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

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.