Unemployment is the gravest challenge to the country and job creation is the highest priority for the economy. In the last 5 years, there has been a dramatic rise in unemployment. Today, unemployment is touching a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent according to the government’s own figures. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy puts the number at 7.2 per cent. At the end of this February, 3.1 crore people were actively looking for jobs. Data indicates that total employment has declined, the labour participation rate has declined and existing jobs have been destroyed. Every section of society has been affected by growing unemployment and the destruction of existing jobs: youth, families, women, small business persons, traders, farmers, daily-wage workers and agricultural labourers.
01. Congress pledges to give the highest priority to protecting existing jobs and creating new jobs.
02. In order to underline the link between the growth of the industry and services sectors and rapid creation of jobs, Congress will create a new Ministry of Industry, Services and Employment.
03. All of the 4 lakh vacancies as on 1 April 2019 in the Central Government, Central Public Sector Enterprises, Judiciary and Parliament will be filled before the end of March 2020. As a condition for devolution of funds to the healthcare and education sectors and to Panchayats and Municipalities, Congress will request State Governments to fill all vacancies, estimated at 20 lakh, in the 2 sectors and in local bodies.
04. We will work with State Governments to create new Seva Mitra positions (estimated at 10 lakh) in every Gram Panchayat and every Urban Local Body to ensure the effective delivery of government services to citizens.
05. Application fees for government examinations and government posts will be abolished.
06. Congress pledges to create lakhs of new jobs for qualified teachers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians, instructors and administrators through a massive expansion of the education and health sectors.
07. Para-state workers such as Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, rozgarsahayaks, preraks, and anudeshaks, form the backbone of the public service delivery system. We will increase funding for the relevant programmes and work with State Governments to ensure that all arrears are paid immediately. We will also work with State Governments and attempt to address all pending contentious issues regarding their salaries and work conditions.
In addition, we will expand the ASHA programme and appoint a second ASHA worker in all villages with a population exceeding 2500 persons.
08. We will trigger rapid growth of the manufacturing sector, particularly of MSMEs, through the provision of world-class infrastructure in industrial hubs and cluster towns in order to aid the expansion of current units and the creation of new units.
09. MSMEs account for 90 per cent of all employment outside agriculture. The definition of MSMEs based on capital employed is biased against labour. Congress will link the definition of MSME to employment. A business employing 10 persons or less will be ‘micro;’ between 11 and 100 will be ‘small;’ and between 101 and 500 will be ‘medium.’
10. We will create an Enterprise Support Agency to help entrepreneurs, including start-ups, with all-round business support including counselling, incubation, access to technology, funding, domestic and export markets, and the creation of new products, services and intellectual property.
11. We promise regulatory forbearance for Micro and Small Enterprises. They will be exempt from all applicable laws and regulations (except the Minimum Wages Act and tax laws) for a period of 3 years from 1 April 2019 or, in the case of new businesses, the date of commencement of business. This means freedom from ‘Inspector Raj’ until they stabilise.
12. Congress will promote ‘Mass Entrepreneurship’ and support entrepreneurs to replicate tried and tested models of businesses in order to meet the growing demand for such goods and services.
13. The main job-creating sectors are construction, textiles, leather, gems & jewellery, entertainment, tourism and retail businesses. We will reward businesses that create new jobs by lowering the effective direct tax rates and by lowering contributions to the CSR fund.
14. We will provide fiscal incentives to businesses that employ a certain percentage of women.
15. Exports create jobs. We will reward export oriented industries through tax rebates and incentives.
16. Tourism creates jobs. Congress promises an adequately capitalised Tourism Development Bank to provide low-cost, long-term funds for investment in tourism-related businesses. We will also offer lower rates of corporate and personal income tax on tourism-related business income.
17. We recognise the need to create lakhs of lowskilled jobs in order to absorb young men and women who have completed only a few years in school. Congress will launch 2 major programmes to be implemented through Gram Sabhas and urban local bodies that will create 1 crore jobs:
a. Repair and restoration of water bodies (‘Water Bodies Restoration Mission’); and
b. Regeneration and afforestation of wasteland and degraded land (‘Wasteland Regeneration
18. Congress will require businesses employing 100 persons or more to start an apprenticeship programme, impart skills, pay a stipend, and employ from among the trained apprentices whenever a job is created or becomes vacant in that business. We will amend The Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 to include ‘Apprenticeship’ as an additional activity.
