India: promises and realities of Modi’s Nationalist government (one year on)
by Nirmala Carvalho
Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (Wnta), a network of over 400 voluntary organizations all over the country, has compiled a report on the first 12 months in office of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Many campaigns and development programs have been launched, but with little effect on the population. Concerns over cuts to education and healthcare sector, areas crucial to the future of new generations. Increased violence against religious and social minorities.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Mazdoor Janata colony in East Delhi, just 18 km from Connaught Place - the financial center of the capital - is an open sewer. No toilets, facilities for the disposal of waste, electric supply.

It is mostly shacks of mud and rusty metal sheets (Juggi Jhopdi), inhabited by 200 thousand people working as domestic servants, laborers, rickshaw drivers. There is no trace of the government in this colony. The population of the settlement does not seem to benefit from campaigns such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India) or Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ("Save girl child, educate girl child").

Paul Divakar, is Wada Na Todo Abhiyan coordinator (Wnta), a network of over 400 voluntary organizations all over the country. Last May 24, he presented a "citizens’ report" on the first year of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, a coalition led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Entitled One Year of the NDA Government in 2015 - Promises and Reality, the document analyzes the impact of the policies implemented so far by the executive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in India.

The authors of the report - which also include the well-known Catholic activist John Dayal - have met and interviewed those citizens who live on the margins (geographical and not only) of the nation, and who, therefore, often are not reflected in official investigations. Among the communities surveyed are Dalits, tribals, Muslims and other minorities; urban poor and unorganized workers.

Promising to "break" with the past and amend the "mistakes" of previous governments, both during the election campaign and over these past 12 months Modi has frequently reiterated that Achhe din nanne wale hain, "good days are coming." However, the report notes that "for the children, who account for 39 percent of the population, these 'good days' still seem a long way off." With the cuts to the budget of the Ministry for the Development of Women and Children and in the areas of education and healthcare, it will be almost impossible to guarantee future generations the right to education and access to care minimum.

The document points out that, in the first weeks of the new government, there have been 113 violent incidents of ethnic-religious nature in various parts of the country. In May and June 2014, 15 people were killed and 318 injured. Between 26 May 2014 and 13 May 2015 there were 43 deaths in over 600 cases of violence: 194 against the Christian community, the others against Muslims.

Hindu radicals have vandalized dozens of churches and targeted Muslims. The invitation of the Prime Minister to religious tolerance and harmony,  Wnta points out, "has yet to pass the test." The Dalit (outcaste) population say they feel insecure. Datta Patil, coordinator of Wnta, emphasizes: "We appreciate the statement of the Prime Minister on a moratorium for religious violence. However, this does not seem to be reflected in practice. There should be zero tolerance on violence against religious minorities and social. "

With his Made in India campaign the Prime Minister has embarked on attracting foreign investment in, especially during his travels abroad (above all the United States, Japan, China). But the question remains whether these investments will generate employment among the young Indians, or if will only lead to a transfer of land from the population to large multinationals, leading - among other things - to irreparable environmental damage. The speed and determination with which the government is pushing to approve the amendments to the law on the acquisition of land, only reinforces this concern.