Congress President Rahul Gandhi on 28th announced that if congress comes to power in 2019, they’ll provide a minimum income guarantee to the poor class. A move that has been hailed by his supporters, but heavily criticized by the opposition camp. All the Ho-haa against this promise—ignoring the two ideologies fighting 2019 elections being poles apart—has been led by concerns against the source of funding, and the unnecessary burden it will lay on the economy.
The criticism is disheartening, or to enunciate, disgusting out-rightly. It exposes one of the many filthy facets of humanity, or whatsoever is left of it. To be just, on this one point we should be in a complete agreement with Rahul Gandhi keeping aside all our ideological inclinations.
The Scourge Of Poverty
Forced to sleep on an empty stomach, laying bare in cold to shiver to death, or slowly embracing death because of inability to afford treatment—poverty kills in many ways. One final time as death, and before it, everyday in the form of life. At times, people hurriedly skip these stages to embrace the final one, as is the case with farmers—the pain must have been unbearable, and the future gloomy.
Indeed, we will never build a new India while millions of our brother and sisters suffer the scourge of poverty. But sadly, the spirit of brotherhood now lies a hostage to selfishness motivated by I first, mine first and an our first policy that quickly distinguishes the others; blinding us to this scourge that lies in plain sight.
Nevertheless, as they sit debating the benefits and flaws, someone from Punjab is already making this minimum income guarantee a reality with a welfare initiative having over 19,000 beneficiary families as of now—9000 of them headed by widows, and the rest by old and ailing.
Monthly Pension Support, as Dr. S P Singh Oberoi prefers to call it, runs through selected areas of Punjab & Haryana, most of them jeopardized by poverty and illiteracy like Fazilabad-Abohar belt. The amount that ranges between 5000-15000 is given to the needy families who are unable to make a living for themselves, and is aimed at overall development of these regions.
Besides this monetary support, he is executing several other welfare projects to achieve a complete socio-economical transformation of these areas. Numerous computer and stitching training centers are run by his trust to make the youth skilled. It also sets up a source of income for the extremely needy in the form of shops or beauty parlours, does restoration work of houses in ruins and constructs new houses for those who live at the mercy of winds.
His most ambitious project is an upcoming boarding school for specially abled children in Fazilabad-Abohar belt. This school will stretch over 14 acres and have all the necessary infrastructure and facilities required to mould these kids into a personality that finds acceptance in the mainstream. Four more similar schools are planned in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
But S P Singh Oberoi is better known for providing medical support in the states of Punjab, Haryana, J&K, Himachal and Rajasthan. He has donated over 1000 dialysis units in the Punjab region only to structure a healthcare infrastructure that would have a dialysis unit within every 15 Km across the country. Along with making dialysis units available, he is also committed to bring down the cost of dialysis between 250-400. To make this a reality, he is supporting 50,000 patients this year with dialyzer kits.
His self-funded trust Sarbat Da Bhala Charitable Trust adopts terminally ill patients, bearing all the cost of their treatment, and in some cases, supporting the family with a monthly pension, setting up a stable source of income and at times providing them a permanent shelter. Trust also organizes free eye and general checkup camps across the 5 states all year round. Medicines here are distributed free of cost, and the expense of eye surgeries and glasses are born by the trust.
He is doing a commendable job in bringing education to all, rescuing girls stuck in the gulf region, bringing dead bodies back from Dubai, and providing free legal support to people lodged in the jails of Dubai. He shot to fame in 2010 for fighting the case of 15 Indians awarded death penalty over a group fighting that led to death of a Pakistani man. In bringing them back home safely, he had to pay 2.2 million dollars from his personal savings.
Lakhs of people he has helped since 2010, they all revere to him to God or a Messiah. But to become one, he had to run away from home and fight his way up every step of the ladder of success until he established a multi-billion dollar empire in Dubai. Then, all it took him to turn to his humane side was a newspaper headline of 15 men awarded with death penalty for a group fighting.
S P Singh Oberoi is one of numerous god-like men who are committed to make this world a better place for the poor and deprived. His selflessness makes one wonder, if he can donate 98% of his hard earned money that took him a lifetime to make, how does a government that lives on our welfare fail to ensure merely two chapatis on every-plate?
As a matter of fact, congress won’t be in power for the first time, nor it’s been the only party to be at the helm. So, why now? Or the more appropriate question—what stopped them, and everyone else till now?
Nevertheless, it’s better late than never. The viability of Rahul’s plan would only be established once we are through the execution. Till then, hope is all we can afford!