ALTERNATIVE TO NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES; KERALA SHOWS THE WAY.
India has been witnessing the impacts of the implementation of neo-liberal policies in the country since 1991. It has turned to an aggressive nature after the present BJP led NDA government came to power in 2014. The net result is that the vast majority of the people are neglected and the economic growth of the country is cornered by a handful of super rich. The inequality between the poor and the rich has widened alarmingly.
It is in this background that, in Kerala, the Left Democratic Front government was ushered to power in 2016, ousting the Congress led UDF government, which had pursued the same neo-liberal policies of the central government. Political and economic pundits have analysed the functioning of the LDF government for the first two years and are unanimous that it has initiated the development projects, promised in the manifesto. Unlike the central government and the earlier UDF government, the main thrust is given for the lifting of the downtrodden and welfare of the common people by the LDF government.
While the Modi government and some of the BJP state governments have amended a number of labour lawas to curtail the rights and benefits of the workers and to suit the interest of the employers, quite contrarily, the Kerala government is making such amendments to ensure more rights and benefits to the workers. Recently. Kerala government approved an amendment to the Shops & Establishment Act to ensure the workers, particularly, women workers in the textile shops and jewelleries, more benefits; like weekly holiday, seat while working and protection from sexual abuses. Earlier the government intervened in the indefinite strike of the private hospital nurses who were subjected to cruel exploitation by the private hospital managements and issued notification, fixing a minimum pay of Rs.20,000 for the nurses. The state PSUs incurring losses during the UDF regime are on the revival path and 13 units have earned profits in 2016-17 and within a short period all the PSUs will be in profit. The central government, pursuing an anti-PSU policy is divesting the shares of the PSUs and some are closed too. It has ordered the closure of the central PSUs, BEML and HLL in Kerala and LDF government has volunteered to take over these.
The traditional industry like cashew, coir, handloom, fishing and plantation were in great crisis when LDF took over. All these sectors have got a new life with the revival packages and cashew factories closed were reopened ensuring work for the starving workers. When the Okhi disaster hit the Kerala coast, the government put in all its machineries to save the fishermen and Rs.20 lakh each given to the families of the dead and notably the missing also. A medical insurance scheme for the 34 lakh migrant workers, first of its kind, is being implemented. 60 transgenders have been given job in Kochi Metro. 36 non-brahmins, including 6 dalits , are appointed as priests in the temples under Travancore Devaswam Board.
Thr Kerala government has been able to maintain the law and order situation efficiently and has solved a number of sensitive cases scientifically thereby conferred with the distinction of first place among the states. The government has declared a “Zero Tolerance” against atrocities against women and Pink Patrolling is also implemented. Many new initiatives in the health sector has strengthened the government hospitals, medical college hospitals and health centres and some missions like, Vayomitra for the senior citizens and Aswasakiranam for women and children etc are quite innovative and beneficial. The mysterious virus disease that hit Kozhikode District , was detected as Nipha virus in a record time and was able to contain it within the district and declare the district also Nipha virus free, that also in a record time. This credible and appreciative efforts of the state government has earned applaud from all and the Virology Institute, Baltimore, USA has honoured the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister K.K.Shylaja for this great and exemplary achievement.
Most of the government schools were facing crisis due to lack of sufficient students and a few were under verge of closure. Through a comprehensive infrastructure development Project, including smart class rooms, improved toilets , napkin vending machines,noon meal, free books and uniforms, 1.5 lakh new students were enrolled in government schools. The government launched a Rs.900 crore education loan repayment scheme to enable the families of the students with less than Rs.6 lakh annual income to repay the bank loan. 74 welfare institutions, including 16 old age homes are functioning well.
As part of a comprehensive housing scheme, Mission Life, construction of 28,000 houses are completed. The state has been declared as fully electrified and open defecation free. The agriculture department has started paddy cultivation in 34,000 acres afresh. Steps have been taken to form Kerala Bank and to ensure industrial development an innovative IT policy is being implemented. Two ambitious road infrastructure projects, Hills highway, Coastal Highway at an estimated cost of Rs.10,000 crore are approved in principle.
As part of its senior citizen friendly policy, a number welfare schemes are evolved and implemented. Free medicines at all the hospitals for life long diseases like diabetics, hypertension, separate generic wards at District and Taluk hospitals; mobile hospitals for the bed-ridden are a few to mention. Old age pension increased from Rs.600 to Rs.1100 and paid with arrears at homes. The non-resident Indians are contributing significantly to the state economy and LDF government has implemented a comprehensive rehabilitation scheme for the returned NRIs. Also their monthly pension has been increased to Rs.2000 from Rs.500.
Yes, for those who ask where is the alternative, here is the answer, LDF government in Kerala is marching forward with utmost commitment to the common people without any compromise on all round development of the state.