Extract from India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee
The Indian freedom movement was perhaps the greatest mass movement in world history. After 1919, it was built around the notion that people had to and could play an active role in politics and in their own liberation, and it succeeded in politicizing, and drawing into political action a large part of the Indian people. Gandhiji, the leader who moved and mobilized millions into politics, all his life propogated the view that the people and not leaders created a mass movement, whether for the overthrow of the colonial regime or for social transformation. He added, though, that the success or failure of a movement depended a great deal on the quality of leadership.
Satyagraha, as form a struggle, was based on the active partipation of the people and on the sympathy and support of the non-participating millions. In fact, unlike a violent revolution, which could be waged by a minority of committed cadres and fighters a non-violent revolution needed the political mobilization of millions and the passive support of the vast majority.
It may be pointed out, parenthically, that it was because of the long experience of this kind of political participation by common people that the founders of the Indian republic, who also led the freedom struggle in its last phase, could repose full faith in their political capacity. The leaders unhesitatingly introduced adult franchise despite widespread poverty and illiteracy….
…. In a mass-based struggle, ideology and its influence plays a critical role. Yet, a mass movement has also to incorporate and accommodate diverse political and ideological currents in order to mobilize millions. Besides, it has to be disciplined and organizationally strong and united; yet it cannot afford to be monolithic or authoritarian.
Recognizing this duality, Congress, under whose leadership and hegemony the anti-imperialist struggle was waged was highly ideological and disciplined while also being ideologically and organizationally open-ended and accommodative. Representing the Indian people and not any one class or stratum, Congess could not be and was not ideologically homogenous. Widely different ideological and political streams coexisted within it. It is significant that at no stage did Gandhiji claim to have an ideological monopoly over it. Congress, therefore, succeeded in uniting persons of different ideological bents, different levels of commitment and of vastly different capacities to struggle together for some broad common objectives and principles.
Congress was able to achieve this task by functioning democratically. There was a constant public debate and contention between individuals and groups who subscribed to divergent political-ideological tendencies or paradigms, even though they shared many elements of a common vision and were united in struggle. The majority view regarding the strategic and tactical framework of the movement prevailed but the minority was not decimated. It remained part of the movement, hoping one day to have its approach accepted. Even groups and movements which were outside the Congress stream evolved a complex and friendly relationship with it. The communal, casteist and loyalist parties and groups were the only ones to adopt an adversarial approach towards the Congress.
The national movement thus bequeathed to independent India the political tradition of compromise, accommodation and reconciliation of different interests and points of view. Nehru worked within this tradition in evolving national policies after independence.
The highest norms of politics and political behavior were set by the movement. Its major leaders, for example, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhiji, Bhagat Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru, Suhbas Bose, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari, Acharya Narendra Dev, Jayaprakash Narayan possessed moral integrity of the highest order. It was because of this moral authority and high moral standards of the leadership that the movement could mobilize millions. This was also true of the cadres, most of whom gave up their careers, their studies and their jobs, abandoned family life and devoted their entire lives to the movement. Also, judged in its totality, the movement was able to maintain harmony between means and ends. The movement was able to develop the capacity to evolve renovate and change with the times. Its programme and policies underwent continuous change and moved in a radical direction in response to the urges of the masses as they were awakened to political activity and to the changing policies of the colonial rulers. The movement was, therefore, in many ways highly original and innovative, keeping abreast with contemporary world thought, processes and movements.
The legacy of the national movement could be summarized as: a commitment to political and economic independence, modern economic development, the ending of inequality, oppression and domination in all forms, representative democracy and civil liberties, internationalism and independent foreign policy, promotion of the process of nation-in-the-making on the basis of joyous acceptance of the diversity, and achievement of all of these objectives though accommodative politics and with the support of a large majority of the people.
Independent India has as a whole remained loyal to the basics of the legacy of the national movement, a large part of which is enshrined in the constitution and incorporated in the programmes and manifestos of most of the political parties. The Indian people have tended to use this legacy as the yardstick to judge the performance of governments political parties and institutions.
A legacy, especially of a prolonged movement, tends to endure for a long time. But no legacy, however strong and sound, can last forever. It tends to erode and become irrelevant unless it is constantly reinforced and developed and sometimes transcended in a creative manner to suit the changing circumstances.
Extracts from the AICC Resolution, Karachi, March 1931
Mahatma Gandhi moved the resolution on the declaration of Fundamental Rights. The text was drafted by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru:
This Congress is of opinion that to enable the masses to appropriate what ‘swaraj’, as conceived by the Congress, will mean to them, it is desirable to state the position of the Congress in a manner easily understood by them. In order to end the ‘exploitation of the masses, political freedom must include real economic freedom of the starving millions. The Congress, therefore, declares that any constitution which may be agreed to on its behalf should provide, or enable the Swaraj Government to Provide, for the following:
Fundamental Rights and Duties
I. Fundamental rights of the people, including:
1. Every citizen of India has the right of free expression of opinion, the rights of free association and combination, and the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, for purposes not opposed to law or morality.
2. Every citizen shall enjoy freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess and practise his religion, subject to public order and morality.
3. The culture, language and script of the minorities and of the different linguistic areas shall be protected.
4. All citizens are equal before the law, irrespective of caste, creed or sex.
5. No disability attaches to any citizen, by reason of his or her religion, caste, creed or sex, in regard to public employment, office of power or honour, and in the exercise of any trade or calling.
6. All citizens have equal rights and duties in regard to wells, tanks, roads, schools and places of public resort, maintained out of State or local funds, or dedicated by private persons for the use of the general public.
7. Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms, in accordance with regulations and reservations made in that behalf.
8. No person shall be deprived of his liberty nor shall his dwelling or property be entered, sequestered or confiscated, save in accordance with law.
9. The State shall observe neutrality in regard to all religions.
10. The franchise shall be on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
11. The State shall provide for free and compulsory primary education.
12. The State shall confer no titles.
13. There shall be no capital punishment.
14. Every citizen is free to move throughout India and to stay and settle in any part thereof, to acquire property and to follow any trade or calling, and to be treated equally with regard to legal prosecution or protection in all parts of India.
Granville Austin, The Indian Constitution – The Cornerstone of a Nation
"Democracy, representative government, personal liberty, equality before the law, were revolutionary for the society. Socio-economic equitableness as expressed in the Directive Principles of State Policy was equally revolutionary. So were the Constitution’s articles abolishing zamindari and altering property relations and those allowing for discrimination in education and employment for disadvantaged citizens."
"The founding fathers and mothers established in the Constitution both the nation’s ideals and the institutions and processes for achieving them… The new society was to be achieved through a socio-economic revolution pursued with a democratic spirit using Constitutional, democratic institutions…"
"The political structure of the Indian Constitution is so unusual that it is impossible to describe it briefly. Characterisations such as ‘quasi-federal’ and ‘statutory decentralisation’ are interesting, but not particularly illuminating. The members of the Assembly themselves refused to adhere to any theory or dogma about federalism. India had unique problems, they believed, problems that had not ‘confronted other federations in history’. These could not be solved by recourse to theory because federalism was ‘not a definite concept’ and lacked a ‘stable meaning’. Therefore, Assembly members, drawing on the experience of the great federations like the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and Australia, pursued the ‘the policy of pick and choose to see (what) would suit (them) best, (what) would suit the genius of the nation best... This process produced... a new kind of federalism to meet India’s peculiar needs."
India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee.
The decision of the Constituent Assembly to have federal constitution with a strong Centre was occasioned also by the circumstances in which it was taken. A strong central government was necessary for handling the situation arising out the communal riots that preceded and accompanied Partition, for meeting the food crisis, for settling the refugees, for maintaining national unity and for promoting social and economic development, which had been thwarted under colonial rule.
The constitution has also tried to minimize conflict between the Union and the states by clearly specifying the legislative powers of each. It contains three lists of subjects. The subject listed in the Union list can only be legislated upon by the Union parliament, the ones in the State list only by the state legislatures, and those in the Concurrent List come within the purview of both, but in case of a conflict between Union and state legislation, the Union law will prevail.
Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi’s Speech on 60th anniversary years of Parliament (May 13, 2012)
Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this auspicious occasion.Sixty-five years ago, at Independence, India awakened "to life and freedom" with a bold and ambitious vision – a vision to build a legislature on the basis of universal adult franchise. At one stroke, millions of our poor and illiterate, men and women, were given the power to change their destiny.
Let us not forget those troubled days and months and the numerous challenges the country faced then. Millions of refugees were homeless. Communal tension was rife. Destitution was rampant. Borders were tense. Resources were scarce. The very idea of India, let alone the idea of a democratic India, was being ridiculed in many quarters. When far older democracies had achieved universal adult franchise in a gradual process and after long decades of struggle, how could it become a reality in a new nation beset with such problems?
To their eternal credit and our undying gratitude, our founding fathers persisted. The poor and illiterate masses of this country have turned out to be amazingly skilled and sophisticated. Again and again, they have voted with wisdom and purpose, sometimes reaffirming their faith in those who govern them, sometimes voting them out. If there is one thread running through these past six decades, it is that people's power is felt constantly at the highest levels of governance. The aam admi has become the heart and soul of our democracy and has made it our greatest triumph.
India's freedom struggle reinvented the idea of democracy. "My notion of democracy", said Gandhiji, the Father of our nation and the leader of our freedom struggle, "is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest".
It is this revolutionary idea that opened the doors of our legislatures to them and began to transform the Indian state and society. It has done so in a peaceful and evolutionary manner, founded on the time-tested principles of secularism and social justice.
Madam Speaker, we can say with pride that India's parliament, elected by the largest electorate in the world and reflecting the aspirations of some 1.2 billion people, has grown into a great representative political institution.
I pay my deepest tribute to the Mahatma. He was no longer living when this House first met, yet he was the guiding light that made it all possible. Leading a life of spartan simplicity he dedicated himself to the last and the least. He taught us the power of love and compassion.
I pay homage to Jawaharlal Nehru, his comrades-in-arms and political colleagues too numerous to mention, whose profound belief and single-minded determination gave spirit and substance to the idea, the functioning and the nurturing of our Parliament through its formative stages.
I pay homage to Dr. BR Ambedkar who accomplished an immensely difficult task to create the constitutional frame on which our democracy stands.
I pay tribute to the peerless giants, the legendary figures, who have graced our Parliament. They built great parliamentary traditions and endowed the nation with vision and direction. Their wit and wisdom reverberate to us through the ages. As long as we keep their words and their example in mind, while facing new challenges, we will remain true to our great heritage.
We take pride in the extraordinary range and content of the laws enacted by our Parliament over the last sixty years. They give force to the Constitutional vision of change in our society. They created new rights and remedies for all our citizens and have especially protected the excluded and the marginalized. Indian social legislation has today emerged as a global benchmark.
We also gratefully acknowledge the contribution of thousands of hard working staff in Parliament who have toiled tirelessly to keep the wheels of this great institution moving efficiently.
And, we pay humble tribute today to the memory of those courageous heroes who laid down their lives in 2001 when Parliament came under attack by forces that seek to undermine our Constitutional democracy.
Madam Speaker, the journey of our great Parliament has not always been smooth or without challenge. Nor did we expect it to be. An anniversary is also a moment for reflection, to consider our role and place in the rich fabric of our nation's life and history.
The integrity and independence of Parliament must be preserved and protected at all cost, with no room for compromise. Our conduct must rise to the highest ethical standards that were followed and demanded by the founding fathers of our nation.
It should be our resolve in the years to come to make sure that this great institution embraces not only the triumphs and joys of this land, but rids our people of the sorrows and sufferings that still blight their lives. This great institution must be not only a source of law and power, but also of justice and compassion.
Three simple words spoken by Jawaharlal Nehru encapsulate the mighty mission of this great republic –"Swaraj for all". Let us, each of us, gear ourselves up for the tasks ahead, renew and redouble our commitment and our pledge to fulfill our historic duty.
Rajiv Gandhi on Panchayati Raj
'Focus on Panchayati Raj', Rajiv Gandhi's speech (in Hindi) while inaugurating the Panchayati Raj Sammelan of Northern states, New Delhi, January 27, 1989
I am happy to attend this Sammelan. First, I wish to thank the Ministry for choosing such an appropriate day for this Sammelan, which falls between our 40th Republic Day and the anniversary of the martyrdom of Gandhiji. When we adopted our Constitution on the first Republic Day, we promised to give power to the people. Gandhiji fought against the British, the imperialist forces, for achieving this object. I am particularly happy that we have got an opportunity to discuss this seriously during the next two days. I have a complaint which I wanted to make in the end, but I am making at the outset. Bhajan Lalji has invited eight thousand people to come to Delhi but he has fixed only two days and one night for discussions. I am told that the entire time will be utilised if only two per cent of the invites speak for five minutes each. I feel that in such a short duration we cannot discuss these matters well. I hope Bhajan Lalji will extend the Sammelan by another two days, to enable at least double the number of speakers to express their views. I hope he will do so and will also extend the arrangements in the camp.
After Independence, we had promised in the Constitution, to strengthen the third level of our democracy. The first and the second levels which are governed from Delhi and the State capitals have been. Strengthened following several elections, and no one can weaken them. The third level, however, is weak, and it affects the first two levels also, because, people at the top level have become paper tigers and the structure has become hollow. This has to be set right by strengthening the Panchayati Raj institutions. To strengthen our democracy in Delhi and in the State capitals, it is essential to strengthen the democratic institutions at the Panchayat level. To gear up the development process, it is necessary to strengthen the Panchayati Raj institutions at district, block and village levels.
In the last one-and-a-half year we have done many things in this context. We began by organising discussions with the District Magistrates and Collectors. We talked to the Secretaries and the Chief Secretaries. There were discussions in our Party and in the Ministries. We have come to you after doing our home work. I hope we will help you and fulfil the promises we had made. Promises were made during the freedom struggle and in our Constitution but no one effectively implemented them. The people at the top level were busy strengthening their own positions in politics as well as in administration and completely neglected the federal institutions. Whenever elections to the Panchayats were held, they remained nominal. And for the last 10-20 years, mostly nominated members are running these institutions (Panchayats). This cannot strengthen the base level. The devolution of power to the grassroots level as promised could not be effected and whatever was done was generally in an arbitrary manner. In some States where devolution of power had been implemented a member was nominated to the local bodies by the administration or a Minister was placed there. What actually happened? The decision-making authority remained either with the State Government or with the administration, and it could not filter down to the base level.
In addition, sufficient resources were not made available for the upliftment of the rural population, and the meagre amount provided was not spent according to the needs of the rural people. In our development planning and implementation, the participation of the Panchayati Raj institutions was lacking. What was the net result? The result was that the power—which Gandhiji and Panditji wanted to be given to the people and for which our Constitution also provided—did not actually reach them. It meant that the plans and the schemes made, could not in reality cater to your needs. The development programmes which were worked out from Delhi and the State capitals could neither improve your conditions nor remove your difficulties. The result was that even after the completion of those schemes; their full benefit could not reach you.
Whatever economic development was achieved could not be effective because there was a vast gap between the preparation of the schemes and their implementation. The result was that even for the solution of trifling issues, the people looked to the Government. I can quote the example of my own constituency which I have known minutely as to how people come to me even with small problems. There must be some lacuna somewhere that MPs, MLAs and even Chief Ministers come to me with trifling matters: Those issues which can be tackled at the village level should be dealt with there. If the Central Government is involved in such issues, what requires to be done can neither done well nor in time. You know, there are many procedural requirements in the implementation of a project which involves many people, and these only create problems. When we attempt rural development from Delhi, we are unable to detect all the loopholes which only you can plug, being on the spot. The result is that you come with complaints that development schemes are not being properly implemented.
We must ensure that our people are not totally dependent on the Central Government or the State Governments for all types of development works. They should themselves have a feeling of participation in development programmes and the process of social change. This will require that the gap between the administration and the people be bridged. We have to see that people, whether they are in politics or in Government, should not rush to Delhi or State capitals for the redressal of every grievance. If development work can be planned at the district, block or village level it should be taken up there itself. If this is not done, schemes will be delayed and so will their implementation.
We wanted to remove social injustice and atrocities on the weaker sections but this task has not yet been completed. Even today atrocities are perpetrated on weaker sections, on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and on women. We want to involve people in nation building. We want everyone in the country to take initiative in such work. This, however, has not been fully accomplished and the result is that a system of power-brokers has emerged in our country, whether it is politics or the development process. For any work that is to be done, people have to please some power-broker. We have to break this system and to do this; we have to devolve maximum power to Panchayati Raj institutions. This was the desire of Gandhiji and Panditji. But that spirit got lost on the way. We will, however, try to give you strength on the lines Gandhiji and Panditji wanted.
It is essential to give power to the common people. We have to pay special attention to the weaker sections, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women. We have also to take special care of linguistic and other minorities and protect them. We have also to keep a watch so that devolution of power to grassroots is not usurped by the rich and those who derive power from the caste structure. The Panchayati Raj system should ensure social justice to the poor, to the weaker sections. I would like to have your suggestions on these issues.
I want you to speak openly on these issues during the four days of the Sammelan. But you should remember that whatever system of devolution of power is evolved, it must ensure protection of the weak. The elections should be held in time and the weaker sections should freely participate in the elections. If need be, some sort of reservation could be evolved. You have to think how to fill the reserved seats or posts. Should these be filled by election or by nomination? Should we follow the procedure adopted in some countries where the candidate defeated with the minimum margin is also declared elected? Or should we adopt some other method? Every system has its own strong points.
There are various systems—each with its own weakness and strength. You have to consider these systems from different angles.You have to pay special attention to the weaker sections and tell me how they can be helped. Another method can be what was, at one time, in vogue for elections to the Lok Sabha, the system of multi-member constituencies. Yet another method could also be one of setting up social justice committees and special committees in areas inhabited by Harijans, Adivasis, minorities and other weaker sections.
You have to discuss seriously and evolve some kind of a relationship between Panchayati Raj institutions and the State Governments. You have to discuss it minutely because any mistake can stop the development process. You have to ponder over the relationship of Collectors and District Magistrates with Zila Parishads and their Chairmen. Again, you have to think which institutions would function under the Zila Parishad, under the block and at village level.
