After completing its first term successfully and being re-elected for another term, a lot of hopes for the development of the nation rested on the UPA. Its first term saw UPA carry forward the social-economic achievements like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Forest Rights Act, the farmer- loan waiver, and the Right to Information Act (RTI).
But one year into being voted back to power in 2009 following a surprisingly robust first term, PM Manmohan Singh and his team seem to have been on a do-little stage bred by political complacency. The very strengths of the government are turning out to be major weaknesses. Even with the full term granted, they seem to be doing little to come forth on the promises of the changes that were promised.
NREGA began as an initiative to give employment to the unemployed in the rural areas, but got itself embroiled in the corruption and deficiencies in implementation. Forest dwellers and tribal people continue to wage a struggle to retain their land and livelihood sources in the face of government backed demands from mining and industrial lobbies. Farmers are no closer to coming out of their debt trap. But the biggest failure of UPA has been its inability to control the ever-rising prices of the essential commodities, and most of all, food items. And the worst-hit are the poor who have no insulation against the inflation. Another defining failure of UPA-II has been on the law and order front. No coherent policy is yet in place to tackle ‘perhaps the gravest internal security threat that our country faces’, as said by Dr.Singh. Naxalism and Maoist attacks are at an all time high, and internal security threats are growing from all around.
A few positives do exist regarding the clarity and purpose shown in certain areas of foreign policy, by the government. The PM has always pushed for talks with Pakistan to sort out the issues, has always taken leadership initiatives and willingness to work with other countries in Conferences like Copenhagen. In the domestic policy, the Right to Education Act, should count as a significant positive, though a lot needs to be done for its implementation yet. The passing of Women Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha could have been the breakthrough, but it has not made much headway in Lok Sabha. Right to Education has also been a landmark.
The UPA does have all its policies in place on paper for quite some time now; all it needs is their effective implementation to bring forth the growth & development in promised, and not just be seen as a disappointment!!
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