Hamaari “MANN KI BAATH” 3 years of Modi Govt
An aged political warhorse from the Congress stable fighting his political irrelevance of his twilight years had reportedly remarked, reacting to the first radio programme of PM Modi, ‘Mann ki Baath’, as ‘Monkey Baath’.
It was almost 3 years ago. Now that, this octogenarian is, kind of, lost in the political wilderness and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is busy rewriting the electoral relevance by spreading his party the BJP across most parts of India. Whatever those who suffer from pathological hatred of Narendra Modi, it is a fact that this is indeed a ‘Social Revolution on Radio’. The programme has been well received by the target audience, especially the urban masses in metropolitan cities across India. Even rural folks have taken a liking to it that they can hear the Prime Minister of the country first hand on various initiatives and thoughts of the central government. This was clearly a unique way that Narendra Modi thought of reaching out to the masses of the entire nation. According to a survey conducted in some 6 major Indian cities, some 67% of the population had tuned in to listen to the Prime Minister’s talk and had found it good. Without doubt they felt connected with the Prime Minister of the country, something that never happened during all the earlier 67 years.
If ‘Mann ki baath’ was a unique initiative so is Swatch Baarath Abhiyan (SBA). A country dreaming of becoming a Super Power cannot simply allow its half the population helplessly or otherwise defecating in public. Littering garbage all over is our national trait, at least for a vast section of Indians. Urinating in public was never felt to be bad and uncivil. Spitting in public, with or without paan chewing, was a norm. Cleanliness was hardly considered essential as a civil behaviour. Thus on 15th Aug 2014, from the rampart of Red Fort, when Prime Minister Modi talked about the SBA, the nation listened to him with rapt attention. He formally launched SBA on 2nd Oct 2014, on Gandhi Jayanthi Day, and neither he nor the country has looked back since then. Swatch Bhaarath is in the national consciousness and has become a matter of concern to all. Of course for a population, who has been indulging in unclean practices for all their life, it’s been a long call. But, it is to be accepted that since last 3 years change has come about, may be slowly, and it is only improving every day.
Of course giving an account of past 3 years, shall have many positives and negatives. Among the positives are the many initiatives which NDA III has taken which can still be classified as Work-in-Progress. Like a journalist puts it ‘3 years of PM Modi, ‘A’ for efforts,’ which is largely true. In our attempt to broad base the report card, we have asked some of our eminent readers to come up with their thoughts. Following pages have their stories on this journey of NDA III sofar.
Three Years of Modi Government: Retrospect and Prospect
A Retired Teacher
It is difficult, and sometimes even impossible to decline a request from a good friend to pen down an article, which one would not like ever to venture. Especially, when a person is from Bihar’s rural background, whose parents were illiterates and poor farmers owning land, less than an acre, and whose first teacher is blind from birth and cannot teach his students how to read or write, yet as a common man I felt, I should express my opinion on the topic. I spent my childhood as a cowherd boy. I gave this background, because when someone writes on a topic, which has a great bearing on commoners’ welfare, the background of that person always leaves an imprint on what he or she attempts to convey.
I firmly believe in the dictum “It is said, he who would live, must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to exist”. India in its size is the second largest populous and in demography the youngest country in the world, and India is moving quickly to its rightful place on the world stage under the stewardship of Narendra Modi as P.M.