You must discuss how development schemes can he implemented most effectively. You should not be engaged in creating small kingdoms because these will only further weaken us. The relationship of municipal areas with Zila Parishads is an important factor, whether they should maintain equal status with Zila Parishads. or work within them or under them. Each system has its own strength and weakness. If a district government is formed, it will strengthen the Zila Parishad. Small towns within such a set-up will become focal points of development. On the other hand if Zila Parishads are kept outside the district administration it will focus greater attention on the development of rural areas. Both the systems are relevant in their own way. You have to find out a way so that a balance can be maintained. Today it is not sufficient only to plan for the development of rural areas. Educated youth are looking for a different type of employment and better facilities for which they migrate to small towns and cities. You must evolve a framework that draws upon the strengths of the alternative systems. You must evolve a system which accelerates the work of removing poverty. You must discuss what role can be played at the district, block and village levels in the planning process.
I have asked the Planning Commission to formulate plans from the district level for the Eighth Plan. They have assured that a beginning will be made. Constraints of time may not permit us to make a beginning on the scale we had envisaged but we will find a way out. I hope that by the second or third year of the Eighth Plan, this work will get off the ground well and that there will be co-ordination between the State Planning bodies and the Planning Commission.
Then, there is the major problem of resources. You must ensure proper utilization of resources. I feel that if we keep on giving resources we are doing today, that will not lead to proper development. You will keep on asking for funds and nobody will see whether work is being carried out properly or not. For the most part you do not keep in view your actual requirements when funds are made available from very far away and programmes are also made at some distant place. You have your eye on what is surplus with the Government and what you can get from it. The other point is that these funds are not linked with raising resources. That is why you must find out whether at the district and lower levels some resources can be raised. Whether you can be given some powers to raise revenue and in what way could these be given.
You will also have to discuss how power will be devolved. When the Panchayati Raj system was initiated, the responsibility of giving power to local bodies was with the States. Often power given by one hand was taken away by the other. This should not happen again. How should the power be given to you? Straight from the Centre or from the States to the local bodies? No one should be able to take this power away from you. Should the Constitution be amended and in what manner and to what extent? What is the minimum amendment required and what is the maximum that should be done? At the very minimum, timely elections to panchayats must be ensured and these bodies should not be dissolved without valid reasons. If for some reason they are dissolved, there should be a provision for their re-election as is the case for our Lok Sabha or State Assemblies. This is the minimum requirement. There can also be much more. You must reflect which is the best middle path and how we can reach it. We do not want to give you Panchayati Raj institutions as they were. We want to renew and strengthen the institutions that we give you, so that elections are held in time and real power is in your hands. We have also to learn from the past 25 years of experience, what we could achieve and what we could not, where the weakness lies and how it can be remedied. Responsibilities should be well defined and resources should be properly allocated to you. Above all we must ensure that weaker sections are protected and that they are not weakened by this system but in fact gain strength from it.
I hope this new system will cater to the actual needs of the people. It must ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. I hope that democracy will reach the grassroots. To achieve this object, we have to break the hold of power-brokers and give real power to the districts, blocks and villages—to the people who, live there.
Even a four-day period for such discussions is not sufficient and therefore, a questionnaire has been given to you. I hope you will study the questionnaire seriously, complete it and return it to us. I assure you that we will go through the questionnaires filled up by you, thoroughly and try to incorporate your suggestions.
I hope that I shall be with you again on the fourth day and for a longer period. I have kept two and a half hours apart to be with you. I have spoken a lot today, but on that day I will speak less and listen more to you. And I hope that you will speak openly without any reservation.
I see that only a few women are present here. I hope Bhajan Lalji will see to it that women delegates get full opportunity for expressing their views. In the end, I welcome you to Delhi, and I hope that the arrangement made for your stay here is comfortable, inspite of the chilly weather. If there are any shortcomings, do please let us know and we will try our best to remove these. I saw you sitting in two blocks yesterday in the Republic Day function. I am sure you must have enjoyed the parade.
It is appropriate that you visited the Samadhi of Gandhiji before beginning your deliberations. You have before you very significant work—work linked with the thoughts and ideals of Gandhiji and an integral part of our freedom struggle, which in a way was left out and must be completed now. I give you my good wishes for the success of your discussions. When I meet you on the fourth day of the Sammelan, I hope to get from you good and solid answers to the questions which I have posed before you.
Shri Rahul Gandhi’s speech on Lokpal issue, 26 August, 2011
I have been deeply distressed at the developments of the last few days. Many aspects of the situation have caused me anguish. We are all aware that corruption is pervasive. It operates at every level. The poor may carry its greatest burden but it is an affliction that every Indian is desperate to be rid off. Fighting corruption is as integral to eliminating poverty as is Mahatma Gandhi NREGA or the Land Acquisition Bill. Yet it is equally imperative to the growth and development of our nation.
Madam Speaker, we cannot wish away corruption by the mere desire to see it removed from our lives. This requires a comprehensive framework of action and a concerted political program supported by all levels of the state from the highest to the lowest. Most importantly, it requires firm political will.
Madam Speaker, in the past few years I have travelled the length and breadth of our country. I have met scores of countrymen, rich and poor, old and young, privileged and disempowered who have expressed their disillusionment to me.
In the last few months, Annaji has helped the people to articulate this same sentiment. I thank him for that. I believe that the real question before us as representatives of the people of India today is whether we are prepared to take the battle against corruption head on? It is not a matter of how the present impasse will resolve, it is a much greater battle. There are no simple solutions.
To eradicate corruption demands a far deeper engagement and sustained commitment from each one of us. Witnessing the events of the last few days it would appear that the enactment of a single Bill will usher in a corruption-free society. I have serious doubts about this belief. An effective Lok Pal law is only one element in the legal framework to combat corruption.
The Lok Pal institution alone cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive anti-corruption code. A set of effective laws is required. Laws that address the following critical issues are necessary to stand alongside the Lok Pal initiative:
(1) government funding of elections and political parties,
(2) transparency in public procurement,
(3) proper regulation of sectors that fuel corruption like land and mining,
(4) grievance redress mechanisms in public service delivery of old age pensions and ration cards; and
(5) continued tax reforms to end tax evasion.
We owe it to the people of this country to work together across party lines to ensure that Parliament functions at its optimum capacity and delivers these laws in a just and time bound manner. We speak of a statutory Lok Pal but our discussions cease at the point of its accountability to the people and the risk that it might itself become corrupt.
Madam Speaker, why not elevate the debate and fortify the Lok Pal by making it a Constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India? I feel the time has come for us to seriously consider this idea.
Madam Speaker, laws and institutions are not enough. A representative, inclusive and accessible democracy is central to fighting corruption. Individuals have brought our country great gains. They have galvanized people in the cause of freedom and development. However, individual dictates, no matter how well intentioned, must not weaken the democratic process.
This process is often lengthy and lumbering. But it is so in order to be inclusive and fair. It provides a representative and transparent platform where ideas are translated into laws. A tactical incursion, divorced from the machinery of an elected Government that seeks to undo the checks and balances created to protect the supremacy of Parliament sets a dangerous precedent for a democracy.
Today the proposed law is against corruption. Tomorrow the target may be something less universally heralded. It may attack the plurality of our society and democracy.
India's biggest achievement is our democratic system. It is the life force of our nation. I believe we need more democracy within our political parties. I believe in Government funding of our political parties. I believe in empowering our youth; in opening the doors of our closed political system; in bringing fresh blood into politics and into this House. I believe in moving our democracy deeper and deeper into our villages and our cities.
I know my faith in our democracy, is shared by members of this House. I know that regardless of their political affiliation, many of my colleagues work tirelessly to realize the ideals upon which our nation was built. The pursuit of truth is the greatest of those ideals. It won us our freedom. It gave us our democracy. Let us commit ourselves to truth and probity in public life. We owe it to the people of India.
“India is an old country but a young nation…I am young and I too have a dream, I dream of India Strong, Independent, Self-Reliant and in the front rank of the nations of the world, in the service of mankind.”
Former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi did just that through lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1989. By this landmark decision, Rajiv ji made the country’s youth partners in the nation’s developmental and decision making process.
From 1950, the Constitution of India in Article 326 had provided that elections to the Parliament and to State Legislative Assemblies shall be on the basis of adult suffrage, that is to say, a person should not be less than 21 years of age.
Thus Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Constitution (Sixty-second Amendment) Bill, 1988 stated that “The present-day youth are literate and enlightened and the lowering of the voting age would provide to the unrepresented youth of the country an opportunity to give vent to their feelings and help them become a part of the political process”. The Bill was enacted as The Constitution (Sixty First Amendment) Act on 28 March 1989 and amended Article 326 to substitute the words ‘twenty-one years’ for ‘eighteen years’.
Rajiv ji helped lower the voting age and the youth of the country have responded by being the first ones to come out and vote, ensuring very high turnouts. All this has helped create and strengthen more inclusive democratic institutions which have played a big part in nation building.
Excerpts from President K R Narayanan's speech on the Eve of the 52nd Republic Day
At the heart of our democracy is the right of the universal adult suffrage. It was an audacious and revolutionary act by the founding fathers, to have introduced in one go, the right of the vote to every adult citizen, a right for which the countries of the West had to struggle for almost a hundred years. And that too when the country was in a state of abject mass poverty and mass illiteracy.
This act of faith by the founding fathers meant that the governance of this vast country was not to be left in the hands of an elite class but the people as a whole. It also meant, logically, that the voice of the people will be heard in the affairs of the State and their representatives will be elected directly to the legislatures and Parliament. The system of universal adult franchise also facilitated a dialectical process on the political scene out of which could emerge a consensus in the midst of all our differences and diversities.
The founding fathers had the wisdom and foresight not to overemphasise the importance of stability and uniformity in the political system. As Dr Ambedkar explained in the Constituent Assembly, they preferred more responsibility to stability. That is why they consciously rejected the system of restricted franchise and indirect elections embodied in the 1935 Government of India Act. It required a profound faith in the wisdom of the common man and woman in India.... Let us remember, it is under the flexible and spacious provisions of our Constitution that democracy has flourished during the last 50 years and that India has achieved an unprecedented unity and cohesion as a nation and made remarkable progress in the social and economic fields. India today is adjusted as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
We have managed to accommodate the globalisation process without losing our distinctiveness as a culture and a civilisation and without compromising the independence we secured after a long and heroic struggle. Through our Green Revolution we have achieved self-sufficiency in food grains for our one billion people. And our White Revolution has made us the largest milk producing nation in the world, underlining our food sufficiency with an important element of the nutritional revolution that we are seeking to bring about.
We have emerged as one of the scientifically and technologically important nations of the world. In the field of information technology and biotechnology we have made spectacular strides. In human development we have achieved significant successes.
It is a measure of our human development success that the average expectation of life of an Indian is today 61 years raised from 27 years at the time of Independence. Of course, we have yet to abolish illiteracy and poverty from the land, but we are confident that with new tools of science and technology we have developed and the determined efforts of the government and the people of India we would be able to conquer these problems also. We have to do this by keeping ourselves in step with world developments.
"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” --- Mahatma Gandhi
"The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments." --- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst With Destiny speech August 15, 1947
"It is the prime responsibility of every citizen to feel that his country is free and to defend its freedom is his duty."--- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
“Even during the days of the freedom struggle, the Congress organisation had broadly indicated that the society which it envisaged after achieving independence was not the conventional type of society but a progressive one based on the modern concepts of social, political and economic equality and justice." --- Thiru K Kamaraj
"When your own government ensures an environment of peace and harmony , there is development in every direction, then only there is prosperity .., Every section of the society should move forward together... shoulder to shoulder. This is India’s secular culture ... and foundation of governance."--- Smt Sonia Gandhi during her speech in Barmer district, Rajasthan on September 22, 2013
Shri Rajiv Gandhi at the ILO, 17 June 1985
It is a pleasure to be with you this morning. The International Labour Conference brings together governments, workers and employers. The ILO champions the rights of those who through their labour create wealth for their nations and peoples. I am grateful for the special honour you have done me in asking me to address this Session. I also thank the Canton authorities of Geneva and the Federal Government of Switzerland for their gracious welcome.The underprivileged, the poor and the disinherited have won many an important victory, but the struggle must continue. Millions of poverty-stricken people in Asia, in Africa and in Latin America are denied fulfilment of basic human needs. Even today starvation is a stark reality in some parts of the world. The ravaged faces of men, women and children seeking food are an indictment of the existing world order. The great moral paradox of want amidst plenty is yet to be resolved.
It is in this larger perspective that we have to consider the role of the ILO. What we do here must relate to the major issues of our time, else our work and our achievements will not endure.
The basic objective of the ILO is to secure social justice and peace through international co-operation. Just as the ILO was the response of the international community to the exploitation of labour, the UN system as a whole was a response to the utter futility of the methods devised earlier to preserve peace and to promote a just world order. We had hoped that the hour of international co-operation had come.
And so it seemed for some time. Although armed conflicts did not disappear, and the theme of development did not always have an easy passage, the belief in the positive force of collective action through multilateral institutions gained strength. The ideals of the UN Charter were the source of inspiration for several international organisations and specialised agencies. Many crises were overcome. World opinion was mobilised for a vast co-operative effort to banish the scourges of war and want.
Today the very idea of joint international endeavour for peace and prosperity is under challenge. We are witnessing a retreat from multilateralism. Doubt, discord and dissension are gnawing at the system. There are pressures for conformity. There is reluctance to consider the wider effects of a policy that small groups of countries may wish to pursue to meet the world economic crisis. The theme of interdependence is publicly professed, but diluted in practice. The dialogue to create understanding is encountering serious resistance.
Forty years after the end of the second world war, the dark and lengthening shadow of a nuclear holocaust lies across the future of mankind. The crushing burden of armaments grows. Scarce resources are earmarked for the engines of destruction, while development falters for want of funds.
Are there no exits?
We in India believe that crisis of our age can be resolved only through a renewal of commitment to the principles of the UN Charter. The ILO, the oldest representative of international co-operation, is an appropriate forum for us to reaffirm that faith on which the United Nations was founded. We have to hold fast to the vision of a future for mankind at peace with itself and dedicated to the progress and prosperity of all.
India, which is a founder member of the ILO, has pursued these objectives in its national policies. We won our independence through a mass movement in which industrial labour and rural workers played a notable part. When we drew up our Constitution, we proclaimed that the State should make "provision for securing just and humane conditions of work" besides ensuring "a living wage and a decent standard of life to all workers, agricultural, industrial or other". These form important articles in the chapter in our Constitution outlining the Directive Principles of State Policy.
Over the last thirty-eight years, we have endeavoured to achieve these objectives through the process of planned development. The concept of planning grew as part of our struggle for freedom. Jawaharlal Nehru roused the Indian social consciousness to recognise that exploitation of labour was inherent in underdevelopment and that underdevelopment itself was the product of colonialism. The struggle against colonialism was simultaneously a struggle against the deep-rooted causes of India's poverty. That is why the protection of the rights of workers has formed an integral part of our design of development. I am glad to say that our trade union movement, which has zealously guarded the rights and interests of workers, has been an enthusiastic participant in the wider process of development.
The wider process of development raises a number of issues which demand urgent attention. The ILO's tripartite social contract between organised labour, employers and governments has made a notable contribution in advancing the cause of social justice. However, if the ILO had remained circumscribed by that limited but important gain, it would not have been the focus of aspirations of the developing world that it is today. We know that the ILO has travelled beyond that to face the wider challenge of world poverty. The Philadelphia declaration recognised that "poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere". This was said in 1944. This noble objective has yet to become an international reality.
The pioneering work of the ILO in the field of labour legislation has certainly produced impressive results. The basic concepts behind the ILO standards are unquestionable and universally shared. The living and working conditions of labour have improved significantly. But we are still only talking about those who are employed, and only those among the employed who are organised. What about the unemployed? What about those who are unorganised, as the vast majority of workers in developing countries are?
We must remember that in developing countries, organised labour forms a small part of the total labour force. In my country the earnings of organised labour fall within the top decile of all income-earners. Ninety per cent of all Indians earn less than the organised workers. These are the millions spread over our countryside who work as landless labour or as contract labour on building sites, in quarrying, road construction and in service trades, all at low income levels. In addition, there are millions who can find no work or who are grossly under-employed. My question is: What more can the ILO do to make these segments of labour a major focus of its activity?
I should like to tell you what we in India are doing to improve the conditions of unorganised labour. Since the mid-seventies we have implemented a series of special programmes aimed at alleviating acute poverty and increasing rural employment. These include schemes for integrated rural development, for training youth for self-employment, special programmes for hill regions, drought-prone areas and deserts, and schemes for guaranteed employment to landless rural labour. We have also paid attention to the specific needs of women workers, the physically handicapped, and the socially disadvantaged sections of society. These anti-poverty programmes have given the poor an opportunity to be productive and have aroused tremendous enthusiasm.
The results speak for themselves. Fifteen million families below the poverty line have been helped in the last five years under the integrated rural development programme. More than three hundred million man-days of additional employment are being generated under the rural employment programmes annually.
We have still a long way to go. But where earlier there was despair, there is now hope for a new life. New skills, assets and incomes have been generated. A valuable base now exists to go forward.
In the Seventh Plan, which we have just launched, the thrust for social justice will be continued with greater vigour. We have learnt from experience that to achieve a significant reduction of poverty, simultaneous action is needed in several key areas.
We have to restructure our educational system to relate it meaningfully to employment opportunities. Our youth have to be trained to use new technology in all areas, especially agriculture, where it matters most. Modern advances in genetics and bio-technology have to be brought to the doors of our enterprising and hard working farmers. The more than five hundred thousand villages of India have to feel the beneficial impact of the new communication and information technologies. New horizons are opening up in the field of non-conventional sources of energy, in the spread of new knowledge to areas of subsistence agriculture and in agro-industry. All this cannot happen without significant, indeed revolutionary, changes in our education system.
The economic and social emancipation of women ranks high on our agenda. The totality of their welfare, equal access to education, equal wages, maternity and child benefits, special health care, the ending of socially discriminatory practices, all this will claim our attention and resources, and will raise their social status.
Above all, we shall proceed to tackle earnestly and systematically the problem of burgeoning population. This will involve measures to reduce infant mortality, ensure child survival, improve mother and child care, improve health services and provide education for responsible citizenship.
