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Nationalist Congress Party
The Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar released the party manifesto for General Elections 2009 on April 3. As per the manifesto, NCP stands for a democratic secular society married to equality and social justice as well committed to preserve the unity and integrity of our country. The full text of NCP's manifesto is as follows.
Nationalist Congress Party, which came into existence only ten years ago, has within this short span of time become a significant party in India. This party was whole-heartedly welcomed by the people from the very inception in June 1999. The people gave such a massive support to the party in the parliamentary elections that was held in 1999, just three months after the formation of the party that the Election Commission of India after assessing the performance of the party in the elections, which the party fought all alone, conferred the National Recognized Party status to the party which was the only instance in the history of the country of any party obtaining the national status within such a short period after its formation.
Now, NCP has strong functioning units in almost all the states and union territories of the country. The party is in government in three states, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Goa. We have our representatives in ten more states; Kerala, Gujarat, Haryana, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Assam.
NCP will be ten years old by 10th June 2009. We are thankful to the people for the support they have given us. We are proud of the partys growth in these years. By the time we celebrate our next birthday, after the elections, NCP will emerge as a leading party in our country capable of playing a decisive role in shaping the future of the country.
What NCP stands for
NCP stands for a democratic secular society wedded to equality and social justice as well committed to preserve the unity and integrity of our country.
We look up at democracy as a holistic outcome of secularism in practice, ensuring equal rights, politically, economically and socially to each and everyone in the country.
Secularism to us means fraternity amongst followers of different faiths, respecting each others faith and cooperation and coexistence among them without any prejudice.
By equity and social justice we mean to ensure equal opportunity for all in all spheres of life, especially for education and skill development with special affirmative action for the deprived sections of the society.
NCP would ensure the unity and integrity of India by strengthening our federal set up through decentralized functioning of the government and the rule of law without any prejudice to any religion, caste, creed, community, region, sex or status.
NCPs slogan in the election is good governance and a stable government, development oriented, transparent and corruption-free.
NCPs concept of development
By development, we mean overall development of the life of the common man including the weaker sections of the society in as much as it provides a better life for them, better housing facilities, better food, better clothing, facilities for giving better education for their children, and better health facilities. All these depend on more earnings or remuneration. So the economic development should provide for more employment opportunities and more employment generation schemes and projects.
NCPs role in the formation of the United Progressive Alliance in Parliament Elections 2004
After the election, the UPA was called upon to form the government. The government was formed on the basis of a common minimum programme (CMP) approved by the UPA partners as well as the Left parties, who also came forward to support the government. Most of the proposals of NCP have been incorporated in the CMP.
Achievements of UPA government
During the UPA regime, India has recorded tangible growth in our economy and India is one of the fast developing countries in the world.
The growth of agriculture sector has not only bestowed us with complete food security, but also enabled us to export food grains to foreign countries.
The implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has been a great relief to the starving millions of this country.
The Right to Information Act enacted by the UPA is an effective weapon for fighting corruption.
The implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations, which provide for proper educational facilities and scholarships and other assistance is a great step to bring the neglected minorities especially Muslims, to the National mainstream of the country.
The introduction of 27% reservation for students of other backward communities in all institutions of higher education will provide equal opportunity in the field of education.
Steps to implement universal primary education will help the rural poor to get better means of livelihood and a better life for them.
Performance of NCP Ministers
The NCP Ministers have proved by their performance their capacity in evolving effective schemes and programmes in their areas of operation and their efficiency for speedy implementation of those schemes. They have been applauded by all concerned as the most effective ministers.
In a country where agriculture was being neglected for the last many years and the production of food grains was coming down and shortage of food articles was being increasingly experienced, Shri Sharad Pawar, within the last five years has worked wonders in the agricultural sector.
As more than 65% of the population of our country depend on agriculture and agriculture related activities for their livelihood, Pawarji knew that the prosperity of India lies in the growth of the agriculture sector and the increase in the production and productivity in the sector.
Pawarji with his wide experience in the field of agriculture and extensive interaction with farmers chalked out plans and schemes to solve the problems the farmer community was experiencing and implemented the schemes with determination.
He managed to get the budget allotment for agriculture, which stood below 2% of the total budget allotment, revised and increased to 4.5%.
Steps for increasing productivity
He was successful in attracting substantial investment in the agriculture sector, which enabled him to provide irrigation, water and electricity supply to farmers at reasonable rates. More allocation of funds was made for irrigation. More land was brought under irrigation.
As a step to rejuvenate agriculture sector, the National Food Security Mission was launched in 2007 to enhance production and productivity of rice, wheat and pulses and make us self sufficient in food grains. The scheme was implemented in 312 districts spread over seventeen important rice, wheat and pulses growing states in the country. Consequently, significant increase has been recorded in the productivity of rice and wheat in those districts. The overall increase in production of wheat and rice in the succeeding years has been three million tons of wheat and three million tons of rice.