19. We will identify new kinds of jobs that will emerge with the advent of new technologies and will offer opportunities to youth to acquire the skill-sets necessary for these jobs.
Congress initiated liberalisation in 1991 with a new Industrial Policy. Taking note of the changes in the global economy and the Indian economy, Congress promises another radical, forward-looking Industrial Policy.
The BJP Government mouths empty slogans. Its record is dismal in terms of the growth rate of Industry sector GVA and gross capital formation in the Industry sector. Congress promises to reverse these disappointing trends.
01. Congress promises to increase the share of India’s manufacturing sector from the current level of 16 per cent of GDP to 25 per cent within a period of 5 years and to make India a manufacturing hub for the world. Congress believes that anything that can be made in another country can be made in India. Congress promises that it will adopt policies, formulate rules, levy taxes and reward entrepreneurship that will make India a renowned centre of manufacturing.
02. Congress will work with State Governments to set up New Industrial Towns with the required infrastructure and turn them into manufacturing hubs for a variety of industrial products.
03. We will announce policies that will help India retain its leading position in the manufacture of engineering goods, petroleum products, gems & jewellery, drugs & pharmaceuticals, garments & textiles and chemicals.
04. We will announce policies that will help India gain a leadership position in steel, metals, cement, machinery, electronic goods, computer hardware, automobiles etc.
05. Congress will announce a ‘Make for the World’ policy under which foreign and Indian companies will be invited to invest in ‘Exclusive Export-only Zones’, manufacture and export their entire production, pay no indirect taxes and pay a low rate of corporate tax.
06. As the UPA did from 2004 to 2014, we will make a determined effort to revive stalled projects and bring locked-up capital to use and generate employment.
07. We will promote the manufacture and export of India’s traditional products like handloom products and handicrafts that employ lakhs of persons.
08. Congress will acquire patents, create a patent pool and make advanced technologies available to small and medium businesses.
09. Controls have crept into the system in the name of regulations. Congress promises to do a quick review of the rules and regulations made by the BJP Government in the last 5 years and repeal as many of them as are necessary to free industry and business from the ‘Control Raj.’
10. In the last 5 years, tax authorities have been given extraordinary discretionary powers that have throttled industry and come to be described as ‘tax terrorism.’ Investigative agencies have misinterpreted the laws and have instilled fear among businesspersons. Congress will review these discretionary powers and arbitrary actions and take steps to allow industry and business to function with a large degree of freedom.
A basic weakness of the Indian economy has been infrastructure. Flawed design, inefficient execution, insufficient capacity and poor maintenance of infrastructure have dragged India’s growth rate down. Congress promises to address these deficiencies with a combination of planning, technology, quality and accountability. All available models and instrumentalities will be used to build infrastructure—public sector, private sector and public-private partnership. Roads, railway and electricity are among vital infrastructure. They are also crucial public goods.
01. Congress promises to augment the total length of national highways and increase the pace of construction. The focus will be on improved design and quality, maintenance and accountability.
02. Congress promises to massively modernise all outdated railway infrastructure. New projects will be implemented in accordance with the best international standards of design and quality.
03. Road construction and railways can be built using private capital and capacity. Congress will use sector-specific, tried and tested PPP models to increase the supply of these vital public goods.
04. Congress promises to review, re-formulate and implement the policy on spectrum and on exploration and extraction of natural resources. The policy will address issues of allocation, capital investment, enhanced production, transparency, efficiency, risk-reward concerns, environmental sustainability, inter-generational equity, accountability, competition and appropriate sectoral regulation.
05. We will formulate a policy on Clean Energy in existing power plants that use fossil fuels and promote Green Energy to enhance the share of solar and wind energy in the total supply of energy.
06. Congress promises to enhance availability of, and access to, electricity in rural areas by encouraging investment in off-grid renewable power generation with ownership and revenues vesting in local bodies. Every village and every home will be electrified in the true sense. In the long term, we aim to substitute LPG used in homes by electricity and solar energy.