Poverty alleviation is the core of our strategy for development. It is not only a function of growth. It also requires conscious State intervention. But in the ultimate analysis it is faster growth that provides us the means of intervention. We have been able to mount anti-poverty programmes precisely because we had struggled hard to build the foundations of a self-reliant and dynamic economy. In the Sixth Plan, the Indian economy grew at an average annual rate of over five per cent. For faster growth in the Seventh Plan, technological change will have to be qualitatively higher and swifter. Workers in India can look forward to greater opportunities of contributing to progress and sharing it.
We are creating a policy environment conducive to faster growth, to the infusion of modern technology and to higher productivity. This has been a process of evolution. Policy changes were initiated in the early eighties. We are integrating them in a framework consistent with our philosophy of planning. And we are accelerating their pace to galvanise the vast productive forces of our society for the welfare of the poorest sections.
These are the issues that will dominate the transition to the twenty-first century. An enormous range and complexity of issues are inherent in the management of the dramatic changes in technology for the welfare of the poor in developing countries. The development process and what it does to those without the protective umbrella of organised action must increasingly claim our attention. I trust that the work that the ILO has initiated for the weak, the unemployed and the unorganised will be further enlarged.
We should not overlook the danger signals. Some developed countries are trying to solve the problem of unemployment through reducing or shutting out imports from developing countries. Protectionism in the developed world is growing just when developing countries are being enjoined to liberalise their trade regimes. Sometimes the concept of fair-labour standards is invoked for perpetuating protectionism. But protecting employment in this way is bound to be a short-lived affair. If the developing countries cannot export, they will not be able to import the goods and services produced by the developed countries. And the fastest growing markets are in the developing countries. Thus protectionism has wider ramifications. It concerns not only foreign trade policies, but the basic issue of the livelihood of millions in the poor countries. Therefore, it deserves to be discussed internationally in terms of its long-term impact on employment, both in the developed and developing countries.
Friends, we Indians are an ancient people. Our history goes back 5000 years. Our culture has endured through the vicissitudes of time. Always we have shown the capacity to absorb and to synthesise. Different races, cultures and religions have mingled in India to produce the rich diversity of our life. And now, after the end of colonial servitude, our young nation is showing afresh the vitality of endeavour to build a new, fuller life for our people. Our workers and peasants are in the forefront of this struggle—demanding but very rewarding struggle. And we are struggling not only for ourselves, but for all those who are in chains everywhere else. We must wipe every tear from every eye.
This can be achieved best when nations pool their efforts and work in unison. The United Nations Charter and the constitutions of ILO and other international organisations embody a vision of global peace and prosperity. We must prevent the erosion of the United Nations system. As a popular song on the travails of the African people puts it, "We are the world, we are the children". Mankind is one. Let us not break it up by narrow domestic walls.
“To be liberated, woman must feel free to be herself, not in rivalry to man but in the context of her own capacity and her personality.” (Smt Indira Gandhi, ‘True Liberation of Women’, at the inauguration of the All-India Women's Conference Building Complex in New Delhi, India, March 26, 1980)
1)- Our Constitution that came into force in 1950 gave women a new charter for emancipation and empowerment. Women were given the right to vote in the very first national elections in 1952.
2)- India’s remarkable success in women’s political emancipation lies in the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and Municipalities. Shri Rajiv Gandhi will be forever associated with their political empowerment at the grassroots. He said "It is women who undertake much more than half the economic activities in rural India. It is women to whom are entrusted the welfare and, often, the finances, of the household. It is the women of rural India who are the main repository of India’s great cultural traditions, of the moral values which are fundamental to the survival and efflorescence of our civilisation. Should we not begin the process of reservations for women at the lower tier in the hope that it might in due course expand upwards to the higher tiers"?
3)- With the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment brought in by the Congress in 1993, 33% seats were reserved for women in the three tiers of local government. Today, 1.2 million elected women representatives, including women from the most deprived and disadvantaged communities have taken their place alongside men in the councils of rural self-government. Long-established power equations are now changing.
4)- The Congress is committed to Women’s Reservation in legislatures and has displayed our conviction by getting this passed in the RajyaSabha. We hope to build political consensus on the issue and ensure that women have a greater participation in our highest democratic institutions.
5)- Since Independence, a number of significant legislations aimed at protecting women from exploitation and violence have been enacted:.
a)- In 1950, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s government ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Persons and Exploitation of the Prostitution of others.
b)- In 1956, under the Parliamentpassed the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act (SITA). This was amended in 1986, when Shri Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm, to the Immoral Prevention of Traffic Act.
c)- In 1961, the Dowry Prohibition Act was passed, which aimed at suppressing the practice of dowry, which was an extremely crucial element of patriarchal exploitation.
d)- The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and the Commission of Sati (Prevention)Act, 1987 (No. 3 of1988) were also passed during Rajiv ji’s tenure.
e)- At the UPA’s initiative, Parliament passed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed on 26 February 2013.
Preventing Caste-Based Exploitation
1.Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them.”---Dr B.R. Ambedkar
a.Reservations had been provided even in British India, under the Communal Award introduced in 1932, whereby seats were reserved in the legislature for depressed classes and minority communities. But the system didn’t serve any purpose as only people from the depressed classes were allowed to vote for candidates from the same category.However, after Independence, it was felt that caste hierarchy can be neutralised only if people from higher castes vote for candidates belonging to the depressed classes, or if employees from the former category work under the leadership of someone belonging to the latter in government departments. Hence the government reserved seats for people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the legislature, in government jobs as well as in government-run educational institutions.
b.Reservation for OBCs: Realising that there were sections, such as people belonging to castes which were backward,did notfall under the SC category, were being left behind, the United Progressive Alliance government in 2006 decided to reserve 27% seats in educational institutions for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
c.In 2012, the Congress-led UPA took another significant decision by providing a quota for SC/STs in promotions in government jobs. It was felt that government employees belonging to these categories weren’t being able to rise in the ranks as much as they should in the normal course of their careers.
3.In 1955, Parliament passed the Protection of Civil Rights Act to “prescribe the punishment for the preaching and practice of Untouchability and for the enforcement of any disability arising from it”.The legislation was nothing less than revolutionary at that time. For, even a much older democracy like the United States had been unable to provide civil rights to a section of its citizens, sparking the Civil Rights Movement in the
4.the late 1970s and 1980s, there was a spike in the violence with massacres taking place in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Recognising the gravity of the problem, Rajiv ji promised a legislation to check the atrocities during his Independence Day address on 15 August, 1987.It was Rajiv ji’s assurance that led to the passage of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Rules for the Act were framed and notified in 1995.
5.In 1993, at the initiative of the Congress government, Parliament enacted a legislation banning the practice of manual scavenging. This was the most inhuman practice that arose out of the caste system, as it refers to the removal of human waste/excreta from unsanitary, “dry" toilets by people belonging to lower castes.In February 2013 the Congress government in Delhi announced that Delhi had become the first state to eliminate manual scavenging. Other than strict implementation of the law, the elimination of manual scavenging required doing away with dry toilets and the construction of sanitary latrines. Abolition of Privy Purses
The demand for abolition of privy purses first came up during the Nagpur Congress Session in 1959. Moved by a group of young Congress leaders committed to Socialism, the resolution was carried with a majority of 17 votes to 4.
After Smt. Indira Gandhi nationalised private banks in 1969, it was but natural that the abolition of privy purses should be the next step to be taken. In September 1970, the move to do away with privy purses was initiated in Parliament. Though it sailed through in the LokSabha, with 336 members voting for it and 155 against, it was defeated in the RajyaSabha by “a "fraction of a single vote".
But the people of India gave their stamp of approval to Indira ji’s socialist policies as she won a resounding victory in the 1971 general elections. Enjoying a comfortable majority in both the Lower and Upper House of Parliament, Indira ji proposed the 26th Constitutional Amendment on 28 December 1971, recommending the abolition of privy purses to erstwhile royals.
Introducing the Bill in Parliament, Smt Indira Gandhi said: “The concept of rulership, with privy purses and special privileges unrelated to any current functions and social purposes, is incompatible with an egalitarian social order. Government have, therefore, decided to terminate the privy purses and privileges of the Rulers of former Indian States. It is necessary for this purpose, apart from amending the relevant provisions of the Constitution, to insert a new article therein so as to terminate expressly the recognition already granted to such Rulers and to abolish privy purses and extinguish all rights, liabilities and obligations in respect of privy purses. Hence this Bill.”
Congress President Sonia Gandhi speech on Women as Agents of Change at Commonwealth Lecture 2011: 17 March 2011, London, UK
I. Introductory Remarks Prime Minister, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Foundation, Secretary General, Distinguished Guests, I am honoured to deliver the fourteenth Commonwealth lecture on the theme of women as agents of change. It was an invitation I could not refuse for two reasons – first, my own personal involvement in the cause of women’s empowerment, particularly that of Indian women who constitute some 60 per cent of all the women in the Commonwealth; and second, my family’s close association with this organization.
II. India and the Commonwealth The modern Commonwealth owes much to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It is ironic that a man imprisoned for so many years by the imperial masters of his country should have become so crucial for the survival and evolution of the Commonwealth.
During the long years of India’s freedom struggle, membership had been widely opposed, implying as it did dominion status and allegiance to the Crown. Yet, in the aftermath of Partition and the polarised world scene, Nehru, the student of world history, saw that the Commonwealth could be a bridge between the dying world of Empire and the new post-colonial world being born. Nehru, the statesman, saw merit in an institution that sought to build bridges at many levels between countries and peoples.
Indira Gandhi valued the Commonwealth in a less idealised way than her father. She shared a personal bond with the leading Commonwealth figures of her time and brought to it a special focus on the development needs of its members.
I accompanied my husband Rajiv Gandhi to successive Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and remember some of the colourful episodes that took place behind the scenes. To give you just one example, at the 1985 CHOGM in the Bahamas, the issue of sanctions against South Africa dominated the discussions. Margaret Thatcher stood out in solitary opposition to the rest of the Commonwealth’s call for sanctions against the apartheid regime. At the weekend retreat, Shridath Ramphal put together a three-member team to talk informally to Mrs. Thatcher and persuade her to relent. They were Rajiv Gandhi, Brian Mulroney of Canada and Robert Hawke of Australia, selected by him apparently as much for their looks as their political weight.
In private, he jokingly told them: ―She will not be able to resist the three best-looking men of the Conference‖. The Iron Lady was unmoved and the handsome threesome failed either to charm or to persuade her. Thus was the stage set for the most heated political confrontation in the Commonwealth’s history.
At the subsequent Vancouver CHOGM in 1987, Rajiv Gandhi pledged India’s support to the establishment of the Commonwealth of Learning, which has played such a significant role in improving the quality of distance education in our country. India has always been in the forefront of important cooperation initiatives launched by the Commonwealth and I am sure will continue to be so.
I am particularly glad about the theme for this lecture. Women are disproportionately vulnerable in our world, even today. The global economic downturn of recent years has hurt them hardest. Similarly, climate change and environmental degradation exact a greater price from women, who have less access to resources, technology and credit. Conflict and warfare impose their own terrible toll. And it bears repeating that in many countries a girl is less likely to go to school, get adequate healthcare and social protection, or be given the chance to make her own life-decisions.
But on the positive side, we also know that investing in women is the highest-return venture. It’s not just about improving things for them, it is as vitally about letting women improve things for themselves, their families, their communities and the world at large. Even a small investment in women has great economic, political and social reverberations.
III. Women and Change: The Global Context Women as agents of change is an idea that seems self-evident in the Commonwealth. The two most influential women personalities of the twentieth century - Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher -- were both Commonwealth leaders. Margaret Thatcher changed Britain. Indira Gandhi changed India.
Indira Gandhi was described as the only man in her cabinet, much as Margaret Thatcher was in Britain – the assumption being that it is only men who shape our destinies and alter the course of events. There are other vivid examples of women who overturned such conventional wisdom. Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat in a bus to a white man triggered the civil rights movement in America, leading to the end of racial segregation. During Nelson Mandela’s long imprisonment, Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and the Black Sash Movement, led by Jean Sinclair and Sheena Duncan, along with others, kept resistance to apartheid alive within South Africa. And there is Aung Saan Syu Kyi in Myanmar whose sacrifices have become the focus of the democratic cause in her country.
Although the women’s movement has already transformed the way in which we look at society in each of our countries, the search for equality is far from finished. History, culture and economics still remain weighted against women. In my own country, most worrying of all is the declining sex ratio of females to males. The age-old preference for sons, coupled with the development of sex-selection technologies, has given an alarming demographic twist to gender bias. That this is happening in regions of substantial economic prosperity within the country is even more disturbing. I should add here, however, that in the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, young women from these very regions won the most number of medals. In a poignant interview, one of them recalled that her parents had wished her to be a boy -- but reconciled themselves after she developed her sporting prowess.
Among all the challenges facing humankind in the 21st century, few are more pressing than climate change and global warming. Unfortunately, as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has pointed out, most of the climate debate has so far been gender-blind.
Yet women have played a special role in raising environmental consciousness. Some may remember only Julia Roberts in the Oscar-winning role of Erin Brockovich. But there have been others in an earlier era who blazed a whole new trail. Rachel Carson’s book ―The Silent Spring‖ published in 1962 was a watershed and led to the banning of DDT. Indira Gandhi herself, at the UN Stockholm Conference on the Environment in 1972, powerfully expressed the link between poverty and environmental degradation, an issue which continues to shape the current debate.
The Chipko movement in the Himalayas in the 1970s, in which village women hugged the trees to protect them from being felled, gave a new meaning and momentum to environmental activism in India. In other parts of the world too, women have taken an inspiring lead in protecting the environment, such as Wangari Maathai in Kenya, Rigoberta Menchu in Guatemala and Marina Silva in Brazil, to name just a few.I sometimes wonder whether women’s greater empathy with nature and concern for their children’s future might not help the world to find a new, more sustainable, less consumerist path of development.
In 1989, the Commonwealth became the first major international organization to publish a landmark scientific study on the devastating effects of climate change. Commonwealth Heads of Government also agreed on a Climate Change Action Plan in 2007, where, among other things, they called upon the support of women to ensure effective action.
How can such support be extended if women’s voices and concerns hardly figure in the global climate negotiations, or in national and local climate management plans? Perhaps it is time for a fresh Commonwealth initiative to help the world bridge this gap. Such an initiative could suggest ways to bring women’s participation and perspectives more squarely into the global negotiations. We need climate justice not only between countries, but also between genders.
Enhancing the role of women in protecting the environment is necessary. But what about protecting women themselves? Economic growth is leading to mass migration to cities. Disturbingly, this is being accompanied by growing violence against women. If urbanization is the world’s future, we must design urban environments and services in ways that will give women greater security, and educate and involve citizens in this cause. A Commonwealth initiative bringing together our great cities to collaborate on this issue would be timely.
So these are two areas – climate change and urbanisation – where I hope that the Commonwealth can do more for women. At the same time, I do recognize and appreciate the gender work it is already doing, such as building women entrepreneurs and leaders, and drafting laws which meet women’s needs.
IV. Women and Change: The Indian Scene
Now this evening you will appreciate that my own experience equips me better to focus on the importance of women's issues in India, which is what I now turn to. In order to understand where Indian women are today, let me first tell you where they once were.
In the late 19th century, during the Raj, a section of educated Indian women looked to Queen Victoria for relief from oppressive customs, hoping that as a woman she would intervene on their behalf. Alas, Her Majesty showed them no gender solidarity!
Women in Europe and America too, had to struggle to be educated. In India, however, the opposition to female education was far more intense, grounded as it was in millennia of patriarchy -- even though Indian culture has very prominent female deities, including a Goddess for Learning. In the west, the argument was that women did not need to be educated. In India, the argument was that women should not be educated, that education would ruin women’s character and their traditional submissiveness and subvert the very basis of Indian culture. Dr. Anandibai Joshee,who later became India’s first woman doctor, described her experience of going to school in the relatively progressive city of Bombay in the late 1870s as follows and I quote:“When people saw me going with books in my hands, they put their heads out of the window just to have a look at me. Some stopped their carriages for the purpose. Others walking in the streets stood laughing, crying out derisive remarks so that I could hear them…. Some of them made fun and were convulsed with laughter. Others, sitting respectably in their verandahs…did not feel ashamed to throw pebbles at me. The shopkeepers and vendors spat at the sight of me, and made gestures too indecent to describe.”Unquote.
As if the gauntlet of public hostility on the street was not enough, women had also to endure hostility within the family. In 1889 Kashibai Kanitkar, the first major woman writer in the Marathi language, described the stigma attached to women’s literacy as follows and I quote:“If a woman picks up a paper, our elders feel offended, as though she has done something very shameful. If she receives a letter from her relatives, all the family feels dishonoured. If a woman’s name appears in a newspaper, if her essay is published, if she stammers out a few words at a women’s gathering, she is certain to be slapped with a gigantic charge of having tarnished the family’s honour!”Unquote.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the emergence of a number of outstanding social reformers. But it was Mahatma Gandhi who brought about the first real and nation-wide wave of emancipation through his mass mobilization of women into the freedom movement. Unusually for his time, he believed that India’s economic and moral salvation lay in women’s hands. He condemned the traditions of child marriage, female seclusion, dowry, enforced widowhood, and the lack of education that had shackled Indian women for so long. He urged women to fight injustice and inequality and become masters of their own destiny. Women came out in their millions to participate in the civil disobedience movement, profoundly changing their outlook. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation, can perhaps also be called the Mother of Indian feminism.
Our Constitution that came into force in 1950 gave women a new charter for emancipation and empowerment. Women were given the right to vote in the very first national elections in 1952. Actually, the Congress Party had promised universal female franchise way back in 1928 when many developed democracies were still debating the idea. Like elsewhere in the world, and especially in India, it has not been easy to carve a direct solidarity among women. Their concerns are divided by class, by community, by caste, by culture. But through the 1970s and 80s, the women’s movement in India flowered, banding together on issues like dowry and violence, household labour, discriminatory customs, property rights and wages. These campaigns resulted in the enactment of radical new laws.
