Your Voice, Our Pledge: The Complete Indian National Congress Manifesto

The Indian National Congress has pioneered an entirely new way in which political party election manifestos are prepared.

March 26, 2014 6:13 IST | India Infoline News Service

The open Manifesto Process: Path breaking political reform

The Indian National Congress has pioneered an entirely new way in which political party election manifestos are prepared. It is our firm belief that the Indian National Congress Manifesto must reflect the voice and aspirations of the people and a new vision for the country.

There were several consultations held across the country over a five-month period (from October, 2013 to March, 2014) with different stakeholders, to get their inputs on India’s future growth, development and inclusion agenda. The Congress Vice President Shri Rahul Gandhi participated in several of these interactions including those with representatives from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities, women organisations, youth, labour, industry, Panchayat representatives, ex-servicemen, railway porters, rickshaw pullers, salt-pan workers and farmers. In addition to this a dedicated website (www.incmanifesto.in) was established to invite suggestions from all citizens for the Manifesto. A separate website for the “National Student Manifesto” was also created.

We received tens of thousands of suggestions through these consultations, on the websites and social media platforms, phones, emails, etc. These suggestions were carefully considered and have been included, wherever feasible.

We believe this unique exercise has made the Manifesto inclusive and fully reflective of the voice of the people of India.

Congress the only choice

The Indian National Congress has made seminal  contributions to India’s unity, integrity, secular polity and democratic federalism. We have championed the rights of the weaker sections, created conditions for faster economic growth and have been the principal instrument of social and economic change, the preferred political choice for crores of women and men.

Our central values resonate the very idea of India, that has come to us over the centuries, an  India  that  rejoices  in  and  celebrates its  many  diversities,  and  builds  on  these diversities to strengthen the bonds of  unity through secularism, pluralism, inclusion and social justice. This is the India that Mahatma  Gandhi  envisaged.  This is the India for which our Freedom Fighters gave their all. This is the India  that the Indian National Congress has  always  dedicated itself to. Ours is the one Party with a history of a liberal philosophy that has enabled the country to build strong political and economic institutions and transform itself.

In the 1950’s, the Indian National Congress put India on the path of industrialisation  through  the  public  sector, ensuring  both  rapid  and  balanced  regional growth  across  the  face  of  our  country. A  massive  infrastructure  for  science  and technology was also established. In the 1960’s, the Green Revolution was launched to make India self-sufficient in food grains and a direct assault on poverty. In the 1970’s, further gains were made through the Green Revolution and a White Revolution was unleashed that was to make India the world’s largest producer of milk. In the 1980’s, economic reforms were launched in response to new challenges, to modernise the Indian economy and bring about the information and conmunications technology revolution. In the 1990’s, radical economic reforms were instituted leading to accelerated economic growth and widespread economic and social transformation. At the turn of  the millennium, we brought about a “Regime of Rights” marking a paradigm shift in India’s politics and development. Beginning with the Right to Information, Right to Work (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Right to Education and the Right to Food, we have launched a radical progressive economic and social development discourse.

The depth and breadth of  its political and administrative experience makes the Indian National  Congress  most  intrinsically  aware and closely associated with the beliefs, and principles and need of the people of India. We are the Party that has always believed in the idealism and leadership abilities of  the youth.  We  have  remained  connected  with their aspirations and have been inspired by their restless vibrancy.

Our vision is one of inclusive and sustainable growth fuelled by agricultural development, regional balance, progress in  backward areas and a strong conviction that in order to prosper every citizen must have the opportunity to evolve to the best of her or his ability. Ours is a Nation of incredible but often untapped talent that needs and deserves to be unleashed.

We envision an India where power would have been devolved to the grassroots and to the marginalized so that they can shape their own destiny.

We envision an India charting a new future rather than rewriting its past; living in harmony, not in turmoil; thriving in peace rather than suffering in conflict; imbued with humility, not with arrogance.

We envision an India where the government serves the people rather than where people serve the government.

We believe in a simple universal truth: equity and opportunity for all.

The Indian National Congress is the only Party that believes that economic growth and communal harmony, and economic growth and social justice, are two sides of the same coin and must always go hand-in-hand.

The Indian National Congress is the only Party that combines experience and youth, wisdom and exuberance, achievement and ambition.

The Indian National Congress seeks a renewed mandate on the strength of its heritage, its record of service, both in and out of power, and its clear vision for the future.

Congress or BJP

Secular Liberal Nationalism vs Narrow-minded

Communalism Inclusive Democracy vs  Divisive Authoritarianism

Since it formation,  128  years  ago, the  Indian  National  Congress  has spoken  for  every  section  of Indian society and has mirrored India’s “unity in diversity”. The Indian National Congress’s secular and liberal ethos has a place for each and every Indian. Ours is an inclusive vision.

