In ‘100 days review of NDA government’ – a report released on Tuesday, focusing on issues faced by the country's poor and marginalized - civil society groups delivered a mixed verdict on Modi's coalition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which swept to power in May.

Compiled by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), a coalition of more than 4,000 civil society groups, the report examines early trends and emerging policies in governance, environment, health, education and the rights of women and marginalized groups.

"There are several reasons to be optimistic such as India's robust position regarding food security on the global stage, a mission mode attempt to end financial exclusion, plethora of schemes announced for women," it said.

Last month, Modi's government vetoed the adoption of a World Trade Organization (WTO) treaty to streamline rules for shipping goods across borders.

The deal was blocked as the government wanted more attention paid to WTO limits on stockpiling food which it feared would impact its subsidized food distribution programme that aims to feed nearly 850 million people.

The WNTA - which includes charities such as World Vision, Jagori, Water Aid India and India Alliance for Child Rights - praised commitments to stem the rising reports of violence against women with efforts such as the establishment of 660 One Stop Crisis Centers for rape victims.

 

Highlights
Modi government completes 100 days in office
BJP got 282 seats in Lok Sabha elections
BJP is the only political party to get majority in Lok Sabha after three decades
Modi government’s 100 days report card focuses on issues faced by the country's poor and marginalized
Report examines early trends and emerging policies in governance, environment, health, education
Government announces to set up 660 One Stop Crisis Centers for rape victims
PM decides to make 50 essential generic medicines free of cost
Modi committed to build toilets in every home
PM wows to provide speedy clearance for environment projects


The NGOs also lauded Modi for a decision to make 50 essential generic medicines free of cost, commitments to build toilets in every home, and the better functioning of parliament.

Business over environment

One of the most worrisome trends in Modi's first 100 days was a policy to expedite environmental clearances for industrial projects.

"The environment minister has declared that the environment ministry is no more the 'roadblock ministry', but one where decisions are being taken faster," the report said.

"The civil society is concerned that haste or efficiency could be at the expense of justice and the well being of the environment, natural resources and community."

It said that within a month of assuming power, the NDA's rural development minister hinted at diluting the amount of say local communities have in the exploitation of their natural resources.

Expansion of coal mines has been exempted from public hearings, and mid-sized polluting industries can now operate within 5 km of national parks and sanctuaries, as opposed to 10 km as indicated in a Supreme Court directive, it said.

The charities also said they were "unsettled" following the leak by the NDA of an Intelligence Bureau report that criticizes organizations such as Greenpeace India, ActionAid India and Oxfam as being anti-development and funded by foreigners with interests against India.

"I don't think it’s good to be naming groups who are giving a voice to the marginalized. We are not anti-development, and we are hoping that this is not a move to shrink the space of civil society," said Paul Divakar, WNTA's convener.

Love jihad

The report criticized lawmakers for failing to pass key bills such as those aimed at politically empowering women and protecting low caste and tribal communities from violence.

It also questioned a decision by the NDA - which is led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - to amend a law to allow juveniles found guilty of crimes such as rape and murder to be given the same punishments as adults.

It said this was a populist demand following outrage after the high-profile Delhi murder and gang rape case where one of those who was convicted was a juvenile and was given only three years in a detention home.

The report also noted trends that did not bode well for Muslims, who account for about 15 percent of India's 1.2 billion people. Many Muslims continue to live on the margins.

It said some religious Hindu radical groups gained prominence soon after the government took office, and there has been a spate of anti-Muslim statements by some BJP leaders and religious groups.

Furthermore, there have been false rumours that Muslim men are conducting “Love Jihad” by ensnaring Hindu girls and forcibly converting them to Islam – which has alarmed Muslims and could lead to increased communal tensions.

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