70 years ago, on this day, a frail but wise man became a martyr because he preached ahimsa and universal brotherhood. The country then was facing crises as it does now, again. The values on which this great nation is founded and which it has preserved over centuries are threatened as never before.

As a result of impromptu and impetuous policymaking, rural distress is at its peak with farmers committing suicides in larger numbers than ever before. The industrial economy is in the throes of a prolonged slow down, bank NPA’s are deteriorating, private sector investment is at a record low, demonetization and GST have played havoc with the informal sector and employment is actually declining instead of increasing. The demographic dividend is turning into a demographic disaster. Hunger and malnutrition are robbing the poor children of their future. Disparities are accentuating at an alarming rate.

The internal security situation has deteriorated. Jammu and Kashmir continues to witness daily bloodbath both within and along the Line of Control. The government is desperate to find a military solution to essentially a political problem. Crimes against women are on the rise and mob justice in the name of religion and caste has become the order of the day. The social fabric of the country stands ruptured as never before.

The foreign policy of the government is in complete disarray. China is flexing its muscle along the Line of Actual Control and even brokering peace between Afghanistan and Pakistan that augurs ill for India. Pakistan continues to export terror to India with impunity. Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal are posing problems for India in unexpected ways. Even a time-tested friend like Russia is distancing itself from our core concerns.

Institutions of democracy have been deliberately weakened including the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Election Commission and the media. The investigating agencies like the CBI, ED, NIA and Income Tax Department have become weapons in the hands of the government to cow down and silence its critics.

The national discourse has become too shrill, polarized and dangerous for the health of our democracy.

Fear rules the roost and members of the ruling dispensation are its worst victims. We live in an age in which facts can be manufactured and statistics made to order. The miasma of untruth has become so pervasive that uttering truth sounds like blasphemy. Propaganda has replaced performance as yardstick of success.

We feel it is time for the aware, thinking and caring citizens of this country to come forward and raise their voice against these prevailing trends and protect the Constitution and the institutions of democracy. We are here to make a beginning in that direction.

Rashtra Manch (National Forum) is committed to:

1. Protecting, preserving and safeguarding the institutions of democracy in India at all cost and ensuring the complete accountability of those in power.

2. Ensuring the complete security of farmers’ income.

3. Taking full care of the livelihood concerns of all, especially the youth of the country.

4. Ensuring the betterment of the quality of life of people, especially in the rural areas and in the urban slums.

5. Assuring a life of dignity for women and providing full security to them.

6. Protecting the constitutional rights of the weaker sections and the minorities.

7. Ensuring complete national security in its widest sense—-internal, external, economic, environmental and cyber.In the end, we invite all like-minded citizens to come forward and join this movement to strengthen the sinews of our society and nation and protect its future.

New Delhi. January 30, 2018