But, when one judges someone’s performance, he/she has to consider the legacy to succeed or to draw inspirations from the works of their elders. We all have inherited from the Hon’ble first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru two gifts (?). The first is J&K issue with Pakistan and the second is on Tibet with China. These gifts are pricks for generations to come. Probably Pt. Nehru had his own reasons to create these problems on his own accord or by some ill advice. As we learn from elders that Pt. Nehru had his own belief or ego and always assessed himself best to deal with foreign policy. We also hear that he (Pt. Nehru) rarely sought for others’ advice on important subjects of this nature. No politician of present days could start his/her political inning without investing all his acumen and energy on these two problems. Modi took step to soothe the impact of the first gift by inviting all neighboring countries’ Executive Heads on May 26, 2014 including the Prime Minister of Pakistan, when he (Modi) took the oath as PM. Modi made an unscheduled stopover in Pakistan in December 2015 to reduce or find a way to live peacefully with our western neighbor. But one cannot shake hand with clenched fist. Desire of friendship should be from both sides whatever might be the internal dynamics of a country. Only option is left to create a situation, when adversary has no option other than to come to negotiating table. Mrs. Indira Gandhi did create that situation after Bangladesh liberation war. It is a wise move to cut iron by iron. Modi also had several meetings with Chinese President. His comments that despite differences with China “not a single bullet has been fired at common border with China” has been well appreciated and received by the Chinese bosses. Yet the ties with Pakistan and China remain icy. Relations with other neighbors are very cordial and reasonably good and manageable. Modi has developed a good rapport with all other world leaders. Unlike in the past, world communities have acknowledged the existence of India as a country of some substance.
Impact of any government, these days, is measured by its performance in economic front. Before Modi came to power economy had policy paralysis. Reviving the economy was high on the agenda of the Modi Government. Containing inflation was given high priority. Planning on conditions of poor while sitting in AC room was abandoned. Delay in formulating and planning welfare schemes has been reducing. Single window decision making is being encouraged. Advancing annual budget presentation in parliament is a positive step. Merging railway budget with the general budget is better for fund management, while autonomy of railway remaining intact. Direct remittance of money to their respective accounts of the beneficiary is another good step. Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachavo and Beti Padhao Scheme, Skill Development Program, Make in India, Digital India, Smart City Launch, etc. are all in right direction provided these schemes are properly executed and implemented. Here Modi needs the assistance of every individual. This is possible if only Indians change their mindset. ‘Willingness and determination to work for the common benefits and upliftment of poor in the country’ is the only demand of Modi (Sab ka Saath and Sab ka Vikas). Media can play a major role in this context.
Modi took the rein from UPA II (mainly led by the Congress). They left the country reeling under scams. 2G, 3G, 4G, CWG, Coal G, below the Earth, on the Earth, above the Earth, Sky and Space; no place was left without scams. This was possible without proper vigilance. The Congress party ruled the country for almost sixty years since independence, and hence the party cannot find an excuse in the lack of experience or lack of understanding the problems. Such callousness and irresponsible attitude on the part of the Congress party paved the way for NDA to come to power with overwhelming majority. Modi came to power with promises that his government will root out corruption from the society, bring back black money stashed in foreign banks, remove unemployment, provide remunerative prices to farmers for agricultural products so that farmers do not resort to committing suicide, health and education to all, and development for all with the participation of all (inclusive growth).
After assuming the charge as PM, his Government’s first decision was to constitute SIT to take care of corruption from within. Within a few months in central administration, he realized that bringing black money deposited abroad is time consuming and in some cases even impossible. Modi switched his focus to unearth black money stashed within the country. Black money within the country is invested in real states, bullion markets, hawala and shares and some as hidden money in cash. He started working on these soon after he realized, it will not be that easy without some ground works. He launched Jan Dhan Yojna and saw crores of bank accounts were opened by commoners and poor farmers and villagers. Simultaneously, law on Benami property was brought in. Several other steps were taken to minimize corruption in the society. And finally a tough decision was taken to the demonetization of currency notes of `500 and `1000 denomination. Demonetisation is seen as the biggest political gamble in the history of modern India. It showed the political resolve of PM Modi to take a high risk decision leading to a large ramification of political gamble. No other leader would have dared such gamble. All opposition parties barring a few were against the decision. The Congress took the lead in attacking this decision. Crying for miseries of the people standing long time in queue to get some cash from bank, many persons dying in the queues; poor persons standing without food and by losing daily wages, etc., all these were claimed by shouting from roof top. The common men had known Congress leaders for seventy years for their misleading comments and hence did not heed. In fact more the Congress and a few other leaders cried, more support it lost. UP and Uttarakhand poll results are ample testimony of the old party’s crocodile tear. In fact even before demonitisation rural folks had to stand in queue for hours. Congress never felt necessary to talk about. In village I always had and have to stand in queue at least for one and half hours before demonetisation. The move of demonetisation has brought the right result or not could still be debated, but one thing is certain that if there is a need to take tough and harsh decision for the good of the people, Modi will not hesitate. In my personal comment, I support the decision of demonetization. Its impact has started showing results. More people have brought under tax payers net. Over a few lakh people, who deposited over `Two and half lakh and more are under taxmen’s lense. A fear psychosis has been created not to indulge in creating and hoarding black money. Many law abiding persons will support these steps. Many more steps are likely to be announced to curb black money generation within the country. However diehard offenders may not still see writing on the wall, but intention of the government will prevail sooner or later.
