: Survey on Supreme Court Orders,” wherein it was found that, “the state [Bengal] government is providing subsidised food grains to less than sanctioned quota of 35.66% of the population.”
Remember, Darjeeling hasn’t had Panchayat elections since 2000, so majority of our people deserving of this facility were being denied the same since the time AAY scheme was launched.
Now, subsidies for these schemes come from the Central Government, and if a state is unable to show utilization, they do not get the funds for the same.
So there was this additional free quota which West Bengal government had to use, and by design or default, people in Darjeeling – those who needed to be brought under this scheme had not been properly included so far. Hence, before the 2016 elections were announced, Mamata Banerjee declared that she would include all the 'left out people' under subsidized ration scheme.
ii) Seeding the grounds for Upcoming Elections.
But most important of all, elections to municipalities will be held at the end of this year, and elections to GTA will be held in 2017.
So Mamata in all likelihood Mamata is giving this short-term benefit, so that she can come and say in her bhasan "hum ne aapko 2 Rs mein 35 kilo chawal diya hai.... aagar aap hume vote denge toh 1Rs mein 35 kilo chawal ka byawasta karenge"
This as far as we are concerned is an ELECTION STUNT.
Q. WHAT DID MAMATA DO?
Answer: On January 27th, 2016 Mamata announced a scheme called “Khadya Sathi” under which 7.5 crore people in West Bengal would be eligible for Rs 2 a kilo ration. In addition to AAY beneficieries, who will get 35 Kg of grains for Rs 2/kg, Khadya Sathi scheme includes:
1) Priority Householder (PHH),
2) Specially Priority Householders (SPHH) and
3) Rajya Khadya Surakhya Yojana-1 (RKSY-1)
All these cardholders will get 5kg of foodgrain per head per month, at the subsidised price of Rs 2/kg. The only difference between AAY and these other schemes is that, while under AAY people get 35 kg of food compulsorily, in other schemes you get upto a maximum of 25kgs. So if you have only 3 members in your family you are only entitled to 15Kg grains under other schemes, while under AAY you will get 35kgs even if a family has just 3 members.
Currently EVERYONE 9.2 crore people in West Bengal have been made eligible for subsidized ration, irrespective of their income.
Q. WHICH OTHER PLACES HAVE RECEIVED BLANKET AAY INCLUSION?
Answer: In addition to existing AAY recipients, the newly included group would include 33 lakh people of the Jangalmahal region, 12 lakh drought-affected people of Purulia district, 11.24 people, including tea garden workers and their families, 3.11 lakh Cyclone Aila-affected people, people living in the Hills region of Darjeeling, 3569 people of Singur who had lost their land, and 1700 homeless people of Kolkata.
Q. WILL AAY RATION CARD MAKE US “SUKKUMBASI”?
Answer: We can bet that majority of the people who are using this term, may have learned of it only 5 days back. To the uninitiated, “Sukkumbasi” means “landless” and is also synonymously used to denote "Refugees"… and no AAY cards will not make us landless or refugees.
Q. IF AAY WON’T MAKE US “SUKKUMBASI” THEN WHY ARE PEOPLE WORRIED?
Answer: We are not sure why people got this notion that including someone under AAY scheme will mean that we will be made to forgo our land rights. Those people who are spreading this rumor, and those believing in it need to get their head checked.
Ranchi has a good mental hospital.
Q. WILL HAVING AN AAY RATION CARD PREVENT US FROM GETTING LOANS?
Answer: NO, whether you can access loans or not will depend on the type of loan you are applying for, and also on many other factors including your Income. The only thing that WON’T EFFECT your loan application is YOUR RATION CARD.
Other than specific government schemes, how much loan you will get will depend on how much tax you have paid… as reflected in your PAN account. So pay your taxes on time and keep your income tax files clear, instead of worrying about a ration card.
Q. I AM RICH ENOUGH, I AM NOT - 'HOMELESS' 'COOLIE' 'TERMINALLY ILL' - I DON’T WANT AAY RATION CARD, WHAT CAN I DO?
Answer: For all those snubs out there, who are saying “we are not homeless, we are not slum dwellers, we are not coolies, we are not terminally ill” etc… here is the GOOD NEWS… if you are worried that having an AAY Card will impact your social status, then all of you can simply head to any Food and Supplies Office, and SURRENDER YOUR CARD.
When you do so, you will get an option to fill for other type of card, but remember, you will still get ration grains for Rs 2 a Kg, only this time your quanitity will go down from 35kgs per month, to 5kgs per person.
We are hopeful that this short Q and A will help majority of you to understand that imposition of AAY on everyone in the hills, is perhaps the ONLY GOOD THING, that Wasted Bengal government has done till date, and our people don’t want it cuz they are NOT “homeless, slum dwellers, coolies, terminally ill etc” harey…
What a joke… remember even Bimal Gurung and our MLAs and all the businessmen you see around will be carrying AAY cards, and while you OVER SMART individuals will perhaps go and submit the cards, as it hurt your ego at being given the same facility as a homeless person, these NOT SO DUMB POLITICIANS will continue to rake its benefits.
Under the law AAY should compulsorily include ‘ALL PRIMITIVE TRIBAL HOUSEHOLDS’ so we are guessing that takes care of all the people who are Tribal or, want to become TRIBAL…
Help us in spreading this positive rumor instead – AAY RATION CARD NA HUNE LE TRIBAL STATUS PAUNDAINA HARE…. Let’s see if this gets spread around like wildfire or not.
In all seriousness though, we request all our readers not to surrender their ration cards, as this is a Govt initiative, and it is benefiting us... given that the Central Govt is all for cost savings and removing subsidies, they won't tolerate this wastage of funds.... and we are 100% certain after the Municipality and GTA elections are over, Wasted Bengal government will remove majority of our people from getting AAY benefits again. So our honest suggestion is, ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS...
If you have to protest, then protest against imposition of Bengali language in our ration cards, instead of protesting against AAY status.