The BJP’s narrow and communal perspective denies equality to all.

Theirs is an exclusionary doctrine.

The Indian National  Congress  stands in sharp contrast to the divisive and disruptive ideology of the BJP. We have always been the secular and progressive force in this country and strived to unite all religions, castes and communities in the ideological battle against those who would polarize and divide our society.

Our democratic Constitution and institutions are the cornerstone of Modern India. All of us, who wish to build a better India and rid the country of poverty and corruption, must respect these institutions and work through them. They are the legitimate  instruments  in  our  hands. No individual or authority can  replace the values and processes of democratic governance.

Peace cannot be constructed on conflict. Societies cannot be built on injustice and hatred.

Aware of the challenges thrown up by the undemocratic and exclusionary politics of the BJP, particularly in the recent past, the Indian National Congress  is  committed to confronting these challenges with determination.

We do not respond by subverting democratic institutions and blocking Parliament session after session, year after year. We do not respond by turning people against each other and lighting the fires of communal hatred. We do not respond by proposing either that the structures of democracy be handed to one single person or that they be viciously undermined.

The Indian National Congress responds through legitimate peaceful, democratic and Constitutional means. These are the pillars on which our great Nation stands. It is for this reason that the Indian National Congress is the only natural choice for the people of India.

The UPA Report Card

It was the tireless campaign and vision of  Sonia Gandhi, President of  the Indian National Congress, that brought together and gave shape to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in May 2004.

The work of the Congress-led UPA government was appreciated and the people of India gave us a renewed mandate, with a larger majority, in 2009.

Chairperson of the UPA, Sonia Gandhi, and Prime  Minister  Dr.  Manmohan  Singh,  has translated into reality the pledges we made in May 2009.

The 2009 Mandate was for socially inclusive economic growth with a focus on jobs and livelihoods, and social justice.

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

The 2009 Mandate was to take forward the commitment made by our government in 2004 promising “A New Deal for Rural India.”

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

The 2009 Mandate was to safeguard and advance the interests of  India’s farmers and create an environment conducive to their prosperity.

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

The 2009 Mandate was for empowering the poor and the marginalized, especially Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women.

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

The 2009 Mandate was to open the doors of education and skills, and provide access to immense opportunities they hold out for our biggest asset, our youth.

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

The 2009 Mandate was for maintaining peace and security and for fighting the challenges thrown up by undemocratic, divisive and exclusionary political and social interests.

This has been achieved in substantial measure.

We let the record speak for itself.

The Congress-led UPA has brought 14 crore people out of poverty  in  the  last ten years. The rate of  poverty  decline has tripled as compared to the preceding decade. This is the greatest achievement of the UPA governments, and we are proud of it.

In the ten years of UPA-I and UPA-II, India achieved an average annual growth rate of 7.5%. During the NDA tenure the average annual growth rate was 5.9%.

Today, we produce 263 million tonnes of food grains. Ten years ago, at the end of the NDA tenure its was 213 million tonnes of food grains.

  • Today, the installed power capacity is 234,600 MW. Ten years ago, it was  less than half at 112,700 MW.
  • Today, the number of mobile subscribers has crossed 95 crore. Ten years ago, it was a mere 3.36 crore subscribers. Telephone density in rural areas has increased 26 times.
  • Today, coal production is 554 million tonnes per year. Ten years ago, it was 361 million tonnes per year.
  • Today, we have 389,578 km of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). This is more than 7 times the 51,511 km of rural roads ten years ago.
  • Today, the Cental Government’s spending on healthcare is Rs. 36,322 crore, 5 times more than the Rs. 7,248 crore it was ten years ago.
  • Today, minorities have 43,52,000 bank accounts in 121 districts of the country. The total volume of lending stands at Rs. 66,500 crore. Ten years ago, minorities had 14,15,000 bank accounts. The total volume of lending was just Rs. 4,000 crore.
  • Today, 41,16,000 women Self-Help- Groups have been credit linked to banks. Ten years ago it was only 9,71,182.
  • Today, the total credit to small businesses stands in excess of Rs. 5,27,000 crore. Ten years ago, credit to small businesses stood at below Rs. 80,000 crore.
  • Today, the Central Government’s expenditure on education is Rs. 79,451 crore. Ten years ago, it was Rs. 10,145 crore.
  • Today, the total value of India’s international trade stands at US $ 800 billion. Ten years ago, it was US $ 142 billion.

