BJP government at the centre weakens many autonomous bodies and abolishes vital policy making, regulating professional bodies substituting with new ones, minimising their role to that of departmental sections of ministries.
President, Dravidar Kazhagam
In a democratic polity, the ruling side sustains or gets defeated by the electorate at every periodicity. During the seven decades of independence, the country has witnessed many political parties as individual and in alliance with the others governing the State. It is quite common for every political party to show improvement over the previous party/alliance rule to show the people about the fault in the governance during the previous regime and add a few chapters in its achievement for their re-election to rule again. The National Democratic Alliance under the leadership of the saffron party, Bharatiya Janata Party which was elected to rule since 2014 is in the final year of its tenure and has to seek re-election in 2019. In May 2014 the manner in, the BJP projecting Narendra Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate proved to be entirely different, with the catchy election slogan, ‘Maximum Governance with Minimum Government’. BJP secured the mandate of the electorate with the thumping majority but the promise of maximum governance was conveniently forgotten. The four year rule has not seen even ‘optimum governance’ for the development of the country in many vital areas. The grand and continuous exercise of changing the earlier governing bodies which had autonomy of deciding what is good to the country subjecting them to frequent departmental interferences from the concerned ministries obstructed their functioning. It is a deliberate attempt to accomplish the agenda of its saffron policy for which the prevalence and functioning of autonomous governing bodies remain as hurdle. The dual membership both in RSS (non – political) and BJP (political) which is against the democratic fabric of any political party, has not caused earlier as heavy damage to the economy of the country as well as its social development as that resulted in the current Modi’s regime. The blatant agenda of RSS gets implemented by wearing the political mask. Many of the vital governing bodies have been abolished and alternatively only forums have been formed. The intention of the present saffron ruler is that whatever bodies that were formed during earlier regimes have to be changed to show as if a paradigm shift has taken place in the governance of the State, with the result whatever good governance prevailed earlier was discontinued and the net governance was in reverse gear reflecting many retrograde results in the performance scenario as well as the benefit derivatives meant for the citizens. The change of the governing bodies has been taking place continuously and it will not be stopped until Modi’s rule is put to a grinding halt. How did the governance of the State get weakened since May 2014?
NITI Ayog instead of Planning Commission:
Till Modi assumed the prime minister’s position, Planning Commission was the apex governing body to decide the allocation of funds for all the States by holding discussions with the concerned State authorities. Substantial progress had taken place both at Central level and at the level of the States in planning and execution of the development schemes. Since the National Planning Commission had proved as the tested mechanism since 1950 in the formulation of Five Year plans consecutively for twelve periods, many States followed that pattern. The State of Tamil Nadu was the pioneer in the formation of State Planning Commission which again remained a time-tested body for the overall development of the State. Nothing is wrong in improving the modus operandi in the discharge of responsibilities effectively by the National Planning Commission. But Modi wanted to wipe out the very existence of the bodies, created during the Congress rule, unmindful of the continuance of the same mechanism even during the BJP rule of Atal Bihari Vajpayee during 1999 – 2004, and established a new body viz. NITI Ayog in 2014. The projection of NITI Ayog by Modi Government became equivalent to its catchy slogan. The effectiveness in the functioning of the Planning Commission is not there in NITI Ayog as it was considered only an extension of the department under the control of the Central Ministry, losing its independent and autonomous stature. No substantial development had taken place through NITI Ayog. The grandeur of Planning Commission has come down to the level of a ‘forum of economists’ with mere pronouncements of the condition of the economy, frequented with press statements to shield the ruler from the meaningful criticism loaded with facts and figures. The only objective of the saffron rule that ‘the mechanism established during the Nehruvian period has to be wiped out’ has been achieved by Modi Government by the formation of NITI Ayog.
Exploiting the Sustained Constitutional Amendments of ‘Emergency’:
Both RSS and BJP are critical in exposing the exceeding and atrocities that took back during the period of emergency, declared by Indira Gandh,in the current 42nd anniversary of emergency. But the saffron critics are reluctant to reamend the vital changes that had taken place through the 42nd Constitutional amendment at the time of emergency which include bringing the subject ‘education’ from the State List to Concurrent List. When many changes brought by the 42nd Amendment were changed to the original position by Janata Government in which JanSangh, the precursor of BJP was in the ruling alliance.The subject ‘education’ continued to be in ‘Concurrent List’ without reamendment. The power vested in ‘Concurrent List’ has to be exercised by mutual communication, consultation and concurrence between the Centre and States. Though the Centre exercised the power unilaterally on a few occasions earlier, its frequencies are alarming during Modi’s regime. Without consulting and getting concurrence from State Governments, the Centre has brought out many changes on education front, to say precisely, the Centre has been unnecessarily interfering in the governing affairs of States, detrimental to the federal spirit envisaged by the Indian Constitution.
Maximum Interference in Medical Education and Abolishing Medical Council of India
Medical education continues to be vital constituency in ‘Higher Education’ and it is completely different from others. Many of the executive powers related to Medical education come under the purview of the concerned universities which again are under the domain of the respective State Government. In the name of enhancing standard, efficiency in medical education and encouraging merit based admission, the saffron government at the Centre has brought in many changes, the highlight of which is NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test). In making the policy of uniformity in the saffron style of one culture, one language, one religion, NEET was introduced which is altogether a retrograde move in medical education. Under the guise of merit based admission, only deterioration has taken place by giving admission to candidates who had not secured even a single mark in certain core science subjects in NEET. Shifting the basis of reckoning the secured marks from ‘percent’ to ‘percentile’ in NEET as the cut off level for admission will itself prove the height of retrogression in upkeeping the standards of medical education.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) which has discharged its duties as advisory and macro level regulatory professional body of medical education was influenced to interfere in the micro administration during the Modi’s regime.
