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Election Report Card: Promises vs Achievements under Inclusive Development

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Election Report Card
 
Election is a very important tool in democracy. It is through election that citizens of a nation choose their representatives and select their leaders. Political leaders represent different political parties which work for various goals.
In the general election held in 2014, the BJP-led NDA secured 282 seats and formed the government, making Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of India, while in the 2019 elections the number of seats went up to 303. The much-awaited Lok Sabha Elections 2024 commenced from 19th April, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of 370 seats for the ruling BJP and 400 seats for the NDA.
As we go through Lok Sabha Elections 2024 barely a month away, how to decide which political party you should cast your vote for? How to know how much work the party in power has done as against the tall claims that were made right before the previous elections?
The CSR Journal, which is known for its unbiased and fearless journalism delves into promises made versus task completed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is incumbent at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Following are certain promises made under the BJP’s manifesto ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019. How much of the promises have been achieved in the past 5 years? Were the decisions made by the government beneficial for its people? Are citizens happy with what the government has to offer? What is the opposition saying? The CSR Journal takes a look.

BJP Manifesto – Lok Sabha 2019

Promises made by the Narendra Modi Government for: Inclusive Development
Ensuring Justice for All
Strengthening ‘Sabka Vikas’
Ensuring Welfare for Poor
Responsive to the Needs of Aspirational Middle Class
Commitment to Geographical Equity
Development with Dignity for Minorities
Caring for the Elderly
Enabling Divyangs
Political Resolution on the matter of Gorkha
Ensuring welfare of the Labour Force
Pension Scheme for all Small Shopkeepers

Ensuring Justice for All

The Indian government’s efforts to ensure justice and opportunities for marginalized communities, including Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and economically weaker sections (EWS), have been a ongoing endeavour. The implementation of reservation policies in education, government jobs, and elected bodies for SCs and STs, as mandated by the Constitution, has continued. However, concerns have been raised about the quality of education and employment opportunities available through these reservations, and incidents of caste-based discrimination, untouchability, and violence against these communities continue to be reported, despite laws prohibiting such practices.
For OBCs, the government has implemented the 27% reservation recommended by the Mandal Commission, but its implementation has faced challenges. These include debates over the creamy layer concept, which excludes economically advanced OBC individuals, and the inclusion or exclusion of certain communities in the OBC list. There have been demands for a revision of the OBC lists based on more recent data and socio-economic indicators, as well as calls for sub-categorization of OBCs to ensure more equitable distribution of benefits.
In 2019, the government introduced a 10% reservation for the EWS category in government jobs and higher education institutions, aimed at providing opportunities for economically disadvantaged sections of the non-reserved categories, including upper castes. However, this move has faced legal challenges and debates over its constitutional validity and potential impact on existing reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs. Critics argue that the EWS reservation may dilute the existing reservation system and undermine efforts to address historical and structural disadvantages faced by marginalized communities.
Overall, concerns have been raised about the proper implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of reservation policies, with allegations of misuse and inadequate representation in higher-level positions. The issue of reservation in the private sector has been a long-standing demand, with debates over the pros and cons of such a move. Calls have been made for a more comprehensive approach that combines reservation policies with efforts to improve access to quality education, healthcare, and socio-economic development programs for marginalized communities. Additionally, the need for periodic revision of reservation policies based on updated data and changing socio-economic conditions has been highlighted by various stakeholders.
Despite the government’s efforts, the issue of ensuring justice and opportunities for marginalized communities remains complex and contentious, requiring sustained efforts, effective implementation, and a holistic approach to address deep-rooted social and economic inequalities. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go in achieving substantive equality and social justice for all sections of society.

Strengthening ‘Sabka Vikas’

