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Social inclusion: A wasted year
Posted on May 22, 2010 | Author: C P Bhambhri | View 114 | Comment : 2

Social inclusion cannot be achieved by putting nice-sounding laws on the statute book;what is required is political commitment and the will to put political muscle behind their implementation

A SELF-assured Congress party launched its second journey in 2009,securing 207 seats,compared to 147 in 2004 in the Lok Sabha,with reduced dependence on allies.Moreover,if from a position of weakness,the Congress-led UPA government from 2004 to 2009 could launch a mega pro-poor programme,the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme,the relatively-stronger Congress in 2009 could give a big push to social inclusion.

The Congress claimed,in its Lok Sabha elections manifesto of 2009,that only it had an agenda of inclusive growth for the whole of India,specifically targeting the socially-excluded groups bypassed by the trickle-down theory.

Hence,Congress came out with a revolutionary programme of reservation of 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.Sonia Gandhi employed her political energy and the Womens Reservation Bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha in 2010.The Congress party was confident that with the support of the BJP and the Communists,it will be able to get a seal of approval in the Lok Sabha.However,the Bill could not be introduced.

The real pro-poor programme of food security for below-poverty-line rural and urban population has not reached Parliament and it is bogged down in usual bureaucratic discussions on the actual number of people who are below the poverty line.

The most important programme of social inclusion in a country inhabited by a large majority of rural and urban poor is to guarantee provision of food to the vulnerable and deprived population.It deserves to be mentioned that democratic governments,even in developed countries,have recognised that the right to food,right to work and right to health are to be guaranteed and ensured by public authorities.

Why has the Congress-led UPA government spent the whole year of 2009 to 2010 to legislate on National Food Security Law It does not bring credit to anyone,least to the Prime Ministers Office,if Sonia Gandhi has to castigate the government for its failure to bring before Parliament a Bill for a guaranteed right to food promised by the Congress manifesto of 2009.

Finally,after wasting the whole year of 2009 to 2010,the government has opted for Tendulkar committees figure of 41% rural population as below poverty line.It is ironic that in a country where huge percentage of food grain is wasted and not distributed among the starving and semi-starving population because the government has inadequate arrangements for its storage year after year.It has been alleged that the Manmohan Singh government has spent more political energy in dealing with the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill,2010,than on seeing through the passage of Food Security Bill in Parliament.
It is only on May 7,2010,that the government has pushed through the Lok Sabha its Bill on Nuclear Damage.The UPA government has completely wasted its first year in office by not even finalising the most important social agenda of food security.
THE story of the stalled project of social inclusion does not begin or end here.The 21st-century India is witnessing large-scale displacement of rural population from land that is required for mega industrial projects like the setting up of steel plants in Orissa and other states where iron ore is available.The government,especially state governments,are acquiring land for big business for special economic zones and millions of rural poor are getting displaced from their land with a promise of resettlement of those who are evicted.
Industrialisation and extraction of rich mineral wealth from the countrys dense forest belt,which is inhabited by large forest-dependent tribal population,makes victims of the inhabitants.The UPA government and state governments have evicted people from land in spite of Forest Dwellers Act and other legal provisions that guarantee legal rights to socially-excluded groups for a legitimate share in the fruits of economic growth of the first decade of the 21st century.
Social inclusion project is an ideological and political commitment.The Congress has not moved an inch forward because as a party,it is not really committed to the implementation of programmes targeted for the excluded tribals and others living below the poverty line.The Congress is living in a fools paradise if it thinks that by exercising governmental powers,it can achieve its social goals because merely putting laws on the statute book,no party can achieve its comprehensive social agenda for inclusion of millions of excluded poor who have already missed the bus.
Politics is the main,even primary,force that mobilises deprived social groups to demand from the government implementation of its promises made through laws approved by Parliament.The Congress as a party has not mobilised those who have been evicted from land and have not been resettled because in the absence of political backing,a powerful nexus of bureaucrats,contractors and big business acts as a road block to include the excluded law alone cannot guarantee that citizens can realise their rights.
The Congress party has not shown capacity to provide political muscle power behind its governments programme of social inclusion and is satisfied with putting laws on the statute book,especially those concerning the excluded.Law is only an instrument of the government,its impact cannot be felt by the poor if flesh and blood is not provided by political and ideological commitment of the political class.

Comments (2)

The problem with political parties in India is that they are not following the parth shown in the Constitution of India.
The Preamble to the Constitution of India contain the mission statements or the objectives around which the Republic of India was to be built. The founding fathers created a wonderful Constitution or at least the foundation for a republic in the form of the Preamble. Indian democratic, republic was created to secure to its citizens Justice, equality, liberty and to promote fraternity among its citizens. Whether founding fathers sincerely wanted to achieve these objectives or simply fulfilled a major duty of making a Constitution as they were expected of making one is not clear. Their sincereity is on test now. If they were sincere, they would not have ...See More allowed the feudal colonial administrative structure to be perpetuated a day after January 26, 1950. The entire sets of machinery in administration, judiciary, and police were perpetuated till today on the exact model of how the Brtish colonial feudal government governed.
Why the founding fathers did not nitiate designing and creation of administrative cadres who would go to the people and based on their needs would initiate governance from the grass root level. The IAS is only a name change. The police still behave like they behaved under British rule. To the police, people are not the boss but the ruling hierarchy whoever it is and consider itself as a part of it. The Judiciary is still the Lords and the people are nothing to them but the archaic laws which benefit only the ruling hierarchy as it used to be during British Rule.
Many of the Founding Fathers were lawyers studied in British Universities in England and they have shown their loyalty to that land in adopting the entire structure and contents of their government for the Republican India. Can you expect grapes from thorn bushes? No. But that is what we are doing in India. All political parties are thinking to collect grapes from the thorn bushes planted by the Brtish.
Speakiing about the Congress, a peculiar aspect to be noted is that all Rajas, Rajpramukhs, zamindars and other land lords and all feudal lords who enjoyed patronage from the British Government, soon joiined the Congress and people like Nehru or Dr Ambedkar or even Gandhiji could not do anything about it. It is this group who has controlled the Congress then and even now. You cannot expect true democratic, egalitarian attitudes and behaviour from lthem.
On the other hand they have thrived on the presence of the feudal governments machinery left over by the British.
The only recourse to social inclusive action now is to sit together and discuss the meaning of the Preamble and the Right to Life promised by it shopuld include right to shelter, right to food, right to income, right to health, right to education and right to social harmony. Because without these, yuou can not live a happy life. Can Rahul force others iin his Party to have a relook at the meaning of the Preamble and to translate them iinto egalitarian goals ? Will he be able to redesign the administrative, judicial, police structures suitable to a republican democratic and egalitarian society?

Posted by George Varuggheese,President at Godimages Good Governance Society|22 May, 2010

How can you expect inclusive growth and inclusive politics from those who manage the affairs of the nation through their families and ill-gotten money from the loot in all sectors.How many MPs are crorepathies and billionaires in the parliament and what was thier or their parents property before entering politics and what is their source of income.With the present mind set and philosophy and behavioural paradigm,perhaps INCLUSIVE growth is not possible.

Posted by Venkataramanaiah Chekuru,CEO at CVR SYNERGY MANAGEMENT SERVICES|22 May, 2010

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