Poor Punished For Confronting Corruption

Officials in rural Chattisgarh punish poor villagers by denying them their housing benefits. In the news today, the word 'corruption' has become omnipresent. The country and its governance has been rattled by a civil society movement that has seen an unprecedented growth in the last few months, fueled by the media and the prevailing need to identify with a cause. The middle classes, thus far remaining aloof from all matters political, have taken up arms and are mobilizing. In all the chaos, it is the voices of the ones who suffer most from corruption that get drowned out in the noise. In today's video, corruption is documented in its rawest form by the people who it hurts the most - disturbingly, in tones of resignation and acceptance. Bhan Sahu, our correspondent in Rajnandgaon is a village woman who has a small income and lives in a mud house. Like her, most people in her community are too poor to build a house on their own. Currently, the government has a policy to provide free housing to all the people who live below the poverty line, i.e. those earning about 7USD a month. But Bhan Sahu says that although everyone in her community qualified for this scheme, nobody has been able to build a house yet because the money – Rs 35,000 – that was allocated to them for building a house, never reached them. So where did the money go? The people in Bhan Sahu’s video tried to find the answer at different places, by visiting the local bank and other government offices that are in charge of implementing the housing scheme. But instead of explaining why they did not release the funds, the government officials in charge got angry with the community for ‘daring’ to ask questions and deducted a part of the fund as a ‘punishment’. Through the interviews and footage, the story of corruption is broken down and captured in is essence by the man's narrative. It is no longer an abstract term that envelopes everything from petty bribes to massive stashes of illegal wealth. This is how it happens - those with power exploit with an alarming sense of indifference, and those without have no option but to hang their heads and walk away, and try again another time. Says Bhan Sahu, “People of my community are getting punished for opposing corruption. Yet we are not giving up.” You too can extend your support to Bhan Sahu and her community by writing to the district administration of at this address: Sub Divisional Magistrate Dist: Rajnandgaon State: Chattisgarh Pin Code-491441 India You can also call the SDM at 07744- 226519 and email at rnandgaon.cg@nic.in

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