‘Nyay Patra’ vs ‘Modi ki Guarantee’: Free citizens or wards of the state? https://frontline.thehindu.com/politics/nyay-patra-modi-ki-guarantee-congress-bjp-manifesto-comparison/article68101333.ece 
The Congress and BJP manifestos are unflatteringly similar, but with one crucial difference: the empowerment of citizens.  Apr 26, 2024 ASHISH KOTHARI

Ashish Kothari highlights the Alternatives View of the Manifestos.

Both manifestos are silent on some crucial actions that could lead India to achieve the goals of justice, equality, and sustainability. 

There is considerable evidence of the livelihood potential of micro and small manufacturing and service units, especially labour-intensive ones and those dealing with handmade goods, and though both parties promise to support such units, it is meaningless unless they are given either reservation and/or tax exemptions or other such incentives. Unfortunately, for the most part, they have to compete on a highly unequal playing field, with big mechanised industry in the hands of powerful corporations. Yet, both parties have prioritised such industrialisation even though the paradox of high economic growth but stagnating job creation (“jobless growth”), largely due to automation and mechanisation, has characterised the last few decades. Both have also ignored the longstanding demand to exempt handmade products from GST.

 Multimodal transport is a good idea, but neither manifesto explicitly prioritises cycling and walking and buses; in the context of a huge chunk of public transport budgets going into metros, this absence is glaring. Both parties list
several environment-related actions such as pollution control, conservation of forests, and recycling. But these read like a haphazard, random set of actions with no coherence and comprehensiveness, especially because they are not contained within a coherent environmental governance approach or a systematic land and water use policy.

They ignore the need to diversify indicators of well-being, including questions such as does everyone have clean drinking water and clean air; does everyone have adequate nutritious food; does everyone have access to good quality
learning and education; does everyone have a voice in decision-making, and so on.

When it comes to education, both retain a top-down and homogenised approach (with some qualifiers like the BJP’s promise of mother-tongue-based teaching); this ignores the enormous potential of the diverse, community-integrated, ecologically and culturally rooted approach built on multiple knowledge systems.


The BJP treats citizens primarily as recipients of charity, promising to solve all problems through welfare, reinforcing the colonial “mai-baap” mentality. .. , in contrast, the Congress manifesto seeks to reviel rightsbased laws (information, forests,
education, rural employment)and now a right to homestead and a right toapprenticeship for all graduates, including a year’s scholarship.

An interesting addition to the institutions of democracy in the Congress manifesto is the establishment of an independent Environment Protection and Climate Change Authority, “to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and to enforce the national and State Climate Change plans”.