Friday April 26, 2019
Home India Indian Nation...

Indian National Congress: Not a democratic setup, a Nehru-Gandhi dynasty

0
//

 

Congress-rally

By Kanika Rangray

The term “Congress” was first chosen for the Continental Congress to emphasize the status of each colony represented there as a self-governing unit. After its use by the US legislature, the term has been widely adopted by many states within unions and by unitary nation states in the Americas to refer to their legislatures.

The word Congress is also used in the name of several political parties, implying the use of democracy in the functioning and organisation within the party. Countries which have congress parties include Guyana, India, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Namibia, Pakistan, Sudan, Fiji, Canary Islands, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda.

Out of all the “Congress parties” throughout the world, India has eight of them, The only congress party which follows a dynasty is the Indian National Congress (INC), the second-largest national party in India.Flag_of_the_Indian_National_Congress.svg_

Commonly known as Congress, over the years this coalition has turned into a Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. The family is an Indian political lineage, which has traditionally revolved around the INC, and as if following a tradition—the members of this family have led the Congress party, ignoring the will or the capability of the person concerned.

 

 

In 2007, The Guardian wrote:

The Nehru Gandhi brand has no peer in the world—a member of the family has been in charge of India for 40 of the 60 years since independence. The allure of India’s first family blends the right to rule of British monarchy with the tragic glamour of America’s Kennedy clan.

The Congress has remained in power majorly due to its association with the name Gandhi. During the 1998 elections, the party won 141 seats in the Lok Sabha. So, for the purpose of boosting the popularity of the party among the masses and to improve the chances of winning the next elections—the Congress Party leaders urged Sonia Gandhi to assume the leadership of the party.

The entire concept of “dynasty politics” started with Indira Gandhi. After the death of her father Jawaharlal Nehru, the successive Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri invited her to join his cabinet. Gandhi had refused the presidency of the party and instead chose to join the cabinet.

After Shastri’s death, the Congress Party elected Indira Gandhi over Morarji Desai as their leader. Gandhi came to power in the 1971 elections, and soon after that, her journey from a party’s president to a nation’ prime minister started.

19gandhi3
Indira Gandhi with her son Sanjay Gandhi

Indira brought her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, in the party to succeed her, but after the death of Sanjay in a plane crash in 1980, Rajiv Gandhi was brought to the party.

After her assassination in 1984, Rajiv succeeded his mother in the party and went on to become the prime minister. His assassination in 1991, allegedly by Tamil Tigers, brought the downfall of the party. It is then that Sonia Gandhi, his widow stepped in to take the presidency of the party.

Even though Sonia Gandhi initially refused to play any kind of active role in party affairs, she was eventually roped in for the role. Her appointment as the party president did not show an immediate effect but eventually led to a victory in the 2004 general elections where the UPA (United Progressive Alliance—a Congress-led alliance with various regional parties) defeated the NDA (National Democratic Alliance—a party coalition led by the BJP) with a substantial margin.

She refused the post of Prime Minister and as a consequence of which, Dr. Manmohan Singh filled the position.

Photo credit: newindianexpress.com
Manmohan Singh & Sonia Gandhi

Gandhi remained the party president and ran the government as a back-hand executive.

Rahul Gandhi, son of Sonia Gandhi and the current Gandhi generation, was roped in and now is the vice-president of the party. He also holds a seat in Amethi, which has remained the Congress’s bastion ever since its formation in 1966, and the seat of power of the Nehru-Gandhi family since 1980.

In effect, it has repeatedly emerged that the Congress is a hierarchy of the Nehru-Gandhi family, and notably, it literally runs on the name “Gandhi”.

 

Next Story

Is NYAY Going To Be A Game Changer for Congress?

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers.

0
Congress on Friday promised to create one crore jobs across the southern state
Congress state units given more power for 2019 battle- wikimedia commons

By Amit Kapoor & Manisha Kapoor 

The idea of launching Nyuntam Aay Yojana, a cash transfer scheme that intends to provide Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20 per cent Indian families, by the Congress Party if it comes to power, has stirred a debate among the policymakers about whether the move is economically viable or is just a tactic by the Congress Party to garner votes in the upcoming general elections.

The discussions are foreseeable, provided that this intervention to ensure basic income to the poor households will cost the country somewhere between 1.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent of GDP, a number higher than the government’s expenditure on healthcare and education. The implementation of NYAY means an additional cost between Rs 3.6 lakh crore to Rs 7.2 lakh crore per year.

To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. However, this will be a major dent in India’s budget expenditure and will explode the fiscal deficit from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

money
An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. Pixabay

Apart from fiscal prudence, the other immediate concern surrounding the scheme is the identification of beneficiaries and the database that will be used for this. There is no official income database available with the government at the individual level and since most of the poor work in unorganised rural areas, there is no direct way of verifying their incomes such as through a payroll or income tax.

The proponents of the approach state that a good starting point could be Socio Economic Caste Census of 2011 if one goes by multi-dimensional aspect of poverty. However, one can’t ignore the fact that even if the scheme defines poverty by assets and not income for quick exclusion rules, the data is outdated. A scheme targeted at reducing poverty can’t use data that is seven-eight years old. Even if one ignores that, it should be noted that there are major methodological issues with how data was collected. This is reflected in the discrepancies that exist in the data collected through SECC and other governmental data. A fresh survey for the identification process will lead to possibilities of corruption as in other targeted schemes. For instance, various studies have shown that many people who are not below poverty line have BPL cards.

One should also keep in mind that there exist significant disparities across Indian states and districts in terms of income levels and affordability of basic needs such as education, healthcare etc. Therefore, the same amount that means a lot to a person living in a low-income state or a state that has good access to public facilities such as public hospitals, schools etc would not be enough for a person trying to make a living in a high-income region. As a result, a prerequisite for such a scheme is a detailed regional level survey on income characteristics of Indian states and districts.

money

To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. Pixabay

Another major concern surrounding the scheme is its inflationary implications. It is argued that the act of transferring cash to the target population will boost their purchasing power, which would lead to an increase in demand for goods and services and, thus, push prices upwards. Advocates of the approach have tried to argue that studies around the world present a lot of evidence to the contrary.

An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. However, these evidences should be considered with a pinch of salt. They rest on the assumption that the money will be spent on useful goods, that will help the local economy in becoming more productive. Though this will not be the case always.

Also Read: Food Unites People Across The Globe

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers. This idea is supported by claim that in-kind transfers will help by encouraging the consumption of right things, such as healthy food.

Given India’s concerns about rising unemployment rates, jobless growth and the fact that we need to have effective utilization of our young population to gain a competitive edge over other economies, the promoters are trying to project that NYAY can prove to be a game changer. However, for the Indian economy, a better alternative would be to strengthen the existing public services landscape by removing social, political and personal barriers, along with carrying out structural reforms that leads to creation of more productive jobs. (IANS)