4. Cities, Urbanisation and Urban Policy
India is fast urbanising. Nearly 34 per cent of our population lives in towns and cities and the number is growing. As in the rest of the world, India’s cities can become engines of growth. The Smart Cities Mission of the BJP government, which replaced the successful JNNURM, was a colossal failure and a waste of money with no visible results.
01. Congress promises to formulate a comprehensive policy on Urbanisation after wide consultation. We will address the issues concerning towns and cities including city governance, livelihoods, housing, habitat, pollution, climate change, urban transport and disaster management.
02. Congress will support State Governments to build new towns and cities as well as satellite towns.
03. Congress will introduce a new model of governance for towns and cities through a directly elected mayor with a fixed term of 5 years, an elected Council and a separate administrative structure for each urban body. The administration will be accountable to the Mayor and the Council and there will be a provision to recruit technical experts and build capacity as well as multi-disciplinary teams to do urban planning and implement municipal works.
04. We will enforce the 74th Amendment to the Constitution and ensure the devolution of powers, functions and funds to the Municipalities and Corporations, making them financially independent.
05. Congress promises the Right to Housing for the urban poor and protection from arbitrary eviction. We will build night shelters for the homeless so that no one will sleep in the open.
06. Congress will launch a Slum Upgradation and Transformation Scheme to ensure basic services such as drinking water, electricity and sanitation to slum dwellers. Slums will be transformed by replacing huts and kuchha dwellings with proper houses, roads and other public facilities.
07. Public spaces, public transport, public premises and other public facilities in towns and cities will be made safe for women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants and marginalised sections of society. More women will be appointed to government and municipal jobs in towns and cities.
08. Congress promises to formulate and implement a policy on urban transport with emphasis on metro rail, suburban rail, electric vehicles, public bus transport, hired vehicles and shared vehicles. We will encourage non-motorised transport, namely, walking and cycling.
5. Rural Development
Congress promises to enhance infrastructure in rural areas and improve the quality of public goods such as roads, bridges, water supply, sanitation, electricity and schools.
01. In order to fill the gaps in sector-specific schemes as well correct any unintended bias, we will empower Panchayats and Municipalities to design and execute infrastructure projects. Congress promises to establish a non-lapsable Rural Infrastructure Fund that will provide loans and grants to specific infrastructure projects undertaken by Panchayats and Municipalities.
02. We will launch MGNREGA 3.0 to address issues of water security, soil quality and similar issues that aggravate farmers’ distress. To this end, we will:
a. Increase the guaranteed days of employment up to 150 days in cases where 100 days have been achieved in a block/district;
b. Use MGNREGA labour in the Waterbodies Restoration Mission and the Wasteland Regeneration Mission; and
c. Use MGNREGA funds to build public assets such as primary health centres, classrooms, libraries etc.
03. Congress promises to connect all villages and habitations with a population of 250 with a road under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Broadband connectivity will be provided to all village Panchayats by the year 2021.
04. The allocation to the National Drinking Water Mission that has suffered neglect under the BJP government will be increased. 05. We will pass the Right to Homestead Act to provide a homestead for every household that does not own a home or own land on which a house may be built.
6. Informal and Unorganised Sector
Congress promises a fair deal for the crores of workers and the self-employed who toil every day in the unorganised and informal sector.
01. We will encourage and support micro and small enterprises that collectivise unorganised sector workers including waste pickers and scrap collectors.
02. Congress will ensure that notified minimum wages are paid to workers in the unorganised sector.
03. Congress will ratify ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association) and ILO Convention 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining).
04. The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 will be implemented in letter and spirit.
05. Congress will guarantee portability for the ration card possessed by a migrant worker and right to access ration articles at the place of work.
06. Congress promises to establish Aajeevika Kendras (Livelihood Centres) in all major cities and towns where a migrant worker may register himself/herself in order to:
a. Access government services;
b. Access basic healthcare;
c. Access crèches and schools for his or her children;
d. Access skill development and training centres; and
e. Access legal services.
7. Agriculture, Farmers and Farm Labour
Many years ago, Jawaharlal Nehru said, ‘Everything can wait but not agriculture.’
