Daijiworld Media Network – Lucknow
Lucknow, Oct 10: This year the festival of light Diwali will be plunged into darkness for Magasaysay awardee and social activist Sandeep Pandey. There will be no crackers, no illuminations and no festivities. Pandey will be also on a five day fast from Diwali at his ashram in Lalpur of Hardoi district around 55 km from Lucknow.
Pandey’s protest is the decision of Planning Commission to file an affidavit with definition of poverty. He will be joined by members of Asha Parivar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and Lok Rajniti Manch to observe black Diwali this year.
Megasaysay Award Winner and social activist, Dr Sandeep Pandey said: “We are protesting against this ridiculous definition of poverty given by the planning commission which says that person doing expenditure of Rs 32 per day in urban areas as Rs 28 per day in rural area, will not be considered below poverty line.”
He announced that he has decided to observe five day long fast from October 22 till morning after Diwali at his Ashram in Lalpur village of Hardoi District, during which he will observe black Diwali along with the villagers this year. “This protest is on the issues of discrimination against poor and rural areas and hence the fast will be undertaken in a poor village consisting of SC-OBC population,” he added.
He stated that the government has adopted an economic policy which is clearly benefiting the already well off sections of society at the cost of the poor. The government has no idea how to deal with poverty and due to price rise the survival of poor has become very difficult in the present scenario. “The government has not been able to check farmer suicides, hunger deaths, malnourishment of children or mother mortality rate instead of all this the ministers have made crores through corruption but still the government has chosen to remain insensitive to the issue of poor,” he added.
He demanded for the withdrawal of BPL norms of expenditure of Rs 32 per person in urban areas and Rs 26 per person in rural areas and also for universalisation of Public Distribution System as well as every poor should get subsidised food as they can demand work under NREGS. ” BPL lists should be decided by Gram Sabha/Ward Sabhas and Rs 250 as minimum wages under NREGS with scope for up gradation with price rise and with every hike in salaries of government employees. All agricultural wages to be paid through NREGS,” he added.