The Narendra Modi government completed seven years in office on Sunday, May 30. The celebrations are absent or muted on account of the pandemic.
In this article, I evaluate the performance of the government led by the prime minister based on promises made in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The manifesto — ‘Sankalpit Bharat, Shashakt Bharat’ — comprises 12 broad promises, including Nation First, doubling farmers’ income, making India the third largest economy, education for all, ensuring a healthy India, working for women’s empowerment, providing good governance, inclusive development, and laying an infrastructure foundation.
Under each of these heads are specific and generic promises, totalling 92 in number.
There has been good / satisfactory progress on 71% of the promises, no action / limited progress on 29% of the promises.
We need to appreciate the fact that the focus of the government for most of the last year has been on managing the pandemic, hence some of the promises may not have been acted upon yet.
The government has 3 years remaining during which the unfulfilled promises could be taken up.
Progress Report: Source: www.politicalbaaba.com
Let’s see how the performance has been on each of the promises.
1) Nation First
The BJP government has revoked Article 370 which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been bifurcated into two union territories.
It also passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill providing eligibility for Indian citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
The implementation of the CAA is likely to start after India wins the COVID war. The National Register of Citizens process is also held up due to the pandemic.
India didn’t budge on its stand of LAC being non-negotiable in the face-off with China in Ladakh.
National security continues to be of paramount importance and the government has exhibited zero tolerance for terrorism.
Terror incidents have declined in J&K after the abrogation of Article 370. 244 terror incidents were reported in 2020 in comparison to 594 in 2019, while 221 terrorists were killed in 2020 in comparison to 157 in 2019.
2) Doubling Farmers’ Income
The government has passed three farm laws which
are expected to usher in much-needed reforms in the farming sector. It has the potential to make farming a lucrative endeavor and also open the floodgates to private investment and innovation. It will help the government achieve its mission of doubling farmer incomes by 2022.
A section of the farming community, especially those belonging to Punjab, is protesting against the laws.
The government has also launched a pension scheme for farmers under which aged between 18 and 40 years will get a Rs 3,000 monthly pension after reaching 60 years.
The government has approved Rs 20,050 crore Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana to bring about the Blue Revolution through sustainable development of the fisheries sector over the next five years.
As announced in the Budget 2021-22, over 20 lakh hectare land will be brought under drip and sprinkler irrigation with the creation of a micro-irrigation fund with NABARD of Rs 10,000 crore.
3) India as the World’s 3rd Largest Economy
While the government has prepared a for becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2025, the plans have been hit hard by the pandemic. The resultant lockdowns have impacted economic activity and are likely to shave off 2 years of growth.
This is likely to give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and help India become a manufacturing hub, creating millions of jobs and facilitating exports.
For MSMEs impacted during the pandemic, a Credit Guarantee Scheme of Rs 3 lakh crore was announced wherein the Government of India guaranteed loans given to MSMEs by banks and NBFCs. The manifesto promised Rs 1 lakh crore by 2024.
4) Infrastructure - Foundation of New India
The Modi government has unveiled 7,000 projects, worth Rs 102 lakh crore, under the National Infrastructure Pipeline spanning across energy, roads, irrigation, health, digital India, urban development to be developed by 2024. The central and the state governments will each spend 39% and the remaining 22% will be spent by the private sector.
It has also launched an ambitious ‘Har Ghar Jal’ yojana to ensure tap water supply to all rural households by 2024. Four crore households have already been provided with tap water connections.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government promised 60,000 km of national highway construction in 5 years in the manifesto. Despite the national lockdown of nearly 2 months last year, 23,535 km of highways have been built (on track). The construction rate hit an all-time high of 36.4 km/day in 2020-21.
A lot of emphasis has been laid on Railway Electrification by the Modi government to reduce dependence on imported fuels.
