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

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Vedanta is out but corporate loot continues in Odisha: Local activists tell NAPM yatra

By Our Representative
Lok Shakti Abhiyan leader Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental (also known as Green Nobel) Prize in 2017, has regretted that though Sundergarh in Odisha, like other forest areas, is a fifth schedule area, where Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) is applicable, but these laws are being “outrightly violated to facilitate corporate loot.”