While UPA union urban development minister has reiterated NDA top priority
to Delhi Master Plan reform (eg,
http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=85642) Mr Harsh Mander
of organized civil society has echoed the UPA CMP (on edit-page of
Hindustan Times, text at end)
Unlike UPA CMP, Mander refers to the Constitution! He says, "The paramount
message of the stunning election results is a decisive rejection of the
rightwing alliance...project to dismantle the core principles of the
Constitution and the values that illuminated the freedom struggle --
secularism, social justice, non-alignment and democracy." On secularism,
he is more aggressive and on non-alignment [did that illuminate the
freedom struggle?] more specific than CMP. Democracy, he says, "must be
defended and deepened by an explicit reiteration of the rights of trade
unions, people's organisations and movements and a commitment by the
government not to use force to suppress democratic movements." Apart from
this right for organized civil society [corollary to emphasis on violence
management in CMP references to law?] he, like UPA CMP, refers only to our
right to information. His view of social justice, as of NDA / UPA CMP,
looks like safety net (for certain specific groups that the multi-national
he is associated with is associated on our policy making for).
The Hindustan Times, 26.05.04
RECLAIM THE IDEA OF INDIA
The ruling formation fought the 2004 election campaign primarily through
the glossy celebration of India shining amid the alleged gains made by
the urban middle classes through globalisation, divisive communal
mobilisation and a chauvinistic campaign on foreign origin. There was
hardly any serious debate about the real challenges that millions of
The dust raised by this trivialised and diversionary political debate did
not obscure what the media and middle classes mostly lost sight of that
the elections constituted a decisive moment in modern India history. The
paramount message of the stunning election results is a decisive rejection
of the rightwing alliance that has held power in recent years and its
project to dismantle the core principles of the Constitution and the
values that illuminated the freedom struggle secularism, social justice,
non-alignment and democracy.
The parties that have joined hands to build a secular and progressive
alliance owe to the voter an unequivocal commitment to the secular
principle as enshrined in the Constitution. This guarantees equal rights
to all citizens regardless of their religion, caste, language or gender.
It requires unequivocal opposition to all forms of religious intolerance,
fanaticism, irrationalism and fundamentalism and a resolve to not permit
political and social mobilisation around ideologies that create hatred and
distrust among communities.
They need to commit that they will withdraw all text-books that promote
communal, gender and caste stereotypes and replace these by teaching
material that fosters respect for difference and diversity and values of
equity, justice, humanism, secularism, pluralism and rationalism. Equally,
they must take legal action to restrain and punish speeches, writings and
the distribution of trishuls and other pseudo-religious symbols that
foment communal hatred.
There should be no compromise with fundamentalist leaders of any faith.
Therefore, adherence to secular principles requires also the promotion of
gender-just laws for people of all faiths and communities. It requires the
ending of measures like the Haj subsidy and endowments to temples from the
public exchequer, which do not benefit the minorities and provide the
pretext for further communal propaganda by right-wing organisations.
Instead, the State should commit itself to promotion of modern education
and employment among citizens including the minorities.
Communal peace cannot be restored without ensuring a time-bound resolution
of the Babri masjid dispute, which has become a test-case of whether the
rule of law applies equally to all citizens, regardless of creed or caste.
The dispute should be resolved by recourse exclusively to the law of the
land, without reference to archaeological or historical investigation. It
should be treated only as a dispute of land title and not of history;
otherwise we legitimise, by implication, the principle that real or
alleged historical wrongs can be corrected by avenging contemporary
adherents to particular faiths. There must be strict enforcement of a ban
on construction of new places of worship in public lands and government
offices and on altering the status quo regarding places of worship as they
have existed in 1947.
Democracy must be defended and deepened by an explicit reiteration of the
rights of trade unions, peoples organisations and movements and a
commitment by the government not to use force to suppress democratic
movements. The Centre should enact a law guaranteeing the statutory right
to information to all citizens, in relation to not just government but
also to the corporate sector and NGOs.
The government must abandon its undeclared alliance with the militaristic
regimes of the US and Israel and return to Nehruvian non-alignment and
solidarity for the struggle of the Palestinians.
There should be a revival of land reforms and adivasis, Dalits and
landless workers of local communities must regain rights to all natural
resources of land, water, forest and minerals. The State should commit
itself to a campaign against untouchability in the public sphere and
places of worship. A comprehensive protective legislation should be
enacted for all agricultural and unorganised workers, street vendors and
artisans, to ensure job security, hours of work and social security.
As the formation of diverse parties on whom the people have thrust the
responsibility of reclaiming just governance ponder on their common
minimum programme, let them not forget the dreams and aspirations of their
most dispossessed citizens. Together they have to reclaim the idea of