The Samajwadi Party called for a ‘MahaParivartan’ in its 14 page bare-bones manifesto released yesterday; it criticizes demonetisation and GST and calls for higher taxation of the rich. Tech related and other highlights from the manifesto:

1. Comeback of the NATGRID: The SP will reactivate the NATGRID, its “metadata intelligence grid”, and equip it with “cutting edge tech and human resources” to tackle new challenges. According to the party, the grid will prevent attacks like Pulwama and keep our troops safe. Here’s an introduction of the NATGRID, in a blog post by Centre for Internet and Society:

The programme [NATGRID] intends to provide 11 security agencies real-time access to 21 citizen data sources to track terror activities across the country. The citizen data sources include bank account details, telephone records, passport data and vehicle registration details, the National Population Register (NPR), the Immigration, Visa, Foreigners Registration and Tracking System (IVFRT), among other types of data, all of which are already present within various government records across the country.

Data mining and analytics are used to process the huge volumes of data generated from the 21 data sources so as to analyse events, match patterns and track suspects, with big data analytics being the primary tool to effectively utilise the project, which was founded to prevent another instance of the September, 2011 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The list of agencies that will have access to this data collection and analytics platform are the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Military Intelligence of Assam , Jammu and Kashmir regions and finally the Home Ministry itself.

2.Phone for the neediest: no specifics here, but the SP says that “the neediest will be provided with tablets and phones.”

3. Interactive education: “We will partner with leading non-profit education providers to bring the world’s best subject experts to provide interactive classes in local languages to students. The delivery of these interactive lessons will be facilitated by teachers. A network of edu-service providers will offer exam questionnaires, on-call advice and other support services.”

4. Industry Innovation Clusters will be set up to increase industrial growth. These will be located close to educational institutions “where enterprise will be encouraged and access to markets facilitated.” The state will play a major regulatory, technical and physical role in this. The party says economic policies that do not enable small enterprises to become larger will “doom us all” and the party “must change its thinking and expand our imagination” if it wants to help create jobs, and not simply maintain job subsistence.

5. Direct Benefits Transfer: The Samajwadi Pension will transfer Rs 3000 a month to the women of those houses most in need.

6. Additional 2% tax on richest: The party plans to imposed an additional 2% tax on households earnings over Rs 2.5 lakh a year (or 0.1% of Indian households) to finance the social transfer programs it has promised in the manifesto – Samajwadi Pension and the Lohia Grameen Awaas Yojana. “We believe it is also time to add a top income tax bracket for the ultra-rich who hide their income using complex structures.”; the party thinks this will unlock an additional 1% of the GDP.

We propose a MahaParivartan. We will give an economic boost to the poorest in this country who are being left behind by the top 0.1% of this country.