A day after the Union cabinet cleared the Food Security Bill, the UPA government has announced its decision to also table the ‘Right to Girlfriend’ bill in the current session of Parliament. Purported to be Rahul Gandhi’s brainchild, the concomitant scheme titled ‘Rajiv Gandhi Girlfriend Yojana’ (RAGGY) will guarantee a girlfriend for 100 days a year to every Indian unmarried male below 45 years of age.
“Why should only some guys have all the fun? Social nerds, book-worms, tech-geeks, or even out-and-out losers have a fundamental right to a girlfriend!” screamed Rahul Gandhi during an election rally in Amethi while unveiling the bill’s salient features, drawing wolf whistles and thunderous applause from the assembled crowd.
According to the proposed scheme, a youth can register with his local Gram Panchayat Mukhiya or Municipal Ward Councilor and demand a girlfriend for a specified period of time. The Government in turn has to provide a girlfriend to the beneficiary within 15 days, failing which the beneficiary will be compensated at the rate of Rs. 200 per day for the duration of the agonizing wait. For the purpose of estimating the number of beneficiaries, the Planning Commission has defined the Below Frustration line (BFL) as any normal, unmarried, single Indian male between 18 and 28 who has answered ‘frustrated’ to the NSSO survey question ‘How do you feel about not having a babe?’
Congress leader, Digvijay Singh, has welcomed the proposed scheme and said that the government has the complete support of the party. “Once again, Rahul has taken up a secular issue that resonates with all Indian male youth cutting across religious, social, and economic barriers,” he said. “Even if RAGGY delivers half of what it promises, Rahul will have cemented his reputation as India’s youth icon,” said the veteran Congress leader. Diggy however vehemently rejected suggestions that Rahul might have any vested interest behind this scheme.
Noted psephologist, Yogendra Jadhav, contends that there might be more to the scheme than meets the eye: “First the Food Security Bill may reduce hunger and thereby attenuate popular supports for Anna ji’s fasts. And now this bill could be an instrument to distract Anna’s youthful supporters, thereby weakening the ‘India against Corruption’ movement.”
The bill, however, has been opposed by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council on the grounds that it is impractical to directly intervene in the market for love. “Chicks are the most unpredictable of economic agents and many might flatly refuse to become girlfriends of some geeky dudes, no matter how hard the Government tries to intervene. I have solid empirical evidence to back this claim based on my own failed attempts to woo members of the fairer sex. So this scheme will indubitably lead to fiscal bankruptcy and poor outcomes,” warned chief economic adviser, Kaushik Basu, in his working paper ‘The Economics of Babe Management’.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and renowned economist, Montek Singh, on the other hand, has opined that cash transfers are the way to go and single guys should simply be given dating stipends to improve their prospects of finding beaus. This policy prescription has however been thrashed by the National Advisory Council’s Aruna Roy. “If Monty thinks that all it takes is a little cash to impress a lady, then clearly his knowledge of the fairer sex is even poorer than his knowledge of poverty,” hollered the veteran civil society activist.
(Reported by Special Correspondent SR Ramanujam with some inputs from the UnReal Team)