Since 2014, 24,080 RKM (37% of present Broad Gauge routes) have been electrified against electrification of 4,337 RKM (7% of present Broad Gauge routes) during 2007-14. Indian Railways has set a target to electrify all broad gauge routes by December 2023
5) Healthy India - Determined India
The Modi government had launched the Ayushman Bharat scheme providing an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh to 10.74 crore poor families. It also initiated a programme to set up 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres by 2022. However, the plans have been hit due to the pandemic which has crippled our healthcare system.
The target of setting up 75 medical institutes and ensuring full immunization coverage for all children and pregnant women by 2022 has also been hit.
COVID-19 has hit the plans of the government to ensure that the out-of-pocket expenditure on health is reduced and all citizens can avail of necessary medical services. Most of the efforts have been focused on firefighting to save lives and now procure vaccines.
Budget 2021 increased the allocation on healthcare by 137% to improve healthcare infrastructure and is in line with the industry expectations of 2.5%-3% of GDP.
Out of the Rs 2.23 lakh crore allocated for health, Rs 35,000 crore have been kept to procure vaccines and inoculate all adults by 2021-end.
6) Good Governance
Narendra Modi came to power when the country was reeling under the 2G, Coal-gate, CWG, etc scams of UPA 2. In the last seven years after Modi took over, there has not been a single big scam that has come to light and haunted the government.
Modi has lived up to his promise of providing a corruption-free government. However, there is not much evidence that corruption is declining in middle or lower levels of government.
India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking globally has jumped 69 places from 132 in 2011 under UPA 2 to 63 under Modi on account of structural reforms that include streamlining the process of obtaining a building permit, making setting up a business easier, and introducing GST.
A National Research Foundation is likely to be set up under the New Education Policy 2020. It will look after funding, mentoring, and building ‘quality of research in India. The NRF aims to fund researchers working across streams in India providing a boost to use technology for the development of people.
Reiterating the government's focus on the development of infrastructure and improved connectivity in the Northeastern states, Rs 34,000 crore has been allocated in the current Budget for the construction of more than 1,300 km of national highways in Assam in the next three years.
7) Yuva Bharat - Tomorrow's India
The manifesto promised to create new opportunities for employment by providing more support to the 22 'champion sectors' identified as the main drivers of the Indian economy.
However, COVID-19 has aggravated India’s unemployment problem. Rural and urban unemployment rates have risen to 15% levels in May 2021 after the second series of lockdowns.
The government’s PLI scheme is expected to create four lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities immediately and more in the future.
The government’s Rs 1 lakh crore infrastructure projects will also help to create employment opportunities.
To encourage startups and innovation, tax holiday to startups has been extended by another year to March 31, 2022. It also extended the eligibility period of claiming capital gains exemption for the investment made in the startups by one more year to March 31, 2022.
While collateral-free loans for startups have been launched, banks have been hesitant in offering them.
On the sports front, the Khelo India scheme is doing a commendable job on the ground.
8) Education for All
The BJP manifesto had promised to increase the outlay on education to 6% of GDP in the 2014 manifesto. This has not been achieved and was dropped in the promise of 2019.
A new National Education Policy has been launched which aims at making ‘India a global knowledge superpower’.
In school education, the policy focuses on overhauling the curriculum, ‘easier’ Board exams, a reduction in the syllabus to retain ‘core essentials’ and a thrust on ‘experiential learning and critical thinking’.
Of the promises made, a unique initiative, the Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme-DHRUV, has been launched for extraordinarily talented students, from the premises of ISRO.
In the Budget 2021-22, funds have been provided for the strengthening of over 15,000 schools for effective implementation of the new NEP, 750 new Eklavya model residential schools, and 100 new Sainik schools.
9) Women’s Empowerment
Prime Minister Modi has stated that ‘India needs not just women development, but women-led development’.
The government fulfilled its promise of legislating a bill to prohibit and eliminate practices such as instant triple talaq and nikah halala to promote gender equality.
COVID-19 has impacted the progress of the POSHAN initiative which aims to reduce malnutrition by 10% in the next five years and tripling of creche and childcare facilities for parents employed in the unorganised sector.
