Tuesday, February 6, 2024

2024; Programs, Policies or Propaganda?

Tryst With Destiny speech of Pt Nehru inspired generations of Indians to strive for the best, his words “That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as-long-as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.’’ was not only pragmatic it reflects a true visionary and nationalist in him. 

No many in the current generation or even in politics can relate to the difficult times India got her independence, and what it took to reach $ 3.75 trillion GDP (7.75% of global GDP) from Rs 2.7 lac crs GDP (3% of global GDP) in 1947, and from Rs 265 per capita in 1947 to Rs 172000 per capita in 2024. From Pt Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh, each of our Prime Ministers and their Governments had put people of the Nation ahead of their own personal glories.

The 1st Prime Minister of Independent India Pt Nehru set the road map of Modern India with implementation of the Constitution written by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar and bringing in the Hindu Code Bill that liberated millions of women making them equal partners in the journey of the Nation. Building world class institutions & infrastructure including ISRO, PSUs, IITs, AIIMS, Dams that laid the foundation of a sovereign India. He not only shaped India’s foreign policy but was instrumental in creating alternate power equation through the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Pt Nehru’s Five-Year Plan put development of primary sector in the spotlight and India recorded a 3.6% GDP growth, the economic policies with a socialist approach gave economic security for the people. The Indo-China war did dent Nehru’s image and he took the blame of not being able to see the China aggression even as he signed peace treaties.

Carrying forward the strong legacy of Pt Nehru in his short tenure Lal Bahadur Shastri left large footprint by making India food sufficient via Green Revolution, White Revolution and setting up the Food Corporation of India. Jai Jawan Jai Kisan became a national slogan that immortalized Lal Bahadur Shastri policy of Food and National Security. 

India’s 1st woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi furthered the agenda of making wealth of the nation accessible to all, path breaking Land Reforms, Nationalization of Banks, making India a Nuclear Power and ensured liberation of Bangladesh by winning war against Pakistan. 20 Points Program were the flagship programs that addressed socio economic aspects and overall wellbeing of people. Even as emergency was a blot on the Democracy, Indira Gandhi’s comeback was more popular than ever, she strengthened the Foreign Policy, Food Security and displayed an Iron hand against terrorism and insurgency. 

Assassination of Indira Gandhi ushered in the trained Pilot and Technocrat Rajiv Gandhi abruptly to fill the emotional space left by her, he was tireless and full of ideas, he laid the foundation of Technology enabled India, the charismatic Rajiv Gandhi conquered the attention of the world with his unapologetic dream to take India to greater heights. Empowered the youth to choose their government by reducing age of voting to 18 yrs, Computerization, National Education Policy, Telecom Revolution, Panchyat Raj System where the programs that put India on an aggressive growth path, but many do not remember that his policies enabled India to become a global leader in vaccination production. 

Prime Minister PV Narashima Rao is the father of Economic Reforms, his policies opened India to the world, ending license raj and creating jobs, he facilitated the nuclear program that led to the 2nd nuclear test during Prime Minister Vajpayee’s government. His foreign policy focused on economic participation, he believed in creation of opportunity and wealth for every Indian.  

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the 1st non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full term, his non vindictive politics and respect for the achievements India during the tenure of all other Prime Ministers before him defined his sensitive and statesman like demeanor, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan bring back much needed attention on Education, he believed that access to roads and mobility is the path to development, Golden Quadrilateral, Highways, Village roads saw a giant transformation in road infrastructure. IT & Telecom emerged and the face of India during his tenure.    

Dr Manmohan Singh probably the most unexpected of the Prime Ministers, as an Economist he strengthened economy, put Indian economy on a fast track, he insulated Indian economy from the global recession. The right based flagship programs that include RTE, RTI, Food Security Bill, MGNREGA, Aadhaar, DBT and Civil Nuclear Agreement remain the most successful programs.  

Even though under the Leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi there has not been a major flagship program, he has criticized 65 years of achievements of the Nation during previous governments on every possible occasion, most programs got renamed to claim ownership. But he himself did not show accountability of de-monetization decision, COVID deaths, Rafael scam, Manipur unrest, Pulwama terror attack, his friendship with Adani and Ambani, destabilizing elected governments in states and many more. 

When Narendra Modi took oath he spoke about minimum government maximum governance, but the greatest opportunity to steer the Nation on a progressive path was lost in the slogans; Acche Din, Saab Ka Saat Saab Ka Vikas, Shresta Bharat, Swacch Bharat, Viksit Bharat. 

Abrogation of Article 370, Citizenship Bill (CAA), Tripal Talaq Bill continue to be showcased as achievements without explaining whom it really benefitted and how did it help the larger population. 

