labels: economy - general
UPA fails to pass muster says grassroots votenews
24 May 2007

The UPA government has failed to pass muster, securing a mere 30-per cent marks in its performance in a hard-hitting ''people''s report'' released to the media on Thursday. The report says that the UPA government is not just ignoring but violating the mandate of the people that brought it to power.

A day after the UPA counted its achievements in improving social and economic conditions, the people''s report, based on a survey from 500 grassroots and development organisations across 20 states, gave the UPA government an aggregate of 30 per cent on achievements in education, health, employment, social exclusion (caste, gender and religion), decentralisation through panchayats and peace and security.

"We have been reviewing UPA''s promises made in its common minimum programme (CMP) for the last three years and nothing has changed," said Amitabh Behar, convenor, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (don''t break your promise campaign), a coalition of 900 development and grassroots organisations from across the country, which produced the people''s report. "Largely, the people are angry and discontented." The guiding principle of the CMP was socially inclusive and regionally balanced economic growth.

"Our rich art and cultural tradition will survive only if our people — our children — are healthy, educated, fruitfully employed and socially well-adjusted," said well-known Bharatnatyam dancer and Padma Shri recipient, Geeta Chandran, releasing the report card. "I have endorsed this campaign because for me its an artist''s prayer for equity, equality, opportunity, inclusion, justice and sensitivity." Chandran was accompanied by 20 school-going and non school-going children representing lakhs of children campaigning for fulfillment of the promise of 9 per cent budgetary increase in public education and health.

In her budget analysis, Yamini Misra, member, committee of women economists, and supporter of the campaign, showed the UPA had to go beyond some high-profile schemes and ''feel good'' financial allocations.

In education, for instance, the UPA has used the education cess as a substitute for increasing allocations. Adjusted for the cess and external funds, the government''s contribution to education has declined from 68 per cent in 2001-02 to 35 per cent in 2007-08. In health, the budget allocations have remained almost stagnant at 0.3 per cent of the GDP.

The national rural employment guarantee programme has generated some employment — 25 per cent to dalits, 37 per cent to STs and 41 per cent to women - but the allocation for the additional 130 districts is only Rs700 crores, compared to Rs11,000 crore for the initial 200 districts. In agriculture, investments have declined from 2.2 per cent of GDP in 2000-01 to 1.9 per cent in 2005-06. Subsidies have remained stagnant.

"Lack of basic services like primary education, health, water and sanitation is increasing inequality and delaying the formation of a strong human capital," said B. Muralidharan, member, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan steering committee. "The government cannot deny fundamental rights citing fiscal and administrative expediency."

Ashok Bharti, member, steering committee, said the government was talking about universalisation of education and health, yet its schemes and monies continued to exclude people on the basis of caste, gender and religion. "In 32 districts, literacy is below 30 per cent for scheduled castes and in 80 districts, for scheduled tribes. Education has become a privilege for the poor and the excluded, rather than a right under the Constitution," he said.

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UPA fails to pass muster says grassroots vote