Swadeshi Jagran Manch views with grave concern, the increasing and unaffordable cost of public utilities be it education, health service, water, electricity, and transportation etc.In the name of liberalization the government is not only letting these fields open to private sector profiteering but it is also abandoning its primary duty of regulation and quality control.
The commercialization of these essential services in a welfare economy is a crime. And of late it has become a major political campaign issue as we have seen it happening in the recent assembly elections. It is not that the entire burden of giving universal education, health care and affordable electricity, water and transportation can solely be taken care of by the state. There is need for private participation. But it has to be transparent, participative and at all costs un exploitative.
The floodgate of private institutions into the education sector and health services for instance has become a bane of liberalization. Not only that these private players take advantage of liberal concessions from the state in the form of infrastructure, cheap land and other facilities like tax holiday, and services at discounted rate, they arbitrarily hike the user charges on the consumer. For instance, education:
The government is committed to universal quality education. All the reports by expert committees have shown that most of these private institutions are not ensuring quality education while state run institutions are declining in quality leaving the space open to exploitation by market forces. The tragedy is most of these institutions are generating unemployable degree holders. The huge profit that these private players are making in the education sector has enticed even foreign universities to lobby for setting up shops in India. The government has a duty to both ensure quality and firm up regulatory mechanism. In the absence of standardization of education, poor rural children are denied access to better schooling. Government schools are woefully lacking in even the minimal requirements like sanitation, qualified teachers, labs, and library facilities. This leads to unequal and unhealthy competition and majority of Indian students are denied education that can make them competitive in the job market. This is more evident in the case of scientific and technical education.
Same is the case with health services. While India has booming health tourism, the poor patients in the country are made to suffer exploitation by mushrooming private hospital and insurance companies. these five star private hospitals immorally and unethically even loot those patients. Some reports show that one of the reasons for debt-related suicides in the rural areas is the result of debt acquired on account of education for children and health. This fact was endorsed by no less a person than prime minister himself. Wherever good quality health care is available in the public sector, even those who can afford to pay, exploit the facilities, like in AIIMS and other reputed government hospitals. At the same time, poor patients who have no resort but for these public facilities are left to fend for themselves, with hospitals withdrawing from services such as clinical tests and free medicine. The rural health care situation is abominable.
Fund crunch has forced many top class institutions in the country abandon research projects. The universities and scientific institutions are not provided with adequate funds with the result that research papers generated at higher education level are not comparable with world standards. It is high time the government instead of throwing open the flood gate of private and foreign exploitation of the youth talent of India, a policy is formulated to encourage quality research.
Clean drinking water is still a mirage for majority of Indian population. Even in the capital city of Delhi, according to Human Development Index, only 53 per cent get water supply at homes. But even this is not 24x7. The all India picture is abysmally poor. It is in such a condition that the government is thinking of privatizing water supply to make even clean water unaffordable for the poor.
Under the private public partnership toll roads are built and this has added to the burden of the citizen. Arbitrary and high toll rates have contributed in a big way to price rise in food items and transportation cost. It is in this background that the Swadeshi Jagran Manch is demanding a more egalitarian, sustainable and humane approach from policy makers. The government cannot escape from its fundamental commitment to ensure better education and affordable public utility services to all Indians.
In this scenario,11thNational Conference of SJM demands:
1. Government come back to its primary responsibility of providing basic amenities, like education, health care, safe drinking water, electricity, un exploitative transport system to the people, particularly the poor.
2. Government instead of being obstinate on the stand of passing the Alleged pro poor legislations which actually help foreign players and corporates should instead legislate in a manner that benefits the real poor and ensures transparency.
3. Government should institute enquiries of all PPP projects and fix responsibilities for the lapses therein and punish the guilty.
4. Government should respect and implement the recommendations of the CAG and the courts on these subjects without prevaricating over the same.
5. Withdraw the concession given to the partner corporates in case they do not comply with the terms and conditions of their leases.