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Family and Society


Preserving Integrity of the Family

IN the Indian view of life, an individual is not an independent or sovereign being, but an integral member of the family, community, the nation and the human race. The basic institution that anchors the individual in society and the nation, as also links him to the past and the future, is the family. The BJP believes that the integrity of the family institution is the main guarantor of India's civilizational continuity. Hence, the importance of protection and nurturing of family values cannot be overstated in the context of nation-building. If the family is the brick, society is the edifice.

Our Charter for Children: No Child Shall Go To Sleep Hungry

THE BJP believes that children are born-and have the right-to be happy; they have the right to food, shelter and clothes; they have the right to education. But the facts as they exist paint a dismal picture. India has a high infant mortality rate. Many children suffer from malnutrition and hunger. The majority of them have no access to education. Deprived of their childhood, millions of children have to work to feed themselves and contribute to the family income. Constitutional provisions and legal safeguards have been followed more in the breach than in practice. There are more children working in factories and fields than in schools; there are more children living in deprivation than in secure homes. The BJP, in keeping with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, will ensure that the "best interests" of India's children are taken into account in all situations. Children's rights are the foundation on which better societies can be built and, therefore, we will implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child in both letter and spirit. Towards this end, we will protect:

1. Children's right to survive and develop to their full potential;

2. Children's right to the highest attainable standard of health care through compulsory health check and by strengthening the ICDS;

3. Children's right to be registered immediately after birth;

4. Children's right to protection from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse;

5. Children's right to play;

6. Children's right to education; and,

7. Children's right to shelter.

As we step into the next millennium, child labour must be left behind, consigned to history as completely as those other forms of slavery that it so closely resembles. We will amend the present Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act to remove the distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous processes. We will achieve the goal of wiping out the scourge of child labour in factories and fields through:

1. Regular and persistent inspections by labour departments at the Centre and in the States;

2. Special annual campaigns to detect child employment;

3. Identity cards which will be mandatory for all young workers;

4. Welfare benefits, especially social assistance to poor families, aimed at ensuring a minimum income and thus removing the need to rely on their children's labour;

5. Free and compulsory primary education.

No nation has the moral authority to claim prosperity if its children are hungry. The BJP promises that by the year 2000, no child who attends primary school will go to sleep hungry. We will device a suitable scheme with full community participation to keep this solemn promise.

Caring for our Disabled

AS many as fifty million Indians are denied the chance to participate in the nation-building process because of their physical and other disabilities. Rather than recognize the contributory potential of these differently abled men and women, they are socially, economically and politically marginalized. Successive Congress Governments, as well as the UF regime which made cynical use of the slogan of "social justice", have done nothing to empower the disabled. Budgetary allocation to help the disabled amounts to less than pittance. Parliament passed a Bill for the welfare of the disabled, but it is yet to be implemented in both letter and spirit. The BJP will adopt a holistic approach towards the disabled so that they are able to contribute their mite to the nation-building process instead of being condemned to the margins of society. Towards this end, the BJP will:

1. Conduct a special census to collect accurate data about the number of disabled people and the nature of their disability in order to formulate an effective policy;

2. Emphasize on empowerment and development of the abilities of the disabled into specific skills;

3. Ensure access to public services and public places, to begin with in metropolitan cities;

4. Provide employment in suitable categories of Government service through a pro-active "equal opportunities" programme;

5. Offer incentives to the private sector to introduce a similar "equal opportunities" scheme in suitable job categories; and,

6. Encourage State Governments to set up centres for counseling and skill acquisition.

Caring for our Senior Citizens

INDIAN family and social traditions have always held elders in high esteem. A person who attains the status of an "elder" and a "senior citizen" is looked upon as a repository of experience, values and wisdom, which need to be transmitted to the younger generation. Sadly, the alien nature of socio-economic development in India in the past fifty years has brought the institution of family under great pressure. One of the worst victims of this process are our senior citizens.

1. Our Government, in line with the BJP's philosophy, will take all possible measures to alleviate the difficulties and hardships suffered by our senior citizens.

2. We will also support and encourage all societal efforts to restore the traditional respect and regard for the elders.

3. A person who retires after long years of service does not, by the very act of retiring, lose his ability to contribute in his field of expertise. Our Government will prepare a decentralized database of such skilled and knowledgeable individuals, so that both Governmental and non-governmental agencies can use their services.

4. Organizations of senior citizens will be encouraged to participate in consultative, advisory and, wherever possible, managerial capacities in the implementation of suitable Governmental programmes.

As we step into the next millennium, child labour must be left behind, consigned to history as completely as those other forms of slavery that it so closely resembles.