Thursday, July 7, 2022

‘Udaipur Nav Sankalp’ declaration of Congress

Born of the crucible of India’s freedom movement, the Indian National Congress stands tall on the legacy of immense resilience and sacrifice. The revolution to gain independence from British Rule was not only for self-rule and our own Constitution, but the elimination of all-round inequality, discrimination, bigotry, obscurantism, untouchability and parochialism. This epic struggle was led by crores of Indians under the leadership of the Indian National Congress.
Steeped in the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice, the basis of the freedom movement, was ‘Justice for All’. During this period, innumerable Congressmen and Congresswomen endured the inhuman torture of jail and many were martyred. After a long struggle of sixty-two years, starting from the year 1885, India finally won freedom in 1947.
This tradition of fighting for justice, the will to struggle and willingness to sacrifice, including martyrdom for the nation, paved the way for the unity, integrity and progress of India for the next seventy years after independence. The Indian National Congress and its leadership have always fought steadfastly against all those challenging India’s pluralistic and inclusive principles, especially those who took the path of violence and extremism, fundamentalism and naxalism. Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and countless others laid down their lives to protect Indian values.
India got political independence in 1947, but along with it inherited innumerable challenges in the form of a highly underdeveloped country. There was neither enough food grains nor industries. There were hardly any health facilities, educational institutions, irrigation, means of transport and communication, almost no electricity generation and inadequate arrangements for the security of the country. To free the country from the feudal tyranny of hundreds of princely states was a huge responsibility in itself. Through sheer determination, the leadership of the Indian National Congress converted all of these challenges into opportunities and laid the foundation of a strong, peaceful, inclusive and progressive India.
The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and many worthy colleagues, not only united the country, but through the Planning Commission and Five Year Plans laid the foundations for food grain production, dams, power stations, nuclear power, roads, rail, communication, security, educational institutions, research institutes, factories and infrastructure. Nehru established Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), IITs, IIMs, universities, large irrigation dams and projects, large steel factories, space projects, Atomic Energy Commission, DRDO, and called them the temples of modern India.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Indian National Congress initiated the Green Revolution and made India self-sufficient in food. Through bank nationalisation, the Congress opened the doors of the banking system to the common people. The forces challenging the sovereignty of India were made to bite the dust and the Congress played a decisive role in the formation of Bangladesh. In the 1980s and the early 1990s, the Congress once again laid the foundation of the 21st century India. On the one hand, the telecom revolution took wings, and on the other hand, power was decentralised to the panchayats and urban local bodies by giving them Constitutional status. The computer and IT revolution played a very important role in the making of modern India, the profound impact of which is being seen even today. When non-Congress governments had severely mishandled the economy to such an extent that India had to pledge its sovereign gold, it is the Congress that once more gave a new direction to India’s progress through economic liberalization and reaped the benefits of globalization.
The tenure of the Indian National Congress-led government from 2004 to 2014 will forever be remembered for establishing the milestones of inclusive development, unprecedented economic growth, and empowerment of every citizen through the rights-based approach. The courageous sacrifice of Sonia Gandhi to give up power and the economic expertise of Manmohan Singh took the country to new heights.
The collective leadership and vision of Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi shaped an inclusive and empowered India, in which every citizen has the ‘Right to information’ for transparency and accountability in governance, ‘Right to work’ under MGNREGA, ‘Right to food’, ‘Right to education’, ‘Right to forests’ for Adivasis and forest-dwellers, and ‘Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition’ for farmers. On the one hand, India crossed double-digit growth for the first time and on the other hand, 14 crore people were lifted above the poverty line along with the emergence of a large and progressive middle-class. Aspirations of the people rose and many touched new heights of progress. There was social harmony all around, there was peace and brotherhood, there was progress, and also a new ambition to keep moving forward.
Many conspiratorial forces came together to unleash a vicious cycle of propaganda to acquire power and in the process derailed the forward march of India on the path of inclusive development, empowerment and social harmony. But in the last eight years, the aspirations and expectations for the country’s success, progress and social harmony, have been deliberately drowned in doom, gloom and darkness. In the name of demonetisation, jobs and trade were dealt a body blow. A high-handed and arbitrary GST brought small and medium industries to the brink of disaster. With the announcement of an unplanned nation-wide lockdown, lakhs of Indians were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods in the cities, and walk hundreds and thousands of kilometres to their villages, without any income and staring at an uncertain future. The government’s abysmal failure in handling the Covid-19 pandemic led to lakhs of avoidable deaths. The heights of arrogance of the rulers became even more evident when they turned a blind eye to the terrible sight of corpses littering the banks of Ganga.
