With the ongoing elections, it is the right time to assess the achievements of the incumbent government. There are some areas where the government did well while there are other areas where the intentions were good but the results weren’t very favourable while the rest weren’t even touched. The direction of work, which is most likely to remain the same if the incumbent government is elected to power, would decide whether the people are content with the functioning of the government or they need change. Let’s analyse briefly all the major issues raised during the term of the government.
Corruption was a big issue during the elections last time where new scams were surfacing one after the another and it was one of the major issues on which elections were fought.
Although, there is no systematic method to track unemployment rate in India in the informal sector, but, in the formal sector, where the growth could be observed through EPFO payroll data, there has been constant growth in jobs.
Crony Capitalism: The incumbent government has conducted its affairs transparently without any middlemen unlike in the past where the licences were given opaquely like during 2G case, coal blocks allocation etc. Instead of telling banks to approve loans to companies with a poor balance sheet, the government has brought IBC bill to sell the assets of non-performing companies. This is a very bold step in a country where such companies are the biggest donators to political parties. Further, the fugitive economic offender act to confiscate assets of fugitives indicates that the government is serious about acting against offenders.
Demonetisation: Demonetisation was an extremely bold step to curb black money, but the step has seen limited success. Though the number of taxpayers has been doubled and around 2.24 lakh suspected shell companies were cancelled but the expectations that huge black money would not return to banks and most people will shift to digital payments have not been met. However, it seems that people judge leaders on intent as election results of UP indicated, which were fought on this issue.
Rafael issue: The government is accused by the opposition party of corruption in the Rafael deal of price escalation and of favouritism. However, the charges have not seen much credibility among people due to three reasons. First is the personal clean image of PM, the second was the clearance from Airforce, CAG and SC regarding the fairness of the deal and the third are the accusing parties’ own credentials on corruption. Perhaps, the issue has done more damage than good to the accusers as people saw them to be blocking the much-delayed deal of national importance.
Benami transactions act: The government passed an amendment to the original bill to make it stronger but that too has not yielded any significant results. It is likely that the real results will only be achieved if the government take a bold step of digitising and linking every property in India with Aadhar number.
Personal Image: PM Modi has been in public life for a long time and he has been able to maintain clean, honest and stain free image. Even his opponents don’t accuse him of corruption at the personal level. Similar was the situation with ex-PM Manmohan Singh, who was not accused of corruption at a personal level even amid numerous scams under his government.
The biggest achievement of the government in this area is the setting up the foundation for strong future growth and bringing more people in the formal economy.
GDP: India has been able to maintain constant economic growth and India is now the 6th largest country by nominal GDP and third largest in PPP terms in the world. IMF has forecasted that India will retain strong economic growth in the time to come.
Foreign direct investments (FDI): India remains a top market for FDI globally and it has received more FDI than China last year.
Infrastructure: India has seen a three-fold hike in infrastructure lending since 2014. There is a plan to build almost 60,000 km under Bharatmala of which 34,800 km has already been built in phase one. India is building highways, waterways, ports etc. at record speed.
Inflation: The government has been able to keep the inflation rate under 5% throughout its tenure. The lower rate could be seen as creating wealth for people by not imposing this hidden tax.
Taxation: Government has cut taxes on individuals with income less than 5L and it has also reduced the tax rate for SMEs to 25%. The number of taxpayers has also increased. There are proposals to simplify the process of filing personal income tax by getting rid-off all allowances and increasing the standard deduction limit, but the issue remains untouched.
Jan Dhan scheme: India has seen a record number of the opening of bank accounts, a feat which also made it to Guinness World Records. This has brought people to the mainstream economy and made access to loans easier for them. This is a platform which has made other schemes like Direct benefit transfer (DBT), demonetisation etc. possible.
Unified Payment Initiate: The government launched an instant real-time payment platform for inter-bank transactions, which is a unique initiative in the world, and which has made inter-bank payments much easier.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): This biggest reform of India since Independence to have a single tax to subsume almost all the indirect taxes were difficult to bring but this is very significant tax reform as this will reduce corruption through transparency and will lay the foundation of the future economy by the ease of doing business. However, it was also criticised for poor technical implementation.
Ease of doing business: India has seen a massive jump in India’s ranking in IMF ease of doing business index. The environment created by the government to ease the process of doing business will massively help India achieve economic growth in the time to come.
Privatisation: There is a general belief that government should not involve itself in businesses and there was a strong push towards privatisation of public sector companies during Vajpayee’s government, but not much success was observed in this area under the present government despite the slogan “minimum government maximum governance”.
Aadhar: The government act to pass the Aadhar bill to transfer subsidies directly in the account of beneficiaries has already seen success in terms of eliminating huge leakages and reducing corruption. However, the government move to force and coerce people to provide their ID’s to private companies and going against SC ruling has been extremely criticised.
Mudra: The scheme was launched to grant loans up to Rs10 lacs for non-agricultural activities. Loans are sanctioned to around 14 crore people with 4 crores loans new entrepreneurs and women being major beneficiaries. In my opinion, empowering people by self-generating income is much better than giving free money for poverty alleviation as it is self-sustaining and long lasting without the need to increase tax.
Jobs: Unemployment is one area where the government is heavily criticised for not doing enough. Although, there is no systematic method to track unemployment rate in India in the informal sector, but, in the formal sector, where the growth could be observed through EPFO payroll data, there has been constant growth in jobs. The government claims that growth in economy and infrastructure and Mudra scheme would have also created informal jobs, but opponents disagree.
