Six achievements of the UPA 2

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 01:56 hrs

This will probably go down as the most corrupt and arrogant government in the history of Independent India and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh one of the weakest and Ineffective Prime Ministers ever.

However to give the devil its due, one has to acknowledge the achievements of the UPA too...

1. Anti-rape laws:

This arguably is the biggest achievement of UPA 2. On December 16, the horrific Delhi gang rape took place. One December 22 the Justice Verma Committee was formed and based on the recommendations, the ordinance was promulgated by the President on February 3, 2013.

By Indian standards, that's lightning fast.

The new law expanded the definition of rape and made it easier for a survivor to fight as well as introducing new crimes like acid attack, stalking and voyeurism. It got its first high-profile test case when Tehelka head honcho Tarun Tejpal was arrested.

This may go a long way in bringing down crimes against women.

2. Lokpal:

Of course activist Anna Hazare takes the major credit for this, but at the end of the day the Congress-led government has to be given credit for passing it in both houses of Parliament.

To fight corruption on a large scale a first step has to be taken and this is the first step. This was a bill hanging from the 1960s and was long overdue. The future will show how effective this will prove to be.

3. Stability:

If the UPA 2 was bad, then a Third Front dispensation may have been much worse. We have had such experiments in the past and they have been bigger disasters. For most of its term, UPA2 never had 272 seats in Parliament and still was not in danger of falling.

At least the day to day functions of the central government and bureaucracy continued even as UPA 2 became the third complete coalition term. It will be easier for both the Congress and BJP to produce stable coalitions after this.

4. Direct cash transfer:

Middlemen are the bane of the Indian system and paperwork delays many things indefinitely in India. That way the direct cash transfer system could go a long way solving a lot of national issues.

While millions of customers have been brought into the fold with the LPG subsidies, next in line is kerosene. While the Aadhar project is riddled with many contradictions, if they can still get it to work, then there's nothing like it.

5. The Khobragade case:

For the first time the Indian government showed some spine in taking on the government in the Devyani Khobragade arrest case. India refused to back down and even acted tough on US diplomats on Indian soil.

In the end they secured the release of Devyani back in India. If this becomes a regular stance and not a one-off affair, then other countries will start taking India more seriously.

6. Terror efforts:

The government acted tough on terror and went ahead with the hangings of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. Expert bomb maker Syed Abdul Karim Tunda of the LeT and IM founder Yasin Bhatkal were both captured.

While you may point to the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts, that may have more to do with the ineptitude of the Nitish Kumar led JD(U) government in Bihar.

Post script...

The Nuclear Deal defined UPA 1 and nuclear energy continued to make modest steps in UPA 2. Nuclear energy production in India continued to see a year on year increase. The Congress supported gay rights by protesting Section 377 and finally made the right choice on the Criminal Ordinance.

Some of the achievements which are being touted in UPA 2 may not actually be so.
The Right to Education was mostly on paper and did not yield the desired results. The government should instead have been more serious on improving the status of government schools.

The Land Bill may also be anti-industry.

Finally there's the Food Security Bill. For one it may have a huge negative impact on the national economy and may not be something which we can afford right now. Secondly it remains to be seen how much will actually percolate to the masses. Finally there's the fact that some sort of food security already existed in many States.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.