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Foreign investment can't be the bedrock of Indian Economy: Medha Patkar
Renowned social activist Medha Patkar has said that that the union budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram continued the path led out by his predecessors as visible in blind pursuit with the same paradigm based on FDI, FII and CII.

She questioned the confidence that he has expressed in this foreign/corporate investments justifiable and said that the past experience was even a small percentage of foreign investment leads to a large extent of foreign ‘influence not only on the specific projects but policies.

The crucial sectors such as Khadi village industries and the micro, small, medium industries is also left to the World bank and other multinational development banks. But the sops to the corporate or the heavily funded ‘Infrastructure’ is not!

She felt that undue importance given to infrastructure of one kind is obvious in the Budget. It’s establishment of 7 cities and ports under Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and ports like Dholera, Gujrat and Shendra – Bidkin, Maharashtra. But this is not all. It’s known that progress on DMIC which FM specially mentioned, is towards acquiring/ diverting 3,50,000 hectares of land and yet, without impact assessment, necessary clearances, with no guarantee of more employment generation than to be lost, and with Japanese support. No concern is expressed for affected, while so many projects – industries, power to infrastructure are proposed. She cautioned that without consent of the Gram- Sabhas or local urban unit, this is surely to crush life and livelihood.

Medha Patkar said that the truly necessary infrastructure for the millions of urban poor is that of shelter and neighbourhood amenities. A passing mention of 2000 crores indicates, it is to be left to the private developers and not brought into the plan expenditure. Not a mention about Rajiv Awas Yojana which is the only scheme to usher in slum free cities, is not even mentioned.

The activist welcomed higher allocation for SCs, STs, minorities as non- transferable and appreciated appreciate some priority given to alternatives. She reminded that India as a country firstly has to secure food, clothing, shelter and livelihood for every citizen before it becomes the 7th largest or fall in the 5 top economies of the world.

Medha Patkar deplored that no increase in allocation to education against 6% as suggested by Kothari Commission in 1966 and demanded by all people’s organizations is once again to be condemned, priority and allocation to not only Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan but with new innovative schemes to reach out to the dropouts, leftouts and thrown outs in millions is needed. ‘Health for all’ too is remaining to be a slogan more than a targeted goal with well planned approach.

As expected, she felt that Finance Minister’s presentation of budget revolved much around the womenfolk, the question of violence, exclusion and security. Yet, she asked  where are new plans to use the contributions of human resource, creativity, perseverance and hard work and the productivity with skills of Women? It is only a small share in the sectoral or schematic budget calculated on the basis of the proportional number of women as beneficiaries, that is projected as ‘ Gender-Budget’ indicator. Is that enough to ensure every girl child will get education, nutrition, health facility and every mother, a shelter and livelihood, she asked.

She warned that with no adequate increase in the budget allocation for health, education or even MGNREGA (Rozgar), she said that human security will not be ensured. It’s unfortunate that while defence has got its due with no increase, yet no curtailment in the huge allocation as always. Security measures, social and economic, is beyond allocating funds for first women bank.

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