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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 36, August 28, 2010

Make the Directive Principles of State Policy Enforceable by Court

Thursday 2 September 2010, by Chaturanan Mishra


There is worldwide discussion today about inclusive growth. Our government and Planning Commission have also mentioned it now. To make growth inclusive some measures like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Right to Information Act, Right to Education Bill, Right to Health Bill, Right to Food Bill etc. have been taken but none of these, barring the NREGA and RTI Act to some extent, is being implemented in a way that would help all the people concerned. If the government is really serious then it should first make the Directive Principles of State Policy along with the Fundamental Duties enforceable by Court. We have completed 63 years after independence but no government, whether at the Centre or in the States, has made these ‘fundamental in the governance of the country’ as directed by the Constitution.

I was shocked to read that eight States of India, including the Communist-led West Bengal, are as bad as 26 countries of Africa. The Left is in power in West Bengal for over thirty years. The reality is that the country has been ruled by not only violating the Directive Principles of State Policy but through adoption of a course that is opposed to those Principles. According to the Directive Principles, the ‘state should, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations’. After the government imple-mented the New Economic Policy since 1991 just the opposite has happened and the number of people below the poverty line has increased in a big way so much so that several lakhs of farmers have committed suicides.

Likewise the state should have endeavoured to provide within a period of ten years from the enforcement of the Constitution ‘free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years’. The recently introduced Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has not yet even started all over the country.

There are many such important measures connected with the life of the general citizen that have been formulated but not implemented.

According to the Fundamental Duties (Part IV A of the Constitution), promoting harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional and sectional divisions should have been the duty of every citizen but what is happening is simply the opposite. The communal propaganda is being allowed to be freely spread far and wide. This should not have happened if the Directive Principles were enforceable by Court.

SOME leading intellectuals, including Prof Prabhat Patnaik, have suggested that for national growth the Left approach should be rights-based. If the Directive Principles are enforceable by Court the governance would then be rights-based. Moreover the issue of national growth is not something that the Left alone is interested in but it concerns the whole nation. Acceptance of this would be constitutionally binding for all citizens. Then it would not be possible for the government give tax relief or such facilities to those in the upper echelons of society since upliftment of the people in the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder entails a heavy cost. Capitalists will thus be duty-bound to pay more taxes as in Sweden where the tax is 48-49 per cent and 3.5 per cent is used for innovations. The capitalists there seek profit not by cutting the wages or other benefits of the workers but through technological innovations. Incidentally, Sweden has the highest living standard of people in the world.

Our government accepted the Washington Consensus which has caused the recent recession and terrible exploitation of the public at large. At the G-20 meeting in London the Prime Minister of England publicly stated that the Washington Consensus has gone and we have evolved a consensus involving the entire world. Our government has so far not openly admitted that it was a mistake to accept the Washington Consensus; rather the policies that it is pursuing till date are all those that were formulated by the Washington Consensus.

The world demands a new consensus to fight poverty and unemployment across the globe and for ensuring social security for all. As the celebrated economist Joseph Stiglitz has suggested, a new global reserve system instead of the dollar in its present form, reform of the World Bank and IMF, a new global economic order to provide social protection and insurance for all, assistance to small farms, balance between the Market and the State, balance between growth and nature, special aid for backward regions, and an international regulation to check tax evasion and corruption are essential in the current scenario and these must be carried out without attaching any strings.

The author, a veteran Communist leader, was the Union Agriculture Minister in the United Front Governmentat at the Centre (1996-98). He was also the President of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) for sometime.

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