Lack of transparency in governance, authoritarianism, weakening the federal structure, headline management, deep divide of South and North on power devolution, funds, language, drastic increase in unemployment and poverty, raising crime against women, dalits and minorities like never before, misuse of law enforcement agencies, muting the media, increase in the gap between rich and poor, vendetta politics, blurring of the lines between politics and religion are threating the Constitution like never before. 

India’s cultural nationalism is being rapidly engulfed by BJP religious nationalism, and the fear of majoritarian politics is creating unrest in the minds of people who truly believe in Idea of India that the founding Leaders had established. Are we moving far away from the essence of the Tryst with Destiny speech? is embracing fanaticism where Policies and Programs are being replaced by Propaganda? remains to be answered in 2024 general elections. 

Kavitha Reddy
KPCC General Secretary, www.KavithaReddy.in/media

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Domestic Violence; An Untamed Evil

Legal equality without shaking the social hierarchy and the laws without gender sensitization of law enforcers cannot end violence and crime on women. According to OECD SIGI Report 2023 one in every three women are the victims of Domestic Violence globally, and a large percentage of these women are under 30 years. India’s statistics are slightly higher than the global numbers, given our population and to put it in perspective the number of women who face Domestic Violence in India is about 220 million, which is equivalent to the total population of Brazil. 

In 2021 National Crime Records Bureau reported 428,000+ cases of spousal violence (sexual abuse, mental harassment, and physical abuse) across India, a number that is only increasing every year, even when 87% (as per National Family Health Survey 2019-21) of the women who face Domestic Violence still do not report or seek help. 

Sexually abused, beaten if resisted by the alcoholic husband, finally got kicked out of the house, had to stay in my car till I could rent a place” recollects a Senior Executive of an MNC as she spoke about her struggle with violence and the journey of trauma to end the marriage. 

Domestic Violence is not limited to a particular class, caste, region or religion, the fact is the stigma, social constrains, family obligations, financial dependency has forced women not to speak out but silently suffer without help. Sumathi (name changed) an Engineer working in an IT Firm had approached an NGO seeking help to file a case against her abusive husband, the law enforcing agencies were forcing a compromise and asking her to adjust with her husband instead of implementing the law and giving her protection. 

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 was enacted in Parliament on 26th October 2006, where the Act defined ‘Domestic Violence’ for the first time in Indian law, it includes physical violence, emotional, verbal, sexual and psychological abuse, and it is a civil law with protection orders and not criminal enforcement. 

Over 12 lakh cases have been registered ever since the Act got passed in 2006, and millions of stories of trauma that never entered records of any police station. As on July 2022 over 4.71 lakh cases are pending the courts across the country based on the data submitted by the National Legal Services Authority before the Supreme Court of India. 

There are several provisions in the law to punish crime against women, but reporting, journey for justice and conviction rate is not encouraging enough for most to seek legal help. ‘Whenever I went to the police or asked help, the standard response I got was - think about your children, think about your future, if we take action, you may not have a home to stay’ says the 37-year-old woman who liberated herself from violence, worked as cook for few years and now drives a cab for a living.    

The lack of gender sensitization among the law enforcers, socio-legal process, near to no support system, the stigma and the ‘Cycle of Abuse’ has re-enforced normalization of Domestic Violence over several decades. The normalization of Domestic Violence is so entrenched in our society that both the victim and the relatives of the victim find no fault in the abuser and will consider all kinds of reasons to justify the acts of the abuser. The Cycle of Abuse clearly demonstrates how the process of normalization is also propagated by the abuser and how the victim falls prey to the propaganda of normalization, thereby encouraging generations of abusers. 

Sadly, cases of Domestic Violence do not take political or media space, it gets restricted to research and survey reports unless the perpetrator or victim is high profile. Domestic Violence is not just violence on an individual, it is indeed an act on the society itself, because children and young relatives growing up in the atmosphere of violence have the greatest chance to be the perpetrators or victims themselves. 

Every act of violence that goes unnoticed, unreported, unattended, and unpunished becomes an acceptable norm in any society, hence Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in real terms only aims at Protection and not Stopping or Ending the violence. 

Law makers, enforcers and justice system have a greatest responsibility to be the voice of the politically and socially muted half the population of the country, unless the social hierarchy is not questioned any number of laws, policies, and acts will not render justice to the silently suffering victims of Domestic Violence. The quote of Abhijit Naskar a Neuroscientist & Author “Behind every man alive and kicking, there is a woman. Behind every woman abused and killed, there is a man,” will continue to haunt human race forever unless women are liberated from the Cycle of Abuse. 

Kavitha Reddy

www.KavithaReddy.in  Published in Deccan Herald on 3rd Jan 2024