Not only this, in the last eight years, the youth of the country are bearing the brunt of intolerable levels of unemployment. The fire of inflation has scorched every person and family. Buying a gas cylinder for the home is now out of reach. The skyrocketing prices of petrol, diesel, flour, edible oil, pulses, vegetables and daily essentials have made life difficult for most Indians. Unemployment and inflation have now become a curse for the citizens of the country.
No section of the society has remained untouched by the apathy of the ruling government. When lakhs of farmers took to the streets against the three black farm laws, the government brutally beat them up, put nails and thorns in their path and even declared them ‘terrorists’. India meanwhile is passing through a period of severe economic slowdown. Entire industries and businesses have collapsed but the government remains unconcerned. For the first time in seventy-five years, the country’s rupee has tumbled to ₹77.50 against a dollar. Every single public asset of the country built over the last seventy years is being sold arbitrarily by the BJP government. It seems that the government has put up a board that says ‘India for sale’.
The indiscriminate privatization of public assets, which is our national wealth built over 70 years is dangerous in itself. This becomes even more serious when the BJP government ill-advisedly sells public sector companies at throwaway prices to their favourite crony capitalist friends. Not only is reservation for Dalits, Adivasis, and backward classes being finished, but efforts are being made to establish the monopoly of a few people on the Indian economy.
To cover up its unforgivable failures, the BJP government is creating an atmosphere of communal disharmony in the country. Minorities, Dalits and the poor are being targeted. The BJP’s hunger for power is sowing the seeds of hatred on the basis of religion and caste. India’s pluralism, brotherhood and inclusive values are being attacked. There is a malicious conspiracy to divide India on the basis of caste, faith, food, dress, language, and region. The BJP’s relentless efforts to implement its ideological agenda of fundamentalism has pushed India’s economy to the margins. This is a serious alarm bell for the present and future of the country.
In view of these extraordinary circumstances and challenges, the Indian National Congress has organized the “Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir”. In the prevailing divisive environment, the BJP keeping the people ensnared in a web of religious and caste division to reap political benefit is a matter of deep concern. The party formed six groups to discuss and deliberate on six different issues. In every group, the delegates engaged in a frank and free-wheeling discussion, and many impactful ideas, suggestions and action points emerged. The disappointing results of the recently held Assembly elections were acknowledged and analysed. There was an extensive brainstorming on the shortcomings of the organization and proposals to bring necessary reforms to strengthen the party’s connect at the grassroots. Deficiencies were deliberated upon with an open mind, divergent views were discussed, all perspectives on ideology and policy were minutely analysed and concrete suggestions for improvements were made. All the delegates of the Nav Sankalp Shivir wholeheartedly participated in this introspection.
After this intensive exercise, the Indian National Congress has emerged with a new resolve, reaffirming its commitment to walk on the path of Indian nationalism and nation-building. On display was a commitment to live up to its legacy, to strive for ‘Justice for All’ under all circumstances, and to resolutely tackle the present challenges faced by the party. The deliberations held by the six groups culminated into some important conclusions.
“Organization” and the workers at the grassroots are the real strength of the Indian National Congress. Extensive deliberations were held on the pivotal role of the party organisation, its functioning and performance. The summary of the brainstorming is as follows.
All the vacant positions at the Block, District, State and National level will be filled in the next 90 to 180 days and accountability fixed. In order to make the organization more effective, apart from the Block Congress Committees, Mandal Congress Committees will be constituted as well.
Three new departments of the party will be created at the national level:
i) Public Insight Department, responsible for gathering public feedback on different issues and evaluating policies in a scientific manner, to serve as an input to the party leadership.
ii) National Training Institute, to train the party leaders and the workers on the policies, ideology and vision of the party, policies of the government, and other burning issues. The training institute can start at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies located in Kerala.
iii) AICC Election Management Department, to ensure preparedness well in advance for every election in an effective manner to achieve desired results.
The General Secretary (Organization) is to assess the performance of the office bearers of All India Congress Committee, Pradesh Congress Committees and District Congress Committees. This will help in promoting or removing office bearers based on their performance.
(To be concluded…)
Exactly 80 years ago, in the year 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a call to the nation, “Quit India” i.e. “Bharat Chodo”! In the year, 2022, our call to the nation is “Unite India” i.e. “Bharat Jodo”!
This is Udaipur’s Nav Sankalp!

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