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

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.