In 2017, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, a direct benefit transfer (DBT) for pregnant women and lactating mothers to meet enhanced nutritional needs and to partially compensate for wage loss. In FY 2019-20, the scheme has crossed a significant milestone by reaching out to one crore beneficiaries.
However, no action on the 33% reservation of women in Parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment. Also, no substantial progress on formulating a comprehensive ‘Women in Workforce’ roadmap focussed on dramatically increasing female workforce participation over the next few years.
10) Inclusive Development
The government has launched the National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self-Employed Persons providing a monthly minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000 for the entry age group of 18-40 years. The scheme would benefit more than 3 crore small shopkeepers and traders.
Working on the mantra of ensuring the welfare of the poor, the government provided free ration for 6 months to 80 crore beneficiaries last year.
To help poor households tide over the economic crisis precipitated by the lockdown, Rs 500 per month for 3 months was transferred to 20 crore Jan Dhan accounts.
The NREGA allocation was increased by Rs 40,000 crore to help migrant workers who lost their livelihoods.
The Cabinet has approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 which provides a mechanism for social, economic, and educational empowerment of transgenders by defining their identity and rights to prohibit discrimination against them. This will lead to inclusiveness and make them productive members of society.
The government has been responsive to the needs of the aspirational middle class which is the backbone of its support.
During phase one of the wave when many people lost jobs, faced pay cuts, a moratorium of 6 months was provided on loan repayments. Even during the current wave, a restructuring package for loans less than Rs 25 lakh has been announced.
11) Cultural Heritage
In November 2019, the Supreme Court cleared the deck for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The verdict asked the Union government to form a trust within three months to oversee the construction and management of a temple at the disputed site.
The Modi administration has formed the trust and the construction of a grand Ram Lalla Mandir has begun, expected to be completed by Q1, 2024.
The Education Ministry has set up a task force for preparing a roadmap on providing technical education to students in their mother tongue.
Despite good intentions, the Namami Ganga project which entails getting Ganga clean by 2020 seems to be delayed due to many challenges with respect to sewage treatment, restoring flow, sludge control, and cost overruns.
In the Budget for 2021-22, Rs 2,970.30 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of AYUSH, an increase of 40% for the promotion of Ayurveda, Yoga, and naturopathy.
12) Foreign Policy
On the foreign affairs front, the BJP has succeeded in India ‘getting its rightful place in the comity of nations and international institutions.
In 2020, India entered the elite club of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Singapore by joining the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay) as its founding member. This is part of its efforts towards global coordination on knowledge and technology.
Guided by the philosophy of Vasudev Kutumbakam, the Modi government launched Vaccine Maitri – an ambitious programme to export the two Indian-made shots – Covishield and Covaxin – to the world.
Nearly 6.6 crore doses of the Made-in-India vaccines have been sent to 95 foreign entities, out of which nearly 1.06 crore doses as free-of-charge grants to various low-income countries.
This gesture has been appreciated worldwide. Resultantly, many countries have rushed to help India with medical supplies/equipment to help tide over its ferocious second wave.
In April 2021, India and three other Quad member nations joined France in kick-starting a three-day naval wargames plan in the eastern Indian Ocean in reflection of their growing maritime cooperation amid China's growing efforts to expand influence in the region.
No or little Progress
Some of the promises like holding simultaneous elections, reservation for women, Uniform Civil Code, establishment of new airports, political solution to the Gorkha issue, permanent seat on the UNSC, and police and judicial reforms have been long pending and might require constitutional amendment and consensus to be built. These have seen little or no progress.
To sum up, in the first two years, despite the pandemic, the Modi government has made good progress on the promises made in its manifesto.
The profile of India has enhanced globally with its gesture of supplying vaccines to poor countries. The Indian economy will be the world’s fastest-growing major economy in 2022, according to the United Nations.
The Modi government has faced flak for the handling of the second wave which has seen the ratings of the prime minister dip to the lowest levels in the last seven years.
In 2024, apart from the fulfillment of manifesto promises, the Modi government’s performance on vaccination drive and management of future waves will be on top of voters’ minds.
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