This government is going to introduce Goods and Service Tax (GST) from July 1, 2017 to avoid multi taxing system prevailing in the country. It is hoped GST will ease to do business. It will attract multinational companies to invest in India. To invite foreign investments, many steps have been taken including opening of some manufacturing activities, which were meant for public sector units only.
Major failures of Modi have been not fulfilling farmers’ demand for offering them prices of farm products keeping in view the input cost, which has ever been rocketing high. Loan waivers or relief from governments impacts the overall payment culture by other sections in the long run. Loan waiver is not a right solution for farmers. Bankers have an impression that farmers willfully default on loans in the hope of a waiver. National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data collected for a study shows that the 2008 national level debt waiver announced by the UPA-I government did not lead to any material increase in the overall consumption level of farming households nor it decreased the suicide rate from the farming community. It is also found in the survey that the expenditure of the full waiver beneficiaries on education and health is lowered by 34%. Definitely loan waiver leads to moral hazard problem and send wrong signal to all types of borrowers. A better support price based on inflation and input costs might be a right solution, but such step might lead to an unstable market ambience and push further inflation. Ever increasing labour cost, seed cost, agricultural machineries cost, fertilizer and pesticides costs, damage by wild and wandering animals, weather vagaries, etc., are some the factors which have great bearing on the cost of farm products. If farming profession is made remunerative that might reduce unemployment to a large extent. Youths are more inclined to go for white color jobs. It is time to change this mindset. Farming sector has huge potential to create jobs for youths. The government has set an ambitious goal to double farm incomes by 2022. The policy on farm has to move away from the historical focus on only increasing production. Many schemes formulated by the governments are not reaching farmers. There is no proper marketing of these welfare schemes for the farmers. How many farmers know the new crop insurance scheme? I have personally approached banks to help farmers under the government schemes, but you hear one reason or the other to refuse the help. These days I spend three to four months of my time every year amidst farmers and raise their problems with banks, without any result. Short-term crop loans at 4% announced by the government will only remain on paper. It will be used only by rich farmers, not available to those who are actually in need. Minimum support price for farm products is in vogue for years. FCI officers sit in town. Unknown farmers when approach these officers for selling the farm products, the officers would turn away the farmers on some pretext or the other. Even if the farmer is able to sell the products, the officer will direct them to collect cost of sale after a month or two when fund is available. Poor farmers are left with no option but to sell the farm outputs at throw away prices. Unless a comprehensive plan is formulated and implemented with accountability on person in-charge of implementing the program farmers will continue to suffer. There should also be some rules formulated for perishable items such as seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Employment for youths has not been generated as promised in the party manifesto. Growth in GDP is not a right indicator for employment generation. Reliable jobs data and a robust analysis of job creation by GDP growth might help India to overcome its jobless growth problem. GDP growth may not lead to employment growth, but employment growth will lead to a better and sustainable GDP growth. Recent announcement that PM Modi will oversee a review of job creation and data collection on employment is a welcome step and it shows the seriousness of the government to meet the commitment made in its manifesto. With my scant knowledge on statistics, I believe in statistical predictions with great amount of suspicion. Statistics conceal many facts and reveals only some aspects. As there is no other simple way to predict some information, government agencies take recourse to statistics. To please a master, one could collect data to suit the result. Hence, employment generation data should be collected for each sector, which helps employment creation and check the reliability of data from mass. Managing the employment and labour markets is an important strategy to ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth.
