1. Child marriages
2. Alcohol addiction
3. Women empowerment
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From President Patil's conversation :
The second social evil President Patil discussed in our conversation was alcohol addiction. She recalled her early-1970s experience, as Cabinet Minister for Social Welfare in the Maharashtra government, when the State went though a severe three-year drought.
In a pioneering intervention, the State government had introduced the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS), a sustained public works intervention that has been commended by the United Nations Development Programme and by scholars like Jean Dreze for its remarkable scale, sweep, and sustained reach. The EGS, which was launched in 1972, given a statutory basis in 1977, and became operative as a law in 1979, guaranteed employment to all persons above the age of 18 who were willing to do unskilled manual work on a piece-rate basis. It sought to supplement the inadequate income of landless and land-poor families from agricultural work by minimum guaranteed work, at a defined wage, in government-financed public works programmes. Launched as a response to a crisis, it has continued as a major state intervention to mitigate the harsh edges of rural poverty, sustain household welfare, and contribute in some measure to the development of the rural economy.
President Patil recalled that EGS had already begun, in the early 1970s, to make a difference to the incomes of agricultural labouring families. But what about household welfare? During her visits to work-sites as Minister for Social Welfare, she was pleased of course to see the crèches for little children. But she also asked officials about the uses to which the additional incomes were put — and one enterprising Collector did a sample survey in a rural district.
The findings were an eye-opener. About 50 per cent of the landless and land-poor households saw some savings, including bank deposits, the repayment of loans to banks, the purchase of a little jewellery, or money set aside for a daughter’s marriage. The remaining 50 per cent “squandered the money in drinks and gambling,” the President recalled. “For the removal of poverty,” she concluded, “only giving money is not adequate. The child and wife suffer. If 50 per cent are in this atmosphere, how will we remove poverty?”
So the eradication of alcohol, and other forms of, addiction was a socio-economic challenge. President Patil emphasised the need for regular and imaginative schemes to bring alcoholics out of their addiction, which would only ruin them and their families.