Ideally, there should not be fact checks on rhetoric. But when a public figure like Kamal Hasan who has endeared the audience through his film career delivers a romanticised dialogue for a political issue without factual basis, citing relevant facts becomes necessary, even though they may seem obvious.
Kamal Hasan wants an explanation by the Prime Minister about the need of a new Parliament building when “half of India hungry due to Coronavirus pandemic.”
Before getting educated about the need of Parliament, Kamal Hasan should explain how he can claim that “half of India is hungry.” It may sound nice as a part of his any mass movie dialogue, but to make such claims in the public domain one should have facts on his or her side.
No Scope to ‘Act’ Like Half of India is Hungry
India’s population is estimated to be 130 crores. Whereas, all States/ UTs collectively, have issued about a total of 23 crore ration cards to ensure coverage for nearly 80 crore beneficiaries. India is grain surplus country. With the Aadhar mechanism, the ghosts in the PDS system have been eliminated under the Modi government, and food grains reaching the real beneficiaries is being ensured.
So, where does this “half of India is hungry” claim come from?
Even during the peak phase of the pandemic when India was under a lockdown, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has ensured that the basic requirement of food on the plate of the poor should not be a problem. In the first phase of the Yojana, a total of about 121 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) of foodgrains were allocated to all States/UTs for additional free-of-cost distribution to the beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) for a period of 3 months i.e. from April to June 2020. An average of about 94% foodgrains were distributed by States/UTs in each of those three months.
This is coupled with free refill of cylinder for Ujjwala beneficiaries during the lockdown period.
So, there is less scope for Kamal Hasan or anyone for that matter to pretend and claim that half of India is hungry.
Rationale of Infra Building Amidst the Crisis
Kamal Hasan or the fans of Kamal Hasan may refer to our article A New Parliament Building for Aatmanirbhar Bharat– A National Pride That Speaks for Our Democratic Heritage to know the necessities and significance of the new Parliament building.
Kamal Hasan compares the initiative of building new parliament to building the Great Wall of China and says that ‘thousands of people perished’ during its construction, but the dragon nation rulers said the wall was to ‘guard’ the people.
When comparing India on certain things, the minimum one can do is to pick a democratic nation for the analysis. In fact, there are examples that show quite the opposite impact of what Kamal Hasan is claiming. For instance, Japan is known for building the Tokyo Tower after the Second World War, giving employment to a large number of people and instilling national pride among its people. In United States, the ‘New Deal’ included more than 34,000 public works projects worth $3 billion for relief, reform and recovery from the Great Depression.
If Kamal Hasan and his followers are not convinced by such examples, let’s try to analyse it in the context of film industry itself.
If Kamal Hasan’s Logic Put in Film Industry’s Context
How bizarre would it be if anyone confronts Kamal Hasan, asking him not to make movies till this country becomes rich like the US because ‘entertainment’ is the element that factors in only after fulfilling all the basic needs. How naïve would it be considered if anyone demanded that Kamal Hasan should not make movies but dole out the amount planned for the movie to poor people instead?
Kamal Hasan and his followers would have offered an explanation in response, saying that a film is not just about entertaining people or the heroism of actors on screen; there is an economy behind it. It provides livelihood to all kinds of people, from make-up man to technicians to actors to distributors.
Similarly, any infrastructure project unveils an opportunity to society’s vulnerable section to rebuild their livelihood amidst crisis.