Social reform is another area, which needs the government attention. A country, which has 1.25 billion people having multi languages, multi ethnics, multi beliefs, multi-culture, multi food habits and tastes, is not easy to administer. The government needs to bring common civil codes, which by and large followed by the majority of the world community and countries. Abandon some rigid laws and rules. Educate people to change some of the customs followed by them for their own good. Enforce laws with iron hand if required, but take the people into confidence.
It is necessary that the government should be imbued with the spirit of Achchhe din and Sab ka saath and Sab ka vikas in favour of the common welfare. In my personal assessment Modi government is on right track. Narendra Bhai Modi has determination and will power to solve some of the perennial problems of the country. He has receptive ears. He shares some of the suggestions made by people in his monthly broadcast “Mann ki Baat”. He has his own vision for this country. Detraction from opposition must not be taken as an excuse. Constructive criticism must be welcomed. I wish Modi to lead the country into the future to build this country, a country of our dream.
(Prof Singh is so simple, his credentials, he had shown as a retired teacher. He has been teaching for close to four decades in the then REC, Surathkal. Retired as Director, National Institute of Technology, Surathkal. He was also the Chairman of Board of Governors, National Institute of Technology, Agarthala.- Editor)
THREE YEARS OF NARENDRA MODI GOVERNMENT
The three years of Narendra Modi government have been eventful. Evaluation of the government's performance at this juncture is not an easy task. Firstly, what could be the criteria for an evaluation? Could it be how this government performed as compared to the UPA government? Or could it be based on what this government set itself to achieve as against what is achieved at the end of these three years? Secondly, this government has taken a long term view of many of the issues. Results will take many years to show. Even for issues which may not be long term, evaluation can be done not so much on the basis on what has been accomplished as on the direction the policies have taken and the progress towards the goal. With these caveats let me take stock of what this government achieved and failed to achieve in its three years in office.
The Narendra Modi government’s performance is, indeed, a mixed bag. On the one hand there are refreshing departures from the last sixty years of governance, and a new breath of hope and expectation is palpable all around. Yet, on the other hand an uneasy feeling of unsettling the polity, divisive agenda taking centre-stage, intolerance of pluralism in some quarters are equally palpable. What has been happening in the last three years is a quantum jump; a qualitative departure from the past. Modi appears to be adopting the Blue Ocean strategy – that is creating uncontested political space hitherto not occupied by any of the players. This involves focusing on the big picture, reaching beyond the existing political space and getting the strategic sequence right . Reams of papers will be used writing about the Modi government’s achievements and failures with generous sprinkling of numbers such as GDP growth, employment stagnation and so on. But the performance of this government needs to be seen from the big picture perspective. Therefore, I will be focusing long term direction this government’s policies will give both positively and negatively.
Let me first look at the positives.
1. The sense of purpose: The most important aspect of this government is the sense of purpose that pervades its functioning. This is in stark contrast to the rudderless UPA ship drifting aimlessly from scandal to scandal and crisis to crisis, particularly in its second term. Once the scams broke out, the UPA government was bogged down by managing damage control. Governance took back seat. On the other hand, take any sphere of activity or policy formulation of the Modi government - its purposefulness is clear. Notwithstanding the criticisms, the Jandhan Yojana brought millions of Indians to the fold of the banking system. It ignited a process of inclusion. The determined, objective-oriented drive is visible. In the management of the economy, in the areas of social transformation like Swatch Bharat, in implementing digital India, make in India etc. this commitment is clearly visible. Take a small example, Swach Bharat. As a programme the previous government's Nirmal Bharat was not much different. But whoever heard of it except when the Prime Minister announced it. The way Swach Bharat is followed up by awards for cleanest cities, targets of OD free villages etc., shows the action-oriented approach of the government. Similarly, the government's foreign policy looks more proactive. Critics may fault the PM for pandering to Pakistan. But the PM's repeated attempts to open dialogues, his surprise visit to Pakistan etc. provided the visibility to India's intentions of pursuing all means for a peaceful resolution of our problems with Pakistan. The message is clear that while we pursue peace we are not doing so from a position of weakness. There is a transformation in the way the world looks at India's intentions with regard to Pakistan, and that changed view-point of the world matters. This is action governed by purpose.
