Skip to main content

Sharp rise in inequalities main reason behind shrinking democratic space in India: Well-known rural journo Sainath

By Our Representative
Speaking on “Shrinking Democratic Spaces and the Role of Civil Society”, doyen of rural journalism in India, P Sainath, has said that a major reason for dwindling democratic values is astonishing growth in inequalities in India. He was giving a public lecture at the Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Ahmedabad, to mark the 30th anniversary of premier non-government organization (NGO), Janvikas.
A Magsaysay award winning journalist, Sainath said, way back on November 25, 1949, Dr BR Ambedkar, while handing over the draft constitution to the Constituent Assembly for finalization, had warned that while India had achieved political democracy, there was still no democracy in society and economy.
Pointing towards how increasing inequalities have begun to adversely affect political democracy in the country, Sainath said India’s 100 most wealthy individuals’ share in wealth equaled the wealth of 69% of the country’s population.
Last year, he said, 15 individuals owned greater share than bottom 40% of shares, adding, in this also, the bottom 10% of the population owned negative or – 0.7% of the share, the next higher decile owned 0.2% of the share, and the third higher decile owned 0.5% share.
Without naming Mukesh Ambani, Sainath said, India’s richest man owns a greater share of wealth than 400-odd million human beings, adding, what is particularly worrying is, this new inequality is being added into already existing social inequalities.
The poorer sections, this suggests, are being further pushed towards a higher level of inequality, while the wealth of the is going up, said Sainath, adding, this is leading to a situation of powerlessness of democratic spaces.
Even as underlining that this phenomenon is not new, Sainath said, under the Modi government, things have further deteriorated, adding, a major reason why demonetization, a political move, failed to get the required opposition is, a situation has been created today, where any criticism of the government makes you an ISI agent, an anti-national.
Claiming that this kind of fear he did not even see during the Emergency, Sainath said, “People today live in a nightmare of terrorism, where there is criminalization of dissent. That is reason why even those who opposed demonetization say, the intention was good, but was poorly implemented.”
Things have reached an extreme, said Sainath, especially in Chhattisgarh, where people are being terrorized as nowhere else. Charges levelled against an individual including, say, a crowd of 800 unnamed individuals, a tactic used by cops to terrorize an entire area.
All this, said Sainath, is getting further reinforced with gigantic de-politicization, which is what, he argued, civil society organizations must understand.
Blaming corporate media for refusing the show the realities of how demonetization has affected the rural areas, Sainath said, his visit, as part of creation of People’s Archives for Rural India (PARI), to 30 rural schools suggested that all over Telangana and Marathwada, midday meals collapsed because of lack of vegetables, which are bought in cash. Kids without vegetables in midday meals were mostly children of Dalits and tribals”, he added.
Pointing towards how corporate-owned media is biased, Sainath said, 66% newspaper space is devoted to Delhi, adding, Mumbai is a distance No 2, then comes Chinnai and Kolkata. As for the rural areas, they form just 0.18% of the space.
This way, he said, authoritarian structures are being pushed, adding, increasing number of crorepatis are representing the poor electorate – there were 32% crorepatis in 2004, which reached 83% in the 2014 polls.
To mark its three decades of existence, ahead of Sainath's lecture, Janvikas released a book detailing its activities over the last three decades, and opened a sprawling training centre near Sanand in Ahmedabad district, at Nani Devti village.

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Trump in Ahmedabad: Did Modi display servile colonial mindset towards gora sahib?

By Rajiv Shah
Donald Trump left Ahmedabad for Agra to "enjoy" the Mughal monument Taj Mahel in the afternoon on Monday, leaving behind scores of huge billboards standing across the megacity showcasing larger than life images of the US president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of them boldly captioned: “Two strong leaders of two strong democracies”.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.