Landmark Legislation: 2009 -2014

The  Indian  National  Congress-led  UPA when it comes to the passage of significant, historic  and  pathbreaking  legislation.  The Indian National Congress is a Party that takes its commitments to the people as  sacred. The Party has worked to realise almost all the promises made to the people in its earlier Manifestos and campaigns:

1.  The  Indian  National  Congress  led the charge to enact a unique and unprecedented law to safeguard food security for the poorest. The National Food Security Act marked the realisation of over a decade of work and has been hailed  as  a  visionary law by the people.

2.  The seminal Right to Fair  Compensation and  Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement  Act, 2013 - a key campaign promise of the Indian National Congress in 2009 - was enacted after two years of nationwide consultations. This law was a historic victory  for  our  brothers  and  sisters working  in  the  agriculture  sector.  The law ensures that land cannot be acquired without the land owners consent, promises up to four times the prevailing market value as compensation and repeals the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

3. The Indian National Congress led the way in  bringing  about  historic  reform  with regard to women’s rights in the form of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and  the  salutary  Protection  of  Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013. These laws made the system more sensitive to the challenges faced by our women. Penalties have increased and new crimes were included to make the definition more women friendly so that the law better serves the interests of the aggrieved.

4. In a bid  to  bring  greater  clarity  on the  subject,  the  Congress-led  UPA Government enacted a new Companies Act, 2013. This new law, resulting from comprehensive consultations with all stakeholders brings about radical changes that will stimulate entrepreneurship, make  it  easier to  start  new businesses and encourage Corporate Social Responsibility.

5. Mindful that our Nation’s citizens, and particularly our senior citizens, deserve greater security with regard to their pension funds, the Congress-led UPA Government enacted the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 2013, to establish a regulator to ensure these funds are protected from unscrupulous individuals.

6. The Indian National Congress has always looked  to  the  people  for  guidance  in the discharge of  its duties. The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 was born out of a  determination  to  give  the  people a strong, independent  authority  to  act as  a  watchdog  against  administrative corruption. This authority empowers the people by giving them a high-powered forum to tackle corruption in the bureaucracy and the political system.

7. In one earliest actions on being re-elected, the  Congress-led  UPA  government passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2009. This law, which guarantees  free  education in  primary  schools,  also  puts  in  place provisions for minimum standards for the establishment of new neighbourhood schools.

8. The Indian National Congress, which has been firmly dedicated  to  the  cause of protecting our nation’s environment and forests, enacted the National Green Tribunal Act, 2009 to establish a special fast track court to hear disputes related to these issues. The

9. Indian National Congress piloted and passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood & Regulation) Act, 2014. This Act will protect livelihood rights of lakhs of street vendors.

10. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 not only prescribes stringent punishment for employing manual scavengers but also has provisions for rehabilitation of these families. An age-old blot on our society will finally be erased.

Our Pledge: A 15 Point Agenda for Socio-Economic and political transformation

1.  We will endeavour to bring around two- thirds of our population – the skilled hands that build India – into the middle class, through a package of basic rights for all workers – formal and informal, organized and unorganized, regular and contractual. Our aim will be  to  provide  them  and all low-income families with economic security and a minimum standard of living to uplift their condition. The charter of minimum socio-economic rights we will put in place includes:

a.  Right to Health

b.  Right to Pension

c.  Right to Homestead or Housing

d.  Right to Social Security

e.  Right to Dignity and humane working

1.  We will endeavour to bring around two- thirds of our population – the skilled hands that build India – into the middle class, through a package of basic rights for all workers – formal and informal, organized and unorganized, regular and contractual. Our aim will be  to  provide  them  and all low-income families with economic security and a minimum standard of living to uplift their condition. The charter of minimum socio-economic rights we will put in place includes:

a.  Right to Health

b.  Right to Pension

c.  Right to Homestead or Housing

d.  Right to Social Security

e.  Right to Dignity and humane working conditions

f.  Right  to  Entrepre- neurship  that  will protect and assist all those  who  seek  to become entrepreneurs

These  new  rights will  supplement  the other rights  established  under  UPA-I and UPA-II - Right to Food; Right to Information; Right to Education; Right to Employment; Rights to fight corruption (Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act as well as Whistleblower Protection Act); Right to Identity (Aadhaar) and the Right to direct receipt of welfare benefits (Aapka Paisa, Aapke Haath – Direct Benefits Transfers). Together, these rights will provide an economic platform for people below the middle class to transform their lives and to transform India primarily through their own effort, not through any handouts of the government.

