It is for few years that I have been pointing out to friends the awful trend where Congress has not only been stealing Ideas & Policies of erstwhile BJP-led NDA Govt, it has been spoiling those Policies or Laws for worse, repackaging them and selling them as their own.
The serious reservation is not as much for stealing of ideas, as I believe stealing a good idea for Nations cause and implementing it properly, is only a good trait in Good Governance. In fact, it can hardly be called stealing. However, when a political party takes up ideas, that are already implemented, kills them, rejuvenates them with a horrible set of DNA that not only doesn’t serve the National Interest, in fact, takes something away from it, only to play Politics with Governance, then it is a highly condemnable act.
Over the years, I have come across at least 4 such areas of concern.
1. Congress, for no real rhyme or reason, repealed Freedom of Information Act 2002, and replaced it with Right to Information Act 2005.
2. Then it changed the name of Free & Compulsory Education for Children Bill 2003, to Right to Education Bill
3. Then it tampered with Food for Work Program, which BJP itself had brought back to life only, and replaced it with NREGA
4. Lastly, and recently, a program launched in December 2000, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, which is even today a running program, was replaced with Food Security Act 2013
What has Congress done in each case?
While a detailed study of each of these cases will take much time and will surely be carried out before the coming elections, a quick look at what has been done is important.
1. Freedom of Information Act 2003 vs. Right To Information Act 2005
India has struggled long for transparency and demand for information has been a product of this struggle. This demand for transparency & information on public acts first received legitimacy in 1975, and very interestingly in the famous State of UP vs. Raj Narain case. This was the case that ultimately caused cancellation of Indira Gandhi’s Election through Allahabad High Court Judgment on charges of use of State Machinery for winning election. It is also the case, that made the insecure Indira declare emergency after obtaining the much required stay order on Allahabd High Court judgement.
However, for our purpose, in the January 1975 judgment in Supreme Court, over admission of Evidence, Supreme Court backed the right of the people in democracy to know every public act.
In 1990, then Prime Minister V P Singh stressed on the need for extending right to information through a legislation. Going through various evolutions & developments, in 1998, Vajpayeeji announced the coming of Law to make the information freely available to Indian Citizens. In 2000, Freedom of Information Bill was presented to Parliament and then referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. Finally, the Freedom of Information Act was passed on 3rd December 2002, and received President’s Assent on 6th January 2003.
The Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs on Freedom of Information Bill 2000 can be read here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/168727063/Report-on-Freedom-of-Information-Bill-2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2002, as passed by Parliament on 3rd December 2002, can be read here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/168728020/Freedom-of-Information-Act-2002
With the change of Govt in 2004, Congress-led UPA came to power and brought its own version called Right to Information Act 2005 and repealed Freedom of Information Act 2002. It is very clear that the repeal of FOIA 2002 was done purely for cheap political reasons. Even if there was any kind of strengthening of Information Law was to be undertaken, it could have been done easily through an amendment act.
2. Right to Education Vs. The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act
Right to Education is actually a Fundamental Right introduced during BJP-led NDA’s Govt, on 12th December 2002. This was possibly, one of the first Directive Principle of State Policy to convert into a Fundamental Right.
Introduced through The Constitutional (Eighty Sixth) Amendment Act 2002, three changes were made to the Constitution.
· Introduction of Article 21(A) as a Fundamental Right
· Change in Article 45 to effect modified condition as a Directive Principle of State Policy
· Introduction of Article 51(A)(k) as a Fundamental Duty
This is the Original Right to Education.
To give effect to these Constitutional Provisions, necessary laws were required to be placed. The same was in the process of being executed through a series of drafts under a proposed Law called Free & Compulsory Education for Children Bill 2003. Going through various changes, by 2004 May, the Govt at the Centre changed after elections. Soon thereafter, for cheap political gains, the proposed Law was renamed slightly differently, formally, and drastically in its popular usage.
Officially, the proposed Edcuation Law was renamed to The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Biill 2008, and in popular usage, for cheap political gains, the Congress used the name Right to Education, giving an impression to the gullible people as if it is enacting a Fundamental Right.