The Indian government has taken several initiatives to strengthen the ‘Sabka Vikas’ (Development for All) agenda, with a focus on empowering and improving the lives of marginalized communities, including Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Safai Karamcharis (sanitation workers). However, the progress and impact of these initiatives have been mixed, with both achievements and ongoing challenges.
Regarding the promise to establish Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in areas with a significant ST population, the government has made efforts to expand the network of these schools. As of 2022, there were over 688 EMRS operational across the country, providing quality education and facilities to tribal students. However, concerns have been raised about the shortage of funds, inadequate infrastructure, and the need for further expansion to meet the educational needs of the ST population.
In terms of protecting the rights of forest dwellers, the government has implemented the Forest Rights Act (FRA), which aims to recognize and secure the rights of forest-dwelling communities, including their rights to land and forest resources. However, the implementation of the FRA has faced challenges, such as delays in processing claims, inadequate awareness among communities, and conflicts with conservation efforts.
The initiative to establish 50,000 ‘Van Dhan Vikas Kendras’ (VDVKs) in tribal areas was launched in 2018 to facilitate primary processing and value addition for forest produce, creating employment and income opportunities for tribal communities. While the government has reported the establishment of several VDVKs, there have been concerns about their effectiveness, lack of infrastructure, and the need for better market linkages and support for tribal enterprises.
Regarding the promise to ensure occupational health and safety for Safai Karamcharis, the government has taken steps to provide personal safety equipment and promote mechanized cleaning. However, the issue of manual scavenging, a practice that violates human dignity and poses severe health risks, continues to persist in various parts of the country, despite legal prohibitions. There have been calls for stronger enforcement of laws, rehabilitation programs, and efforts to address the social stigma associated with this occupation.
Overall, while the government has initiated various programs and schemes to empower marginalized communities and promote inclusive development, the implementation and impact of these initiatives have been uneven. Challenges such as inadequate funding, infrastructure gaps, socio-cultural barriers, and lack of effective monitoring and evaluation have hindered the full realization of the ‘Sabka Vikas’ agenda. Sustained efforts, increased resources, and a more comprehensive approach involving stakeholder participation and community empowerment are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes.

Ensuring Welfare for Poor

The Indian government’s efforts to ensure the welfare of the poor have seen mixed progress. On the goal of bringing down the percentage of families living below the poverty line to a single digit within five years, the target has not been achieved. According to the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2021-22, around 16.4% of the population in India still lived below the national poverty line, although poverty levels have shown a gradual decline over the years. The government has implemented various social protection schemes, such as MGNREGA, PM-KISAN, and PMGKAY, which have contributed to poverty alleviation efforts.
Regarding the provision of pucca houses for families living in kuchha houses by 2022, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) has made significant strides. As of December 2022, over 1.28 crore houses were constructed under PMAY-Gramin, and over 1.14 crore houses were built under PMAY-Urban. However, the target of providing pucca houses to all eligible beneficiaries by 2022 was not fully met, and the scheme has been extended beyond the initial deadline due to challenges such as land acquisition, delayed approvals, and lack of resources.
On the food security front, the government successfully extended the food security cover to over 80 crore beneficiaries through the PMGKAY, providing free food grains during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the promise to provide subsidized sugar at Rs. 13 per kg per family per month has not been implemented so far.
Regarding financial inclusion, the Jan Dhan Yojana has been a success, with over 46 crore bank accounts opened under the scheme as of March 2023. The government has also taken steps to expand the banking infrastructure and promote financial literacy. However, the goal of ensuring access to banking facilities within a 5 km radius for every Indian has not been fully achieved, particularly in remote and rural areas.
Overall, while the government has launched various schemes and initiatives aimed at poverty alleviation and improving the welfare of the poor, the progress has been uneven. Challenges such as inadequate funding, implementation gaps, and external factors like the COVID-19 pandemic have hindered the full realization of these promises. Continued efforts, better coordination, a more targeted approach, effective monitoring, and evaluation will be necessary to address the remaining gaps and ensure the welfare of the poor in a more comprehensive manner.

Responsive to the Needs of Aspirational Middle Class

The Indian government has taken some measures to address the needs of the aspirational middle class, but the progress has been uneven, and there is scope for further improvement.
Regarding the promise of revising tax slabs and providing tax benefits to increase disposable income for middle-income families, the government has taken steps in this direction. In the Union Budget 2023-24, the government revised the income tax slabs and increased the rebate limit for individuals earning up to ₹7 lakh per annum, which was expected to provide some relief to the middle class. However, there have been demands for further tax rationalization and simplification to enhance the purchasing power of the middle class.
Concerning access to education for the middle class, the government has introduced several initiatives. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) have aimed to improve the quality and accessibility of primary and secondary education, respectively. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has also proposed measures to improve the education system, including increased emphasis on vocational education and skill development. However, the implementation of these initiatives and their impact on the middle class remains a work in progress.
In terms of employment opportunities, the government has focused on initiatives such as the Skill India Mission and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) to enhance the employability of the youth, including those from the middle class. However, the creation of quality employment opportunities, particularly in the formal sector, has been a challenge, with concerns over job creation and the impact of factors like automation and technological disruption.
Regarding urban infrastructure, the government has launched several flagship missions, such as the Smart Cities Mission, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – Urban, aimed at improving urban living conditions, including housing, transportation, and basic amenities. However, the progress of these missions has been uneven, and issues such as inadequate funding, implementation challenges, and the need for better urban planning and governance persist.
Overall, while the government has taken initiatives to address the needs of the aspirational middle class, the progress has been mixed. Challenges such as the impact of economic factors, implementation gaps, and the need for a more comprehensive approach to address issues like quality education, employment generation, and urban development remain. Continued efforts, effective implementation, and a focus on holistic reforms will be necessary to meet the aspirations of the middle class more effectively.