A number of other schemes also have been launched during these five years to give focused attention to increase productivity. The National Horticulture Mission, Central Institute of Horticulture in Nagaland, Jute Technology Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, National Project on Management of Soil, Health and Fertility, National Bamboo Technology & Trade Development, National Project on Organic Farming are a few of them.
Farming made profitable
Side by side with the implementation of those schemes, urgent steps were taken to solve the problems of the farmers and to make farming profitable.
Minimum support price
Substantial increase was made in the minimum support price of rice and wheat and other food grains and cotton. The procurement price of rice which stood at Rs. 550/- in 2004 has been increased to Rs. 900/- for B grade and Rs. 930/- and the MSP for wheat has been increased to Rs. 1,080/-.
Restrictions imposed on farmers to sell their products to private agencies was removed and the farmers were given freedom to sell their products to anybody for better price.
Loans were made available for farming at reduced rate of interest and that also at easy terms and conditions from all banks. The banks have started issuing crop loans to farmers at 7% interest and the banks will be compensated by the government. Loans up to Rs. 50,000/- for farming are being now issued security free.
Tens of thousands of farmers who had availed of loans from banks and private money lenders at exhorbitant rates of interest could not repay the loans because of successive failure of crops caused by draughts and floods. The steps taken by the banks for recovery of the accumulated debts had driven many of them to suicide. Waiver of all such accumulated debts were implemented by the government to save the affected farmers from their miserable situations.
Waiver of accumulated debts
The scheme of debt waiver and debt relief for farmers is under implementation. Direct agricultural accumulated debt in arrears in scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions upto 31st March 2007 and was overdue as on 31st December 2007 has been written off. About 3.68 crores farmers have been benefited involving a debt waiver of Rs. 65,318.33 crores. Subsequently, the waiver scheme has been extended to the fishing sector also increasing the allotment to 71,000 crore.
Relief packages including rehabilitation of affected farmers were implemented for farmers of 31 draught affected districts from different states which were also suicide prone districts of the country.
Special packages for Kuttanad Development with a fund allotment of Rs. 1,840.75 crores for the overall development of agriculture in Kuttanad and package with a total allotment of Rs. 1,190.00 crores have been sanctioned for rejuvenating the agricultural activities in Idukki and the cost of agriculture portion of the package amounting to Rs. 764.00 crores have been sanctioned by the agriculture ministry.
Second Green Revolution
The various schemes and steps taken by Shri Sharad Pawar to rejuvenate agriculture and to enthuse the farmers have paved the way for a second green revolution. As productivity and production increased considerably and farming became profitable, the farmers who had abandoned farming earlier, started farming again and more and more land was brought under cultivation. Last year, India, has record production in rice, wheat, pulses and other food articles and we have attained self sufficiency in food grains.
India is the highest producer of cotton, milk and sugar consistently for the last three years. Our granaries are full. We have not only got assured food security but are also capable of exporting food articles. Many countries are now approaching India seeking help to solve their problems of food shortage.
The performance of Shri Praful Patel in the civil aviation sector has been exemplary. In these five years, unprecedented growth has been recorded in this sector. He has initiated unprecedented expansion in aviation industry.
World-class airports are coming up in Delhi and Mumbai. All the main airports in the state capitals and other big cities are being modernized. Dozens of new airports have come up in various parts of the country. Multiplicity of domestic flights is being operated. International flight connectivity has also increased considerably and Air India flights are now reaching out to many distant foreign countries. There has been hundred times increase in the number of air passengers. Airports have become more crowded than railway station. Air traffic has grown up considerably in our country.
The entire country has expressed their unreserved appreciation of the performance of the aviation ministry.
The Rural Development ministry has made wonderful performance during the last five years of UPA regime. Smt. Suryakanta Patil, NCP Minister of state for Rural Development & Parliamentary Affairs has taken the initiative for formulating various projects for providing for the all round development of the rural poor. Greater emphasis has been given for housing, sanitation, safe drinking water, constructing village roads and employment opportunities for the weaker sections and disadvantaged sections of the society. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which she had been instrumental for formulation and for getting it approved has been a boon for the rural poor which guarantees 100 days work a year for those who register their names for work under the scheme. More than 5.70 crores job seekers were provided with work. The massive housing schemes providing Rs.35,000/- for each house by the government, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna connecting all habitations with all weather roads, the scheme providing sanitation and safe drinking water to the villages are bringing out fast development in the lives of the people. We are proud of the initiative and consistent endeavour on the part of Smt. Suryakanta Patil for her contribution in providing a better life for the villagers.
Important issues before the country
The global economic crisis that has caused collapse of the economy and retrenchment lakhs of employees working in financial and technical institutions and closing down hundreds of business firms in foreign countries. Though not in that magnitude it is having its effects on Indian economy as well.
Lakhs of Indians including skilled labours, who had been employed in various foreign countries, especially in the developed countries, who have lost their jobs are returning to India. Not only has this affected the contributions of the NRIs to our economy, but has created the problems of rehabilitating them.
The plight of Indian skilled workers returning home because of global meltdown deserve urgent attention. The skilled Indian workers in the past have remitted huge amounts of money, which has helped the country in swelling its forex reserves. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to help these personnel, small/medium scale enterprises by giving them liberal loans at a very concessional rate.
