New Delhi: The fourth edition of the India Exclusion Report, released here on Tuesday, points towards glaring inequalities gripping the nation and delves deeper into the identification of the sites of inequality.
Releasing the report, Harsh Mander, Director of Center for Equity Studies, said, “each chapter in it is best seen as evidence-based reflections striving to see the extent and ways in which the Indian State has succeeded or failed in fulfilling the constitutional mandate.”
Pointing to the condition of the tea garden workers former JNU student Anirban Bhattacharya said, “The workers are currently at the brink of starvation…” He pointed out that the families have no option left but to break stones at the industrial sites, “it is almost as if we have gone back to the stone ages, with the social security proving to be futile.”
Exposing the dark underbelly of the national capital and tracing the lives of home-based workers Nandini Dey said, “Can you imagine people still earning 25 paise? Or a meagre Rs 40 a day?” She added, “Full families are engaged in these task-based jobs, not covered under any ambit of labour laws, there is lack of collectivisation, there is a need to document these stories and bring them out in the public domain.”
A major part of the report reflected on the failures of the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s demonetisation policy, shedding light on the gravity of financial exclusion.
The report said the experience of demonetisation as well as the further deterioration in the crisis in agriculture has brought to the forefront the consequences of financial exclusion in India.
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The report pointed out that people's ability to spend, receive wages and survive depended crucially on whether they were part of the banking system or not, this led to adverse consequences after 84% of all cash in the economy was made invalid on November 8, 2016.
The CES report also viewed the abolition of the Planning Commission and discontinuation of Five-Year Plans as having "adverse implications" for decentralised planning and social equity. Speaking at the release, Priyanka Samy, author of the article, said, “NITI Aayog claims to be an ‘independent’ think tank, the NITI Aayog has failed to put the information in the public domain, there is no coherence in terms of what the organisation claims and what it does.”
In terms of the broad policy direction, the NITI Aayog has not been able to make a clear distinction between the roles and responsibilities of public and private sector. It lays greater emphasis on privatisation and argues for reducing the role of government in the provisioning of essential services, Javed Alam Khan from the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability and co-author of the article said.
The Planning Commission was pro-actively engaged in developing Plan budgets, preparation of five-year plans and overseeing the implementation of Scheduled Caste and Tribal sub-plans. On the other side, the NITI Aayog has no direct involvement in planning and budgetary processes,it noted.
The report also pointed towards the new forms of exclusion in higher education, the issues of homeless people with mental illnesses among others.
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