Commitment to Geographical Equity

The Indian government has made efforts to address geographical imbalances and promote inclusive development across different regions of the country, particularly in aspirational districts and the eastern part of India. However, the progress and impact of these efforts have been uneven, and significant challenges remain.
Regarding the focus on aspirational districts, the government identified 115 districts across 28 states in 2018 based on various socio-economic indicators. These districts were provided special attention and resources to accelerate their development. The government has reported progress in areas such as health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, and skill development in these districts. However, the extent of improvement and catch-up with the rest of the country varies across districts, and concerns have been raised about the sustainability of these efforts beyond the program period.
In terms of promoting the development of eastern India, the government has undertaken several initiatives under the ‘Purvodaya’ or ‘Rise of the East’ campaign. These include:
1. Improved connectivity through the development of road, rail, and air infrastructure projects in the region.
2. Establishment of industrial corridors and smart cities to boost economic activity and urban development.
3. Provision of financial resources through schemes like the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the East-West Corridor.
4. Initiatives to promote tourism, skill development, and entrepreneurship in the region.
However, the progress of these initiatives has been uneven, and the eastern states continue to lag behind in various socio-economic indicators compared to other regions of the country. Challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of investment, and issues related to governance and implementation have hindered the region’s development.
Overall, while the government has recognized the need for geographical equity and inclusive development, the impact of its efforts has been mixed. The aspirational districts program has shown some progress, but sustainability and scalability remain concerns. The ‘Purvodaya’ campaign has aimed to address the development gap in eastern India, but significant challenges persist. Continued efforts, increased investments, better implementation mechanisms, and a more comprehensive approach involving stakeholder participation will be necessary to achieve sustainable and equitable development across different regions of the country.

Development with Dignity for Minorities

The Indian government has taken some initiatives aimed at the development and empowerment of minority communities. However, progress on this front has been uneven, and there are concerns and criticisms from various stakeholders regarding the effectiveness and implementation of these initiatives.
Some of the key efforts by the government include:
1. Scholarship and Education Schemes: The government has implemented various scholarship programs, such as the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme, Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme, and Merit-cum-Means Scholarship Scheme, to promote education among minority students.
2. Skill Development and Employment: Initiatives like the Nai Manzil scheme and the Seekho aur Kamao scheme have been launched to provide skill development and employment opportunities for minority youth.
3. Infrastructure Development: The Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) aims to address the development deficits in identified minority concentration areas by providing better infrastructure and amenities.
4. Financial Inclusion: The government has promoted financial inclusion through schemes like the Standup India Scheme and the Nai Roshni scheme, which offer loans and credit facilities for minority communities.
5. Legal and Constitutional Safeguards: The government has emphasized the implementation of existing constitutional and legal provisions, such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, to safeguard the rights of minorities.
However, the impact of these initiatives has been criticized by various stakeholders. Some of the concerns raised include:
1. Inadequate budgetary allocations and delays in the release of funds for minority welfare schemes.
2. Issues related to the implementation and effective monitoring of these schemes at the ground level.
3. Allegations of discrimination and marginalization of certain minority communities, particularly Muslims, in access to education, employment, and other opportunities.
4. Concerns over the protection of religious and cultural rights, instances of hate speech, and the need for stronger legal safeguards.
Several minority rights organizations and civil society groups have demanded a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to minority empowerment, addressing not just economic development but also social, cultural, and political inclusion.
Overall, while the government has taken some steps towards the development and empowerment of minorities, the progress has been uneven, and significant challenges remain. Effective implementation, adequate resource allocation, and a more holistic approach involving community participation and addressing underlying issues of discrimination and marginalization are necessary to achieve the goal of “development with dignity” for all minority communities in India.