2. Clean image: After the UPA's gargantuan scandals, to see a government which has not been caught up in messy corruption scandals is refreshing. The last three years have been years of keeping the flock clean. And, now the cleaning operations are spreading its wings out and even touching some of the holiest cows of Indian politics like Lau Prasad Yadav, Mamata Bannerjee, P Chidambaram etc. Any government can go after corrupt politicians only so long as it keeps its own flocks clean. The day it gets enmeshed in corruption its moral authority to pursue others is lost. This was the sad story of the UPA government. In spite of what the critics say about the failure of demonetisation, it had the effect of bringing down big cash transactions. Black money hording, terrorist money laundering, are all in tatters. Some of the most vociferous opponents of demonetisation are clearly beneficiaries of scandals in which politicians in high places are involved. It is naive to expect demonetisation to shut corruption and black money once for all; but it has definitely set a process in motion. It has given the message that the government can act tough! That is what buffets the clean image.
3. Foreign policy: This government has made the world take a note of India. As Churchill said, “You can agree with me or you can disagree with me, but you cannot ignore me”. Indeed, this government has succeeded in ensuring that India cannot be ignored. Agreeing with us or opposing is part of our relations with other countries. But India need not suffer the humiliation of being ignored. Take note. We cannot be heard and taken note of unless we reach out and communicate. This is what the Prime Minister has accomplished in the last three years.
4. A government which communicates: There is no doubt that PM Modi is a great communicator. The government is deploying its ministers to communicate on various issues from time to time. What is the difference this time around? In fact this is one area to which the previous government gave least importance. Those who communicated in the UPA government were either too equivocal, or too regal. It is not enough that big policies are conceived. It is not enough that policies are announced. Policies need to be articulated and communicated in such a way that the last person hears and understands what that policy means to him. This is the pivotal achievement of Prime Minister Modi in the last three years.
5. The great lesson: The greatest achievement of this government will be, if it continues to maintain its clean image, is that future governments will learn the most important lesson - how crucial providing clean governance is for winning elections. That may do a lot of good for the people of India.
Do all these mean that there are no negatives? Far from it. This government has more than its share of negatives. Surprisingly, clever as the PM is, most of the blemishes - and many of them real - are self-inflicted.
1. The Kanayya Kumar syndrome: In the last sixty odd years of its existence JNU had been at best a hotbed of so called liberalism and armchair revolutionaries. An aura has been created to sustain this image. However, JNU had been more of a debating society than a breeding pot of revolution. It is the naive handling of minor innocent events in JNU, Hyderabad University etc. that lionised those who spoke against the government or its ideology; and the result are the creation of phantoms the likes of Kanayya Kumar. Could not this government allow JNU and the likes of it to stew in their own juice and learn their lessons the hard way? After all learning the hard way is all about good universities!
2. Silence is louder than voice: Like it or not, the rampage of fringe elements in shutting honest voices, the gaurakshaks killing people presumably to protect cows, the protectors of our sanskriti indulging in un-sanskritic behaviour, are creating an impression amongst honest intellectuals, that this civilization which allowed a hundred suns to shine, this open society of which we are all proud, this culture of a thousand hues is being subverted. We believe it is not the policy of the government so to do. But, when the most creative communicator of our generation, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, communicates with the silence of the grave, no wonder ordinary people shudder at the thought of the future of our society. The people are willing to give the benefit of doubt to the Modi government that the government is not pushing forward a policy inimical to the fundamental concepts of our open society. It is not the government which is tearing the idea of India that we know of. But the government’s deafening silence may be presumed as connivance by these elements, eventually closing the way for the government to rescue itself from the consequences of its silence.
