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The 5 Key Aspects of Congress Party's Nyay Patra

It, however, provides no clarity on the estimated fiscal arithmetic for many of its announced promises.

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India
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The Congress manifesto, the ‘Nyay Patra’, focuses on five pillars of justice:

  • Yuva Nyay (Youth Justice)

  • Nari Nyay (Women Justice)

  • Kisan Nyay (Farmer Justice)

  • Shramik Nyay (Worker Justice)

  • Hissedari Nyay (Participatory Justice)

This author had recently discussed the state of the economy for the last ten years of the Modi government with respect to the poor, the youth, the farmers, and women (as part of the 'GYAN' focal points discussed in the BJP’s electoral vision for the 2024 elections).

On paper, the Nyay Patra may hit all the correct notes in raising some of the more pertinent issues of socio-economic justice and anchoring change for communities across India adversely impacted by crises of debt, joblessness, and price rise, but it provides no clarity on the estimated fiscal arithmetic for many of its announced promises and unilateral transfers.

And, once this is combined with a poorly coordinated electoral communication strategy for the party on the ground, the manifested vision of the Congress merely translates to ‘ink on paper’.

Nevertheless, here are five key aspects of the Nyat Patra.

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Nari Nyay (Women Justice) 

Presently, the representation of women in State Assemblies across India remains below the threshold of 20 per cent.

Chhattisgarh leads among the states with the highest representation, with 18 per cent of its MLAs being women. However, in states like Himachal Pradesh, the representation is notably low, with only one woman MLA, while Mizoram currently lacks any female representation in its assembly. 

To address this gender disparity in political representation, an Amendment Act has been proposed which advocates for one-third reservation for women in State Assemblies that will be elected in the next round of elections in 2025, and to the Lok Sabha elections in 2029.

This initiative aims at fostering greater gender inclusivity in India's political landscape, empowering women to participate more actively in decision-making processes at both the state and the national level. 

Furthermore, despite considerable improvement in educational attainment among young women, the overall participation of women in the labour force in India remains strikingly low. Hence, as a part of an effort to boost female labour force participation, the manifesto proposes reserving 50 per cent of central government jobs exclusively for women.

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Kisan Nyay (Farmer Justice) 

In accordance with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, the Congress party pledges to give a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Prices (MSP), ensuring that farmers receive fair compensation for their crops each year.

Under this proposal, the MSP will be directly credited to the bank accounts of all farmers who sell their produce at procurement centres and APMCs, streamlining the process and eliminating intermediaries. 

Additionally, the Nyay Patra promises a comprehensive farm loan waiver.

Recognising the vital role of agricultural finance in supporting farmers, the Congress party has also proposed the establishment of a Permanent Commission on Agricultural Finance which will be tasked with conducting regular assessments of agricultural credit availability and evaluating the necessity for loan forbearance measures.  

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Shramik Nyay (Worker Justice) 

The Public Distribution System (PDS) has developed into a mechanism for managing scarcity by providing essential food grains at affordable rates. Over time, it has become a crucial component of the government's strategy for regulating the food economy in India.

Currently, the PDS offers commodities such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene. However, the Congress party intends to broaden its scope to include pulses and cooking oil. 

According to a December 2023 report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in 2021, approximately 3.1 billion individuals worldwide could not afford a nutritious diet, with 45 per cent of them residing in southern Asia. The report highlights that nearly three-quarters of the Indian population struggled to afford a healthy diet in 2021, placing India behind neighbouring countries like Bangladesh (66 per cent) and Sri Lanka (56 per cent). 

A 2020 analysis conducted by Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, and Meghana Mungikar, revealed that the PDS excludes over 100 million people due to outdated population data used by the Union government, which relies on the 2011 Census figures. These figures are now more than twelve years old. Consequently, PDS coverage will be expanded based on updated population statistics, pending the completion of the Census. 

Additionally, at present, five states have set their daily minimum wage at Rs 375 or higher, with Haryana offering the highest MGNREGA wage at Rs 284 per day. However, despite the lowest increase observed since its establishment, wages provided under the scheme have fallen below the minimum wage in 34 out of 35 states and union territories.

To address this disparity, the party has proposed a national minimum wage of Rs 400 per day, encompassing the wages of workers engaged under MGNREGA.
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Hissedari Nyay (Participatory Justice) 

The Congress has also committed to conduct a comprehensive Socio-Economic and Caste Census, i.e., meticulously enumerating castes and sub-castes while assessing their socio-economic status.

Additionally, it vows to pursue a constitutional amendment to abolish the Supreme Court's mandated 50 per cent cap on reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Following this, a financial and institutional survey will be undertaken to accurately gauge the distribution of wealth.

Furthermore, the manifesto pledges the implementation of a 10 per cent reservation in both job opportunities and educational institutions for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) across all castes and communities, without any form of discrimination.

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Yuva Nyay (Youth Justice)

With a workforce of 570 million as of 2023, India continues to face a significant challenge in its lack of formal apprenticeships, with only around 6,00,000 apprentices nationwide.

This issue is particularly critical for the youth, evident from the doubling of youth unemployment rates between 2012 and 2023, according to government data (Periodic Labour Force Survey).  

Specifically, the unemployment rate for individuals aged 20-24 reached 44 per cent in 2023, as reported by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. We have discussed this issue at length in previous columns

To address this concern, the Congress party proposes the introduction of a Right to Apprenticeship Act under which eligible individuals would have the opportunity to engage in a one-year apprenticeship program with various companies across the country, with an annual stipend of Rs 1 lakh.

(Deepanshu Mohan is Professor of Economics, Dean, IDEAS, Office of InterDisciplinary Studies, and Director, Centre for New Economics Studies (CNES), O.P. Jindal Global University. He is a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, and a 2024 Fall Academic Visitor to Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford. Aditi Desai is a Senior Research Analyst with CNES and a Team Lead of its Infosphere Team, This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)

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Topics:  Congress Party 

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