2.  To support the Right to Health, the Indian National Congress will increase health expenditure to 3% of GDP and provide universal and quality health care for all Indians (including free medicines). To support the right to homestead/ housing, we will ensure affordable and quality housing for all. The Indira Awaas Yojana and the Rajiv Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor rural and urban households.

3.  Continuing our record of delivering India’s highest growth rates, we will restore India to 8% plus growth rate within 3 years:

  • We will ensure that India has a globally competitive business and investment-friendly environment.

  • We will continue to take firm action to control inflation even in a difficult global economic scenario.

  • We  will  promote  an  open  and and domestic competition. Our vision is building India as the world leader in manufacturing. We will ensure a 10% growth rate in the manufacturing sector with a special emphasis on small and medium enterprises.

  • We will continue on the path of making India a world leader in agricultural production and agro-industry, taking advantage of our national endowments and the genius of our farmers.  We will focus on increasing agriculture productivity and farmer incomes by increasing investments in irrigation, agricultural value chains, cold storage and warehousing, etc.

  • We will introduce the Goods and Services Tax Bills and a new Direct Tax Code Bill in Parliament and ensure they are enacted within one year.

  • We will ensure that the unpredictable risk of retroactive taxation is avoided.

  • We  will  invest  more  than  1  trillion dollars  over  the  next  decade  on upgradingIndia’s  power, transport and other development infrastructure. We  will  support  more  transparent, competitive and better-regulated Public Private Partnerships for both hard and soft infrastructure development.

  • We will promote a more flexible labour competitiveness, while moving towards international labour standards for our workers.

  • We will  promote  greater  integration   with the global economy and encourage Foreign Direct Investment, especially in labour intensive sectors.

  • We will ensure that growth is socially responsible, and comes from genuine value addition, not from stripping our natural resources or from underpaying our labour.

  • We will ensure that all our towns and Gram Panchayats are connected with high-speed broadband connectivity within 18 months.

  • Serious and systematic efforts have been made by the Congress-led UPA government to track down and recover black money. This determined effort will continue unabated. We will appoint a Special Envoy to pursue this agenda.

4.  We  will  provide  skills- training to 10 crore youth and provide them with employment opportunities over the next 5 years.

5.  We will ensure that every citizen has a bank account within the next five years.

6.  We  will  implement  the National Youth Policy that sets a new vision for leadership development amongst youth and for the development of sports.

a. We will bring enhanced focus on education for our youth and our students.

b. We will expand higher education opportunities with a focus on students from low-income families. We will scale up skill development and training to open up new opportunities for upward economic mobility for our people.

c. We will open up our higher education system to  investment  from  India and from abroad and bring the best available  knowledge  and  teaching  to our youth.

d.  We will move our focus from ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ to ‘Shreshth Shiksha Abhiyan’, making “quality” the centre of our agenda We will strengthen the implementation of the  Right  to  Education,  ensure universal enrolment in secondary levels.

7.  The protection of minorities is at the core of the ethos of our country. The Communal Violence Bill, which was drafted and introduced by the Indian National Congress, remains  an  important commitment. We will work towards its enactment at the earliest.

8.  We will continue our focus on empowerment of women and fight for their security (suraksha), self-respect  and  dignity  (samman),  and equality (samanata).

self-respect  and  dignity  (samman),  and equality (samanata).

a.  We will ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

b.  We  will  initiate  immediate  action to formulate a Citizen’s Charter for Women’s Safety and Security.

c.  We will provide upto Rs 1 lakh as low interest loans to women through Self- Help-Groups for livelihood activities.

9.  We will enhance legal protection and resource allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

a.  We  will  enact  central  legislation  on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Sub Plans to ensure focused spending of funds on weaker sections.

b. We will  ensure  the  passage  of  the Scheduled  Castes and Tribes  (Prevention  of  Scheduled Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2013.

10. We  will  strongly  protect  the  interests of the Other Backward Classes, especially those amongst them that are most deprived. We will establish a new commission to inquire into the condition of the most backward and marginalized Other Backward Class communities who have not adequately received the benefits of government programmes; and will recommend corrective measures.

11. We will strengthen the legal and institutional framework to protect our children. We will improve the working conditions of Anganwadi and related workers in whose care our nation entrusts our most precious asset – our youngest citizens.

12. We will give a major impetus to planned urbanization, creating inclusive cities, revamping urban governance, empowering mayors, increasing low-income housing and making larger investments in urban infrastructure, especially in multi-modal transport.

