Skip to main content

2019 polls: Actionable plan to end corruption, generate jobs discussed with political parties

By Our Representative
A civil society-sponsored Jan Manch organised in Delhi, where what are claimed to be “peoples’ issues” for the 2019 elections were discussed with representatives of political parties, has been told that the BJP rulers came to power on the anti-corruption plank of a Bhrastachar Mukt Bharat, but the government “systematically weakened and destroyed the anti-corruption framework.”
Anjali Bharadwaj, co-convener, National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), said that the government “repeatedly tried to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act and did not operationalise the Whistleblowers Protection Act, weakened the Prevention of Corruption Act and appointed the chairperson and members of the Lokpal in complete secrecy.”
The Jan Manch was aimed at putting forth peoples’ demands before political parties. The meeting saw the release of "Reclaiming the Republic", a document which claims to bring together urgent actionable reforms needed to protect and strengthen the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity. The document has been endorsed by various campaigns and groups across the country.
The document, prepared in English and Hindi, puts forth the reforms required in law, policies and institutions to undo the damages inflicted by the current ruling establishment and to strengthen proper operation of the rule of law in our country, non-interference with judiciary and anti-corruption institutions, the integrity and fairness of administrative structures, a communique by the organizers of the Jan Manch said.
Those who organized the Jan Manch included NCPRI, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Right to Food Campaign (RTF), Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS). Representatives several of the political parties – Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) – participated, though there were none from the Congress or the BJP.
A representative of grassroots organization, Sunita from Kusumpur Pahadi testified about the discrimination suffered by Dalits even in cities like Delhi, where, she said, they are forced to do manual scavenging, garbage disposal as there are no other employment opportunities and are discriminated against in education, housing etc.
Annie Namala, associated with Dalit rights struggles, said that statutory provisions to prevent and redress caste-based discrimination and their proper implementation is a key demand of people for the forthcoming elections. She said the right to work with dignity must be recognised and provided.
Several people from slum settlements across Delhi spoke about the insecurity of living in a slum where the government, without any notice evicts people in the middle of the night. Shama of Kathputhli Colony, which was demolished, testified about the sub-standard temporary living conditions provided to them and demanded that parties must commit to providing decent housing.
Responding to the testimonies about the lack of employment opportunities even for youth who have completed schooling and college and the rising cost of living, Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) said that right to employment is an important issue which has also been flagged in the "Reclaiming the Republic" document.
Noted economist Jayati Ghosh stated what was necessary was provision of universal basic services- free education, health, universal pensions and rations. She said that money for an employment guarantee program and for providing universal basic services can be raised by reforming the tax regime to introduce wealth tax, inheritance tax, gift tax and by doing away with some perverse subsidies.
Top Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said that huge corruption scams including the Rafale scam exposed the reality of how the BJP government had not only failed to address the issue of corruption but that the Prime Minister himself was involved in the scams.
Highlighting how the government had undermined every institution of oversight, Bhushan said, there was an urgent need to put in place reforms to safeguard institutions like CBI, anti-corruption agencies, CAG, judiciary from influence of the government.
Yogendra Yadav of Swarajya Abhiyan spoke about how the government, unable to account for its poor performance and in an attempt to divert attention from its failures was trying to centre stage the Pulwama attacks and the strike by the Indian Air Force as election issues. He said that leaders of the BJP were openly using the attacks to garner votes and were politicising the armed forces for their political benefit.
Kavita Srivastava of the Right to Food Campaign, highlighted the demands around food security including reforms required in agriculture, strengthening childrens’ right to food, ensuring maternity benefits and proper implementation of the National Food Security Act. Madhuresh of NAPM highlighted the loot of natural resources and the need to undo many of the regressive amendments made to environmental and land laws.
Annie Raja of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said that women’s rights must be centre staged in this election and this requires substantive reforms to ensure their right to work, equal pay, protection against violence, rations, health, education for the girl child.
Ghanshyam Tiwari of SP stated that his party is committed to working towards equality in society. He added, he agreed with most of the demands put forth in the Reclaiming the Republic document and that the manifesto of his party will include many of these.
RJD’s Prof Manoj Jha said that his party fully endorses all the reforms contained in the “Reclaiming the Republic” document and that the party in its manifesto has committed itself to work towards each of the reforms. He said that the demands would not just form part of the manifesto but pledged that the party would work towards realising them.
D Raja of CPI said that this was the time to save the republic and that deep reforms are required to protect the country and safeguard democracy. He stated that the manifesto of CPI will be released shortly and will reflect the demands put forth by peoples’ movements and campaigns, including those made in the “Reclaiming the Republic” document.

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

80 RTI activists killed since 2014, yet Modi govt 'refuses' to implement whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over power in 2014 at the Centre, more than 80 have been killed “in their quest for information and accountability” through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a public hearing in Delhi has been told. Senior politicians from opposition parties, including Congress and Left, heard people express their anguish over the manner in which the government was treating the RTI Act, even as refusing to operationalise the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in 2014.