A visitor to contemporary India will be impressed by the prominence of women in all aspects of life. India’s President is a woman, as are the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament. The Chief Minister of India’s most populous state is a woman from a section of society subjected to discrimination for centuries. Women are Presidents of four of our major political parties. Women are prominent in the judiciary, the higher civil service, the professions, academia, the corporate world, the media and every branch of civil society. At the time of Independence, women accounted for less than 10 per cent of enrolment in higher education—they will soon be on par with men. And it is not by government action alone that this silent revolution is taking place. Today, women in India are becoming agents of change through their own initiative, their energy and enterprise. Through individual and collective action, they are transforming their own situations and indeed transforming the broader social context itself.
Let me give you some examples of where and how women—ordinary poor women—are beginning to make a difference with far-reaching implications for our country as a whole.
Self-Help Groups The first is the growth of women’s Self-Help Groups which are changing rural India. Groups of women pool their savings on a regular basis and secure loans for a variety of activities that help them increase their incomes. There are now about five million such groups, averaging 10-15 members each. Last year, they secured bank loans worth more than two billion pounds.
This expanding network has had enormous impact. By giving poor women access to credit (and I might add, with a repayment record far superior to that of well-heeled borrowers!), these groups are helping to blunt the harsh edges of poverty and destitution. But women are doing more than getting loans. They are actually taking on a variety of functions on behalf of government departments. They are, for instance, buying rice and maize from farmers for sale through fair price shops. They are distributing old age pensions and scholarships. They are managing primary health centres. And in this pub-loving country, it may surprise you to know how successful they have been in forcing the closure of village liquor shops to combat male alcoholism, domestic violence and the drain on household finances.
But there is something even more fundamentally revolutionary about this movement. It cuts across caste divides. It gives women a new voice, a new self-confidence, a new assertiveness. Attending a meeting of these women is an uplifting experience. When once they dared not open their mouths even within the family, let alone voice their concerns before outsiders, they are now vociferous in discussing personal and family problems as well as a whole range of community issues.
Women’s Reservation The second arena where women have emerged as catalysts of change is politics, especially at the local level. In 1993, India amended its Constitution to provide 33 per cent reservation or quota for women in rural and urban local bodies throughout the country. There was cynicism, resentment and even anger – from powerful men, predictably -- when the idea was first mooted. No longer. Today, 1.2 million elected women representatives, including women from the most deprived and disadvantaged communities, have taken their place alongside men in the councils of rural self-government. Long-established power equations are now changing.
But I am less than happy to admit that at the national level we have not yet been successful. Women’s representation in Parliament has hovered between 9 and 11 per cent, a figure that is considerably lower than in many other democracies. Legislation for a 33% quota in Parliament and state assemblies has been passed by the Upper House. We shall persevere in our efforts to get it approved by the Lower House as well.
Civic Activism The third area where women are leaving their distinctive imprint as harbingers of change is social activism. Over the last few years the language of rights has entered the mainstream of political discourse. Thus we now have a right to information, a right to work, a right to education and soon, a right to food security. What is remarkable about the rights debate and how it has progressed is the leading role women have played as its champions and advocates. Thanks to their passion and commitment, governance has become more open and accountable and public policies more caring of the poor.
Environmental activism too is something in which women are prominent. This is not surprising because, in essence, the issue of environment in India is an issue of livelihoods, of public health, of access to forests, of water security. What is particularly noteworthy about this form of environmental activism is that it is spontaneous in nature and is not driven by any formal organization. A spark is lit and a movement begins.
Collective action by women has taken different forms. Thus, India, once the world’s largest importer of milkfood, is now its largest milk producer. This White Revolution, as we call it, has proceeded in parallel with the Green Revolution. And it is millions of women in thousands of villages who have been the backbone of these milk cooperatives. There are many other instances such as Lijjat, producer of those poppadums so loved by British diners in Indian restaurants here. Founded by seven Gujarati housewives with a capital of about 7 pounds, it now has 42,000 owner-producers with a turnover approaching 70 million pounds.
The largest collective of women in India's informal sector is SEWA—the Self-Employed Women’s Association, also founded by a woman. Its achievements within the country to provide a social security net for its members and add value to household enterprise have been widely recognised. But one of its most recent endeavours is particularly noteworthy—a programme in war-torn Afghanistan to train women, especially war widows, to acquire skills, set up food processing enterprises and initiate ecological regeneration. A similar programme is the Hand-in-Hand project in two provinces in Afghanistan based on the experience of our self-help-groups. In a true spirit of sisterhood, they are contributing to women’s empowerment in that country.
Such initiatives demonstrate the role women’s enterprise can play in regions ravaged by violence and conflict. Within India as well, these groups have taken the lead in mediating, peace-building and reconciliation in areas of strife.
V. Concluding Remarks Ladies and Gentlemen, few things give me greater optimism about my country’s future than the amazing resilience of our women, their fortitude and courage, their capacity to overcome every obstacle, their readiness to grasp every opportunity. India is at the cusp of a ―demographic dividend‖ due to its young and increasingly educated and skilled population. Imagine, what might happen when this demographic dividend is multiplied by a ―gender dividend‖. It will, I believe, yield enormous economic gain and lead to profound social transformation.
Mahatma Gandhi saw women as the future leaders of human evolution, bringing compassion and morality into public life. As always, what he said is memorable, and I quote: “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then indeed is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she is not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater courage? Without woman, man could not be.” Unquote.
It could be argued that the progressive victories of the women’s movement, their achievement of the right to vote and other rights, were the 20th century’s seminal contribution to human advancement. It has been a long journey. I fervently hope that the 21st century will take this to its logical conclusion. May this be, not the century of any particular country, but the century when women finally come into their own, the century when representative democracy is re-imagined to give women their due share, the century when the vocabulary of politics and culture is re-engineered fully to include that other half of mankind.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Bhakra Nangal July 8, 1954I have occasion frequently these days to participate in functions marking the inauguration of some new work or completion of some other. Today, you and I and all these persons have gathered here on one such occasion. I want to know from you what you think and feel in your minds and hearts on this occasion, because in my heart and mind there is a strange exhilaration and excitement, and many kinds of pictures come before me. Many dreams we have dreamt are today drawing near and being materialized. For the materialization of these dreams, we may praise one another, and those who have done good work should be praised. But how many can be praised when the list runs to thousands, nay, lakhs?
Let us give praise where it is due. The work which we see today, and in the inauguration of which we are participating, is much bigger than our individual selves. It is a tremendous thing. I have told you that I, and undoubtedly many of you, have frequent occasion to participate in various functions. A foundation stone is laid somewhere; a building, a hospital, a school or a university is opened elsewhere. Big factories are going up. Such activity is taking place all over the country because Mother India is producing various kinds of things. Among them, Bhakra-Nangal has a special place—Bhakra Nangal where a small village stood, but which today is a name ringing in every corner of India and in some parts of the world too; because this is a great work, the mark of a great enterprise.
About fifty years ago, an Englishman came here and for the first time had the idea that something could be done at this place, but the idea did not materialize. The matter was raised many times. Some rough plans were made but they were not pursued. Then India became free. In the process, the Punjab suffered a great shock and a grievous wound. But despite the shock and the wound, freedom brought a new strength, a new enthusiasm. And so with the wound, the worries and calamities, came this new enthusiasm and new strength to take up this big work. And we took it up. I have come here frequently. Many of you also must have come and seen this slowly changing picture and felt something stirring deep within you. What a stupendous, magnificent work—a work which only that nation can take up which has faith and boldness! This is a work which does not belong only to the Punjab, or PEPSU or the neighbouring States, but to the whole of India.
India has undertaken other big works which are not much smaller than this. Damodar Valley, Hirakud and the big projects of the South are going on apace. Plans are being made every day because we are anxious to build a new India as speedily as possible, to lead it forward, to make it strong and to remove the poverty of its people. We are doing all this, and Bhakra-Nangal in many respects will be one of the greatest of these works, because a very big step in this direction is being taken here today after years of endeavour. Every work we complete in India gives fresh strength to the nation to undertake new tasks. Bhakra-Nangal is a landmark not merely because the water will flow here and irrigate large portions of' the Punjab, PEPSU, Rajasthan and fertilize the deserts of Rajasthan, or because enough electric power will be generated here to run thousands of factories and cottage industries which will provide work for the people and relieve unemployment. It is a landmark because it has become the symbol of a nation's will to march forward with strength, determination and courage. That is why, seeing this work, my courage and strength have increased, because nothing is more encouraging than to capture our dreams and give them real shape.
Just before coming to Nangal, I was in Bhakra where the Dam is being built. I stood on the banks of the Sutlej and saw the mountains to the right and left. Far away, at various spots, people were working. Since it was a holiday, there was not much work going on, for all the people had come here. Still there were a few persons working. From a distance they looked very small against the mighty-looking mountain through which a tunnel was being bored. The thought came to me that it was these very men who had striven against the mountains and brought them under control.
What is now complete is only half the work. We may celebrate its completion but we must remember that the most difficult part still remains to be done—the construction of the Dam about which you have heard so much. Our engineers tell us that probably nowhere else in the world is there a dam as high as this. The work bristles with difficulties and complications. As I walked round the site I thought that these days the biggest temple and mosque and gurdwara is the place where man works for the good of mankind. Which place can be greater than this, this Bhakra-Nangal, where thousands and lakhs of men have worked, have shed their blood and sweat and laid down their lives as well? Where can be a greater and holier place than this, which we can regard as higher?
Then again it struck me that Bhakra-Nangal was like a big university where we can work and while working learn, so that we may do bigger things. The nation is marching forward and every day the pace becomes faster. As we learn the work and gain experience, we advance with greater speed. Bhakra-Nangal is not a work of this moment only, because the work which we are doing at present is not only for our own times but for coming generations and future times.
Another thought came to my mind when I saw the Sutlej. Where has it come from? What course has it traversed to reach here? Do you know where the Sutlej springs from? It rises near Mount Kailash in the vicinity of Mansarovar. The Indus rises near by. The Brahmaputra also flows from that place in a different direction, reaching India and Pakistan after traversing thousands of miles. Other rivers rise from places near by and flow from Tibet towards China. So the Sutlej traverses hundreds of miles through the Himalayas to reach here and we have tried to control her in a friendly way. You have seen the two big diversion channels. At present the whole river has been channelled through one canal. After the rains we will divert the river completely in the two channels so that the dam might be built there.
I look far, not only towards Bhakra-Nangal, but towards this our country, India, whose children we are. Where is she going? Where have we to lead her, which way have we to walk and what mighty tasks have we to undertake? Some of these will be completed in our lifetime. Others will be taken up and completed by those who come after us. The work of a nation or a country is never completed. It goes on and no one can arrest its progress—the progress of a living nation. We have to press forward. The question is which way we have to take, how we should proceed, what principles, what objectives we have to keep before us. All these big questions crop up. This is not an occasion to tell you about them but we have to remember them always and not forget them. When we undertake a big work we have to do so with a large heart and a large mind. Small minds or small-minded nations cannot undertake big works. When we see big works our stature grows with them, and our minds open out a little.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Speech speaking in the Lok Sabha on Perspective Planning on August 22, 1960
This Draft Outline is only an outline, but it covers the whole progress of the Indian nation. I shall try to deal with some major aspects of this plan, particularly what could be called its strategy.
Although a great deal of thought has been given to it by the Planning Commission and the Commission has consulted advisers, experts and others in this country and from outside, we do not approach this question with any sense of finality or with any desire to appear rigid in our approach.
There is, however, certainly some rigidity about the ideals we aim at, because there must be some fixity. If we want India to progress, if we want India to be prosperous and if we want to raise the standards of India, we want a socialist society in India. There is no lack of firmness about that. But we do not aim at any rigid or doctrinaire form of socialism.
So far as this particular Plan is concerned, it flows from and is a projection of the Second Plan which itself came after the First. The Second Plan was roughly double the First Plan. And the Third, again, is much larger. Most of the objectives mentioned in this Plan will be found to be mentioned in the Second. Therefore so far as our objectives are concerned, they have been consistently placed before this I louse and the public. Very briefly they are: a rise in the national income of over 5 per cent per annum; achievement of self-sufficiency in food grains, and increased agricultural production lot industry and export; expansion of basic industries like steel, fuel, power and machine-building; utilization of the manpower resources of the country and expansion of employment opportunities; reduction of inequalities in income and wealth and a more even distribution of economic power.
The Third Five Year Plan, in fact, has become for us not some kind of a book to read but a picture of a vast nation advancing forward in certain pre-determined directions to pre-determined goals. Planning therefore consists in having an objective—not only an immediate objective but a more distant objective. We cannot plan only for tomorrow; we have to plan for years, and in the case of a nation we have to plan for generations. Therefore planning means perspective planning.
A country which wants to progress wants to progress in a hundred ways. We have therefore to take into consideration the order of preference—what is first, what is secondhand what is third. There are so many things we want to do in India, and we want to do them quickly and passionately. The question of finding the proper way to reach a certain goal becomes important. Suppose you want to build a steel plant. You can buy it, of course; but even so you have to train the people who have got to run it.
Advance in technology means a general advance in such training and education as are necessary for-the purpose in a widespread way. It is not a question of putting up a plant here or there; it is a question of building lip from below a nation used to thinking in terms of technical change and technical advance. It becomes a problem of mass education. The countries which had the Industrial Revolution had perforce to go in for free and compulsory education; not that they liked it. They were forced to go in for it because they could not support the structure of industrialization without mass education.
We have to industrialize our country and introduce new techniques both in industry and in agriculture. We can do it, in a way, by buying machines and technical experience from abroad and asking the experts to put up the machines and work them here. This has been the normal method. That is how, for example, the railways came here a hundred years ago to change the face of India. This is all right in the beginning of a process but if we want, to do it steadily, we have to do it ourselves and not always buy from America or Russia either the skills or the machines. We have to build up the skills and we have to build up the machines here.
I confess that we lost a good deal by not putting up a steel plant under the First Five Year Plan. We did not have the courage to take that burden then but if we had shown a little courage, it would have been well for us in the Second Plan and now. In the Second Plan therefore we wore forced to have three new plants, which have been a tremendous burden on us. We have borne it, and of the three plants, two are completed and the other is nearing completion. There are also some other heavy plants that we have put up, particularly the machine-building plant which is gradually taking shape.
The beginning of industrialization really can now be seen in India. A number of textile mills in Ahemedabad or Bombay or Kanpur is not industrialization; it is merely playing with it. I do not object to textile mills; we need them; but our idea of industrialization will be limited, cribbed, cabined and confined by thinking of these ordinary textile mills and calling it industrialization. Industrialization produces machines, it produces steel, it produces power. They are the base. Once you have that base, it is easy to build. But for a backward country, even to build that base is a difficult task. We have not finished building the base but we have put a good part of the base and we can now look forward with some confidence to a more rapid advance which could never have happened without that base, however much we might have built the smaller industries.’ We would always have to depend on outside aid. Indeed we have had troubles in regard to foreign exchange and they are likely to continue. We can never get rid of the foreign exchange troubles without having heavy industry in our country. Unless we start from the base, we cannot build the third or fourth storey. We can advance in minor sectors of the economy, but if we do not build the basic structure, it will not make any difference to the hundreds of millions of our people. The strategy governing planning in India is to industrialize, and that means the basic industries being given the first place.
Having laid great stress on industrialization, we have to look in the direction of agriculture. We shall find that this industrial progress cannot be made without agricultural advance and progress. The fact is that the two cannot be separated. They are intimately connected because agricultural progress is not possible without industry, without tools, without the new methods and techniques. There is no question of giving priority to agriculture. Everyone knows that unless we are self-sufficient in agriculture we cannot have the where:- withal to advance in industries. If we have to import food, then we are doomed so far as progress is concerned. We cannot import food and machinery.
Inevitably, whether it is agriculture or industry, training of personnel counts. It is the trained human being that makes a nation-not all the machinery in the world. It is he who makes the machines-not the machine die man. So we have to have general training and specialized technical training.
We cannot live on iron and steel. We have to produce other commodities. For this purpose, we have to encourage, in every way, the small and medium industry. I am glad to say that in spite of our concentration on basic industries, small and medium industries arc spreading fast in India. This is of considerable importance.
We do not put forward the Draft Outline as something perfect. We may change it here and there. I think hon. Members here and most people outside readily accept the strategy of the Plan and even most of the details. The real problem before India is one of implementation and not one of laying down policies. It is important not merely to lay down policies but to have satisfactory audits of performance. The real thing is not the spending of money but what that has produced.
The record of the first two Plans, even though sometimes criticized, is a fairly remarkable record of achievement. It did not, in some matters, come up to what we wanted it to be but it is nevertheless a very creditable record, whether it is transport, communications, steel, fuel, power and scientific and technological research. In fact the whole of Indian economy has arrived at the threshold of accelerated growth. It can grow much faster if we keep it pushing. In a moment like this, if we slacken at all we shall lose all the advantage we have gained.
As you know, our population in 1961 would presumably have gone up by about 70 million compared to 1951. Why has it gone up? Because we are a much healthier nation. The expectation of life ten years ago was 32. Today it is 42.
The national income over the First and Second Plans has gone up by 42 per cent and the per capita income by 20 per cent. A legitimate query is made: where has this gone? To some extent, of course, you can see where it has gone. I address large gatherings in the villages and I can see that people are better fed, better clothed, they build brick houses and they are generally better. Nevertheless, that does not apply to everybody in India. Some people probably have hardly benefited. Some people may even be facing various difficulties. The fact remains, however, that this advance in our national income and in our per capita income has taken place.
We have to avoid and prevent too much accumulation of wealth. If, after all this additional income, only five per cent or 10 per cent of the population have benefited by it and 90 per cent have not, that is not a good result. We cannot of course even it out. That is not possible. But it is desirable to make the benefits spread.
Some people may say, “Why such a big plan? Have a small plan.” There are certain minimum objectives that we have to reach. There is no escape from them. As a matter of fact, there used to be some people who criticized our planning on the ground that it was ambitious. Hardly anybody says that now. The realization has gradually come about that by the compulsion of events and circumstances and our own needs, we must plan in a relatively big way. Even the toughest and the most cautious of people in the Western world have come to the conclusion that our Plan is not ambitious; it is rather on the low side.
