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