13. We will accelerate governance reform including legal, judicial and electoral reform, building on the momentum of the last few months.

a. We will enact the remaining anticorruption and accountability bills that were blocked by the opposition;

b. We will ensure the immediate passage of The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, The Public Procurement Bill, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill and the Judicial Appointments Bill.

c. We will implement a strategy for legal and judicial reform that will enhance quality, responsiveness and timeliness of the judicial system.

d. We will ensure that the recommendations of the second Administrative Reforms Commission are implemented in letter and spirit and monitored at every step.

e. We will develop a consensus and bring about legislative amendments towards effective and meaningful electoral reforms.

14. We are committed to a series of specific legislative, administrative and regulatory measures to protect our environment, an endowment entrusted to us for the benefit of future generations. We will set up a National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority (NEAMA), a professional agency to conduct environmental appraisals in a time-bound and transparent manner.

15. The Indian National Congress believes modernisation of our defence forces is imperative. The Indian National Congress shall ensure that the process of procuring the finest, and most state-ofthe-art equipment is carried out efficiently and transparently, while ensuring rapid development of our domestic defence industry. We will continue to protect and advance the interests of our defence personnel and ex-servicemen. We will continue to follow an unwavering pro- India foreign policy, enhance bilateral relationships with our neighbours and friendly nations, enhance commercial ties and strive to mobilize support for

permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council.

The Detailed Action Plan 2014 -2019

1. A New Future for the Hands that Build the Nation

It is because of the Indian National Congress that employees in the organised sector have been fully protected through legislation and are entitled to social security in different ways. While organised sector employment must expand, the reality is that employment in the unorganised sector contributes close to 94% of India’s labour force.

In recent years, with the expansion of employment opportunities because of rapid economic growth, this segment has expanded. In recognition of this, in 2008, the Congress-led UPA government passed the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.

The Indian National Congress believes that it is time to scale up these programmes across the country so that all workers derive benefits from both legislation and programmes in the next five years. To ensure a basic rights and welfare package for all working people, the Indian National Congress will ensure:

  1. Enforcement of Minimum Wage laws;

  2. Provision of Pension cover;

  3. Provision of life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits – free medicine, old age protection, Provident Fund, employment injury benefit, housing, education schemes for children, and old age homes;

  4. Creation of a working environment that enables all such workers to carry out work without harassment. We will also ensure humane working conditions;

  5. Strengthening of collective bargaining;

  6. Programmes for upgrading skills and income including use of improved technology.

2. Economic Growth

The Indian National Congress is committed to achieving 8 % growth per year, within 3 years, to be sustained over the next two decades.

The Indian National Congress’s agenda is one of social and economic transformation. Growth is essential for this transformation to happen and for it to be truly meaningful. It is economic growth that creates jobs for our youth. It is economic growth that gives us the resources to invest in our social welfare programmes and infrastructure development. The nature and quality of growth is equally important to ensure that the gains of growth are equitably distributed. Over the last ten years, the Congress-led UPA governments have pursued and delivered rapid and inclusive economic growth. We have delivered economic growth of 7.5 % per annum, compared to 5.9 % delivered by the NDA, even as poverty has declined three times faster. The growth under the Congress-led UPA has been faster and more inclusive than any earlier period in India’s history. And it is not just the acceleration of growth that gives the Indian National Congress satisfaction. In keeping with the long-standing tradition of the Indian National Congress, we have made the growth process more socially inclusive than it has ever been.

The UPA governments’ record on growth is unparalleled. However, given the economic slowdown in the last few years, driven by the global financial crisis, bringing India back on track to achieve 8% inclusive growth will be an overriding priority of the next Congress-led government.

An Economic Roadmap for 2014-2019

The Finance Minister in his budget speech earlier this year has laid out a roadmap of ten important tasks to be undertaken by the next government. The Indian National Congress affirms its commitment to this roadmap which is outlined below:

i. Fiscal Consolidation: We will achieve the target of fiscal deficit of 3 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2016-17, and remain below that level always.

ii. Current Account Deficit: Our Current Account Deficit can be financed only by foreign investment, whether it is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) or External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) or any other kind of foreign inflow. Hence, there is no room for any aversion to foreign investment.

iii. Price Stability and Growth: In a developing economy we must accept that when our aim is high growth there will be a moderate level of inflation. Reserve Bank of India must strike a balance between price stability and growth while formulating monetary policy.

iv. Infrastructure: We will rebuild our infrastructure and add a huge quantity of new Infrastructure. Every proven model must be adopted. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model must be made more transparent and competitive and more widely used. New financing structures will be created for long term funds and pooling of investments.

v. Manufacturing: We will focus on manufacturing and especially on manufacturing for export. We propose that all taxes, Central and State, which go into an exported product should be waived or rebated. We also propose that there should be a minimum tariff protection so that there is an incentive to manufacture goods in India rather than import them into India.

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