Those who want to read the text of 86th Amendment Act, you can read it here - http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend86.htm
Those who want to read draft of Free & Compulsory Education for Children 2003, you can read it here - http://www.scribd.com/doc/100399030/Free-Compulsory-Education-Bill-2003
Those who want to read text of The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act 2009 you can read it here - http://www.scribd.com/doc/168734037/Right-of-Children-to-Free-Compulsory-Education-Act-2009
3. Food for Work Program Vs. NREGA
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is nothing new really, except for its damaging scale & shoddy implementation. For those unemployed labourer in rural areas, the Govt earlier preferred Food for Work Program. Under BJP this program gave effective results. Even today in various rural areas, the old worn out boards declaring construction of a road under Food for Work program can be easily seen.
So, Food for Work Programs to guarantee rural employment was in force in 1977 during the days of Janta Party coalition Govt. Then in 2000-01, BJP-led NDA Govt re-implemented the same Food for Work Program under Employment Assurance Scheme.
As a matter of fact, Congress initially continued this scheme, when it announced its re-launch in November 2004, with its usual, change in the name. The program was called National Food for Work program.
However, for political gains, Congress transformed the same program to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with an annualized budget of nearly Rs.40,000 crore. The program went completely out of hand, has practically no implementation of constructive activities, has totally destroyed the healthy, available labour market & from recent reports, out of the Budgets sanctioned, even corruption has started taking place.
If you watch carefully, the Food in the Food for Work Program, ended becoming part of Food Security Act, and Work in this program become exclusive and on cash payment basis alone, under NREGA. But another BJP program added to the Food Security Act too.
For those, who want to read about 1977 Food for Work program, go to page 14 of this document link and for 2000-01 Food for Work Program, under Employment Assurance Scheme, start from page 19, of the same Planning Commission of India report on Rural Poverty Alleviation Programs - http://www.scribd.com/doc/168738760/Planning-Commision-Rural-Poverty
4. Antyodaya Anna Yojana Vs. Food Security Act
In December 2000, on Vajpayeeji’s birthday on 25th, BJP launched Antyodaya Anna Yojana. This program targeted 1 crore BPL Families, but even within that BPL bracket, this program was aimed at poorest of poor.
This is was the Original and more sensible Food Security Act. The program had a target coverage of less than 5%. The total subsidy on this program was not expected to be more than Rs.2315cr. By March 2001, out of One Crore families, 36 Lakh Families in 6 states had already been identified and AAY Rations Cards were issued to the same. The results were seemingly so good, that in 2002 budget, BJP decided to target additional 50 Lakh poorest of poor families and raised quantity of food grain per family from 25 Kgs to 35 Kgs. Out of these additional 50 lakh families 42.595 Lakh families were identified by the time election were held in May 2004.
You can read about this Program in this Press Information Bureau release of 28th March 2001 - http://pib.nic.in/feature/feyr2001/fmar2001/f280320011.html
This is still a running program, as a matter of fact. In August 2004, Chidambaram raised the target families from 1.5cr at the time to 2cr. Interestingly, in November 2004, yes the same time with Congress re-launched Food for Work Program as National Food for Work Program, the same Finance Minister, under this same Govt declared that they are unable to identify the target families. The Govt seemed to give up on a successful program within 3 months of itself having raised figures.
Not only that, its communication was so ambiguous that one would think the entire AAY program had failed, whereas the fact was that only the additional 50 Lakh families out of total 2cr were becoming difficult to identify. And that too when Govt had given less than 3 months to their additional targets. Clearly, the Govt’s heart was not in this wonderful program.
I am also forced to think that how does a Govt, which confessed failure at identifying 50 Lakh poorest of poor families in 2004 for rural poverty alleviation program like AAY, deliver on NREGA and how does it have the courage to deliver on mega-ambitious Food Security Act. Its just a sham for more corruption.
For those who want to read Congress’ 2004 failure on AAY, read here - http://www.financialexpress.com/news/antyodaya-scheme-many-states-yet-to-identify-poor/118030/0
Congress is an idea thief. It steals ideas criminally for two purposes – cheap Political brownie points and opportunities for corruption. It has an inherent ability to turn anything sacred into despicable den of corruption & pettiness.
We all know Congress’ penchant for mileage through Names of Schemes. For years, they have named schemes & institutions on Nehru-Gandhi family name. And now under criticism, they have shifted to giving grand names that give grand ideas to otherwise petty & harmful schemes.
Congress must be countered on this aspect solely as a service to the nation.