Published in Deccan Chronicle, May 31, 2016,
Mr Modi promises smart cities, but fails to ensure that India’s capital city is safe.
(Note: Although it is said that the Nazi Furror(leader Hitler) is said to be the model for the RSS, it is comforting they have not prescribed 8 or more children for top golden award in Inda. If crimes against women have risen by 9.2 per cent compared to 2013, as this report says, it is a very poor reflection of Modi governments attitude towards women. After promising smart cities and bullet trains, has Modi government made Delhi the “rape capital” as this report says? Even the passing of 30% women’s reservation bill, which is a cake walk for Modi, since UPA has already passed it in Rajya Sabha, still remains unattended although promised during election times. All promises and no delivery. One has to wait and see if Modi government is going to be one of conceptions (promises) galore but no deliveries. james kottoor, editor)
In Nazi Germany in 1938, Adolf Hitler issued a decree: “As a visible sign of the gratitude of the German nation to children-rich mothers I establish this Cross of Honour of the German Mother”. A gold cross was given to the mothers of eight or more children, silver to the mothers of 6-7 children and bronze to the mothers of 4-5 children. In India, we find a chilling reflection of such sentiments in the RSS and Sangh Parivar ideology; and in statements by some leaders of the ruling BJP. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj has declared every Hindu woman should have four children. This sparked off a bidding war of sorts.
A BJP leader from West Bengal, Shyamal Goswami, raised this number to five, while the VHP’s Praveen Togadia urged Hindu women to have “several children”.These ideas not only advocate unabashed racism and communalism, but also denigrate women by treating them as child-producing machinery. The mindset behind “Love Jihad” sees women as mere pawns to be used for serving community purposes defined by a strongly-chauvinistic patriarchal worldview.
The politics of fascism and communalism look at women not as individuals with rights and freedom of choice; but as tools to be used, protected and violated depending on which community they belong to. These misogynist attitudes of the ruling party and its ideologue, the RSS, is exposed in the policies, actions and acts of omission in the past two years of BJP rule. Gender budgeting shows how the government prioritises gender concerns.
The fact that the gender budgeting share has remained stagnant at 4.5 per cent of the total Budget in two years clearly shows the current government’s lack of concern towards women. It has actually come down from the 5.5 per cent (BE) and 5.8 per cent (RE) of the total Budget allocation in 2013-14. The total allocation for the women and child development ministry in 2016-17 is Rs 17,408 crores, a mere Rs 57-crore increase from last year’s’ Rs 17,351 crores (RE). That the regressive mindset of RSS ideologue Mohan Bhagwat, reflected in his statement that women should just be housewives and men should be breadwinners, is taken as a cue by ruling party policymakers to cut facilities for working women, is indicated in the 2016-17 Union Budget.
The allocations for schemes to make life easier for working women, particularly working mothers, have been cut drastically. Funds to improve the working conditions of women/children was reduced from Rs 250 crores in 2015-16 (out of which only Rs 99.50 crores was spent) to Rs 140 crores in 2016-17. Funds were reduced in the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for the children of working mothers from Rs 205.94 crores last year to Rs 150 crores in 2016-17. The undermining of NREGA by the current government has severely hit rural women below the poverty line.
NREGA acted as an impetus for women’s empowerment in rural India by providing them an opportunity for paid work and equal wages in the vicinity of their homes. By cutting down NREGA by a whopping Rs 12,000 crores in its very first year, then raising it to an insufficient amount of Rs 38,500 crores, of which Rs 5,595 crores are a debt to states, the Narendra Modi government shows an utter lack of sympathy for rural women, for most of whom this has been the only source of employment.
Safety for women under the Modi government remains an illusion. Though it was a major electoral plank for the BJP, it seems forgotten like many other tall promises made by Mr Modi and his party colleagues. While the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report for 2015 is not yet out, the report for 2014 shows a major increase in crimes against women in comparison to the previous year. The BJP’s callous attitude is reflected in the statements of its senior leaders. While finance minister Arun Jaitley calls the Nirbhaya case a “small incident”, his colleague Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana’s chief minister, asks women to go around naked if they want freedom! No wonder crimes against women have risen by 9.2 per cent compared to 2013.
There was an increase in rapes by 9 per cent, and in kidnappings and abductions by 10.5 per cent. Among all registered cases of serious crimes against women, the largest share was that of domestic violence, that amounted to 36 per cent of all cases, according to a report of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation titled “Women and Men in India, 2015”. Despite this, no funds were allocated to implement the Domestic Violence Act in the Union Budget.
Mr Modi promises smart cities, but fails to ensure that India’s capital city is safe. Delhi has become probably one of the most insecure cities in the world for women. Infamously known as India’s “rape capital”, the rate of crimes against women has increased under the Modi government. The Delhi police data reveals a 20 per cent increase in crimes against women in 2015. The 2014 NCRB report shows the dismal record of crimes against women in Delhi as compared to the national average. [See chart]
With the Modi government having just completed two years in office, it is time for stocktaking and to assess how far its pre-poll promises have been fulfilled. While passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill was one of its key electoral promises, the BJP government is showing a complete lack of political will to pass this landmark measure. Introduced and passed in the Rajya Sabha during UPA-1, the bill awaits a little effort by the government to get it passed in the Lok Sabha, where it has a majority.
The UPA government has already done half the job, as bills passed in the Rajya Sabha don’t lapse. But the government has not taken any step so far to table the bill in the Lok Sabha. It may be time to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his promise to the people of India to pass the bill. We can only hope that it was not just another jumla!