Though from the point of view of the advancement of India the Plan is not very big yet from the point of view of our resources it is big undoubtedly, and it requires a tremendous effort on our part to raise these resources and to work hard to achieve our aims. It is proposed that almost the least that we should have is an advance in the national income of five to six per cent per annum. It should not go below five. And the rate of investment should be stepped up from 11 to 14 per cent. All this requires social development.
Take education. It is proposed in the Plan to spread out education—free and compulsory education—to all boys and girls of the age-group 6 to 11. Under our Constitution it should have been up to 14 years and it should have boon done within the first ten years. But we have been unable to do that, although the spread of education has been vast. At the present moment there are, I believe, 45 million boys and girls in the schools and colleges in India. It is a very ’large figure.
If we could do what we intend to do in regard to education in India, we would have 100 million teachers and taught in India. That is about 25 per cent of the total population!
The charge is often made: you talk about socialism and yet you permit grave inequalities of income; you want to put a ceiling on land holdings and yet you oppose ceiling on urban or other incomes. There is that contradiction, I admit. But if we try to remove that type of contradiction, we put a stop in many ways to the type of progress we are aiming at. If you are not prepared to change completely the whole basis of society, you have to leave enough incentive for people to work. You can, by taxation, etc., reduce disparities. But enforcing ceilings on urban incomes may well result in a slowing down of the process of development and it is of the utmost importance that this process of development and production should not come down.
Take the much-talked-of private sector and public sector. Obviously, most persons who believe in a socialist pattern must believe in the public sector growing all the time. But it does not necessarily mean that the private sector is eliminated even at a much later stage.
In regard to the private sector and the public sector, I think the criteria should be basically two. One is to have as much production as possible through all the means at our disposal and the second is prevention of accumulation of wealth and economic power in individual hands. If we have only the first one, it may lead subsequently to unsocial, undesirable and harmful consequences. Therefore we must aim right from the beginning and all the time at the prevention of this accumulation of wealth and economic power.
To draw the line may be sometimes difficult. If, by any step that we take, production goes down, then we arc cutting at the root of our advance and progress. If, on the other hand, private monopolies are built up, then we are encouraging a process which will cone in our way badly and be harmful now and later. It will take us away very far from any kind of progress towards socialism. In other words, we must encourage production, and at the same time, the social motive. Incentives arc necessary; I agree but there are many types of incentives, some incentives that are good to society, and some that are bad to society. A society in which the main incentive is acquisitiveness is getting out of date everywhere. I do not want to encourage acquisitiveness in India beyond a certain measure.
Our whole object in the Third Plan is to arrive at a stage when we do not depend upon outside countries for any kind of help, whether financial or mechanical. That is what is called, broadly speaking, the take-off stage. But even at this stage one would have to depend somewhat on supplies from outside, whether they arc machines or financial help by way of loans or credits. We are grateful for the help we have got from various countries, from the U.S.A. most of all, from the Soviet Union a good deal, and from a.-number of other countries. They have been generous.
But what is more important is what we have to do in our own country- -our domestic resources. They are going to place a very heavy strain on us. There is no escape from it and we have to face it, whether it is heavier taxation, public loans or savings.
In all these matters, the question of price policy comes up. It is an exceedingly difficult question and an exceedingly important one. It is not a party matter. In fact, in the whole Plan our approach is not a party approach except in so far as you might say that we are committed to a policy aiming at a socialist pattern and socialism. It goes without saying that it is of the utmost importance that prices should be under control. But a price policy is not separate from the rest of economic activity. It cannot be separate from fiscal or monetary or commercial policy, and it might well involve controls. In certain essential articles, if necessary, it may involve all kinds of approaches including controls.
Now I should like to say a few words about Community Development. I have attached great importance to it and often praised it. I have no doubt that in spite of all that has happened, and our numerous slips, the Community Development scheme has changed and is changing the face-of rural India. And that is more important in the final analysis than any number of factories. More particularly, recent developments in the direction of giving more power to the panchayats -what is called panchayati raj—I feel, is going to make a revolutionary change. I should like this House to appreciate it because it is a very important part of our Plan especially in regard to the rural areas and agricultural production.
There is then the question of co-operatives. For some odd reason the word “co-operative” rather frightens some people. I have tried in all humility to understand the other person’s point of view, and to some extent I succeed in it. People sometimes accuse me of looking at things from both points of view! I have tried hard to understand the view-point of those people who have started expressing themselves in pain and sorrow about the co-operatives. When -co-operative farming is mentioned the pain becomes intense. I have not been able to understand this in spite of every effort. Co-operatives are the one and only way for agriculture in India. Co-operative farming or joint farming is the right method for Indian agriculture.
It has been said that this leads to something terrible— communism. If the logic of thinking of some people is governed by such ghosts and hobgoblins, it is difficult to reason with them. Communism has nothing to do with this. Whether communism may be good or bad, you can argue. But to bring in this kind of thinking and confuse the issue seems to me quite amusing. If you say, “You must not do this by compulsion”, I agree. But 'the idea of joint co-operative farming is definitely a higher social form in agriculture, just as the social approach in industry is better than the narrow acquisitive approach.
I should like to say a word about land reforms. We or rather our States have been slow in the matter. This has been harmful to us and to production. Fortunately, we are gradually ending the first phase of land reforms.
I should again like to repeat that the Planning Commission or the Government of India do not regard themselves as being in possession of the ultimate wisdom. But they have given a great deal of thought and produced what they consider good for the country. They invite friendly consideration, and even unfriendly consideration, provided it is intelligent, so that we might improve it before finalizing it.
Smt Indira Gandhi’s Address on Bank Nationalisation broadcast over All India Radio [New Delhi, July 19, 1969]
Some of you have, perhaps, already heard that the Government has nationalized, by an ordinance, fourteen of the biggest commercial banks incorporated in India. I should like to tell you how we propose to operate the nationalized banking system.
As early as December 1954, Parliament took the decision to frame our plans and policies within a socialist pattern of society. Control over the commanding heights of the economy is necessary, particularly in a poor country where it is extremely difficult to mobilize adequate resources for development and to reduce the inequalities between different groups and regions. Ours is an ancient country but a young democracy, which has to remain ever vigilant to prevent the domination of the few over the social, economic or political systems.
Banks play a vital role in the functioning of any economy. To those who have money to spare, banks are the custodians of their savings, on which a good return can be earned by wise and efficient management. To the millions of small formers, artisans and other self-employed persons, a bank can be a source of credit, which is the very basis for any effort to improve their meager economic lot. Even established trade and industry, big or small, cannot function or expand without adequate bank credit on reasonable terms. For our growing number of educated young men and women, banks offer an opportunity for employment, which at the same time is an opportunity for service to society. To those who do not have business of their own, banks, like the postal system or the railways, provide a facility for our daily life.
An institution, such as the banking system, which touches and should touch the lives of millions, has necessarily to be inspired by a larger social purpose and has to sub serve national priorities and objectives. That is why there has been widespread demand that major banks should be not only socially controlled but publicly owned. It is not an accident that this has been the practice even in some countries which do not adhere to socialism. That is also why we nationalized, more than a decade ago, the life insurance business and the State Bank, or the Imperial Bank as it was then called. That is also why we have set up, directly under the aegis of the State, a number of financial institutions to provide medium or long-term credit to agriculture and industry. The step we have now taken is a continuation of the process which has long been under way. It is my earnest hope that it will mark .a new and more vigorous phase in the implementation of our avowed plans and policies. But it is not the beginning of a new era of nationalization. Nor is it an attempt to transfer resources which are already employed productively to other sectors. The problems of growth, whether on farms or in factories, whether in backward regions or in others only relatively well-developed, whether in relation to exports or growing self-reliance, can be solved only in a positive manner, which looks essentially to an enlargement of resources and opportunities rather than to redistribution for its own sake. Certainly, public ownership of the major banks will help to eliminate the use of bank credit for speculative and unproductive purposes, particularly to the extent that it is encouraged at present by the association of a few leading groups with some of our major banks. I should like to assure all sections of industry and .trade that legitimate needs for credit will be safeguarded. Indeed, it shall be our endeavor to ensure that bank credit expands on the basis of genuine savings in keeping with the growing needs of all productive sectors of the economy.
Some time ago we had adopted social control over banks. What is sought to be achieved through the present decision to nationalize the major banks is to accelerate the achievement of our objectives. The purpose of expanding bank credit to priority areas which have hitherto been somewhat neglected such as (i) the removal of control by a few, (2) provision of adequate credit for agriculture, small industry and exports, (3) the giving of a professional bent to bank management, (4) the encouragement of new classes of entrepreneurs, (5) the provision of adequate training as well as reasonable terms of service for bank staff still remains and will call for continuous efforts over a long time. Nationalization is necessary for the speedy achievement of these objectives. But the measure by itself will not achieve these objectives.
As far as possible, and certainly for some time to come, we propose to retain the separate identity and the present management of each bank. Therefore, when the banks reopen after the weekend, your relations with the bank will remain the same as they were before nationalization. This is true not only for those who bank in India, but also for those who bank abroad with the branches of the Indian banks which have now been taken over. In due course, structural and other changes may become necessary. These will be made in an orderly fashion and after broad-based consultations and the most detailed expert examination. Most of you are, perhaps, aware that a Banking Commission is examining this very problem of defining a structure for the banking system which would be more appropriate to the needs of the economy.
We are poised at present for substantial progress in agriculture and industry, in exports and in replacement of imports by domestic production. In order to exploit fully the opportunity which has been created by the enthusiasm and initiative of our farmers, workers, and industrialists, by the industrial capacity already built up and the growing cadres of well-trained managers and technicians, we must make a determined effort to mobilize resources and to deploy them wisely for productive uses. I have no doubt that the important step we have just taken, at the beginning of the new Plan period, will facilitate the achievement of the aspirations we all share for our great country.
I appeal to all of you to help in the productive and purposeful implementation of this step. I appeal particularly to the managers and staff of the banks, which have been nationalized, to cooperate fully in the task of making the banking system serve our national objectives better. I am sure that the management and the staff of these banks will make every effort to render prompt and courteous service to those whose well-earned savings are entrusted to their care.In our internal as in foreign policy, we believe in acting according to our judgment and in keeping with our traditions and needs. There can be no question of aligning ourselves this way or that, whether internally or externally. We remain committed to the freedom and progress of the people of this great country.
“The story of the cooperative movement in India cannot be complete without a description of the most successful experiment in cooperation in India, which was a class apart from any other effort of the kind. This experiment, which started modestly in Kaira (also called Kheda) district of Gujarat eventually became the harbinger of the ‘White Revolution’ that spread all over India.”
“The Gandhian freedom fighter Tribhuvandas K. Patel, who patiently roamed the villages on foot to persuade farmers to form milk cooperatives, became the first chairman of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd in January 1947 and continued to be elected to this position for over twenty-five years. Dr Verghese Kurien, the brilliant engineer from Kerala and later the heart and soul of the White Revolution in India, was the celebrated and proud employee of the Kaira farmers, and the chief executive of the union from 1950 to 1973…The union which started with two village cooperative societies with less than a hundred members each, by 2000 had 1,015 societies with 574,000 members. From 250 litres of milk a day, it was by then handling nearly 1 million litres of milk a day and had an annual turnover of Rs 487 crore or Rs 4.87 billion.”
“In the process of this rapid growth, the union greatly diversified its activities. In 1955, it had set up a factory to manufacture milk powder and butter, partly to deal with the problem of the greater yields of milk in winter not finding an adequate market. The same year the union chose the name of ‘Amul’ for its range of products.”
“Any community development work necessarily involves an integrated approach. The Kaira Cooperative Union was a model case of how the union’s own activities kept expanding, and how it spawned other organizations, bringing within its scope wider and wider areas of concern to the ordinary peasant. An artificial insemination service through the village society workers was introduced so that the producers could improve the quality of their stock. In 1994-95, about 670,000 such inseminations were performed through 827 centres. A 24-hour mobile veterinary service with twenty-nine vehicles fitted with radio telephones was available to the farmers at nominal cost. Cattle owned by cooperative members were provided with insurance cover should anything happen to this major source of their livelihood. High quality fodder seeds for producing green fodder were made available….At the other end of the spectrum, an Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) was founded in Anand for training professional managers for rural development projects, using the Amul complex and the Kaira Cooperative as a live laboratory. As the ‘Anand Pattern’ gradually spread to other districts in Gujarat, in 1974, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, Anand, was formed as an apex organization of the unions in the district to look after marketing.”
“The existence of the cooperative had considerably improved the standard of living of the villagers in Kaira district, particularly the poor farmers and the landless. According to one estimate, as a result of the activities of the cooperative, nearly 48 per cent of the income of the rural households in Kaira district came from dairying. Some of the profits of the cooperative also went to improve the common facilities in the village including wells, roads, schools etc.”
“The Kaira Cooperative success made the movement’s spread to the rest of the country inevitable. In 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri , the then Prime Minister of India, wrote to the chief ministers of all the states about the proposed large programme to set up cooperative dairies on the ‘Anand Pattern’. To perform this task, the National Dairy Development Board was created in 1965 at his initiative. Kurien, with his proven dynamism, was to be at its helm as its honorary chairman…At his insistence, NDDB was located in Anand and not in New Delhi and acquired the structure not of yet another inefficient government department, but of one more suitable to its objectives. Drawing heavily from the Kaira union for personnel, expertise and much more, the NDDB launched ‘Operation Flood’ a programme to replicate the Anand Pattern in other milksheds of the country.”
“A study done by the World Bank (evaluation department) of Operation Flood details how the effort to replicate the ‘Anand Pattern’ paid rich dividends.”
“First, the obvious impact of Operation Flood was the considerable increase in milk supply and consequent increase in the income of the milk producers, particularly the poor…It is estimated that 60 per cent of the beneficiaries were marginal and small farmers or landless and it was further stated that ‘the extent to which such benefits (were) reaching the extremely poor and needy (destitute, widows, landless and near landless) in certain spearhead villages was unusually noteworthy.”
“Second, as in the case of Anand, the impact of the milk cooperatives and Operation Flood went way beyond just increase in milk supply and incomes. As the World Bank study reported, ‘A by-product impact of Operation Flood and the accompanying dairy expansion has been the establishment of an indigenous dairy equipment manufacturing industry…and an indigenous body of expertise that includes animal nutrition, animal health, artificial insemination (AI), management information systems (MIS), dairy engineering, food technology and the like.”
“Third, Operation Flood spread and even intensified the impact of the milk cooperatives on women and children and on education.”
“This has been one of the major achievements of post-independence India…An indication of the impact this experiment had at the grassroots level was the statement made to the present authors by a poor farmer in a village near Anand in 1985, ‘Gujarat is fortunate to have one Kurien; if only God would give one Kurien to every state, many of India’s problems would be solved."
- “In India we have poverty and it is necessary that we implement our development programmes speedily to eradicate poverty and create conditions conducive to change… There are many problems which we must solve. We cannot wait passively for their solutions. We ourselves have to shape our future. We want that every Indian should have a hand in shaping our destiny. It is true that we are now free but we have yet to make this freedom real for our teeming millions. We have to build a society in which each individual can enjoy full freedom -- economic, social and political” Smt. Indira Gandhi
- Garibi Hatao: A Radical Message
- 1971 Elections
- 20 Point Programme
- Land Reforms
- UPA carries forward Indira ji’s agenda
- Fighting Poverty a constant battle
Excerpts from Dr Manmohan Singh's Budget speech as Finance Minister 24 July 1991
"The origins of the problem are directly traceable to large and persistent macro-economic imbalances and the low productivity of investment, in particular the poor rates of return on past investments. There has been an unsustainable increase in Government expenditure. Budgetary subsidies, with questionable social and economic impact, have been allowed to grow to an alarming extent. The tax system still has many loopholes. It lacks transparency so that it is not easy to assess the social and economic impact of various concessions built into its structure. The public sector has not been managed in a manner so as to generate large investible surpluses. The excessive and often indiscriminate protection provided to industry has weakned the incentive to develop a vibrant export sector. It has also accentuated disparities in income and wealth. It has worked to the disadvantage of the rural economy. The increasing difference between the income and expenditure of the Government has led to a widening of the gap between the income and expenditure of the economy as a whole."
"The grave economic crisis now facing our country requires determined action on the part of Government. We are fully prepared for that role. Our party will provide an effective Government to our country. Our people are our masters. We see the role of our Government as one of empowering our people to realize their full potential. This budget constitutes a vital component of a comprehensive vision, a well thought out strategy and an effective action programme designed to get India moving once again."
"Sir, I do not minimise the difficulties that lie ahead on the long and ardous journey on which we have embarked. But as Victor Hugo once said, "no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come." I suggest to this august House that the emergence of India as a major economic power in the world happens to be one such idea. Let the whole world hear it loud and clear. India is now wide awake. We shall prevail. We shall overcome."
Right to Information
The Congress-led UPA brought in the Right to Information Act to bring greater transparency in 2005, within a year after getting elected to office. The RTI Act not only empowered people to ask questions, it became an effective tool in the hands of people who wanted greater transparency in governance. The RTI queries kept coming in and the government was legally bound to give answers.
This has brought nothing short of a transparency revolution in India. The RTI is a paradigm shift in ensuring transparency and accountability of governments. India’s RTI Act is today seen as a role model that many countries of the world are seeking to emulate.
As part of its commitment to further enhancing transparency and accountability, the Congress-led UPA government has introduced The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011.
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is among the biggest employment schemes anywhere in the world and has given millions of Indians a reason to believe that a better future awaits them.
It has given the rural Indian access to employment as a legal right, through an Act of Parliament -- a paradigm shift in the way a nation chooses to addresses the issue of poverty and employment. Today the MGNREGA is being studied by the ILO, the UN, and many countries as a case study and a role model to be emulated.
In the last seven years, the government has spent close to Rs 2 lakh crores under MGNREGA to ensure that millions of Indians have the resources to escape poverty. In 2012-13, 136.18 crore man-days of employment was provided to 4.08 crore households and of this, 22% belonged to the Scheduled Castes, about 16% were from the Scheduled Tribes and 53% were women.
The 100 days of employment at minimum wages have given people, especially the poorest and the most marginalised, basic financial security and financial empowerment, arresting distress migration and creating sustainable community assets in rural India.
