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The BJP seems to have invested a lot of thought in preparing its election manifesto, ensuring that the document is granular in its objectives while being wide-ranging in its scope. The manifesto’s emphasis on e-governance, decentralization, entrepreneurship and creation of physical and social infrastructure are truly progressive.
The BJP’s approach to food security, water security, health security, job security, education and skills development are more thoughtful and nuanced than the UPA's ‘dole’ approach. The sense that one gets is that there are people in the BJP who understand India’s myriad challenges in the economic, social and administrative spheres and have a credible plan to tackle them.
Here are five reasons why I think that the BJP’s manifesto stands apart in articulating a fresh approach to some persistent issues.
The BJP manifesto singles out E-Governance as the overarching and underlying model for delivering good governance in the country. To facilitate this, the manifesto not only talks about digitization of government records but also about the need to build digital highways across the country through optical fibre networks. Most importantly, it talks about the initiation of a National e-Governance Plan, which will cover every government office from the Centre to the panchayats.
2. Food security
The BJP’s approach to food security is also refreshingly different from the UPA’s dole-centric model. Increasing public investment in agriculture and rural development and addressing the issue of under-nutrition and malnutrition, as outlined in the BJP manifesto, will go a long way in ensuring proper nutrition and the dignity of a sustainable livelihood to the bulk of India’s population. Moreover, putting in place strict measures to prevent hoarding and black marketing as well as setting up an agri rail network to quickly move perishables like vegetables from one part of the country to another can prove effective in keeping food inflation under check.
3. Job creation
The BJP’s approach to job creation also stands out for its emphasis on entrepreneurship in both rural and urban areas. The BJP manifesto thus talks about incubating entrepreneurship and facilitating credit to encourage self-employment among the youth, initiating multi-skills development programmes, generating IT-based jobs in rural and semi-urban areas.
Importantly, the manifesto lays a lot of stress on skill development, promotion of vocational training and bringing together industry, academia and government to ensure industry-responsive manpower. Once implemented, these initiatives will be able to create high-skilled jobs that add long-term value to the economy.
4. Water security
The BJP manifesto is also exceptional in that it draws attention to the urgent need for a comprehensive plan to address the issue of India’s water security. At a time when our water resources are depleting fast, measures such as rain water harvesting, river linkages, water conservation, sewage treatment and desalination projects will go a long way in tackling this looming problem.
5. Health security
The BJP’s manifesto also highlights the need for a universal healthcare program which hinges on affordability and access. The document talks about leveraging telemedicine and mobile healthcare for rural healthcare delivery, addressing the shortfall of healthcare professionals in the country, modernizing government hospitals and upgrading healthcare infrastructure among the various measures needed to achieve the goal of ‘healthcare for all.’
In addition to these, the BJP’s manifesto also promises legal, judicial, administrative and police reforms, which will deliver quick and far reaching results that will boost the confidence of both investors and as well as citizens. The commitment to a dedicated police force and related infrastructure for women is also an important aspect of these intended reforms.
Manifestos brought out by political parties before elections are usually met by cynicism from voters, so if the BJP is able to show the necessary political will in implementing these bold measures in a time-bound manner when it comes to power the party will be rewriting the political paradigm in India.