Price rise & farmer issues: The government’s biggest failure. The spectre, which haunted the NDA regime, has been staring the Manmohan Singh government in the face since it came to power in 2004. Though the UPA empowered state governments to take action on hoarders and black-marketers to check price rise, the Forward Trading bill and the Warehousing Regulation bills remain to be passed by Parliament. Farmer suicides have been checked in Andhra Pradesh but not in Maharashtra so far. Addressing agrarian distress calls for a long-term strategy.
Economy: It’s a mixed bag. The exuberance over the rising Sensex and 8 per cent economic growth rate cannot camouflage the sufferings of the ‘aam aadmi’, the Congress’s chief concern in its common minimum programme, grappling with price rise and restricted employment opportunities. Because of the Left’s objections, the government has also not been able to bring the Insurance, Banking Regulation and Pension Funds bills.
Foreign policy initiatives: The UPA’s biggest success is on this front, notwithstanding the BJP’s objections to the Indo-Pak composite dialogue or the Left and the BJP’s opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal which will be debated next week. Chinese President Hu Jin Tao’s visit and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Japan are among the other recent highlights of the UPA government’s foreign policy initiatives.
Social legislations: The Government scores high on bringing in laws that empower the weaker sections. For the OBCs, there is quota in education. For STs, the Protection of Forest Rights bill is on the anvil. The Sachar panel report will chart the course for uplifting Muslims. A dialogue is on for affirmative action, including reservations, for Dalits in the private sector. The Job Guarantee Act provides 100 days employment to a member of a rural household. The Right to Information allows citizens to know how decisions impacting their lives are taken. But the Women’s Reservation Bill and the Lok Pal still remain a distant dream.