Let them eat tablet computers!

shanty town, Old Delhi

shanty town, Old Delhi

India announces $35 tablet computer for rural poor

Yahoo! News (AP) – KATY DAIGLE – Oct 5, 2011

India introduced a cheap tablet computer Wednesday, saying it would deliver modern technology to the countryside to help lift villagers out of poverty. Go to story


How little can a person live on?

The Hindu – UTSA PATNAIK – Sep 30, 2011

The affidavit that the Planning Commission recently submitted before the Supreme Court stating that a person is to be considered ‘poor’ only if his or her monthly spending is below Rs.781 (Rs.26 a day) in the rural areas and Rs.965 (Rs.32 a day) in the urban areas, has exposed how unrealistic ‘poverty lines’ are. Some television channels assumed that the figures covered food costs alone and showed how they could not meet minimal nutrition needs at today’s prices. These paltry sums, however, are supposed to cover not only food but all non-food essentials, including clothing and footwear, cooking fuel, lighting, transport, education, medical costs and house rent. The total is divided into Rs.18 and Rs.14 for food and non-food items in towns, and into Rs.16 and Rs.10 in the rural areas, and includes the value of food that farmers produce and consume themselves.

Even a child knows that working health cannot be maintained, nor necessities obtained, by spending so little. Amazingly, however, 450 million Indians subsist below these levels. One cannot say that they ‘live’ in any true sense: their energy and protein intake is far below normal, they are underweight, stunted, subject to a high sickness load but without the means to obtain adequate food or medical treatment. The majority belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The official poverty lines do not measure poverty any more; they measure destitution. Go to story

You have created such a civilization that people are facing the problem so acutely that they have no means to eat. Do you think it is progress?

excerpt from Conversation with Richard Webster, Chairman of Societa Filosofica Italiana, Rome, May 24, 1974:

PRABHUPADA: There was a cartoon. One leader is approached for food, that “We are in scarcity of food.” The leader says, “Of course, it is very difficult to assure you for food grains. But from next week you will have television.” (laughter) Next week you will have television. So these improvements are going on, television, but they are starving. This is going on. Advancement of knowledge and learning is going on in discovering television, but there is no food.

This is the mismanagement of the leaders. Dishonest. There is enough food. Punjab still produces food grains. Bengal still produces rice, but they are stocked by government men, and they are mishandling. They are lying on the station for dispatch, but they will not be dispatched. They are rotting. Rainy season spoiled the whole stock; still, they are not dispatched. Official: “There is no dispatch order. There is no wagons available.” Simply mismanagement or bribe. This is going on. And people are suffering. How it is possible to purchase? Suppose India’s income, the average income, is very poor. Suppose one man earns ten rupees a day, and if he has to purchase ten rupees simply rice for the family, ten…, what for others? Then he becomes dishonest. He wants to earn money by taking bribe in his own capacity. So bribing has become a custom. Anywhere you go, unless you bribe, you cannot get release. And they say that “Whatever salary we are getting, that is not sufficient. Our extra earning is by taking bribe.”

And now in the Western countries also the difficulty is arising. I do not know whether you are already, I mean to say, aware that so many boys, they are becoming hippies. They are reluctant to do anything. That is a very dangerous sign. If you… If unemployment, no engagement, that is not good for the country. Everyone should be employed. Everyone should be engaged in some service. That should be the policy of the government. And everyone should be happy, without any anxiety. That is good government. So many people unemployed, doing nothing, producing nothing. Is it not a problem?

RICHARD WEBSTER: Absolutely. It’s the same everywhere.

PRABHUPADA: Yes, everywhere.

RICHARD WEBSTER: Except Germany, I suppose. I suppose everybody works in Germany still.

PRABHUPADA: So there are so many problems. On the whole, the material world is full of problems. That is described in the Bhagavad-gita by the Supreme Being, Krishna, duhkhalayam ashashvatam [Bg. 8.15]. “It is a place of miseries.” You cannot make things very rightly going on. It is not possible. Therefore the best purpose will be served-leave this place, material world, and go to the spiritual world. That is our Krishna consciousness. We are advising people to become Krishna conscious, and that way, he will be able to leave this place of miseries and enter the eternal life in the spiritual world. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti [Bg. 4.9].

mam upetya punar janma
duhkhalayam ashashvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah
samsiddhim paramam gatah

[Bg. 8.15]

This is our… We don’t try to adjust things here; it is not possible. It is not possible. However big philosopher I may be—I may give my ideas—it will never be possible to make here things peaceful. No, that is not possible. Just like if you want to make the lavatory very scientifically…, it is, after all, lavatory. Every minute it is becoming contaminated. So similarly, this world is so contaminated that you cannot make it completely free from contamination. That is not possible. Duhkhalayam ashashvatam [Bg. 8.15]. It is a place of miseries. And actually it is the fact. Now we are trying to get out of miseries, is it not? The civic activities means to get out of miseries. Is it not?

ATREYA RSI: Yes, enjoy.

PRABHUPADA: Whole attempt is to be out of miserable condition. Just like medicine. What is the medicine? Medicine means an attempt to get out of the miserable condition of disease. But you cannot stop disease. You may discover very improved method of medical treatment, but you cannot stop disease. That is not possible. You can, I mean to say, discover many means to stop death—that is going on—but you cannot stop death. That is not possible. So in this way… And the Bhagavad-gita says that you might be very advanced in civilization and scientific knowledge to make improvement, the condition of life, but you cannot make solution of these things, janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-doshanudarshanam [Bg. 13.9]. Birth, death, old age and disease, you cannot counteract these things. Still you have to…

RICHARD WEBSTER: Do you think it’s worse now than it used to be? Can you say that it is worse, the condition of the world is worse now than it used to be or is it relatively the same or…?

PRABHUPADA: Oh, yes, yes. Worse now in these days because people cannot eat even. The facility which is given to the birds and beasts… They have no problem of eating. But you have created such a civilization that people are facing the problem so acutely that they have no means to eat. Do you think it is progress?

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