By-poll results in 2017-18 have given a clear message that saffron party and its Modi government at the Centre should get acumen so that anti-people policies are not implemented as they have been doing so since 2014. In the previous years — 2016 and 2017 — the way in which 90 per cent hardworking and honest people of the country suffered economic hardships and difficulties, I wish 2019 onwards, situation proves to be peaceful and relaxing, and also brings new hopes. BJP’s egoistic and autocratic government made the country suffer for their vested political interests. They imposed financial emergency-like situation through demonetisation. First, they implemented demonetisation in an immature manner, and then they brought GST in haste. Later, they went gaga over Aadhaar linking, and then they overburdened common public for income tax, but all those economically strong business houses and business men, who absconded from the country, looted us more than what Britishers could do in pre-independence era. All these looters are Gujaratis and were once fund raisers for the BJP. In spite of such big financial scams, government had nothing to say. During election speeches in 2013-14, several times Modiji made fun of Manmohan Singh’s silence but if you we look at the present situation, our present PM has no guts to open his mouth and address the unrest. He hides in foreign land when country land is in crisis. Modi’s tall claims just flopped and people who voted for him with big hopes just started showing doors to BJP.
If we look at the history of Indian Parliament Elections, Congress continued with its dominance in the elections, although reduced, and returned to power for many successive terms. No matter what, Congress loses once after 10-15 years of rule and voters this time gave a term to BJP after believing in their promises, as every time they come up with new agenda and hopes. They come to power as ‘fill in the blanks’, not as an alternative but as a change and get changed by the same voters.
When Singh’s first coalition government, the United Progressive Alliance government (UPA-I) came to power in 2004, it was a symbol of the electorate’s upfront rejection of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s “India Shining” campaign. The claim that the BJP-led government lost because of the campaign is hotly debated. It has been fashionable to blame Manmohan Singh for everything going or went wrong in India. His studied silence hardly helped matters either. But there’s no denying of the fact that he will go down in history as the prime minister who has most changed the rhetoric around development in India. Nor is he paralleled by another prime minister in making good on election promises. Not even severe detractors can deny what he has done for the country by putting the famed ‘common man’ of India, at the center of the political economy of development. One could invoke the record of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and her introduction of government into the development discourse in India. Amid the rampant media assault aimed at Singh, he kept his perspective strong which is necessary for the progress of the country. Singh’s Congress party crafted its position as the champion of inclusive growth. At that point in time, this was defined to mean that the government would ensure the fruits of growth to reach more people. This promise and acknowledgment of India that was indeed not shining — helped Singh stand apart.
His government chose a rights-based approach to development over the well-trodden welfare approach. Here’s how that plays out: the latter is somewhat dependent on the charitable intentions of the ruling class — and a belief, overt or covert, in the so called trickle-down theory. But Singh’s focus on human rights bound rulers into legally delivering the means of development. As champions of this approach have repeatedly pointed out, such obligations do significantly contribute to development, especially in a functioning democracy like India.
There are much more to talk on Singh’s achievements, but the propaganda of present government landed his integrity in question. That does not matter as the voters of the country are brilliant; bullying them for long is not possible. By making work, food, education a right, Singh ensured that the fulfilment of the development needs of the aam aadmi does not depend on the whims of the powerful. Inclusive growth cannot be a fair weather policy. It has to be as imperative as defence spending. As no one argues that a certain defence expenditure be cut because “India cannot afford it now,” the same should be the case with development expenditures meant to satisfy the basic needs of its people.
Manmohan Singh and his party may or may not come back to power in 2019. But these policies are here to stay. The truth is still too unwiped that he was one of the best prime ministers of our country. All major development policies adopted by the United Progressive Alliance government over its nine-year run thus far have been directed by such rights. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) of 2006 provides a legal guarantee of at least 100 days of paid work every year to adult members as long as they are willing to perform unskilled manual work for the government. They are paid minimum wage of Rs 120 per day (in 2009 prices). Meanwhile, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2010 makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14. The latest in the suite is the Right to Food Act, passed in the Parliament in 2013. The bill puts the legal onus of providing food to two-thirds of the entire Indian population.
India has come a long way in terms of human development since its independence in 1947. Life expectancy today is around 66 years, more than twice what it was in 1951 (32 years). The infant mortality rate is about one-fourth of what it was in 1951 (44 per thousand live births today, as opposed to 180 or so in 1951). The literacy rate has increased many folds. But given how India’s GDP growth rate soared in recent years, human development didn’t keep pace. It’s high time that BJP and the government of PM Narendra Modi should get the wisdom of not implementing anti-people policies. They should work on their failures instead of attacking Congress even after coming to power. BJP should gain some fame by talking about their merits. Remember in 2014, BJP or Modi both have not come to power because of their merits or contribution towards the growth or development of India. They were the most unreasonable and arrogant opposition, and now after coming to power they are the same irrational rulers of this country.
(This is the first part of the editorial and remaining portion will continue tomorrow.)
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