Caring for the Elderly

The Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana was launched in 2017 with the aim of providing assistive aids and devices to senior citizens belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category. The scheme aims to promote independent living and enhanced quality of life for the elderly by providing essential mobility and disability aids.
In terms of implementation, the government has taken steps to operationalize the scheme across the country. As of March 2023, the scheme has been implemented in over 600 districts, covering a significant portion of the country. The government has also allocated funds for the procurement and distribution of assistive devices under the scheme.
However, the progress and impact of the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana have been mixed. While the scheme has benefited a considerable number of senior citizens, there have been reports of delays in the delivery of aids and assistive devices in some areas. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the quality and appropriateness of the devices provided, as well as the need for better training and support for the beneficiaries in using these devices effectively.
It is important to note that caring for the elderly requires a comprehensive approach, and the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana is just one component of the government’s efforts in this area. Other initiatives, such as the Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP), the National Programme for Healthcare of Elderly (NPHCE), and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, also aim to address various aspects of elderly care, including healthcare, social security, and legal protection.
While the government has made efforts to address the needs of the elderly population, there is scope for further improvement and a more coordinated approach. Factors such as the rapidly increasing elderly population, limited resources, and the need for better infrastructure and support systems pose challenges that need to be addressed effectively.
Overall, the implementation of the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana has seen progress, but there is a need for continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement to ensure that the scheme achieves its intended objectives of enhancing the quality of life for senior citizens, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Enabling Divyangs

The Indian government has taken various initiatives to enable and empower persons with disabilities (Divyangs) through schemes and programs aimed at promoting accessibility, housing, early intervention, and financial inclusion. However, the progress and impact of these efforts have been uneven, and there is scope for further improvement.
Regarding the promise to implement a system of continuous accessibility audits and ratings for public infrastructure, the government has made efforts through the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan). This campaign aims to make public buildings, transportation systems, and information and communication technology accessible to persons with disabilities. However, the implementation of this initiative has faced challenges, and there is a need for more coordinated efforts and stricter enforcement of accessibility standards.
In terms of prioritizing Divyang beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and mandating accessibility benchmarks, the government has taken steps to ensure that a certain percentage of homes constructed under PMAY are allocated to persons with disabilities. Additionally, guidelines have been issued to incorporate accessibility features in the design and construction of PMAY houses. However, the implementation of these guidelines and the actual allocation of houses to Divyang beneficiaries have been uneven across different states and cities.
Regarding the strengthening of the Anganwadi and pre-school system for early detection of disabilities, the government has initiated programs such as the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) and the National Program for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD). These programs aim to screen and identify children with disabilities, particularly in rural and underserved areas. However, the coverage and effectiveness of these programs have been limited due to challenges such as a shortage of trained personnel, lack of awareness, and inadequate infrastructure.
On the financial inclusion front, the government has implemented schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), which provide banking services and insurance coverage to persons with disabilities. Additionally, some banks offer higher interest rates on fixed deposits for Divyangs. However, the extent of financial inclusion and the awareness and utilization of these schemes among the Divyang community remain areas that need further attention.
Overall, while the government has undertaken various initiatives to enable and empower persons with disabilities, the progress has been uneven, and challenges persist in terms of effective implementation, accessibility, early intervention, and financial inclusion. A more comprehensive and coordinated approach, involving stakeholder participation and addressing issues such as awareness, capacity building, and resource allocation, is necessary to ensure that the promises made to the Divyang community are fulfilled in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

Political Resolution on the matter of Gorkha

The Indian government has made some progress on its promises related to the Gorkha community, but there are also areas where further efforts are needed.
Regarding the recognition of 11 Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes (ST), the government has taken steps in this direction. In 2019, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to include the Gorkha communities of Bhujel, Gorkha, Chhetri, Thami, Sanyasi, Majhi, Dura, Damai, Dewan, Sarki, and Yakka in the ST list of West Bengal.
However, the process of granting ST status to these communities has faced delays and bureaucratic hurdles. As of now, the final notification for their inclusion in the ST list is still pending, leading to concerns and protests from the Gorkha community.
Regarding the implementation of reservation for the Limboo and Tamang tribes in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the government has taken steps to address this issue. In 2019, the Sikkim Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to provide reservation of seats for these communities. However, the implementation of this resolution has faced legal challenges and is currently pending before the Supreme Court.
On the matter of finding a permanent political solution for the Darjeeling Hills, Siliguri Terai, and Dooars region, the government has engaged in discussions with various stakeholders, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and other political parties. However, a concrete and widely accepted resolution to the long-standing demand for a separate state or Union Territory has not been achieved yet.
The situation in the Darjeeling Hills region has been marked by periods of unrest, strikes, and protests, with the demand for a separate state or increased autonomy being a recurring issue. While the government has made efforts to address the concerns of the Gorkha community through dialogue and initiatives such as the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), a lasting political solution has remained elusive.
Overall, while the government has taken some steps towards fulfilling its promises to the Gorkha community, the progress has been slow, and there are areas where further efforts are needed. The recognition of Gorkha sub-tribes as STs, the implementation of reservation for Limboo and Tamang tribes in Sikkim, and finding a permanent political solution for the Darjeeling Hills region continue to be pending issues that require sustained attention and efforts from the government, along with constructive engagement with the Gorkha community and other stakeholders.

