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Let us have a closer look at the CMP, its tone and tenor, the semantics as well as how the government hopes to resolve each issue.
The alliance partners commit to uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. On the contentious issue of national importance as well as of state importance especially having repercussions/consequences on the secular fabric of the nation, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will take a joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus.
Analysis: The fact that the word ‘secular’ appears twice in the preamble is a testament to the power of the Congress and the NCP in this alliance, given the Shiv Sena’s previous tract record with minorities. The emphasis on taking a “joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus” also keeps the door open for diversity of opinion.
1) Provide immediate assistance to the farmers who are suffering due to premature rains and floods.
2) Immediate loan waiver will be granted to farmers.
3) Crop Insurance scheme shall be revised to ensure immediate compensation to the farmers who have lost their crops.
4) We shall undertake appropriate measures to ensure remunerative prices for farm produce.
5) Adequate steps shall be initiated for the construction of sustainable water supply system for the drought affected areas.
Analysis: While the CMP checks several important boxes like loan waivers and water management, it fails to adequately tackle several key issues, such as
· The problem of middlemen who buy produce from farmers at throwaway prices and sell to consumers at exorbitant rates. “Ensure remunerative prices for farm produce” is vague as there is no clear commitment to working with the farmers as well as the central government to ensure a Minimum Support Price (MSP).
· There is also no mention of providing proper warehousing and storage facilities for produce, especially perishable commodities, a measure that would empower farmers against pressures from a chain of middlemen who have been exploiting vulnerable farmers.
· There is also no mention of any measures to empower the actual tillers of the land, given how in many cases the farm owners contract farm labourers to do the actual labour and rarely pay them a living wage.
· Also, the loan waiver is just a band-aid solution. In most cases the actual loans are not waived, but merely carried forward to the next year, giving indebted farmers no real financial relief.
· Another glaring miss is the complete absence of any mention of educating farmers and especially labourers in safe pest control methods. Close to a thousand farm labourers have fallen prey to insecticides in areas such as Yavatmal, Amravati and Parbhani! There is also no mention of any quality control or regulatory measures for the insecticide and pesticide industry.
1) The process of filling all the vacant posts in the State Government shall be initiated immediately.
2) A fellowship shall be provided for educated unemployed youth.
3) A law shall be enacted to ensure 80 percent reservation in jobs for local/domicile youth.
Analysis: The government fails to address an issue as basic and vital as jobs adequately. There are glaring lacunae in this approach, such as:
· This misses the mark completely on new job creation!
· The CMP also fails to identify what are the skills missing even among educated youth that renders them ineligible to become a part of the work-force.
· The demand-supply mismatch in the job market requires a deeper understanding of how people from different locations in the socio-cultural hegemony access necessary skill building opportunities and join the workforce. The caste and gender factors also play key roles in this equation and those have been left completely unaddressed. It is hard to tell if this is on account of policy myopia or elitist vision.
· Representation through reservation is instead employed as a tool to further the ‘sons of the soil agenda’ that the Shiv Sena has been peddling for decades. This fails to take into account that migrants have played avital role in the economic development of Maharashtra and veers dangerously close to the “us vs them” narrative that has prevented both harmony and growth in the state.
1) Women’s safety shall be the highest priority for this Government.
2) Girls from economically weaker section shall be given free education.
3) Working women hostels shall be constructed at the cities and district headquarters.
4) Honorarium shall be increased and service facilities shall be augmented for Anganwadi Sevikas / Asha workers.
5) Women’s Savings (Self Help Groups) Group shall be strengthened with a focus on women’s empowerment.
Analysis: Once again, on the surface it appears to check all boxes like safety, education and economic empowerment, but fails to address deeper intersectional issues such as:
· The toxic cocktail of caste, class and patriarchy that affects different women in varying degrees. For instance, it is the men who control bank accounts and even communication devices in many households, especially in backward and marginalized communities.
· Also, there is no mention of measures to tackle domestic violence.
