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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

High on pronouncements and publicity, the Centre is lagging on most other parameters

RK Misra* 
Politicians in power allure by denying and entice by delaying. Dangling bones ensure jumping ‘dogs’ and protean promises make for leaping ‘frogs’. And thereafter you have yoga for the masses, as if they haven't had enough.
Walk the talk has been a popular TV show hosted by a top print media editor, but talking while walking leads to breathlessness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is lugging the Gujarat model from his parent state to Delhi -- and his government -- are both beginning to show acute signs of fatigue while the fabric to develop India sought to be woven from the swadeshi ‘yarn’ is already fraying at the edges.
Fables milk the masses well but curdle when facts are added. The ‘shaala praveshotsav’ is a high profile programme initiated by Modi over 13 years ago in Gujarat. It entailed every public servant , in fact the entire government ,going out in the field to ensure child enrolment in school. It was a sarva siksha abhiyan of sorts as the state pulled out all stops to ensure improved and comprehensive education.Coupled with a variety of such measures and high voltage publicity,it was made out that the state was now a frontrunner in the field.Celebration time?
No. The fact is that Gujarat spent merely 3.3 per cent of it’s state gross domestic product(GSDP) on education.And this was one of the lowest levels among the top 20 states during a period between 2007-08 and 2013-14 (Modi rule),according to a study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India(Assocham).While Bihar and Assam(11 per cent) both ranked tops,Gujarat incurred least expenditure on education sector development in recent years.,it noted.
Fall-out: The class XII results of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Board(GSHEB) this year fell to a 22 year low of 54.98 per cent.The ignominy of the situation was that this percentage was achieved by giving 18 grace marks to one lakh students.The actual percentage was a disgracefully low 37 per cent.
The Gujarat Model now stands truly replicated at the Centre.The school education budget of the Modi government has been scaled down to Rs 42,219 crores in 2015-16 from Rs 55,115 crores in 2014-15.The confusion on the new funding pattern devolved by the BJP government for flagship programmes like Mid-day Meal and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan are putting them under severe strain.The plight of woman and child welfare programmes under this government elected on a development plank is pathetic.The plan outlay of the women and child development ministry was Rs 21,000 crores in 2014-15 and has been sliced by half to Rs 10,286.7 crores this time.
This strikes at the very root of the Integrated Child Development Scheme(ICDS) implemented through 13.42 lakh anganwadis countrywide.Take the case of the Rajiv Gandhi scheme for empowerment of adolescent girls.The demand was for Rs1,476 crores.It has got a paltry Rs75.5 crores this year.Less than a shameful 10 per cent! In the face of such incriminating evidence what is ‘beti bachao,beti padhao(save the girl child,educate the girl child) except publicity gathering,pulpit sermons. Whither women’s emanicipation and child welfare?
Interestingly, a study by a financial watchdog (Global Financial Integrity report dated June 2015) states that the black money generated in India was 120 per cent more than the government’s yearly education spend and 101 per cent more than it’s health expenditure. According to an estimate the illicit financial outflow at about $ 44 billion annually works out to $440 billion over the decade!
The BJP led pre-poll boast of bringing back black money stashed abroad in a 100 days and subsequent recant notwithstanding ,USA has successfully arm-twisted India into signing a highly unequal Information Gathering Agreement(IGA).A drooling Modi government salivating at the prospect of getting access to sensitive banking information about ordinary Indian citizens in the US, has agreed to give the American government information even of non-US entities operating in India, if it has even one American working for them.
In actual terms this means that the Indian government will be duty bound under the agreement to provide information about any Indian company or organization to Washington(if asked for),if it has an American on it’s rolls. The quid pro quo is that the Modi government will get deeply personal banking information of ordinary Indian citizens in the US for use as it deems fit. Highly placed sources say that the first round of information on the US based Indians pertaining to 2014 is expected to be delivered by September this year.
This barter, in hindsight, will prove a disturbing development for all those Indians in that country who rolled out the red carpet for the new Prime Minister during his visit there.
The sequel to this development is the enactment of the foreign Accounts Tax compliance Act (FATCA) by the Obama government. Under this law, the administration seeks to gather banking information about Americans and even non-US firms that employed them the world over through punitive measures.
One hundred and twelve countries were pummeled into submission by the US through the simple expedient of imposition of a 30 per cent ‘withholding tax’ on their respective banks on all payments routed through them. The crux of the matter is that the Americans have managed to get far more than they have agreed to give.
Thus it is that the overblown chest and the flexed muscles seem more faff than fibre. High on pronouncements and publicity, the Centre is lagging on most other parameters. Except of course on profiled events.
Take the Prime Minister’s favourite Make in India. According to the department of Industrial Policy and Promotions(DIPP) which functions under the Union commerce ministry, the number of IEMs(Industrial Entrepreneurs Memorandum) filed dipped from 2,365 in 2013 to 1801 in 2014.
The value of proposed investment fell 24 per cent from Rs 529,828 crores to Rs 404,339 crores in 2014.Concurrently, the promised employment likely to be generated by them dropped significantly from 10,48,207 in 2013 to 4.43,122 in 2014.
The trend for the first four months of 2015 was not much to talk about either. There were only 452 IEMs with a proposed investment of Rs 87,393 crores. Of these as many as 202 IEMs with proposed investment of Rs 45,328 crores were in April alone. The drop in IEMs quite simply reflects the lack of enthusiasm for it, whatever the reason . It is serious stock taking time for public perceptions are important. What some invent, the rest enlarge!
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*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. His blogs can be accessed HERE

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