Report urges Centre to address inequality, corruption

A report by a group of academics and civil society organisations says hurried passage of Bills without debate and the growing presence of elected representatives with criminal records are matters of concern; draws attention to the top 1% accounting for 22% of national income

November 27, 2023 09:11 pm | Updated 09:11 pm IST - New Delhi

A report card on the performance of the Narendra Modi government, prepared by a group of academics and civil society organisations under the banner of ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’, expressed concerns at the Centre’s slow response in addressing inequality and attacks on democracy. Titled ‘Promises and Reality 2019-2023: Citizen Review of 4+ years of NDA II Government’, the report invited the attention of the government to these issues so that there is inclusive dialogue to build a just and inclusive nation.

On the status of democracy, the report said hurried passage of Bills without debate, limited engagement of parliamentary committees, reduced sitting days, limited budgetary deliberations, restricted access to data for Members of Parliament and the growing presence of elected representatives with criminal records are matters of concern. It said the media is struggling to stay up, in light of increased capital investment from those with business-oriented interests, rising communalism, diminishing space to critique the establishment, and rising attacks on journalists and media organisations not towing “the line”. It said students, activists, academics, journalists, artists, actors, comedians, fact-checkers, publishers, and a range of other citizens have been charged under draconian laws for exercising their fundamental freedoms.

The report said despite robust GDP growth, India remains highly unequal, with the top 1% accounting for 22% of national income, and the top 10% together holding 57%. “Conversely, the bottom 50% share has gone down to 13%. The current growth paradigm is weak on inclusive democratic development, exacerbating inequality and excluding marginalised populations,” it added.

The report said the real wages of male agricultural labourers grew by less than 1% between 2014-15 and 2021-22, and the number of persons engaged in the farming sector to have committed suicide was nearly 53,000 between 2017-2022. “Struck by a lack of housing and necessities like access to water and sanitation, health services, education infrastructure and social security, multidimensional poverty continues to rise in urban areas, where over 30% population resides,” it added.

The report blamed the Centre for not offering transparent governance. “Twelve CAG reports tabled in the Parliament in August 2023 revealed corruption and irregularities in the functioning of several Union government ministries and departments. The only effective way to fight corruption in a democracy as vast as India is to empower citizens with appropriate tools and institutions to hold the government and its functionaries accountable. However, unfortunately, the track record of the current dispensation has been marked by a consistent undermining of legislations and institutions of transparency and accountability,” it added.

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