In order to interfere more intensely in the State governments’ power of medical education and public health care, unmindful of the anti Constitutional nature of such interference, the Centre brought ‘The Indian Medical Council Amendment (Ordinance) 2018’. The interference of the Centre is not strengthened by mere promulgation of the ordinance but goes further by placing ‘The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017 in the Parliament to replace the existing Medical Council of India. All these poking not mere the nose but the entire body of the Modi Government into the medical education and public health care system that are in the domain of the State governments as mandated by the Constitutional provisions to uphold the federal character, will affect the production of qualified doctors to suit the diversified health care conditions prevailing in the States. The professional fabric that prevail in the Constitution of the Medical Council of India with due representation of all the States through electoral system will be replaced by administrators in majority in the proposed National Medical Commission. Some States would go unrepresented in the Commission for a long period. The formation of National Medical Commission will make the Medical education as the monopoly of affluent section in the society, keeping the vast section of rural and socially and educationally backward people outside the purview of getting medical education. The existing Medical Council of India has to ensure more transparency and professionalism for which it has to be strengthened and not dissolved and substituted with another body of administrators. Modi Government is steadfastly moving on the deleterious direction spoiling the Medical education and public health care system under the guise of uniformity for the whole country, oriented on saffron policy.
Higher Education Council of India in lieu of University Grants Commission:
Independent India witnessed many progress overall in higher education by implementing the recommendations of the various expert committees. The apex autonomous body facilitating the development of multitude of higher educational institutions and institution of independent universities is University Grants Commission formed in 1953. Many universities under the purview of State governments, a few Central universities and multitude of deemed universities were established under the technical control of University Grants Commission. This proliferation of universities produced graduates, post graduates and decoral degree holders in large numbers who are widely placed in suitable position in India and abroad. This is the academic excellence of the products of the higher education institutions. The major autonomous power vested with University Grants Commission continues to be the financial grant allocation both for the establishment expenditures and developmental schemes of universities and the colleges, institutes functioning as constituents and in affiliation. The autonomy got percolated to the level of the individual college functioning which brought fruitful results through the vast inclusion of the marginalised sections of the society especially hailing from rural areas many of whom undergo higher education for the first time from their respective families. Social justice was dispensed to substantial extents in higher education.
But the Modi Government under the guise of revamping higher education has started to adopt exclusion policy by bringing more stringent rules and regulations curtailing the funds allocation. In order to suit its saffron style governance, a move of establishing a new body has been mooted i.e. a Bill on Higher Education Council of India (HECI) has been placed in Parliament to replace the time tested, result generated University Grant Commission over more than half a century. The major change in the likely replaceable body i.e. HECI is the curtailment of the power of allocation of funds for various universities. The funds allocating power has been brought under the direct control of the Ministry of Human Resources Development. The tool for effective governance is decentralisation and delegation of power. Saffron rule travels in the reverse direction, bringing many of the decentralised power under centralised pool of the Central Government which would facilitate political consideration in the exercise of power.
Even the universities under the purview of States are not under direct operative control of the respective State governments. The propsed HECI expects the good old, internationally acclaimed universities to apply for academic approval for the courses it offers. It is nothing but making the renowned universities to the miniature level of functioning as sections of a government department. Can higher education progress further under HECI curtailing the autonomous nature of the higher learning institutions?
Systemic Weakening of Autonomous Reserve Bank of India
RBI, the banker’s banker is not only the regulating authority of the entire banking sector but also controlling the economy of the country through the modes of its functional mechanism. RBI is the authority to stabilize the economy by monitoring the money liquidity in the economy and keeping the inflation and price fluctuation under control to the possible extent. This exercise has been carried out through the announcement of monetary policy periodically. Earlier RBI announced the policy with the autonomous power vested with it. After Modi assumed power at the Centre, the formulation and announcement of monetary policy was brought under the control of Monetary Policy Committee which has got substantial membership from the Central Government to influence on the desired directives in the RBI’s policy. An explicitly known cold war prevails between the Central government and RBI on the issue of curtailing the interest rate for the bank lending. This is only the tip of the iceberg and dominance over RBI’s governance.
The influence of government on many an occasion is known to the public, the demonetisation of high value currency notes of Rs.1,000/- and Rs.5,00/- were decided unilaterally by the Centre with subsequent mooting of official notes from the RBI. The massive demonetisation exercise had not brought any positive results in the economy. Anticipating this, the previous governor of RBI who was not amenable for the demonetisation move proposed by the Modi’s government was not extended with the second tenure of governorship. The chief economic advisor who was selected by the Modi Government was unable to cope with the unilateral move and decision making of the Centre and had to move much before his tenure expired.
The height of interference of the Centre in the functioning of the RBI has been very well revealed by one of the deputy governors of RBI thus: “We (RBI) have arrived at this situation (weak) because of the national governments permanent trampling of institutions.”
What other reaction could be expressed more than this about the interference of the Centre in the functioning of the institutions. Systemic weakening of RBI is in progress during the Saffron rule despite some good and result yielding initiatives being taken by the RBI. The RBI is considered as one of the effective central banks in the international arena.
The above discussed weakening, abolition and substitution exercises carried out by the saffron rulers at the Centre are only illustrative and not exhaustive. The setback the saffron rule has created in the State Governance will have severe impact in future, causing unbearable burden to the citizens of the country. The policy measures of saffron rulers are short sighted to achieve only the electoral gain, unmindful of the drastic impacts it would cause in future. It is worthwhile to repeat the utterance of the RBI’s deputy governor in one of his public lectures thus:
“This myopia or short-termism of government is best summarised in history by Louis XV,
‘Apres moi, le deluge !’ (After me, the deluge!)”.