Forest Rights Act
By passing the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, The UPA government took forward Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s policy of ‘Tribal Panchsheel’ in which he suggested a model for tribal development which allowed them to pursue their way of life while also providing them avenues to integrate into the national mainstream.
One of the key points mentioned in the ‘Tribal Panchsheel’ was that ‘Tribal right in land and forests should be respected’. The Forest Rights Act not only recognised their right over their land but also gave them greater control over their lives.
As of 31 January 2012, a total of 31,68,478 claims have been received across the country. Of these, about 86 per cent of the claims have been acted on. Almost 12.51 lakh tribal families have already got a total of 17.60 lakh hectares of land after the verification of their claims by their respective state governments.
Right to Education
The Congress-led UPA government displayed its commitment to education of children when the Right to Education Act (RTE) was enacted on April 1, 2010. This made education a legal right of every child in India.
The Act requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from backward and challenged sections of the society. The legislation also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.
The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school drop outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.
The RTE act requires monitoring of all neighbourhoods and identification of all children requiring education, and set up facilities for providing it. It is also perhaps the first legislation in the world that puts the onus of ensuring enrollment, attendance and completion on the Government.
National Food Security Act
The National Food Security Bill will legally back the grant of subsidised food grain to 67 % of India's 1.2 billion people, and will ensure food and nutritional security to the common people. This will be the biggest such project in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to two-thirds of Indians.
Under the Bill, There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms, will also receive maternity benefit of at least Rs.6,000 for six months. Children in the age group of six months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food, as per prescribed nutritional norms.
The Bill also contains provisions for reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) through doorstep delivery of food grain, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end-to-end computerisation, leveraging 'Aadhaar' for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under the Targeted PDS (TPDS) for effective implementation of the ordinance.
Right To Work For All
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is the Answer
One-Fifth of India Has Guaranteed Jobs
Why is there a need for a law on Food Security?
What is the National Food Security Ord and how is it different from existing schemes or programmes of a similar nature?
What are your rights under the new law?
The aim of the National Food Security Act is to ensure that no-one goes hungry and that everyone is well nourished. The Act is based on a lifecycle approach that attempts to ensure adequate nutrition for every age group. The entitlements of persons in different age groups are as follows:
Who are the beneficiaries covered under this new law?
What will be the financial implications of this law?
How much food-grain will be needed to meet the requirements mandated under this law?
Will the Antayodaya Anna Scheme be affected under this law?
What are the changes proposed to delivery system under the Public Distribution System?
The Ord. lists several necessary reforms for comprehensive reform of the Public Distribution System: These include:
What are the specific benefits and guarantees for women and children?
The Ord. gives special attention to women and children. Some salient provisions are:
· Ration cards for eligible will be issued in the name of the eldest woman, over 18 years of age.Furthermore the head of the household will be the woman.
· Meals, free of charge, for women during pregnancy and six months after child birth shall be provided
· Maternity allowance of a minimum of Rs. 600o will be given to pregnant and nursing mothers
· Meals, free of charge, for children between 6 months to six years shall be provided
· Mid-day meals, free of charge , for children between 6 to 14 years shall be provided
· Meals, free of charge, for children who suffer from malnutrition shall be provided.
What are the provisions for enhancing nutritional standards?
Along with the provision of adequate quantity of food, the law places emphases on the provision of nutritious meals (as laid out in Schedule II of the Ord.) to provide a balanced diet in terms of calorie counts, protein value and micronutrients.The provisions include:
· Take home rations for children between 6 months to 6 years of age and hot cooked meals for children between 3 to 6 years of age
· Take home rations for malnourished children between 6 months to 6 years of age
· Hot cooked meals for lower and upper primary class children
· Take home rations for pregnant and lactating mothers
Further, the law specifically provides for expanding the list of commodities (e.g., to pulses and oil) to be supplied through the Targeted PDS.
What are the Enforcement/ Grievance Redressal Mechanisms under this law?
The law lays down special provisions to ensure effective grievance redressal. The State Governments are required to:
· Set up mechanisms, which shall include call centres, help lines etc
· Appoint a District Grievance Redressal Officer who shall be the first office for complaints.
· Set up a State Food Commission for the purpose of monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the law. The State Commission will have the powers of a civil court for enquiring into violation of entitlements and appeals against District Grievance Redressal Officer
· Formulate rules outlining the manner and the time-limit for hearing complaints by Grievance Redressal Officer.
How is Aadhar linked to the Public Distribution System?
How can Congress Party workers help in the effective implementation of this law?
“Man is neither mere intellect, nor the gross animal body, nor the heart or soul alone. A proper and harmonious combination of all the three is required for the making of the whole man and constitutes the true economics of education....” Mahatma Gandhi- Right to Education
- Congress Party’s Commitment Towards Education
Tribal Empowerment:Greater Growth through Greater Empowerment
Pandit Nehru’s “Tribal Pancheel” guides the policy
Tribal Development Fund
Minor Forest Produce Commission
Rural Postal Insurance Scheme
Direct Benefit Transfer
Prime Minister’s Council of UIDAI.
On 02 July 2009, the UPA Government appointed Shri Nandan M. Nilekani as Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister for an initial tenure of five years. The Prime Minister's Council of UIDAI Authority of India was set up on 30 July 2009.
The Congress Party believes that access to quality healthcare is a right that every Indian deserves.
- Non Congress governments failed in healthcare sector
- Healthcare a priority of Congress governments
Excerpts of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's remarks at the Release of Book: An Agenda for India’s Growth: Essays in Honour of P Chidambaram, July 31, 2013, New Delhi
Over the past decade, when the economy had absorbed the full benefit of the reforms that began in 1991, our economy has grown at close to 7.5 per cent. Our growth rate has slowed down to 5 percent in 2012-13. But this should not make us feel disheartened and imagine that we have slipped back to our old growth path.
The last couple of years have been challenging not only for India, but for the whole world. We must now view this as a short term deceleration. Our Government is determined to once again accelerate the pace of change. Once again, we will prove the Naysayers and Cassandras of doom wrong.
The policy agenda for bringing back India’s growth momentum has been outlined in detail in the Twelfth Plan. Most of the important points are also fairly comprehensively described in the different articles in this excellent volume. We have to deal with macro economic imbalances that have developed. We also have major challenges in key sectors such as energy, water, and land.
Infrastructure is today a key constraint with many large projects held up. The Cabinet Committee on Investment which we have set up gives us a mechanism to overcome bureaucratic delays. Urbanisation is a new challenge which deserves greater attention.
Our strategy must not only aim at faster growth but must also ensure that the growth processes are more inclusive. There are many policies that can help achieve this objective. This also calls for special programmes to meet the needs of hitherto excluded sections, especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the OBCs and the Minorities. We have many such programmes. These need to be expanded and made more effective.
An important achievement of the past five years is that growth has been much more inclusive. Agricultural growth has accelerated from 2.4 percent in the Tenth Plan to 3.6 percent in the Eleventh Plan. Poverty is falling faster even though there are disputes going on among the professional colleagues about the pace of change. Per capita consumption in real terms in rural areas has increased four times faster from 2004-05 than it did earlier. The erstwhile BIMARU states are doing much better.
All this suggests that India has all the ingredients required to achieve rapid and inclusive growth.
.. The people of India expect this. The world expects and awaits this. Let me assure you, we will not disappoint.
Turning Crisis Into Opportunity: 1991
In 1991, Dr Manmohan Singh unshackled the Indian economy through a series of reforms. In less than two decades, India had become the third largest economy in the world in size and the fastest growth rate.
UPA Brings In FDI
On 21 September 2012, the Congress-led UPA government pushed through the second phase of economic reforms, opening up the retail, insurance and civil aviation sectors to Foreign Direct Investment.
On 16 July, 2013, the government accelerated the pace of reforms by hiking the cap for FDI in 13 sectors including telecom, defence production, asset reconstruction and single brand retail.
Compare the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance FDI effort of a measly $4.3 billion in the year 2003-04 to the FDI inflow for 2013-14 which is expected to touch $36 billion (according to the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council).
FDI in Retail
In 2006 Foreign Direct Investment in single brand retail was permitted. On 21 September 2012, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh once again made a bold decision and the UPA government permitted FDI in the retail sector.
Dr Singh compared the situation with the economic crisis of India in 1991, when "nobody was willing to lend us even small amounts of money" and the country embraced economic reforms. Though India was not in such a crisis, he mentioned that “we must act before people lose confidence in our economy".
Benefits to Farmers
At least 50% of total investment will be in back end infrastructure. Greater efficiency and advanced technology will revolutionise distribution, transportation, manufacturing, quality control, packaging, warehousing, logistics and cold storage systems.
Farm produce will reach stores directly resulting in significant reduction of wastages.
Farmers will get a higher value for their produce as layers of middlemen are removed.
Benefit for Kirana Shops
Rigorous studies on retailing show that there is no evidence of a downtrend in employment following the entry of organised retailers. Instead, small retailers evolve as they add new product lines and brands, go for better displays, renovation of stores, introduction of self-service, and more credit sales.
Kirana stores and street hawkers can also become part of the modern retail change story if they choose to assimilate into organised retail through franchisees.
Benefit for Consumers
While all income groups save through organised retail purchases, it has been found that lower income consumers save more.
Thus organised retail is more beneficial to the less well-off consumers, due to lower price and better quality of products.
Benefit for Citizens
FDI in retail will help in creating up to one crore new jobs as FDI backed retailers will source 30% of all their products from the small scale sector/ New manufacturing opportunities will open for the nation’s micro, small and medium enterprises.
Keeping in mind the federal structure of governance in India, the decision on whether to actually allow FDI in retail has been left to the respective State Governments.
Also, foreign retailers will only be allowed to set up shop in cities with a population of more than ten lakhs.
The Power of Electricity
The power sector has been one of the focus areas for the Congress-led UPA government as it has worked on both ends of the problem to power India’s growth.
The UPA government has added about 1 lakh MW in installed power capacity and is expected to doubled the installed power capacity by the end of its second term. The government has also managed to connect more villages to the distribution network than any other time in our history.
The country has added about 11,000 MW a year, over the last nine years. India had an installed capacity of 1.12 lakh MW when the UPA government took over in 2004 and this has gone up to 2.11 lakh MW, a rise of nearly 99,077 MW and an increase of 88% from the NDA days.
Paradigm Development from NDA days
The total installed capacity went up from 89,167 MW in 1998 to 112,689 MW, an increase of 23,522 MW over the NDA tenure.
The increase in generation capacity during the 9 years of UPA has been more than four times than the capacity addition during the 5 years of NDA rule in the country.
India is now the 6th largest producer of power in the world and has a total installed capacity of 2,11,766 MW of power (as of Jan 31, 2013).
When the UPA government took office in May 2004, 4.74 lakh villages had access to electricity while close to 1.2 lakh of our villages had no access to electricity..
The Congress-led UPA government has seen major progress in rural electrification as we have taken electricity to about 1 lakh villages, and illuminated the lives of more than 1.75 crore BPL families across the country. As of 30 April 2013, there were 33,060 villages which still did not have electricity and our focus is to take electricity to every Indian home.
Civil Nuclear Energy
India presently has an installed power capacity of 2.11 lakh MW but only 4780 MW from this is coming from our nuclear power plants, 2.5% of the installed capacity. We are now working towards increasing this to 63,000 MW by the year 2032. The Congress-led UPA believes that safe nuclear energy is critical for the future of India.
In 2006-07 our nuclear power generation was 18,634 (MUs), and it rose to 32,863 (MUs) in 2012–13. Our capacity factor has also gone up from 63% to 80% in the same period. In addition to the plants at Tarapur, Rajasthan, Madras, Kaiga, Narora and Kakrapar, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has new projects at Kudankulam, Rajasthan and Kakrapar under construction.
Highest Priority to Creation of Physical Infrastructure
India has thesecond largest number of PPP projects in infrastructure in the world.
Roads and Highways
With 3.34 million (33.4 lakh) kilometers of roads, India has the second largest road network in the world.
Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s government established the National Highway Authority in 1988. At present, the total length of National Highways in the country is 79,243 kilometers.
The NDA launched Golden Quadrilateral project was supposed to be completed by December 2004, but it was only 23% Complete by April 2003.
The Planning Commission’s mid-term appraisal of the 10th Plan in September 2004 found only 2198 kms out of 5846kms – 37% - had been completed. The entire project has been completed under the UPA, 97% in its first term.
The UPA had finished Phase II of National Highways Development Project in 2009, and as of February 2013, 52% of Phase III had been completed.
Rural Road Network
More than 2 lakh kilometers of new roads have been added to the rural road network in the last 9 years (Ref graph above).
During 2001-02 to 2003-04 (NDA period) the expenditure on Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was Rs 9,682 crore. while from 2009-10 to 2012-13, during UPA it was Rs 56,251 crore This means an increase of 480% (Ref Graph Above).
Road construction has been one of the major weapons of the government against the Left Wing insurgency that affects many parts of central India. By December 2012, 2579 km of roads had been laid in the area out of a target of 5487 km.
Out of the total length of 66,000 km of various works under NHDP Phases - 24087 kms of work had been completed as on December 2012.
Construction activity is under progress on the Western and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridors, which are targeted for completion by March 2017.
Indian Railways enter One Billion Tonne (1010 million tonnes) select club after exceeding the revised Freight Loading target for the year 2012-13. Only China, Russia and the USA are other members of this club.
The number of passenger trains have increased from 8,897 in 2001-02, to 12,335 in 2011-12. The number of consequential train accidents per million train km have decreased from 0.41 in 2003-04 to 0.13 at the end of 2011-12.
The Kashmir Valley was connected by rail through the Qazigund-Banihal rail link that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi on 26 June, 2013.
Arunachal Pradesh will be soon be brought into the rail network with the UPA government ready to commission the Harmuti-Naharlagun line. The UPA has given special emphasis to rail connectivity to North East, with projects in Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Assam.
Shipping – Ports and Inland Waterways
The National Maritime Development Programme, comprising 387 projects, has been completed.
Shipping Tonnage under the Indian Flag also crossed the 10 million Gross Tonnage (GT) target set for the XI Plan with a total tonnage of 11.03 million GT.
Five waterways have so far been declared as National Waterways of India till date. Out of which, two National Waterways have been declared by the UPA in 2008.
In 2012, the capacity of major ports increased from 696.53 to 748 MMTPA. The government is planning to create two new major ports in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
India would be the third largest aviation market by 2020. The single most important policy decision which may transform the civil aviation sector in India has been, to allow 49% FDI by the foreign carriers in domestic airlines.
Currently India is the 9th largest aviation market handling 121 million domestic and 41 million international passengers.
Five major airports have been operationalised under PPP mode at New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin. Two metro airports at Kolkata and Chennai have been completed and new airports and terminals have been constructed at Jalgaon, Lucknow, Indore, Rajahmundry, Bhubhaneshwar, Ranchi, Puducherry and Gondia. New airports have been planned for Navi Mumbai, Juhu, Goa, Pune and Kannur. Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Varanasi and Lucknow airports have been declared as international airports. New small airports are being built at 50 other locations,.
India has added more capacity for power generation in the last 9 years than in the entire preceding period since independence. A capacity of 54,964 MW has been added in the 11th Plan. This is 160% higher than the 10th Plan, when NDA was at the helm (Ref Graph Below).
The per capita consumption of electricity has increased from 559 kWh in 2002 to 813 kWh in 2011. The UPA has implemented the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana to electrify over one lakh un-electrified villages and to provide free electricity connection to 2.34 crore rural BPL households.
Under the UPA, India has ended its decade old isolation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by getting a waiver. More than 35 countries supported India’s cause of getting nuclear material for its civil nuclear needs.
The installed nuclear power generation capacity in the country has increased by 1,000 MW to 5,780MW. Seven nuclear power reactors are under construction, which will add 5,300 MW of installed capacity. Under the UPA, electricity generation from nuclear power reached a record high of 32,863 million units during 2012-13.
India has emerged has emerged as a leader in Asia and holds 4th rank worldwide in wind power. The total installed capacity of grid-interactive renewable power reached 28,000 MW, which historically, is highest ever. The UPA has launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. Phase-1 of the mission which targets 1,000 MW has been completed.
Under the UPA, there has been a 26% yearly growth rate in teledensity. The investment in telecommunication sector reached Rs 344,921 crore (US$ 63.7 billion) by the end of 2012.
Rural Teledensity which was 1.57 under NDA, is now 40.36 in 2012 (UPA)
More than 485 Million people enjoy Internet and Broadband Services in some form or the other.
Broadband will reach 2.5 lakh villages by 2014. The telecom revolution has been made possible by the fact that India has one of the lowest telecom prices in the world.
Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor
Plans for 7 new cities have been finalised and work on 2 new smart industrial cities at Dholera, Gujarat and Shendra Bidkin, Maharashtra has already started. This project also incorporates 9 Mega Industrial zones of about 200-250 sq. km as well as 3 ports and 6 airports.
But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given his approval to the Amritsar – Kolkata Industrial Corridor, which is expected to benefit close to 40% of India’s population.
Need for Urban Sector Development
In order to tackle rapid urbanization and mass migration to our cities, the Congress-led UPA government in 2005 started the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) – for fast track planned development of identified cities.
The scheme has had an outlay of over Rs 1 lakh crore in more than 60 cities across India.
The share of urban population may increase to about 40 per cent of total population by the year 2021. It is estimated that by the year 2011, urban areas would contribute about 65 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Investment Requirements in the Urban Sector
It is estimated that over a seven-year period, the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would require a total investments of Rs. 1,20,536 crores. This includes investment in basic infrastructure and services, that is, annual funding requirement of Rs. 17,219 crores.
Thus, the National Common Minimmum Programme of the UPA Government attaches the highest priority to the development and expansion of physical infrastructure.
JNNURM aims to to encourage reforms and fast track planned development of identified cities. Focus is to be on efficiency in urban infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms, community participation, and accountability of ULBs/ Parastatal agencies towards citizens.
As on 30 June 2012, 554 projects at a total cost of Rs 62,253 Crore have been sanctioned under the Urban infrastructure & Governance sub-mission of JNNURM. Additionally under UIDSSMT, 807 projects at a total cost of Rs 14, 021 Crore have been sanctioned.
