KOCHI: At a time when election manifestos are competing for ‘prime time’ coverage in the election season, the ordinary public remains unimpressed. It has become quite normal for them as all parties will shower promises when elections are around the corner. The newly-found love for the public by doling out goodies, repairing long-neglected roads, assuaging different demographic groups such as minorities, armed forces, farmers and youth are becoming a mere show to impact the voting patterns.
When a ruling party bent backwards to re-interpret the unemployment figures and diminishing support for farmers or the Opposition’s promise of farmers budget, – none among the public finding it serious as these short-term offers won't give adequate thought to the larger issues.
If we take the case of employment for young people, 65 per cent of our resource pool, comes under the age of 35 years. Despite having envious potential, we fail to take advantage of the dividend, we need qualified and skilled people. But with 31 per cent of young women and 14 per cent of young men being illiterate, our country has numerous problems to thwart.
One of the biggest criticisms of the current government has been the steep rise in the unemployment rate in the country. According to the data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent data research organisation, the unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2 per cent in February 2019.
Further, there are over 24 lakh government posts remain vacant at both Central and state government.
Other promises for the ongoing election includes the creation of 10 lakh jobs in the panchayats which specifically address the rural youths. In addition, there will be an increase from 100 to 150 working days a year under the MNREGA scheme.
Similarly, farmers have silently endured injustice and humiliation for a long time. After a period of prosperity, the late 1990s witnessed the fall of prices of most agricultural products directly impacting the sector's growth.
Unfortunately, they continue to be ignored or sidelined when it comes to rapid developments in technology and information. As a result, most of them are left struggling to grapple with complex situations like indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers or the changing marketing didactics. They are the mainstay for most of the food produced and are an important part of the socio-economic and ecological landscape. It is these farmers with small and fragmented land holdings, who are powerless, debt-ridden and driven to commit suicide in their desperation.
In order to capture the votes from these oppressed communities, the political parties are coming up with various promises. But we hardly see them get implemented. But it is time for us to check the manifestos and chronicle the promises. In that way, we can make our democracy agile by making our parliamentarians accountable.
Reena Mathai Luke is a freelance journalist and a development expert who writes on issues related to children, youth, gender and disability.
(The views expressed by the author are her own)