3. Vulnerability of democratic institutions: It is true that the democratic institutions of this country have always been vulnerable. It is also true that for too long liberalism and pluralism meant the availability of space for one particular type of ideology. So much so, we are persuaded by the likes of intellectuals like Jayaram Ramesh that he would not comment on Ms.Indira Gandhi’s attempts to throttle free speech because he was not aware of the circumstances which led her to do that. But he is sure of the Fascist tendency of this government though the government itself has not indulged in gagging but some fringe elements of the ruling party do. One expects the government to be aware of these decades of construction of ‘liberalism’ and mitigated it by its own heavy dose of real liberalism. This government’s failure is in making itself appear apologetic about its commitment to real liberalism. In that process our democratic institutions are vulnerable to both the pseudo liberals and the masquerading fringe.
Three years are long time in politics. But to bring about fundamental changes in governance three years are, indeed, a short time. One of the fundamental changes the Prime Minister promised was minimum government and maximum governance. Unshackling the bureaucracy, untangling the mess of redundant laws, freeing the common man from the menace of corruption and day-to-day irritations in securing his ordinary requirements, are what will change the quality of life of ordinary people. As long as ordinary citizens have to bribe every petty official for his house plan to be approved or his pension to be paid, for him there is no difference in governance. Indeed, a lot of these changes have to take place in the states. But a number of states have governments where Modi’s dictates will run. Therefore, by fulfilling the promise of minimum government and maximum governance if the Modi government makes lives of ordinary people more liveable, that will be the biggest contribution of this government.
The author is a former Sr. Vice President of Mangalore Refineries & Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL)
Three Year Modi Government: A Perception
Dr. K. Shivashankara Bhat
The historic electoral victory of NDA Government in 2014 election was a clear sign of hopes that people reposed in Modi with the anticipation of uprooting corruption and set righting the path of development. The mandate was unprecedented. The last three years have seen major breakthroughs and transformations. Prime Minister NarendraModi completes 3 years in office. As leader of government, Modi has certainly showed a marked shift in leadership and style of governance compared to the earlier UPA govt. He moves on holding his head high even while being abroad and visited more than 42 countries covering 5 continents and raised respect for India globally.
The strategy adopted by the government “Minimum Govt. – Maximum Governance” focused not to run up the bills of tax payers – but to govern. The best governance is when there is minimal government but, of course, efficient in its work. That is a matric by which evaluation of the government can be done. Look at the matric – Modi Government has 65 ministers compared to Manmohan Singh’s ministry with 80. That is 20% less. This reduces burden on exchequer – the difference of 25 ministers would immediately relieve 375 government officials employed as personal staff of these ministers.
The estimated amount of money saved by each minister would be around Rs. 1 crore every year and this 25 ministers would save Rs. 25 crore every year compounding to Rs. 125 crore in 5 years. This kind of economy measure is needed to minimize wastage of precious resources, which could be utilized for more productive uses.
The Modi Government appears to have made a dent in the working of the bureaucracy . The strategy of ART (Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency) aimed at good governance. Junior officials too can send ideas for the PM through the mygov portal. An officer remarks, “at times when we hesitate, wondering if there will be an adverse impact. But there have been cases when ideas submitted have received a positive response”. One of the secretaries remarked “Under Modi’s system of secretary level panels, ideas that may have remained on paper don’t just find traction but are even getting implemented. If I can convince committee members, there is every chance the PM will give his go-ahead to implement a scheme”. This is what is expected of from a good political leader so as to avoid poking of nose at a time when a bureaucrat is taking right decisions.
The Soviet style five – year plan has been done away with and 15 year vision and 3-year action plan has been introduced. NITI Ayog (National Institution for Transforming India) replaced Planning Commission. Unlike the earlier five-year plans which were generic in nature, the new three-year action plan focuses on priority areas across sectors and set time frames to achieve the targets. This kind of targeted approach is required for bringing about visible changes in the economy.
