Vote to Save Democracy: Bombay’s Women March makes urgent appeal

Women March: Bombay, a group of women, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people who are campaigning for constitutional values, has released a resource detailing the failures of the current government, an important document as the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are underway. The resource argues that the long-awaited “achhe din” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised never arrived; instead, the government “brought one policy after another that was great for ad campaigns but did nothing for generating employment; for any real development except constructing statues, flyovers, bullet trains.” Moreover, the government “spread terror and hate crimes,” and restricted “freedoms of the common person to wor, express, speak, eat, live while strengthening corporations, money launderers and loan defaulters.” The resource highlights key questions “that are crucial for a democracy to survive”.

The first is, “What is going on with our economy?” In response, the response details damning statistics, such as the fact that India is ranked 103rd of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index, and says that the current unemployment rate 6.1%, the highest since 1972-73. Moreover, it notes that 11 million jobs were lost just in 2018, of which 8.8 million were women’s jobs. Also, the rural female workforce participation has declined from 93 million in 2011-12 to 64 million in 2017-18. The resource adds that demonetisation “has broken the back of farmers and small traders,” and that the GST that was implemented in July 2017 has “crippled small businesses.” Meanwhile, the wealth of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, grew 67% in 2018.

The second question is, “What is going on with our society?” The answer notes that crimes against women and violence against Dalits have both increased. In 2014 to 2016, more than 1.39 lakh complaints were filed under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, “an 11.6-percent increase from the previous government,” the resource states. 90% of “religious hate crimes since 2009 have occurred after BJP took power at the Centre in 2014,” it says.  Moreover, between 2014 and 2018, “the number of civilians killed in Jammu & Kashmir has risen by 35.71%”.

The resource analyses “the truth behind the shining flagship schemes of this government,” including the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme. It notes that Rs. 1.5 crore were spent every five days on advertising the former, even as one safai karmchari died every five days. For the latter, 56% of Rs. 648 crore were spent on publicity and advertising, and just 25% was distributed to states to implement the scheme. The resource notes that many schemes that were initiated by previous governments have simply been renamed by the current government. Meanwhile, it highlights that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities are in India, and that Mumbai’s BEST bus network is being privatised, even as Rs. 12,000 crore has been allocated for the city’s coastal road.

The resource also points out India’s low ranking on the World Press Freedom Index, noting that the Prime Minister has never addressed a press conference during his term. It outlines how democratic institutions are under threat, noting that the freedom of the judiciary is in question, education is being saffronised, and that the government has “scrapped release of all reports related to employment,” and that data from independent statistical agencies has been “delayed, discredited or manipulated for political purposes.”

The resource can be seen here: 





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