The mixed economy we pursue giving equal importance to public sector, private sector and joint sector has helped us to withstand the onslaught of the world economic recession. But it has slowed down our economic growth, increased our unemployment problems and other related matters. It has reduced export business and multiplied our problems in the sector.
Two packages have already been declared by the government and the banks and government has adopted some measures to ease the situation. But still the situation has not been brought under control.
The onslaught of the global economic recession has started affecting our economy also. Large-scale retrenchments, lay offs, causalisation of employees are creating serious employment problems.
Our economic reforms should necessarily be implemented with a human face. It shall not affect the employment sector negatively.
Under the circumstances, our industries have to concentrate on goods for domestic consumption. Domestic consumption should be encouraged for which the purchasing capacity of the people should be improved. Cheaper goods to meet market competition should be targeted. The growth in the agriculture sector will certainly contribute to the purchasing power of the people to some extent. More investment on infrastructure development, widening the scope of employment guarantee scheme and on other rural development activities would improve the purchasing capacity of the people.
The Employment Guarantee Scheme will be a blessing for the unemployed rural poor and it will contribute a lot to improve their purchasing capacity.
In this connection, NCP insists on increasing the scope of the NREGS. More days of work should be guaranteed and all the people prepared to work should be covered by the scheme and the wages paid to them should be reasonably increased.
Self help groups should be encouraged to take up small industrial units for producing consumer goods should be encouraged. More and more infrastructure activities and schemes should be taken up by the government departments. The government and the banks should come out with financial support for these activities. More private investment should be attracted for infrastructure development. They should be encouraged in air connectivity and road connectivity between all state capitals. Inter-linking national rivers should be taken up under joint venture.
In view of the collapse of a large number of banks and insurance companies in developed countries consequent on the world economic crisis, our banks and insurance companies should be protected from foreign companies and private players.
Public undertakings of strategic importance should not be disinvested.
Human Resource Development
The basic requirement of human development is education. Every step should be taken to improve the employability of our youths. General education should be made employment oriented.
The following guidelines will be followed in our education system:
1. Speedy and effective implementation of the universalisation of primary education, vocationalisation of secondary education and modernization of higher education, so as to improve their employability, enable them to take up self employment schemes and to improve their expertise.
2. Equal opportunity for students of all sections to get educated in prestigious institutions of higher education.
3. Infrastructure facilities for imparting universal primary education in each and every village.
4. Sufficient number of scholarships should be awarded for students of SC/ST and OBC categories.
5. Reservation of seats and scholarship should be awarded to the students of economically backward sections of the upper class communities.
6. Science and technology should be given its due importance in the system of our education.
A new public health policy recognizing the health rights of the people in general and the marginalized sections in particular would be introduced.
Primary health centres would be provided with necessary doctors, staff, medical equipments and regular medical supply.
Life saving medicines would be made available at affordable rates.
Mid day meals programme for school going children would be strengthened.
Comprehensive schemes to combat malnutrition among the children.
Food security for those belonging to the weaker sections of the society.
Specialty hospitals would be started in different parts of the country where medical treatment would be available at reasonable rates.
Management of Health Institutions and Specialty Hospitals
Health service is one of the most neglected service run by the government. The health institutions and hospitals with all modern facilities and specialists should be started on public, private, partnership basis as is being successfully implemented in states like Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
Time bound schemes for making drinking water, electricity should be made available to all the villages.
Public distribution system should be strengthened.
Minimum requirement of food supply should be assured through PDS outlets to all the needy irrespective of poverty line.
Comprehensive housing scheme for rehabilitation of all dwellers of slums, bastis and tribal colonies provided with drinking water, electricity, healthcare and education institutions should be implemented.
1. Our energy shortage has to be addressed with priority. We have to give more importance to non conventional energy.
2. Unless and until substantial budgetary provision is made by the Union government and state governments as well as encourage private investment for generation of energy, the gap between demand and supply in the energy sector cannot be eliminated.
3. We will give necessary help to harness solar energy. Similarly, we shall encourage harnessing of Wind Energy for which there is great scope in our country.
4. Instead of depending entirely on foreign countries for nuclear material supply for our nuclear plants, we should have long term but specific plans for developing Thorium, which we have in abundance in our country for nuclear power generation in the place of Uranium.
Agriculture sector, which provides livelihood to about 65% of population in our country will be given topmost priority in our development schemes.
1. Budget allotment for agriculture sector and irrigation will be substantially increased.
2. More land will be brought under cultivation.
3. Special efforts will be made for further increase in production and productivity in agriculture with special attention to the production of oil seeds and pulses.
4. Remunerative prices will be made available for all agriculture products including cash crop products.
5. Agro processing units and agro based industries will be encouraged.
6. Equal importance will be given to the development of diary farming and up gradation of cattle wealth.
7. Development of fisheries sector also will be intensified. Assistance will be given to the fishing community for deep sea fishing and processing and export.
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