The PradhanMantri Jan DhanYojan is a flagship scheme has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. As many as 1.8 crore accounts were opened in different banks within a week between 23rd and 29thAugust 2014. And by May this year, 38.84 crore accounts had been opened with a deposit of Rs. 57,874 crore through this scheme. Apart from this, a lot of fund leakage has been stopped in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and PDS. More than 4 crore beneficiaries have been eliminated from subsidized LPG scheme. This resulted in savings worth Rs. 18, 974 crore.
There are only five economic sectors that the center dominates – banking, railways, commercial mining of coal, defense production and nuclear energy. Each needs structural reforms that are not that easy and will take time. On banking, the refusal to recapitalize PSU banks shows a strong intent to reform. People question why government entities like Air India gets allocation in the budget. But no one question why PSU banks need to get Rs. 20000 crore every year. If the banks were performing effectively, they should have been able to raise capital from the market.More than 50 million below poverty line families have been provided with cooking gas connections.
The government had launched certain mindset changing programmes like Swacchh Bharath Abhiyan to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness. Cashless economy got encouragement by introducing UPI (Unified Payment Interface) – a payment system that allows mobile –enabled money transfers between bank accounts and promotion of the Bharat Interface of Money (BHIM) for a less cash economy. But, with the easing of cash crunch that followed the demonetization of high value bank notes resulted in a drop in digital payment transactions.
The Modi government has given due emphasis for the betterment of farm sector. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana launched in 2016 has helped to achieve record production in the Kharif season. Focus has also been made for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the subsides in order to reduce the leakages and to weed out false beneficiaries.
Modi government had promised to create millions of jobs. Unfortunately, the fact is that expected amount of jobs are not getting created. But this is complicated economics. For instance 20 years back, to lay a kilometer of road, you might have used say 100 people. But today thanks to technology, you need only 25 to 35 people to do the same job. In the last one year 2.3 lakh jobs are added in 8 key non-farm sectors of the economy. These sectors are manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, hotel and restaurants, IT/BPO, education and health. All together they employ over 2 crore workers. So the addition of new jobs amount to a mere 1.1% of the total. A mere 1% growth is virtually nothing for this massive sector.
As far as fiscal situation is concerned, the government has succeeded in getting the states on board to introduce GST, the biggest tax reform since independence. There is a partial crackdown on black money leading to a surge in 2016-17 tax receipts, and number of return filers. A radical step of merging of railway budget with Union budget has been adopted. However, pending cases of retrospective taxation on past transactions still remained unresolved. The high level of NPAs (Non Performing Assets) is a major challenge of the government. Gross NPAs of public sector banks nearly doubled to Rs. 5.02 lakh crore at the end of March 2016, from Rs. 2.67 lakh crore at the end of March 2015. The gross NPAs ratio of 13 public sector banks rose 143% in the two year period from March 2015 to March 2017. MUDRA scheme has not yet been evolved fully which focuses on employment generation.
The decision of MODI government to allow 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in such strategic sectors of our country like defense, civil aviation, mining etc. is not justifiable and acceptable. This will not only adversely impact the functioning of the public sector undertakings in the concerned sector but also compromise our national interests including national security.
The three years of the working of the Modi government is dotted with many bright spots and has propelled the nation to a higher growth trajectory. The use of digital infrastructure, Smart City Mission, Swatcchh Bharath, Make in India etc. have brought a sea change in India’s perception and economic strategy in the world. But the government has not been able to cure the problem of black money in full quantum, China’s mocking attitude, terrorist attack from Pakistan and corruption in electoral funding are bound to perturb the Modi government. The massive problem of poverty, unemployment, poor health infrastructure and food security should be addressed by the government with war footing. The government is yet to do a lot over drought management, as the recent water crisis has hit the states badly.
It is a good government on its way to greatness.
The government has to strengthen social policy and institutionalize a new framework for delivery, which would serve India well in the long run. By all accounts the 2017 budget is likely to respond to demonetization with a greater focus on the poor. It is not appropriate to state that Modi has not delivered on anything; he has delivered something in parts substantially, but he has also to deliver on a large number of his electoral promises.
( Author is a Professor and HOD of Economics, Govinda Dasa College, Surathkal, Mangalooru)