'What is proposed is that we tax payers pay Rs 1,000 per month to selected JanDhan accounts of poor families.'
'I am sure there are at least 10 crore Indians for whom Rs 1,000 is no big deal.'
My dear Prime Minister,
We as common citizens cannot ever understand the challenge you have taken up to fight this war against the coronavirus, a war we must win if not just India, but mankind has to survive!
You have lifted the Shiv Dhanushya and all of us are ready to follow you.
But in this difficult time, the nation's need for your leadership is the greatest. So my first appeal as a senior citizen is that you MUST take care of your own health.
As Baji Prabhu Depshpande said to Chhatrapati Shivaji at the famous battle of Pawan Khind, 'Lakhs may die, but the one who looks after lakhs must live.'
The Ramayana has a very interesting tale of Prabhu Ramchandra appreciating the efforts of ever a small squirrel while thousands were working on building the Ram Setu.
Coming to modern times, during Bal Gangadhar Tilak's time, a glass factory was established in Maharashtra by collecting just one paisa from each individual! The glass factory at Talegaon was called 'Paisa fund Factory'.
It is time we used our vast numbers to our advantage.
I am aware that you have started a coronavirus specific fund. Many have donated to it and will continue to do so.
May I suggest that the prime purpose of this fund be to create, run and maintain medical and other facilities as well as help stressed industries.
I seek your help so that individuals can help the poor and needy directly in this hour of need.
This will take away some burden from overworked government agencies.
What is proposed is that we tax payers pay a sum of Rs 1,000 per month to selected JanDhan accounts of poor families.
I am sure there are at least 10 crore Indians for whom Rs 1,000 is no big deal. Many of us spend that kind of money in eating out every month.
With your JanDhan account campaign, virtually every poor family has a bank account.
The government has our details including email address based on Pan Card numbers. This data is available with the income tax department.
On your instructions, the income tax department can send the individual the account number of the JanDhan beneficiary. The citizen can then directly transfer the money to the selected family.
Today, with the vast amount of data available with the government, it is possible to implement this. The selection of beneficiaries should be done by the local people's representative or the member of Parliament.
This process should be all over India so that say a person from Maharashtra could send money to a person in Uttar Pradesh and vice versa.
The beneficiary should know from where the money has come and the name of the donor. This will foster national cohesion if done across the caste and communal divide.
I hope and pray that under your dynamic leadership we win this war. This request is just a small effort to contribute ideas in the national cause.
Optimally if 10 crore Indians respond to your appeal, it will mean a Rs 1.2 lakh crore transfer to the poor in one year.
People have faith and trust in you and many gave up the LPG subsidy on your appeal.
I am sure if you appeal and make available the means, more than 10 crore Indians will respond.
This will greatly ease the burden on the government that can then concentrate on medical infrastructure.
I hope you do consider this favourably.
Colonel Anil A Athale (retd)
Colonel Anil A Athale (retd), the well known military historian and long time Rediff.com columnist, is the Chhatrapati Shivaji chair fellow at the United Services Institute of India.