Andheri raat mein, Diya tera haat mein phone

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Freebies are the lubricants that grease the wheels of democracy in India—and the cranky old engine needs to be serviced at least once in five years. Wine and money have traditionally played a great role in ensuring that the cogs, also known as contestants, run smoothly for the next few years.

Of late, though, the traditional attractions have partly given way to other more persuasive and trendy modes in terms of sops. If DMK gave colour television sets, AIDMK promised free laptops in the last election. More recently, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister promised digital tablets.

Not to be left behind, the ruling UPA government reportedly hit upon a scheme to put a mobile phone in the pocket of every BPL ( Below Poverty Line) family before the next general elections. If things had gone as planned, this was to be announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day address at Red Fort this morning.

However, the ‘Har haath mein phone’  project seems to have been abruptly put on the backburner, though it should surprise nobody if it is launched with full fanfare before you can say 2014.

Costing an estimated Rs7,000 crore, the project would have “empowered” every BPLite all over the country.  Unfortunately, there was some spoilsport who put a spanner in to the works.

Disputes broke out over the actual number of BPL families. While the government thought there were 6 crores of them, state governments put the figure at closer to 11 crores and our ever-correct planning commission put the families at a safe 8 crores. Problems due to distribution, power shortage, recharging, battery replacement etc were also envisaged.

Imagine ‘har haat mein phone’ scene would have created in the country. It would have brought back memories of Dada Kondke’s 1985 movie ‘Andheri raat mein, Diya tere haat mein’ movie of double entendres.

It would have met the double agenda of Congress to win the elections and decimating the opposition.

Apart from being a stepping stone for winning the election ‘hands down’, what other uses would this massive project have served?

# In India more food is wasted than consumed the day after any marriage. The number of dishes, the menu drawn up etc is measured on a social scale than actual consumption. When marriages are conducted over a week with mehendi, sangeeth, Bollywood song and dance acts, what are a few crores for unconsumed food thrown away after each meal?

Har haath mein phone’ would have precisely helped reduce wastage on a national scale.  Most of the BPL phoneites would already be present outside marriage halls even as saath pheres are being taken. The food otherwise that would have gone wasted will now at least fill BPL family stomachs thanks to their networking with phone in har haath.

#  Recently Indian Railways who are supposed to carry passengers safely were given an additional job; that of disposing tons of food grains which were not fit for even animal consumption.

The railways had dumped their merchandise safely near Jagatpur, Odisha. The poor with nothing to eat dug into the riverbed and carried whatever they could in their bags. People rushed into feast on food certified unworthy of even animal consumption.

Well, with ‘har haath mein phone’, the BPLites would not have allowed it to happen. They would have networked and tracked the movements of the train, kept each other informed at every station and swooped on the food before it was buried in the sand. At least digging to retrieve grains from riverbeds would have been avoided.

# And in Sharad Pawar’s Maharashtra had they introduced the project, farmers, instead of committing suicide would have watched Dada Kondke’s old hit in the powerless nights across Maharashtra on their mobile phones.

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10 Responses to “Andheri raat mein, Diya tera haat mein phone”

  1. Prasad Says:

    First give them food and shelter! Hottege hittu illadru, juttuge malligae hoovu!

  2. asha Says:

    UPA II is trying to beat the antics of the Tamilnadu governments in giving freebees. TN government started by giving free TV, free laptop, free wet grinder etc. Now we have the UPA giving free mobile phones to the BPL….so we have Rajeev Rozgar Yojana which assures the rural people a fixed number of days of work every year…translated it is another scam wherein you go sign in a register take your daily wages and give the prescribed cuts to the official disbursing your wage and go home and sleep. But now instead of sleeping you can dial your friend in the next village and talk to him over your new mobile phone given by the government. And we keep having wet dreams about becoming super power by 2025. Is mobile phones the priority for this god forsaken government.

  3. tyagaraj sharma Says:


  4. vsesh Says:

    It is a matter of great worldly wisdom. It would bring both votes and notes .Apart from election gains, just think of the think of the kickback in purchasing 10 crores of mobile sets,chargers ,and batteries. Amount would be very handy during election time. -vsesh

  5. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana Says:

    It is a pity that UPA govt developed cold feat to introduce the scheme.for it would have been a roaring success. In fact during elections with mobile in their hands they could have had a networking to inform in which polling station the security was lax so that they can fill it with proxy votes. And there is any number of alternatives to capture the booth through net working. May be scheme may be launched at appropriate time. I can envisage Rahul Gandhi to launch the scheme in Gujarat so that it will have dramatic effect to stop Modi in his tracks to win for the third time. Naturally it will serve as a launching pad for him to occupy the throne by right

  6. harkol Says:

    The entire wisdom of these freebies – Get the next generation of Gandhi to power.

    The thinking is – If NREGA handouts helped in 2009, mobile in each hand may help in 2014.Perpetuate dynasty’s strangle hold at all costs. So, what if India story goes down the tube and what if poor remain poor – as long as they vote for hand?

    As long as there are dumb voters who will vote for who ever offers best deal (money/Caste/freebie) – we’ll have corrupt politicians making law in this country.

  7. M Says:

    Free handset for 2014 election. Then free SIM in 2019. Free monthly subscription in 2024. I guess congress will be in prover for next 20 yrs.

  8. Anand Sankar Says:

    For those cynical about the ‘free mobiles by the govt’… Access to communication is a great enabler and will open new avenues for millions more. This could be the best freebie ever. We have already seen how cheap mobiles and low telecom tariffs have benefited a large section of society.

    City folk really don’t think much of rural folk’s enterprise. Do you know that in electricity deficient/non-existent villages charging a mobile phone is a business? I have seen this almost 5 years back itself. In the remotest of areas, small shops have huge lead-acid car/truck batteries through which they charge mobiles for Rs 5 a charge. The batteries are charged whenever there is line electricity or in a few cases I saw once a week it goes to the town to get charged! If there are more mobiles now, the shop owner will install a solar unit to charge the battery, it makes economic sense. A simple B&W handset runs for almost week in one charge at the hands of a villager.

  9. Siddarama Says:

    From where will the electricity come…? do they expect to plug mobile chargers to UPA – ministers a**. They first need to think about providing basic necessity like clean water and uninterupted electricity. So will this be called Rajeev Mobile rozgar yojana…?

  10. Shiv Says:

    Granted that this is possibly an election gimmick. But mobile phones can have a range of tremendous positive effects, particularly through SMS, if used right, as various state governments have shown.

    a) Timing of PDS delivery – As in Andhra, updates about when PDS stocks are refilled can be sent through SMS, to cut down corruption.

    b) Maternal and child health – SMS updates can inform mothers about the correct time to have their children get different immunization shots (the dropouts after the first immunization at birth is huge in some states)

    c) Financial inclusion – if and when withdrawal of mobile money is authorised by the centre, NREGA wages, remittances and other cash transfers can be greatly facilitated with mobile phones.

    So let’s not be so quick to diss this idea, aye?

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