· Moreover, sexual harassment at the workplace, something that often forces women out of the workforce, is also left out completely.
1) All the measures shall be undertaken to increase the standard of the education in the State.
2) Children of farm laborers and students belonging to economically weaker section shall receive education loan at zero percent interest rate.
Analysis: There has been a marked shift away from science and fact-based study in both schools as well as institutes of higher learning. It is therefore important to not make vague promises like “increase the standard of education” and instead focus on a commitment to developing critical reasoning and actual skills that will prove to be valuable in the workforce in future.
1) To improve roads in the urban areas a scheme on the pattern of the Chief Minister Gram SadakYojana, shall be implemented. Separate financial provision shall be made to improve the road quality in Nagar Panchayats, Municipal Councils and Municipal Corporations.
2) The Coalition’s Government shall provide, Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra , tenements of 500 sq. feet carpet area free of cost to the eligible slum dwellers under the slum Rehabilitation Programme instead of the 300 sq. feet tenements presently being provided and best infrastructure and basic amenities will also be provided.
Analysis: It is noteworthy how a broad concept like urban development has been reduced to roads and housing. There is no mention of urban planning, open spaces, green cover, water, electricity, sewage disposal or waste management! Also, where is the commitment to making all public spaces inclusive and accessible even for persons with disabilities?
1) To ensure good and affordable healthcare for all citizens One Rupee clinic will be launched at the taluka level facilitating all pathological tests.
2) Super specialty hospitals and medical colleges shall be established in phased manner in all the districts.
3) We shall provide health insurance cover to every citizen of the state.
Analysis: The Maha Vikas Aghadi appears to be on surer ground on this front. Diagnostic testing often takes up as much as surgical interventions in healthcare. Universal insurance is also a step in the right direction. However, some basic concerns like rampant malnutrition among women and children, as well as measures to control infectious diseases like tuberculosis or sexually transmitted diseases are missing!
1) To attract new industries and investors in the state all possible concessions shall be extended and permission process shall be simplified.
2) To attract new investment in Information Technology sector necessary policy reforms shall be unveiled.
Analysis: It is interesting that the section on industry focuses on incentives without a mention of related responsibilities. Will the government incentivize adherence to labour laws? Will it give tax breaks to industries that take proactive measures to hire and retain women employees? Will there be a push for clean energy? Will pollution control and waste minimization be rewarded?
1) To solve the pending questions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Dhangar, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Balutadars, etc. so as not to deprive the common people of basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, education, health and employment as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
2) The Government shall adopt various schemes to eliminate the social, educational and economic backwardness of the minority community and implement Constitutional safeguards for its security welfare in letter and spirit.
Analysis: It remains to be seen if adequate representation and empowerment opportunities are provided to people from historically oppressed castes and minority communities. With rampant ghettoization, perhaps the first step should be towards integration. Government also needs to shed the savoir complex and adopt a public service approach. Eliminating caste or religion-based discrimination or oppression is the government’s duty! What is also shocking is the complete absence of a mention of people with disabilities!
Tourism, Arts and Culture
1) In view of the social importance of traditional tourist destinations in the State, special facilities will be developed for the growth of tourism.
Analysis: There have been several misadventures on this front; from improper conservation of historical sites, to censorship of artistic expression, to a narrow understanding of culture, to spending crores on building statues!
Other important provisions
1) Increase the facilities extended to senior citizens.
2) Violators of the Food and Drug regulations shall be dealt with severe punishment.
3) Provide cheap and efficient food for the common people in the state for Rs. 10 only.
Analysis: Once again, a glaring omission of persons with disabilities.
There will be two coordination committees, one for coordination within the State Cabinet and the other for coordination among the alliance partners.
Analysis: All the committees in the world cannot make up for the lack of clarity and commitment.
So, will the alliance partner find a way to walk the talk together, or will they break-up and go their separate ways without actually accomplishing anything, like run-of-the-mill boy-bands?