Apna Rozgar Scheme to alleviate poverty

Pakistan is one of the developing countries that are plagued with poverty, where 32 per cent population is said to be living below the poverty line. Poverty is indeed the most serious challenge; poverty is hunger; poverty is not being able to go to school and poverty is not having a job. It is the basic reason for hunger, disease, ill-health, extremism, crimes and other social malaises. Therefore, it makes sense for the Government to encourage people to become self-employed, especially during the current economic downturn. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been conscientiously taking innovative and unique steps to improve the lives of the people of Punjab. On Saturday, he formally inaugurated “Apna Rozgar Scheme” for providing jobs to educated jobless youth of the province, for which a huge amount of Rs.31 billion has been allocated under this scheme.

The Chief Minister distributed keys of vehicles among men and women during a ceremony at Model Town, Lahore. Addressing the ceremony, the Chief Minister said that those obtaining vehicles will pay monthly installments on soft terms, which will be Rs.10000 for Bolan and Rs.9000 for Ravi. A family normally comprises six members, but given the joint family system, about half a million people will directly benefit from this scheme, whereas lakhs of families will benefit indirectly. He said three years ago, Punjab government had distributed 20 thousand vehicles among youth worth Rs.10 billion on merit, and its recovery rate is 99.99 percent, which can be verified by the banks. He thus proved the critics of the scheme wrong who had been forecasting that major part of this amount will not be recoverable.

Shahbaz Sharif seems to be conscious of the provisions in Pakistan’s constitution whereby the government is obliged to secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, by raising their standard of living, within the available resources of the country, facilities for work and adequate livelihood with reasonable rest and leisure. Article 22 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights also needs to be implemented which reads: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality”. If viewed in context of a state, civil society is rooted in democracy, constitutionalism and is based on supremacy of civilian-led institutions, anchored on distributive justice including socio-economic justice.

In 2008, Punjab government had established Rs. 2 billion Talent Endowment Fund for students whereby students of less developed areas would now be able to study at leading centres of excellence. And it was no mean achievement. His other schemes i.e. establishment of Danish schools and distribution of laptops to the talented were commendable indeed. However, the challenge in Pakistan to alleviate poverty is enormous; therefore conscientious efforts have to be made to alleviate poverty and ensure a decent life to the people. A major constraint in this regard is that distribution of economic and political power is not equal. Shahbaz Sharif is alive to the eidetic realities, and he has been warning the elite of a bloody revolution. They must find some time to introspect, because if they do not share their happiness with the poor, they will have to share misery with them one day.

According to renowned philosopher Hegel, a leader has to be conversant with the spirit of the age, rather in harmony with it. A real leader is a master strategist and a great tactician who blends pragmatism with idealism to achieve the desired objective of a better life for its people. Unfortunately, except a few honorable exceptions, Pakistan lacks such leadership. The fact remains that the destiny of a nation depends on the determination of its people, but there has to

be leaders with vision, courage and wisdom to put the country on the path of progress and prosperity. Shahbaz Sharif has given practical demonstration that interest of the people is close to his heart. Indeed, he is a source of inspiration to other members of his cabinet and heads of various departments who have to put their act together to deliver to the masses.

Anusha Ramzi

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