Ensuring welfare of the Labour Force

The Indian government’s efforts to ensure a respectable living for workers through increases in the National Minimum Wage have seen some progress, but there are also challenges and concerns regarding the implementation and effectiveness of these measures.
Regarding the claim of a 42% growth in the National Minimum Wage under the current government, it is important to note that the fixation and revision of minimum wages in India is a complex process involving both the central and state governments. The central government sets the National Floor Level Minimum Wage, while the states are responsible for setting and revising their respective minimum wage rates based on local factors.
In 2019, the central government revised the National Floor Level Minimum Wage from Rs. 176 per day to Rs. 176 per day for unskilled non-agricultural workers. This represented an increase of around 42% compared to the previous level set in 2017. However, it is important to note that this is a non-binding floor level, and states are free to set their own minimum wage rates, which can be higher or lower than the National Floor Level.
Since then, several states have revised their minimum wage rates, with some states implementing wage levels higher than the National Floor Level, while others have fallen behind. The implementation and adherence to minimum wage laws have been a challenge, particularly in the unorganized and informal sectors, where enforcement mechanisms are often weak.
The government’s commitment to maintaining the direction of increasing the National Minimum Wage over the next five years is a positive step towards ensuring a respectable living for workers. However, there are concerns and debates surrounding the appropriate level of minimum wage, the impact on employment and competitiveness, and the need for regional variations.
Trade unions and worker organizations have often argued that the minimum wage levels set by the government are still inadequate to ensure a decent standard of living, especially in urban areas with higher costs of living. They have advocated for higher and more frequent revisions of minimum wages, as well as better enforcement mechanisms.
On the other hand, industry bodies and employers have raised concerns about the potential impact of higher minimum wages on their ability to remain competitive and generate employment opportunities, particularly for small and medium enterprises.
Overall, while the government has taken steps to increase the National Minimum Wage, the progress has been uneven, and challenges persist in terms of effective implementation, balancing the needs of workers and employers, and ensuring that minimum wage levels are adequate to provide a respectable living standard across different regions and sectors. Continued efforts, stakeholder engagement, and a balanced approach that considers the diverse perspectives and needs of all stakeholders will be necessary to achieve the stated objective of ensuring a respectable living for workers.

Pension Scheme for all Small Shopkeepers

The Indian government has taken steps to expand the coverage of the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan (PM-SYM) scheme to include small shopkeepers, but the implementation and uptake of the scheme have faced challenges.
The PM-SYM scheme was initially launched in 2019 to provide a monthly pension of Rs. 3,000 to unorganized sector workers after the age of 60. The scheme aimed to provide social security coverage to a significant portion of the informal workforce, which lacks access to formal pension and retirement benefits.
In 2022, the government announced the inclusion of small shopkeepers and self-employed individuals with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 1.5 crore under the PM-SYM scheme. This move was aimed at providing social security coverage to a broader segment of the informal sector workforce, including small traders, shopkeepers, and entrepreneurs.
However, the implementation and uptake of the PM-SYM scheme, including its expansion to small shopkeepers, have faced several challenges:
1. Low enrollment rates: Despite the scheme’s launch and subsequent expansion, the enrollment numbers have been lower than expected. As of March 2023, only around 28 lakh unorganized workers were enrolled in the PM-SYM scheme, which is a fraction of the targeted population.
2. Lack of awareness: There is a general lack of awareness among the target population, particularly small shopkeepers and self-employed individuals, about the PM-SYM scheme and its benefits. This has hindered the adoption of the scheme.
3. Operational challenges: Issues such as the availability of enrollment centers, documentation requirements, and the need for better facilitation and handholding for the informal sector workers have posed operational challenges in the implementation of the scheme.
4. Affordability concerns: Some small shopkeepers and self-employed individuals have expressed concerns about the affordability of the monthly contributions required under the PM-SYM scheme, which may have deterred their participation.
To address these challenges, the government has taken steps to increase awareness campaigns, simplify enrollment processes, and collaborate with various stakeholders, including trade associations and industry bodies, to promote the scheme among small shopkeepers and self-employed individuals.
Overall, while the government has made efforts to expand the PM-SYM scheme to cover small shopkeepers, the implementation and uptake of the scheme have faced challenges. Continued efforts, improved awareness campaigns, streamlined operational processes, and addressing affordability concerns will be necessary to ensure that the promise of providing social security coverage to small shopkeepers is effectively fulfilled.

Lok Sabha Elections Report Card 2024

The CSR Journal