What Could Be PM Narendra Modi Independence Day Gift To India - BJP's Next Big Move

  • August 11, 2020
  • Politics

After the recent Ram Mandir Bhoomi pujan, Article 370 abrogation’s one year anniversary along with India’s 74th Independence Day celebrations around the corner, political observers are now contemplating the next big move of Modi government. Taking a cue from Prime Minister’s last year’s Independence Day speech focused on ‘Uniformity’ and ‘Patriotism’, experts believe there are few policies that could get a final nod.

Uniform Civil Code (UCC) - One Nation, One Legislation

There are whispers in the corridors that the UCC may be the next big move of the Modi government.

 

Meaning and Benefits

A uniform policy for all communities irrespective of religious beliefs, faith and personal laws has been a long-pending demand. The government believes that there cannot be gender equality till India adopts a common code, which protects the rights of all women, thus ens­uring gender justice. As per BJP MP and lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi, this ‘uniformity’ would create an equitable law regarding registration of marriages, divorce, maintenance and other iss­ues.

 

Criticism/ Arguments against it

India is a diverse country that recognizes the personal laws of five communities: Hindus ­(including Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists), Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis.

  • The right to live according to specific religious laws is the very foundation of the Indian system. This freedom ensured by the India Constitution should be taken into account in UCC discussions without hurting the sentiments of various religious groups.
  • Political parties also believe that this step can displease many sections of the society. After the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Kamal Farooqi warns that there will be repercussions if efforts are made to tamper with other personal laws. 
  • Feminists support a gender-just civil code over uniform civil code as they consider all personal laws to be discriminatory in nature. Legal experts also believe that emphasis should be on social justice, not uniformity.

The path to ‘Uniformity’ as envisaged by Modi government is not that flowery, as it affects every Indian and involves complex legal issues of distinct communities.

 

One Nation One Election

One of the commitments of BJP Manifesto is to hold simultaneous elections for Parliament, state assemblies and local bodies.

 

Meaning and Benefits

The idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ involves the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections of the States and the Centre synchronize. This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies concurrently (on a single day or in a phased manner as the case may be). Besides reducing government expenditure on conducting multiple elections throughout the year, this policy would ensure efficient utilization of government resources and security forces. This system will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of constantly trying to woo the general public through lucrative budgets and schemes. It may also boost voter turnout, according to the Law Commission.

 

Criticism/ Arguments against it

  • Holding synchronized elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters. Simultaneous national and state elections significantly increase the likelihood of the same political party winning constituencies in both tiers, shows new study.
  • Besides, elections for state assemblies and Lok Sabha are generally fought on different issues, there is a possibility of local issues fading out, a disadvantage for regional parties.
  • Since elections will be held once in five years, it will reduce the government's accountability to the people, as repeated elections keep legislators alert and active towards public demands.

For such a synchronization to happen, besides needing huge machinery & resources, it also requires constitutional amendment and political consensus to extend the term up to six months in some states.

 

Population Control Bill

Prime Minister often links having small families and fewer children to “an act of patriotism.” To achieve this, it is very likely that the government may soon pass a population control bill like a ‘Two-Child Policy’.

Meaning and Benefits

In his Independence Day speech last year, PM called upon the central and state governments to initiate schemes to ensure that we as a nation do not pass on an ‘unhealthy and uneducated’ society to the future generation. According to the World Population Prospects 2019 report by the United Nations, the population of India is set to overtake that of China within a decade. There are enough studies available that shows that ‘Population explosion’ and poverty, lack of education, slow economic growth are correlated.

Criticism/ Arguments against it

Two-child policy is often seen in India from the angle of religion, political parties rather turns it towards vote bank politics striking it against the government.

 

There have been several attempts of population control in the past. In February 2020 also, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by Anil Desai, a Shiv Sena MP which proposed to amend Article 47A of the Constitution of India to introduce a two-child policy per couple. The 2020 bill include various measures to achieve this target, such as educational benefits, taxation cuts, home loans, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities.

Although there are numerous ‘Constitutional’, ‘Political’ and ‘Practical’ roadblocks in implementation of these ideas, considering the political will of Modi government in getting many of its earlier bills passed, these policies can too see the daylight soon.

 

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