Objectives of JNNURM
(a) Focused attention to integrated development of infrastructure services in cities covered under the Mission;
(b) Establishment of linkages between asset-creation and asset-management through a slew of reforms for long-term project sustainability;
(c) Ensuring adequate funds to meet the deficiencies in urban infrastructural services;.
(d) Planned development of identified cities including peri-urban areas, outgrowths and urban corridors leading to dispersed urbanisation;
(e) Scale-up delivery of civic amenities and provision of utilities with emphasis on universal access to the urban poor;
(f) Special focus on urban renewal programme for the old city areas to reduce congestion; and
(g) Provision of basic services to the urban poor including security of tenure at affordable prices, improved housing, water supply and sanitation, and ensuring delivery of other existing universal services of the government for education, health and social security.
"We must develop.. atomic energy quite apart from war .. indeed I think we must develop it for the purpose of using it for peaceful purposes. ...Of course, if we are compelled as a nation to use it for other purposes, possibly no pious sentiments of any of us will stop the nation from using it that way.." Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
Establishing Nuclear Detterence
The country has always protected its sovereign right to use nuclear power as a deterrent against forces who threaten us with a nuclear apocalypse.
Shortly after gaining Independence the Atomic Energy Commission of India was created and headed by noted physicist Homi Jahangir Bhabha who chaired the Commission between 1948 and 1966. In this period that we made strong progress in developing indigenous nuclear technology and this process was taken forward under the leadership of Vikram Sarabhai (1966-1971).
Smt. Indira Gandhi took forward Pandit Nehru’s vision to make India self-sufficient and authorised the development of India’s nuclear weapons programme in 1967. Our first nuclear test to establish a nuclear deterrent was Operation ‘Smiling Buddha' at the Pokhran Test Range on 18 May 1974 under the leadership of Smt. Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister.
The initiation of the nuclear programme was also necessitated by the nuclear tests conducted by the People’s Republic of China, which appeared to be an act of nuclear intimidation.
But for Indira ji, the programme was not just a defensive measure. It was a symbol of India’s national power and a step towards establishing India's stability and security interests as independent from those of the nuclear superpowers.
The programme became fully mature in 1974, when Dr Raja Ramanna reported to Smt. Gandhi that India had the ability to test its first nuclear weapon. Indira ji gave verbal authorisation for this test, and preparations were made in a long-constructed army base, the Indian Army Pokhran Test Range.
On 18 May 1974, India successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, unofficially code named as'Smiling Buddha', near the desert village of Pokhran in Rajasthan.
Indira ji made it a point to send a letter to her Pakistani counterpart Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, assuring that the tests were for peaceful purposes and that they were part of India’s commitment to develop a nuclear programme for industrial and scientific use.
India became the first country outside the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to conduct a nuclear test. It created a powerful nuclear deterrence against forces which could have thought of using nuclear weapons against India.
India remains firmly committed to Nuclear Disarmament and this is particularity evident in the crucial steps taken by Shri Rajiv Gandhi in that direction. In his address to the UN General Assembly on 9 June 1988, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had presented to the world a time-bound action plan to usher in a world free of nuclear weapons.
This action plan was to have been implemented in three stages over the next 22 years. At that time, such plan was revolutionary, as the world was then divided into two competing power blocks.
The essential features of the plan were:
First, there should be a binding commitment by all nations to eliminating nuclear weapons in stages, by the year 2010 at the latest.
Second, all nuclear weapon States must participate in the process of nuclear disarmament. All other countries must also be part of the process.
Third, to demonstrate good faith and build the required confidence, there must be tangible progress at each stage towards the common goal.
Fourth, changes are required in doctrines, policies and institutions to sustain a world free of nuclear weapons. Negotiations should be undertaken to establish a Comprehensive Global Security System under the aegis of the United Nations.
Rajiv ji also played a leading role in the Six Nation Initiative for Disarmament.
During his address to the UN General Assembly, he said: “The Six-Nation Initiative voiced the hopes and aspirations of these many millions. At a time when relations between the two major nuclear weapon states dipped to their nadir, the Six Nations – Argentina, Greece, India, Mexico, Sweden and Tanzania refocused world attention on the imperative of nuclear disarmament…India believes it is possible for the human race to survive the second millennium. India believes it is also possible to ensure peace, security and survival into the third millennium and beyond. The way lies through concerted action…The battle for peace, disarmament and development must be waged both within this Assembly and outside by the peoples of the world. This battle should be waged in cooperation with scientists, strategic thinkers and leader of peace movements who have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to those ideals. We, therefore, seek their cooperation in securing the commitment of all nations and all peoples to the goal of a non-violent world order free of nuclear weapons.”
"I came to the conclusion long ago … that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism … our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian." --- Mahatma Gandhi (Young India: January 19, 1928)
"We talk about a secular state in India. It is perhaps not very easy even to find a good word in Hindi for ‘secular’. Some people think it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct. What it means is that it is the state which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities; that, as a state, it does not allow itself to be attached to one faith or religion, which then becomes the state religion.” --- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (foreward to Dharma Nirapeksh Raj by Raghunath Singh)"Secularism and democracy are the twin pillars of our State the very foundations of our society. From time immemorial, the vast majority of our people are wedded to concepts of secularism, religious tolerance, peace and humanity." --- Smt. Indira Gandhi's Address in Parliament on December 22, 1967
"Secularism is the bedrock of our nationhood, secularism as defined not in the English dictionaries, where it is defined as ‘non-religious’ or ‘anti-religious’, but secularism the way Panditji defined it as Sarva Dharma Samabhava which allows every religion to flourish in our country. Every community, every caste, every linguistic group must be allowed freedom to flourish, prosper and develop, yet they must be woven into one India, to a unified India. India is not just a mere geographic expression or a political entity. India dates back to thousands of years; the boundaries have changed, the politics have changed but still India has remained India. It is the thinking, it is the thought, it is an inner spirituality that makes India." --- Shri Rajiv Gandhi's speech 'Uphold Secular Values' at the National Symposium on India' Struggle Against Communalism on October 9, 1986
An Extract from The Story of the Integration of States by V.P. Menon
“WHEN the British Government decided to transfer power to India, they no doubt found it the best solution of a difficult problem to declare that the paramountcy which they exercised over the Indian States would automatically lapse. The rulers generally welcomed this decision; and, after all, the parties directly concerned were the British Government and the rulers. Thus had the edifice, which the British themselves built up laboriously for more than 150 years, been demolished overnight! There were many well wishers, both British and American, conversant with the problem of the Indian States, who said at the time that the seriousness of the problem had not been appreciated at all outside India and that it was graver than any other that faced the country. Even in India there were very few who realized the magnitude of the threatened danger of balkanization.
It was easy enough for the British Parliament to declare the lapse of paramountcy, but could such a declaration wipe out the fundamentals on which paramountcy rested? With the departure of the British, the Government of India did not cease to be the supreme power in India. Essential defence and security requirements of the country and geographical and economic compulsions had not ceased to be operative; nor had the obligations of the Government of India to protect their territories against external aggression and to preserve peace and order throughout the country become any the less. Why else had the British Government themselves asserted time and Again in their relations with the Indian States that their supremacy was not based only upon treaties and engagements, but existed independently of them?
At the same time, there is no doubt that had paramountcy been transferred to a free India with all the obligations which had been assumed by the British Government under the various treaties, engagements and sanads, it would scarcely have been possible for us to have solved the problem of the Indian States in the way we did. By the lapse of paramountcy we were able to write on a clean slate unhampered by any obligations.
The weakest link in the princely chain was the existence of a large number of small States. Their rulers were naturally apprehensive about their future. The rulers of the bigger States, on the other hand, welcomed the lapse of paramountcy in the hope that they would be able to preserve their territorial integrity and have enough bargaining power to forge a satisfactory relationship with the Centre. What they failed to realize at the time was that the new Government of India could not possibly uphold the idea of autocracy in the States and that for their very existence the rulers had to have either the support of their people, or the protection of the Government of India. The former the rulers generally lacked; the latter had automatically terminated with the lapse of paramountcy.
Our first task to prevent the balkanization of the country and to stop any possible inveiglement of the States by Pakistan was to bring the States into some form of organic relationship with the Centre. This we did by means of the expedient of accession on three subjects, as well as a Standstill Agreement which kept alive the relations subsisting at the time between the States and the Government of India. The rulers were at first suspicious of this move, but most of them realized that, with the partition of the country, if they did not give their full support to the Government of India there was real danger that the country would be submerged in one big deluge. The rulers of the bigger States could have stood out and could have given us as much trouble, if not more, than Hyderabad or Junagadh. They certainly had their armies intact and their forces could — in some States at any rate — stand comparison in point of organization, equipment and efficiency with the Indian Army. It was indeed highly selfless and patriotic on the part of these rulers to have placed the wider interests of the country above their own. Some of them even went to the extent of lending us all their troops at a critical period regardless of their own internal security.
Gradually the realization dawned on them that after the advent of independence they would have no choice but to grant responsible government to their people, which meant that their own future would be governed by the whims of their ministries; but that, if they agreed to integration, their interests would be better safeguarded by the Government of India. Besides, they would be earning the goodwill of the country.
Fears regarding the likely attitude of popular ministries were not entirely groundless. Take the case of Kashmir: no sooner had Sheikh Abdullah secured complete power than he insisted that the Maharajah should stay out of the State. It was on Sardar's persuasion that the Maharajah agreed to do so, though reluctantly. The Government of India negotiated a settlement in regard to his Privy Purse and other matters. Sheikh Abdullah refused to honour the agreement and the Government of India is still paying the Privy Purse from its own coffers. No policy of a democratic government, however beneficial, can be wholly immune from criticism. The integration of the Indian States was no exception. There were some who accused the States Ministry of having 'stampeded' the rulers into the new order; there were others who were opposed to the integration of the so-called viable States, and not a few regretted the loss of the ruler's personal touch.Normal development of political progress had been arrested in most of the States. Glaring disparity between the condition of the people and the urges of the times often results in revolutionary activities. There was a danger of local organizations of a revolutionary or communal character stepping into the breach and entrenching themselves in power. This we had to avoid at any cost if we were to establish stability and ordered government in the country. We had to act quickly while the situation was still in a fluid state.
The advocates of viable States could not have studied the geographical aspect of the problem. Even they conceded that the smaller States had to go. There were two courses open: to merge the small States in the provinces in which they were situated or to which they were contiguous; and, in cases where this was not possible, to merge them with the nearest large State. In the latter event, would we be justified in perpetuating the entity of the bigger State? This was exactly the problem which confronted us in Central India and Malwa, where a number of small States were embedded between the bigger States of Gwalior and Indore. Once we had integrated Gwalior, which was one of the five premier States in India, could we leave lesser viable States alone? Further, the viability of a State must have some relation to its revenue. There were only nineteen States which had revenue of Rs 1 crore and above and seven had revenue from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Rewa State, for instance, with revenue of nearly Rs 115 lakh had been declared as viable. But after surrendering a fair size of its revenue to the Centre for the administration of defence, external affairs and communications, could it provide adequate modern amenities and perform the functions of a Welfare State?”
“The merger agreements and covenants are bilateral documents. As Sardar very rightly remarked, the rulers discharged their part of the contract by surrendering their States and powers. They are now bereft of any bargaining power. Because a creditor is too weak or poor to enforce his rights, a debtor should not, in honour, refuse to discharge his debt. As an honourable party to an agreement, we cannot take the stand that we shall accept only that part of the settlement which confers rights on us, and repudiate or whittle down that part which defines our obligations. As a nation aspiring to give a moral lead to the world, let it not be said of us that we know the price of everything and the value of nothing'.
After integration, the rulers settled down and adjusted themselves to the new order of things. By reopening the question of the Privy Purse we are again unsettling them. No one can normally live apart from his environment. The rulers, many of them, have inherited very large families whose maintenance has been taxing their resources. In some cases marriages of girls and other ceremonies also constitute a heavy drain on their income. It would be asking too much of human nature to expect at least the present generation of rulers completely to forget their past. They cannot throw their hundreds of dependents and followers out on the streets simply because they have ceased to be rulers. If they turned them adrift without any provision, the social, economic and political repercussions, especially in the present state of unemployment, would be serious.
Sardar's attitude was certainly very different. He was definite that we should honour all the commitments which we had made to the rulers. He regarded them as 'co-architects' and was anxious to retain their goodwill, to utilize them as partners in the work of national consolidation and reconstruction.”
“In August 1947, when the transfer of power took place, very few could have conceived as possible the revolutionary change that was to come over the States within such a short time. Speaking in September 1948, Nehru confessed: Even I who have been rather intimately connected with the States People's movement for many years, if I had been asked six months ago what the course of developments would be in the next six months since then, I would have hesitated to say that such rapid changes would take place . . . The historian who looks back will no doubt consider this integration of the States into India as one of the dominant phases of India's history. By the time the Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950, we had integrated geographically all the States and brought them into the same constitutional relations with the Centre as the provinces. The administrative integration in the Unions was proceeding apace. The scheme of financial integration was already worked out and finalized and it was to come into operation within a few months. The Indian States Forces were to be absorbed into the Indian Army. By the partition India had lost an area of 364,737 square miles and a population of 81½ millions. By the integration of the States, we brought in an area of nearly 500,000 square miles with a population of 86½ millions (not including Jammu and Kashmir).
In the words of Sardar, 'the great ideal of geographical, political and economic unification of India, an ideal which for centuries remained a distant dream and which appeared as remote and as difficult of attainment as ever even after the advent of Indian independence' was consummated by the policy of integration.”
“The first elections under adult suffrage in all the States passed off without any hitch and resulted in a general victory for the Congress. This was mainly due to the remarkable hold of the organization on the people of the country and in particular, to Nehru's personal appeal to the masses. Even then, the Congress could not secure a clear majority in Travancore-Cochin, Madras, Orissa, Rajasthan and PEPSU. Later events have indicated the need for great vigilance. In most of the Part 'B' States the Congress Party is a house divided against itself. There are constant group erosions and internecine bickering, and the result is that the ministers have to spend a considerable portion of their time in consolidating their position vis-à-vis the party to the detriment of the administration.
Contemporary opinion has already anticipated the verdict of history in regard to the integration of the States. To have dissolved 554 States by integrating them into the pattern of the Republic; to have brought about order out of the nightmare of chaos whence we started, and to have democratized the administration in all the erstwhile States, should steel us on to the attainment of equal success in other spheres. For the first time India has become an integrated whole in the real sense of the term, though this is but the foundation on which to build a prosperous Welfare State. An amorphous mass of aspirations has to be integrated. Life has to be made meaningful for the millions who have led a twilight existence. New tracks must be laid for the questing spirit.
In the tasks that lie ahead, India would do well to remember the pregnant words of Sardar that 'it will be folly to ignore realities; facts take their revenge if they are not faced squarely and well.”
An excerpt from a speech by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
"It is not always realized how much effort is required to defend our national ideals. We cannot assume that just because the Constitution describes India as a socialist, secular, democratic republic, everybody accepts or follows secularism and socialism or democracy for that matter.
We all know of the continuing threat to our secular ideals from communal and fundamentalist elements. They tried unceasingly to weaken the secular base of our society by sowing suspicion between communities.
Strengthened by our national ideology, the overwhelming majority of the people refuse to be misled. Our basic philosophy has deep roots in our past and in the profound thinking and leadership of people like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. There can be no dilution of this philosophy; there will be no dilution of this philosophy.
Let me declare, here and now, that we shall not deviate. Let us make no mistake. The challenges that the country faces are no ordinary challenges. There are forces in the world who want to see India falter and be mired in internal squabbles. There are forces that actively encourage terrorism. There are forces that aim to deflect us from our chosen path.
These forces must be met squarely. The only way to do so is to place national interest above the interest of group, class or party.
That is what patriotism means"
Defending the Republic
India Since Independence : Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee.
"Jayaprakash Narayan often accused Indira Gandhi of trying to destroy all democratic institutions and establish a Soviet –based dictatorship in her hunger for power. Her continuation in office, he said was ‘incompatible with the survival of democracy in the India’."
"The JP movement was flawed in many respects, in terms of both its composition and its actions and the character and philosophy of its leader. Jayaprakash Narayan was justly renowned for his integrity, lack of ambition for office, fearlessness, selflessness and the sacrifice and lifelong commitment to civil liberties and the establishment of a just social order. But, ideologically, he was vague.From the early 1950s he became a critic of parliamentary politics and parliamentary democracy. For years, he tried to popularise the concept of ‘partyless democracy’. During the 1974-75 he also advocated ‘Total Revolution’. Both concepts were unclear and bibulous and at no stage was he able to delineate or explain what a political system without political parties would involve or how would the popular will get expressed or implemented in it.Similarly, the socio-economic and political content,programme or policies of the Total Revolution were never properly defined. At the same time,JP was a democrat and not an authoritarian leader. Nor was the movement he led in 1974-75 yet authoritarian or fascist,but - and this is important - it was capable of creating a space for its fascist component."
"The nebulousness of JP’s politics and ideology is also illustrated by the fact that he took the support of political parties and groups which had nothing in common in terms of programme and policies and were ideologically incompatible. The JP movement came to include the communal Jan Sangh and Jamaat-i-Islami, the neo fascist RSS, the conservative and secular Congress (O), socialists and the extreme left Naxalite groups. Almost entirely negative in its approach, the movement could not fashion an alternative programme or politics expect that of overthrowing Indira Gandhi."
"The agitational methods adopted and propagated by the JP movement were also extra-constitutional and undemocratic. Going far beyond peaceful procession, demonstrations and public rallies, in Bihar as earlier in Gujarat, the tactic was to force the government to resign and the legislature to be dissolved by gheraoing government offices, the assembly and the governor and thus paralyse the government to and to intimidate and coerce individual elected legislators to resign from the assemblies. This tactic was to be repeated in June-July 1975 at the Centre.
More serious was JP’s incitement to the army, police and civil services to rebel. Several times during the course of the movement, he urged them not to obey orders that were ‘unjust and beyond the call of the duty’ or ‘illegal and unjust’ or ‘unconstitutional, illegal or against their conscience’."
