The manner in which the government and the political opposition in Delhi have been guilt-tripped into this debate on the poverty line is a reflection of a broader phenomenon that has taken root within the minds of the thinking class at large, says Shashi Shekhar.
The botched debate over where to peg the poverty line, between the Planning Commission and the United Progressive Alliance Cabinet, reminds one of American author Joseph Heller's famous fiction novel Catch-22 set in the Second World War.
The principal character in Heller's dark war comedy is a delinquent air force bombardier Yossarian who had lost the will to fight. A riveting moment during Yossarian's travails in trying to go AWOL is the mission over Bologna in Italy. Intense fear grips Yossarian over the scheduled mission to bomb Bologna, for he dreads not coming back alive.
The morbid fear takes a comical turn as day after day Yossarian and his colleagues stare at the 'bombing line' on a map under the awning of the unit's intelligence tent. Faced with the inevitability of the mission, an irrational superstition takes root in the men's mind that somehow the 'bombing line' would move itself past Bologna.
Then one fateful night Yossarian sneaks up to the intelligence tent to actually move the 'bombing line' over Bologna, causing a cascade of reactions leading all the way to the allied high command in that theatre to mistakenly think Bologna was captured, thus cancelling Yossarian's much-dreaded mission.
Garibi Hatao or Garib Ko Hatao?