Skip to main content

Top campaign bodies accuse Modi govt of "accelerating" policies that undermine social protection

ICDS under attack?
By Our Representative
Ahead of a national level public hearing at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on August 4, 2014, several campaign organizations have sharply criticized the Narendra Modi government for seeking to “accelerate” efforts made by the previous UPA government during its latter phase to resist “basic social entitlements” for the poor. In a concept note prepared for the hearing, they have said, “We need to address this political context emerging over the last few years, initiated during the later part of UPA-II and likely to be accelerated by the current NDA government.. Just local protests and symbolic mobilisations are not likely to have a significant impact on a deepening policy framework which is corporate friendly and increasingly ‘people resistant’.”
Activists from the Right to Food campaign, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and National Alliance of People’s Movements participated in preparing the concept note for the hearing, which will be followed by a broader meeting of activists involved in various campaigns and movements on August 5. 2014. They have simultaneously prepared a list of half-a-dozen “demands” to be put up for discussion at the hearing and the subsequent meeting (click HERE to read).
Pointing out that the new NDA government’s main line of thinking is a “less government” regime, the concept note says, the under new rulers “adequate provision of any of the entitlements seems even more unlikely, and provisioning is likely to be increasingly channelised through private sector-based ‘PPP’ mechanisms and cash transfers, rather than any expansion and strengthening of public systems.” In fact, it adds, “True to the aphorism ‘Give something to the poor, but only as long as it does not take anything from the rich’, the government has resisted raising additional revenues required for expansion and universalisation of public services.”
The concept note says, “social services” under the new regime “are emerging as ‘assured markets’ where the private sector can move in, often with guaranteed support from public funds.” At the same time, it adds, “we have seen recent policy declarations from the newly installed ruling party, declaring that labour laws would be made more corporate friendly, that land acquisition legislation would become more conducive to business interests but less cognizant of the rights of cultivators, and even questioning the need for a law to guarantee employment in rural areas.”
“In this situation”, the concept note insists, “Given the receding of ‘political will from above’, we need to plan how we can effectively build ‘political will from below’. The emphasis needs to shift towards reshaping the larger political climate through broad based socio-political mobilisation.” In fact, “there is a need to develop broader socio-political action on certain cross-cutting and common policy concerns related to various social services and entitlements. For this, it adds, campaigners and activists working in various sectors “need to combine their efforts and work with progressive political forces and mass movements, to challenge the current policy framework.”
The concept note praises the UPA-I government, which was supported by Left parties, for responding to “popular aspirations in a limited form and launched initiatives to provide certain level of social services and entitlements to people”. This included the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Right to Education (RTE) Act, universalisation of integrated child development services (ICDS), and orders to improve delivery of public distribution system (PDS) and mid-day meals in context of the Right to Food Supreme Court case.”
Not denying that “each of these was characterised by major gaps and policy constraints”, the concept note agrees, “under UPA-I “certain spaces were opened up for people to demand entitlements, which encouraged mobilisation around social sector rights.” But it regrets, “During the UPA-II period, especially the latter part, hardly any new major social initiatives were launched except for the Food Security Act, which has been controversial in design and is basically yet to be implemented.” There were “restricted entitlements in Food Security Act, unwillingness to allocate adequate resources and pay minimum wages in NREGA, freeze on the budget of NRHM, and limited resources for implementation of RTE.
Taking up from UPA-II, the NDA has used lack of funds “as a pretext for denying universal access, for example, to subsidised foodgrains under the Food Security Act, on the grounds that it would cost too much”, the concept note says, adding, “Similar considerations are being stated to justify the unwillingness to provide universal pensions. Inadequate funds for supplementary nutrition as part of ICDS are another example of such constraints. Such inadequate funding is directly linked with weakening of public provisioning systems and unwillingness to substantially expand and improve such systems.”

Comments

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example