‘The Punjab Crisis’ by Dr Mohinder Singh in A Centenary History of the Indian National Congress Volume V (edited by Aditya Mukherjee)
“After shifting to a safe haven in the Akal Takht in the holy precincts of the Golden Temple, (Jarnail Singh) Bhindranwale ridiculed the state and state machinery and used contemptuous language for both the Congress and Akali leadership. In his daily sermons he preached the ideology of hate which inspired his gun-toting young followers, popularly called Kharkus, who killed all those whom they perceived as enemies of Khalistan. Bhindranwale and his men became self-appointed moral police and started prescribing dress codes for school boys and girls, norms of behaviour for police and bureaucracy.”
“With the help of Major-General Shahbeg Singh, Bhindranwale succeeded in fortifying the Golden Temple complex to pre-empt any move to eject him from his safe haven. After having fortified himself, Bhindranwale sent instructions to his men to eliminate all those who dared to oppose his ideology and actions. It is unfortunate that Mr (Gurcharan Singh) Tohra and lieutenants in the SGPC did not stop Bhindranwale and his gun-toting young men from occupying Guru Nanak Niwas and later occupying and fortifying the Akal Takht complex, both of which were under the control of the SGPC.
A campaign for defiance of the established law was jointly launched by Bhindranwale and splinter groups of the Akali Dal, All India Sikh Students Federation led by Bhai Amrik Singh and protégés of Dr Ganga Singh Dhillon, Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan and other self proclaimed promoters of Khalistan abroad. Beginning with housting of Kesri flag, a symbol of the republic of Khalistan during the Hola Mohalla festival in Anandpur in March 1984, issuing of Khalistan passports and currency, these groups together created chaotic conditions where Bhindranwale and his supporters started challenging the authority of the state. Editors and correspeondents of newspapers opposing Bhindranwale became special targets of terrorist groups.”
“It seems by this time, Akali leaders were no longer in control of the situation. Rather than immediately responding to Mrs Gandhi’s call (to call of their non-cooperation agitation), Akali leaders decided to follow the policy of inaction, which resulted in the tragic events of June 1984, known as Operation Blue Star. Whether this was a ‘pre-meditated plan’, ‘an act of vengeance’, ‘failure of intelligence’ or a ‘fatal miscalculation’, the action greatly disturbed the common Sikh masses.”
“Realising the gravity of the situation, Mrs (Indira) Gandhi tried her best to assuage the hurt feelings of the Sikhs. In an exercise of damage control, the Government got the Akal Takht quickly repaired through Baba Santa Singh, the Nihang chief. In keeping with the wishes of devotees, army was withdrawn from Golden Temple complex as soon as there was there was some semblance of normalcy. Mrs Gandhi visited the Golden Temple escorted by Beant Singh, among others, her Sikh bodyguard who she refused to drop from her inner security ring, against advice from concerned quarters as she believed this would have been against the secular principles of the Indian state.”
“On the morning of October 31st, Beant Singh (38) and Satwant Singh (21) opened fire on Mrs Gandhi and pumped 18 bullets into her frail body.”
“The assassination of Indira Gandhi, like that of Mahatma Gandhi, was the result of ideology of hate propagated over the years by communal forces. To check the spread of the communal virus, we need to launch a long-term ideological war based upon the secular principles of the Indian National Congress.”
“..Sikh history has come a full circle --- from November 1984, when the Sikhs were hiding their identity and taking shelter in safe havens, to May 2004 when Dr Manmohan Singh, a turbaned Sikh, was elected to the highest executive office of the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy..”
“In keeping with the spirit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s intervention in the Lok Sabha during the Nanavati Commission’s Report in the Parliament on 11th August 2005, wherein he described the anti-Sikh riots as ‘a human tragedy and a national shame,’ Sikhs should seek refuge in the Guru Granth Sahib, their Guru Eternal: ho-ay ikatar miluhu mayray bha-ee dubiDhaa door karahu liv laa-ay.
(Come and join together my siblings of destiny, dispel your sense of duality and let yourself be lovingly absorbed in the Lord) Guru Granth Sahib, Mahla 5 p.1185)"
Equitable growth across states (Special Development Needs)
The Congress-led UPA government has always given priority to the special development needs of areas like the North Eastern states of India and Jammu and Kashmir.
- Infrastructure Projects in North East
- Peace, tourism returns to Kashmir
- Himayat and Udaan
Excerpts from opening remarks by Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi at Congress Chief Ministers' Meeting, 23-24 September 2006, Nainital, Uttaranchal
The continuing terrorist attacks in different parts of the country are naturally a source of serious concern. Clearly, our entire intelligence system has to be upgraded. This task must be carried out with diligence and urgency.
The central government should also enable each state to have a fully-equipped, properly-trained and highly-motivated anti-terrorism force.
Anti-social and anti-national elements will have to be clearly identified, isolated and dealt with a firm hand. Effective police action, free from social bias and political pressure, is essential to deal with any organization that disturbs communal harmony.
But if it is to be sustainable, such police action must sensitise and mobilize local communities as well. Tough anti-terrorist actions should not lead to polarization of our society. Our party organization must actively be alert to this. While recognising that there can be no compromise on internal security, we must make sure that no community feels itself under siege or as automatic target of suspicion.
Naxalism is both a socio-economic phenomenon as well as a law-and-order issue. Administration in tribal areas particularly, has to be made more responsive and effective. Laws and regulations that are in place to protect the interests of tribal families, must be implemented in letter and spirit.
The fact that Naxalism is a multi-state challenge has given rise to a view that the Centre should take on a more proactive role while states retain the primary responsibility. What that role should be needs to be discussed and clearly spelt out.
The situation in some areas of the Northeast too cause us great anguish. The enormous economic potential of these areas is not being realized because of persisting insurgency and militancy and because of ethnic violence.
I am convinced that if we are able to ensure that the benefits of development projects are visible and reach the people, we can weaken the hold of militant groups. We must also ensure that the Autonomous District Councils function effectively and fulfill the aspirations of the people for whom they are intended.
Jammu & Kashmir
The Prime Minister and the Chief Minister will be briefing us on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The coalition government there is striving to maintain the tempo of development. I trust the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Package announced some two years back is being implemented seriously. In addition a number of measures have been taken to increase people-to-people contact across the Line of Control.
As a political party, the Congress has been constant in advocating a dialogue with Pakistan. When we were in Opposition also, we supported the NDA in their dialogue with Pakistan on all issues including Jammu & Kashmir. While welcoming the resumption of the peace process announced just a few days back, let me echo the Prime Minister's own sentiment that we continue to have serious concerns over terrorist attacks that are carried out in J&K and other parts of the country by Pakistan-based outfits.
Crucial to our success in maintaining internal security will be an effective border management policy. Our northeast Chief Ministers have expressed their concerns. Our borders will not be allowed to be used as corridors for the free movement of terrorists.
The police forces in all states is in the frontline of preserving internal security. They must be enabled to function in an autonomous manner subject to checks and balances that are an inherent feature of a democratic society.
The basic needs of police personnel and their families must be met and their working conditions improved. Modernisation of the police force also needs to be carried out even as we take steps to ensure that the force has a heightened sensitivity to human rights.
The responsibility for maintaining internal security and law and order is that of the government. Its capacity to discharge that responsibility in a effective manner has to be constantly upgraded. At the same time, we need to think of how people themselves can be made partners in this process. Our own experience shows that by so doing, misguided elements can be won over and forces inimical to social peace and harmony isolated.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speech at the Conference of Non-alignment Nations, Belgrade, 2 September 1961
"It was a happy and wise thought of the sponsors of this conference to have convened it. Our meeting would have been important in any event but it has become more important because of the developments of the last two or three months when we have been made aware of the abyss stretching out before and below us. This conference would have attracted attention in the normal course, but that attention is much more because we meet at the time of this particular crisis in human history.
Today everything, including the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racialism, which is important and to which reference has been made repeatedly here, is overshadowed by this crisis. Therefore, it becomes inevitable for us to pay attention to this crisis which confronts humanity. The great powers also watch us.
We call ourselves non-aligned countries. The word 'non aligned' may be differently interpreted, but basically it was coined and used with the meaning of being non-aligned with the great power blocs of the world. “Non-aligned” has negative meaning. But if we give it a positive connotation it means nations which object to lining up for war purposes, to military blocs, to military alliances and the like. We keep away from such an approach and we want to throw our weight in favour of peace. In effect, therefore, when there is a crisis involving the possibility of war, the very fact that we are unaligned should stir us to feel that more than ever it is up to u to do whatever we can to prevent such a calamity coming down upon us.
If in this crisis some action of ours helps to remove the fear of war, then we have justified and strengthened ourselves. I know that the key to the situation does not lie in the hands of this conference, it lies essentially in the hands of the two great powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, this conference or rather the countries which are represented in this conference are not so help' that they look on while war is declared and the world is destroyed. The time, the place and the occasion are now and here to take up the question of war and peace and make it our own and show to the world that we stand for peace and that, so far as we can, we shall fight for it in the ways open to us. The power of nations assembled here is not military power or economic power; nevertheless it is power. Call it moral force. It does make a difference obviously what we in our combined wisdom feel and think about this issue of war and peace.
Some six, seven or eight years ago, non-alignment was a rare phenomenon. A few countries here and there asked about it arid other countries rather made fun of it or at any rate did not take it seriously. ‘Non-alignment:' What is this? You must be on this side or that,—that was the argument. That .argument is dead today. The whole course of history of the last few years has shown a growing opinion spread in favour of the concept of non-alignment. Why? Because it was in tune with the course of events; it was in tune with the thinking of the vast numbers of people, whether the country concerned was non-aligned or not, because they hungered passionately for peace and did not like this massing up of vast armies and nuclear bombs on either side. Therefore, their minds turned to those countries who refused to line up.
We have arrived at a position today where there is no choice left between an attempt between negotiations for peace or war. If people, refuse to negotiate, they must inevitably go to war. I am amazed that rigid and proud attitudes are taken up by the great countries as being too high and mighty to negotiate for peace. I submit that it is not their prestige which is involved in such attitudes but the future of the human race. It is our duty and function to say that they must negotiate.
I believe firmly that the only possible way to solve many of these problems ultimately is complete disarmament. I consider disarmament an absolute necessity for the peace of the world. I think that without disarmament the present difficulties, fears and conflicts will continue. We cannot expect to achieve disarmament suddenly even if this conference wants it. For the present moment the only thing which we can do is to lay stress on the need to negotiate with a view to getting over these fears and dangers. If that is done, the next and other steps follow.
I would venture to say that it is not for us to lay down what should be done in regard to Germany or Berlin which is the immediate cause of the present tension. It seems to me obvious that certain facts of life should be recognized. There are two independent entities: the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the German Democratic People's Republic.
As things stand, we find the great City of Berlin divided by what might be regarded an international frontier. It is a very awkward situation, but there it is. West Berlin is very closely allied to West Germany and to Western countries and they have had access to it. I am glad that Mr Khrushchev himself has indicated that that access will not be limited and it will be open to them as it is now. If that is made perfectly clear and guaranteed by all concerned, I should imagine that one of the major fears and causes of conflict will be removed. I am merely putting this forward to indicate how some of the big things which are troubling the people are capable of solution even if the entire problem is not solved.
The most important thing for the world today is for the great powers directly concerned to meet together and negotiate with a will to peace. And if this conference throws its weight in favour of such an approach, it will be a positive step which we take in order to help.
May I say that the danger of war coming nearer has been enhanced perhaps by the recent decision of the Soviet Government to start nuclear tests? I regret it deeply because; it may well lead to the other countries also starting the tests, and apart from the inherent danger of nuclear fall-outs, this brings us to the very verge of the precipice of war. Therefore, it has become even more urgent that the process of negotiation should begin without any delay.
I should like to refer briefly to some of our other problems. Many of the countries represented here have only recently become independent. They have tremendous problems and have, above all, the problem of making good economically and socially, because most of these countries are under-developed. It is right and proper that the affluent countries should help in this process. They have to some extent done so. I think they should do more in this respect, but ultimately the burden will lie on the people of the countries themselves. This problem has to be faced by each one of our countries.
The most fundamental fact of the world today is the development of new and mighty forces. We have to think in terms of the new world. There is no doubt that imperialism and the old-style colonialism will vanish. Yet the new forces may help others to dominate in other ways over us, and certainly the under-developed and the backward. Therefore, we cannot afford to be backward.
We have to build in our own countries societies where freedom is real. Freedom is essential, because freedom will give us strength and enable us to build prosperous societies. These are for us basic problems. When we think in terms of these basic problems, war becomes an even greater folly than ever. If we cannot prevent war, all our problems suffer and we cannot deal with them. But if we can prevent war, we can go ahead in solving our other problems. We can help to liberate the parts of the world under colonial and imperial rule and we can build up our own free, prosperous societies in our respective countries. That is positive work for us to do. Therefore, I venture to submit to this assembly that we must lay the greatest stress on the removal of this major danger of war today. Not only is this incumbent on us but if we do this we shall be in line with the thinking of millions and millions of people. Non-alignment has received strength from the fact that millions of people are not aligned and that they do not want war.
Let us use this strength rightly, with courtesy and with a friendly approach so that we may influence those who have the power of war and peace in their hands. Let us try, if not to prevent war for all time, to push it away so that in the meantime the world may learn the ways of mutual co-operation."
1. Liberating Bangladesh “The success of the freedom movement in Bangla Desh has now become a war on India due to the adventurism of the Pakistan military machine. It has imposed upon my people and my Government the imperative responsibility of safeguarding our security and territorial integrity. We are left with no other option but to put our country on a war footing.” Smt Indira Gandhi in her letter to US President Richard Nixon (5 December 1971)2. Reign of Terror in East Pakistana. In the 1970 elections in Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan, securing a simple majority in the 313-member Pakistan Parliament. Agitations broke out in East Pakistan after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto refused to yield the premiership of the country to Sheikh Rahman.b. On 7 March, Sheikh Rahman delivered a historic speech at the Race Course in Dhaka in which he said, “Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence.“
c. President Yahya Khan ordered the Pakistani Army, which was dominated by West Pakistanis, to suppress the dissent in the Bangla-speaking areas. The Awami League was banished, and many members fled into exile in India. d. Sheikh Rahman was arrested on the night of 25–26 March 1971 and taken to West Pakistan. The next action carried out was Operation Searchlight, an attempt to kill the intellectual elite of the east.e. In order to escape the ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Pakistani Army and extremist groups, around 10 million East Pakistanis fled to India.f. The Chief Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan, General Tikka Khan, instructed his officers to claim every piece of land even if it meant killing every citizen who came in the way.g. Within West Pakistan, there was a surge in anti-India jingoism. Throughout November 1971, thousands of people led by West Pakistani politicians marched across West Pakistan, calling for Pakistan to ‘Crush India’.3. India Provides Shelter and Support to Bangla Refugeesa. The Government of India opened the border to allow refugees safe shelter. Even though the sudden arrival of such a large number of refugees placed a tremendous strain on India’s already overburdened economy, the Government of India as well as the concerned state government spared no efforts in taking care of the refugees.b. The governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura established refugee camps along the border.c. The Indian government repeatedly appealed to the international community, but failing to elicit any response, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 27 March 1971 expressed full support of her government for the independence struggle of the people of East Pakistan.4. Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi’s Decisive Leadershipa. The Indian leadership under Prime Minister Gandhi quickly decided that it was more effective to end the genocide by taking armed action against Pakistan than to simply give refuge to those who made it across to refugee camps.b. Exiled East Pakistan army officers and members of the Indian Intelligence services immediately started using these camps for recruitment and training of Mukti Bahini guerrillas. “As we have already learned how to sacrifice our own lives, now no one can stop us!” said Sheikh Rahman.c. On the evening of 3 December, at about 5:40 pm the Pakistani Air Force launched attacked eleven airfields in Northern India, which marked the official beginning of the war. Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi addressed the nation, calling the attacks a declaration of war against India. The Indian Air Force responded to the Pakistani attack soon after.d. This involved Indian forces in a massive coordinated air, sea, and land assault. Indian Air Force started flying sorties against Pakistan from midnight. The main Indian objective on the western front was to prevent Pakistan from entering Indian soil.e. India made it a point to ensure that it didn’t extend the attack to a full scale offensive into West Pakistan. This show of restrain even when faced with blatant aggression gave India the moral edge.f. However, on the Eastern front the aim of the Indian forces and the Mukti Bahini cadres was the liberation of East Pakistan.g. The Indian armed forces fought heroically and repelled the Pakistani attack on both the fronts. In fact, the Pakistani armed forces began suffering heavy reverses.5. Bangladesh Is Borna. When Pakistan's defeat in the eastern sector seemed certain, US President Nixon deployed Task Force 74 led by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. The Enterprise and its escort ships arrived on station on 11 December 1971. In response, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers and a submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok in support of India. They trailed U.S. Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18 December 1971 until 7 January 1972 to help ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean.b. Dhaka fell on 15 December. Celebrations erupted across East Pakistan. “Dacca (Dhaka) is now the capital of a free country,” Indira ji announced in her address to the Parliament announcing the victory in the war.c. The Instrument of Surrender of Pakistani forces stationed in East Pakistan was signed in Dhaka at 16.31 IST on 16 December 1971, by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding-in-chief of Eastern Command of the Indian Army and Lieutenant General A. A. K. Niazi, Commander of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan.d. As Lt. General Aurora accepted the surrender, the surrounding crowds on the race course began shouting anti-Niazi and anti-Pakistan slogans. India took approximately 90,000 prisoners of war, including Pakistani soldiers and their East Pakistani civilian supporters.e. The victory was not just a military triumph but a moral and political one as well. The bifurcation of Pakistan marked the defeat of the idea on which the nation was based: that religious communities constituted separate nations and religion alone can be a binding force for a nation. It also marked a triumph of India’s pluralistic and democratic ideals over autocratic rule.f. Speaking at a public meeting in Delhi on 10 January 1972, Sheikh Rahman said "Your government, army and people have displayed a level of compassion and assistance which the people of Bangladesh will never forget. Shrimati Gandhi has done everything possible all over the world to make sure that I am safe. Personally, I am grateful to her. My seventy-five million people are grateful to her and her government.”