By Parul Assudaney:
Narendra Modi and his party fought the Lok Sabha Elections 2014 under many a different campaigns, but the most important of them and the one that caught people’s attention was “acche din aane wale hai”. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed 100 days in office, people are wondering when those “acche din” are going Â to come. I say this because in the last 100 days, the government has seen itselfÂ surrounded by some controversies and decisions that they took which had some people raise their eyes and question their intentions of fulfilling the promises they made during the Lok Sabha polls.
Here is an assessment of 3 major situations where they have gone wrong:
Revamping Education in India
Smriti Irani started her work as the Minister of Human Resource Development by announcing plans to give a “Hindu perspective” to school curriculum. Though, instead of it looking like an idea of her own, itÂ looked like an RSS project. RSS has always been wary of foreign influence in the textbooks and in favour of including an Indian perspective to the education system so as to promote “patriotism”.
Many people expressed their fears over this ‘communalisation’ of the education system by making schoolchildren study Indian mythology as facts rather than subjecting them to scientific scrutiny and research.
Also, in the Union Budget 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely promised the setting up of five IITs, five IIMs and four AIIMS. But, there has been no mention of improving the quality of education, which has always been more about rote learning than skill-based or practical learning.
The government also garnered some controversies when the Health Minister expressed reservations about introduction of sex education in schools. In his vision document for Delhi schools, Vardhan, himself a doctor, has said, “So-called ‘sex education’ (should) to be banned.”
A Clean Government
On 27th August, 2014, the Supreme Court of India advised the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of States not to include chargesheeted persons facing trial in the Cabinet. The Bench asked “whether a person who has come in conflict with law would be in a position to conscientiously discharge his functions as Minister when his integrity is questioned and whether a person with doubtful integrity can be given the responsibility.”
Reports have shown that over 12 leaders in the Modi Government have criminal cases under their names.
A 24 year old woman who claims to have been raped 3 years ago by Union Minister Nihal Chand Meghwal asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two minute of his time and requested him not to include Meghwal in the Cabinet.
In the recent days, PMO was seen denying allegations levelled against Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son for alleged misconduct. Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said, “We would like to know what are these allegations that have made the country’s home minister so upset… What has caused the Prime Minister’s Office to respond with such an alacrity. The country should know what is going on between a senior Cabinet minister and the government.”
Clean India and Green India
Modi wants his government to function on the agenda of development, to bring in economic reforms. But that development cannot be successful at the cost of the environment, which is what has been happening – relaxing or quashing of environmental laws to pave the way for economic growth.
Modi’s proposal to duplicate Sabarmati riverfront project on Yamuna river in Delhi received strong criticism from environmentalists who felt that such a decision will “kill the river”, like the Sabarmati in Ahemedabad. C R Babu, DU professor emeritus and chairman of the state-level expert appraisal committee, has advised the lieutenant governor and the capital’s bureaucrats against replicating the Sabarmati project. In a report addressed to Najeeb Jung and environment secretary Sanjiv Kumar, Babu has said that the Sabarmati is not a river rejuvenation project but an urban development one. “There is no Sabarmati river. It’s stagnant water with concrete walls on two sides. The floodplains have been concretized to make pathways and real estate projects. It cannot be replicated for our Yamuna,” Babu had told The Times of India.
The government also stated that it is contemplating changes in the land acquisition law to make it “more flexible”, a move which could help in kick starting the stalled projects. Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, while addressing a press conference to mark 100 days of the NDA government, said, “when I say flexibility, I have in mind a slight enlargement of the exemptions”, which can make it more industry friendly than people friendly. The various proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act range from scrapping the “consent clause” for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects to narrowing the definition of “affected families” eligible for rehabilitation and resettlement.
In keeping with industry’s expectations, the environment ministry has also eased the clearance process for coal mines. The move to ease norms for expansion of coal mines is intended to benefit miners and increase output. The ministry has decided to extend the exemption from holding public hearings for the expansion of coal mining projects with annual production capacity of up to 8 million tonnes, which activists feel will not go down well with the locals.
While 100 days in office may be too short to judge, but these 100 days do show the intentions and the path the government is heading towards. All eyes are on Modi’s Government and they need to make true of their promises to the public of India.