Press Note issued on democracy in peril, Inflation and GST, MGNREGA problems, Indians renouncing citizenship

August 6, 2022

Democracy in peril

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind expresses great concern at the steady deterioration among the political class in upholding the values of probity and integrity in public life. It has led to the rise of power politics (acquisition and retention of political power at all costs) and the misuse of state agencies and state institutions for vested interests, ultimately weakening democracy. In Parliament, we observe that laws are enacted in haste without proper debate and discussion. Voices of criticism are subdued and important issues are not taken up. Valuable time is wasted on trivial issues and over bruised egos. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind demands that Parliament be restored to its designated role of being the vanguard of democracy and not be reduced to a place for petty politics and flattery. In a healthy democracy, the administration, the police, the bureaucracy, and various state agencies and institutions are autonomous and they are not supposed to act in a partisan manner. If they start working at the behest and the diktats of the ruling party and its ideological mentors then this is a violation of the Constitution and a subversion of democracy. These important and independent pillars of the State are bound to act according to the Constitution and should not become a tool for the political agenda of the government. The police and administration must be unbiased and act without fear or favor. In any democracy, the welfare of the people and delivering justice should be the only priority of the government.

Inflation and GST

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is highly concerned over the sharp rise in retail inflation over the last year. Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures price rise at the retail level has been above 6% – the upper tolerance limit set by the RBI. The biggest burden on the working class has been the rise in prices of petrol, diesel, and cooking gas. The rise in global fuel and commodity prices is said to have caused this steep inflation. However, one must note that India has a greater than 50% component of excise duty on petrol and diesel. The government must find other ways of generating revenue and reducing its expenditure instead of imposing such backbreaking taxes that impact overall inflation. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is also dismayed by the recent changes in GST to levy tax on unbranded and packed food items. Earlier only branded products invited GST. However, this 5% GST on pre-packaged food items like pulses, rice, wheat, flour or atta, paneer, curd, etc. will fuel the already high retail inflation and break the back of the poor. The government is saying the ‘rampant misuse’ had prompted the move. This shows the insensitivity of the government towards the needs and concerns of its citizens. Branded products have a 10% share in the packaged food market, while unbranded products-packaged, as well as non-packaged, possess 90% share. So it appears that in a bid to create a level-playing field in the packaged food market, the government is trying to help the corporate sector by punishing the poor and the middle class.

MGNREGA problems

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind voices serious concern over the pending liabilities for the wage component under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act (MGNREGA). According to the Ministry of Rural Development, the Center owed Rs 4720 crores to 13 states and Union Territories. According to a study of 18 lakh wage invoices in the first half of 2020-21, only 56% of payments were successfully completed in the mandatory 15-day period. The government must also immediately look into the grievance voiced by thousands of workers over the mandatory monitoring of attendance of MGNREGA through the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) mobile app. Data shows that the number of households that demanded work under MGNREGA increased from 1.64 crores in 2015 to 3.07 crores in 2022. It is the lifeline for millions of households all over the country. Delays in payment from the Center to the states have a cascading effect and ultimately delay wages to the workers resulting in great financial distress for the poorest of the poor. If the government cannot deliver efficiently over MGNREGA then its commitment to the poor and the underprivileged will always remain a question mark.

Indians renouncing citizenship

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind would like people to reflect on government data that since 2014 more than 9 lakh people have renounced their Indian citizenship. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, more than six lakh Indians have given up their citizenship in the last five years, 40% of them becoming American citizens. Is the data not a reflection that even after 75 years since we gained our independence from the British, we have been unable to build a country that is strong and stable enough for Indians to return and settle back after their professional or business stints abroad? The increased number of Indians becoming citizens of other countries since 2014, also shows the lack of confidence in them the future of their children and the direction of the nation in terms of securing basic rights for all its citizens and upholding certain principles for governing the country.

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