In the last 5 years, under the BJP Government, the agriculture sector has been driven into deep crisis. Adequate MSP was denied for 4 years; the procurement machinery was non-existent or weak; debt of farmers mounted; prices of inputs increased steadily; credit was inadequate; demonetisation devastated the cash-based agricultural economy; co-operative credit societies and apex co-operative banks were denied the right to convert their deposits, thereby choking co-operative credit to the farmer; the terms of trade moved decisively against agriculture; the crop insurance scheme robbed the farmer and enriched the insurance companies; and with little or no support from the government farmers and farm labourers were left to fend for themselves.
Congress has heard the cry of anguish of farmers and feels the pain of their acute distress.
01. Immediately after forming the governments in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as promised, the 3 Congress Governments waived the loans of farmers. Congress promises to waive the outstanding farm loans in other States as well.
02. We will not stop with just providing “Karz Maafi” or a loan waiver. Through a combination of remunerative prices, lower input costs, and assured access to institutional credit, we will set our Kisans on the path to “Karz Mukti,” or Freedom from Indebtedness.
03. Debt is a civil liability and we will not allow criminal proceedings to be instituted against a farmer who is unable to pay his/her debt.
04. In order to ensure priority to the issues affecting the agriculture sector, we will present a separate “Kisan Budget.”
05. Congress promises to establish a permanent National Commission on Agricultural Development and Planning consisting of farmers, agricultural scientists and agricultural economists to examine and advise the government on how to make agriculture viable, competitive and remunerative. The recommendations of the Commission shall be ordinarily binding on the government. The Commission will subsume the existing Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and recommend appropriate minimum support prices.
06. Congress also promises to establish a Commission on Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labour to advise on policies and programmes that will help them earn income from higher wages and from non-crop based agriculture such as horticulture and floriculture, dairying and poultry.
07. We will completely re-design the BJP government’s failed Fasal Bima Yojana (Crop Insurance Scheme) that has only enriched the insurance companies at the cost of the farmers. We will direct insurance companies to offer crop insurance and charge premiums on the principle of ‘no profit, no loss.’
08. Congress promises to work with State Governments to digitise land ownership and land tenancy records and, in particular, recognise ownership and tenancy rights of women farmers and ensure women get the benefits of agriculturerelated schemes.
09. Congress will promote Farmer Producer Companies/Organisations to enable farmers to access inputs, technology and markets.
10. We will review the prices of agricultural inputs, extend subsidies where necessary, and establish facilities to hire farm machinery.
11. Congress will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act and make trade in agricultural produce—including exports and inter-state trade—free from all restrictions.
12. We will establish farmers’ markets with adequate infrastructure and support in large villages and small towns to enable the farmer to bring his/her produce and freely market the same.
13. Congress will formulate a policy on export and import of agricultural products that will support farmers and Farmer Producer Companies/Organisations and enhance their income.
14. Congress promises to formulate a policy to enable the construction of modern warehouses, cold storage and food processing facilities in every block of the country.
15. We will revive, strengthen and improve the old system of ‘Agricultural Extension Services’ and bring the best knowledge and best practices to every agricultural holding in the country.
16. Congress will encourage farmers to diversify into the production of local varieties of millets and pulses that can be procured for the PDS, Mid-Day Meals Scheme and the ICDS programme.
17. Congress promises a major programme to promote horticulture, pisciculture and sericulture for diversification and greater income for farmers. We will launch a national project to double the value of production in 5 years in dairying and poultry.
18. Congress will promote organic farming, encourage farmers to use mixed fertilizers and pesticides, support verification of organic products, and help them secure better prices for organic products.
19. Congress promises to double the funding in 5 years for teaching, R&D, agriculture-related pure sciences and applied science and technology in the agricultural sector. We will establish a College of Agriculture and a College of Veterinary Sciences in every district of the country.
20. Congress promises that the distortions that have crept into the text and the implementation of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006 will be removed and the original purposes of the Acts restored and enforced.
21. The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 belongs to the age of controls. Congress promises to replace the Act by an enabling law that can be invoked only in the case of emergencies.
22. Building on past experience, Congress will re-design MGNREGA and provide for:
a. Increasing the guaranteed days of employment up to 150 days in cases where 100 days have been achieved in a block/district;
b. Use of labour in the Waterbodies Restoration and the Wasteland Regeneration Missions;
c. Building village-level assets such as primary health centres, classrooms, libraries etc.