Government has resolved the long-pending border issue with Bangladesh and the completion of the ongoing process of border sealing will prevent illegal immigration.
The government has been successful in launching multiple social initiatives. It is yet to be seen how many votes these issues would translate to.
Ujjwala Yojana: As per the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimation, nearly 800,000 Indians lost their lives prematurely because of hazardous cooking fuels. The government has issued around 7 crore gas cylinders to new users, thus relieving them from harmful smoke. However, the problem that many people don’t refill it due to higher refuelling costs as compared to alternate fuels remains.
Sanitation: Government has given major focus on this area through Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the country has nearly eliminated the open defecation and manual scavenging problem through the construction of toilets at massive scale and by spreading awareness about hygiene. This has also helped in women security and ease of living.
Electricity: PM Modi announced that he would provide electricity to all households in India and the government is near to completion of its target. However, providing 24X7 electricity is still an uphill task even for old consumers.
Ayushman Bharat: The government rolled out a scheme to cover around 10 crore poor families to provide coverage of up to Rs. 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization and to set up 1.5 lakh centres to provide comprehensive health care. However, the budget for this scheme could increase exponentially in future by adding more people and by increasing the cost of medical procedures by future governments.
Population Control: No major initiative was taken by the Government against this problem which was described as the “biggest national crisis” by PM Modi in the past. Increased population for limited resources gives rise to all kind of social and law and order problems. The government could have encouraged the use of contraceptive implants and delay pregnancy, increased age of marriage and disincentivized people who have more than 2 children by withdrawing all subsidies from them.
Reservations: The reservation for general category students from the poor economic background is a good political step but it is doubtful whether there would be any difference in the batch profile of students as a similar number of such students might already be getting admissions without any quota.
Yoga: India has been able to promote Yoga in a big way and got UN to declare June 21 as International Yoga day. Not only Yoga got the credit that was due, but India has increased its soft power through this initiative.
Triple Talaq bill: The government’s bill to address issues of domestic abuse, gender justice and human rights of Muslim women is a positive step, but the government was unable to pass it in the upper house due to opposition by some parties. The blocking of this harmless bill for women welfare by opposition parties is condemnable.
Maternity leave: The bill to extend maternity leave for women to six months will have both positive and negative consequences. The women working in well established companies would be benefited but the SMEs might avoid hiring women due to higher costs.
LGBTQ issue: The government decision to not appeal for the criminalisation of LGBTQ community is a positive step towards social liberalism. There is a growing awareness that there no need for social and political interference in people’s private lives.
River cleaning: This is an old issue where a lot of money was wasted without any success, but the incumbent government has been able to show significant progress on Ganga river cleansing.
Accident insurance (PMSBY): The government’s scheme to provide accident-related death and disability insurance at the premium of Re 1 per month has enrolled of 13.5 crore people indicating that the scheme was an overall success.
Farmers: The government rolled out a crop insurance scheme (PMFBY), but the response of the farmers is lukewarm and the scheme has received criticism for unpaid dues. By coating the urea with neem, the government has been able to address the issues of availability and black marketing of urea meant for agricultural purposes. The Kisan fund scheme to give farmers quarterly support income seems to be a move to pre-empt the Congress party move to provide a universal basic income. However, giving people money for free won’t solve farmers problems and would instead weaken the trust of people in democracy. A better way might have been to directly transfer the subsidies and bonus on agricultural produce to support them against lower prices.
Law and Order
Minorities protection: There have been no major communal riots in India during the Modi’s term in any state ruled by the NDA government. The fear mongering by the opposition parties during last elections that if BJP government comes to power then nationwide riots would take place against minorities turned out to be baseless. Similar fear mongering among people that if the government is elected again then they would end democracy is seen again.
Cow vigilantism: In India, where cows are venerated by a large segment of the population, there are allegations by opposition parties that since NDA came to power there has been an increase in cow vigilante related violence between cow protectors and illegal cow smugglers from the minority community. There is a debate on whether there has actually been any change in the number of such incidences with both sides of the narrative giving counter facts against each other. Despite the ban on cow slaughter in many states in India, the state is unable to act against gangs of smugglers who enter villages at night, armed with guns and pistols, and steal cattle for slaughter and kill police officers and cattle owners when resisted. That has led to the emergence of cow vigilante groups. Several wicked elements have also exploited the situation and created gangs in the name of cow vigilante groups to extort money for allowing cow smuggling. Lack of law and order due to political will, understaffed police, delayed justice and lower allocation of funds to this area naturally results in vigilante justice and the issue could only be solved through police reforms where there won’t be any need for vigilante justice.
SikhsMassacre: The government appointed SIT to probe 1984 Sikh Massacre cases and one accused was awarded death sentence and another has been given life imprisonment by Delhi court on 15 November 2018 and one high profile politician was sentenced to life imprisonment by Delhi High Court on 17 December 2018. There is renewed hope that the existing government will put all the culprits behind bars and the government will appoint SIT to probe genocide of Kashmiri Pandits as well.
Judiciary and law and order: No major reform has been observed in this area except the repeal of around 1500 archaic laws. The number of pending cases is still high and both police and judiciary are understaffed with rampant corruption. The area needs urgent reform through better transparency, accountability and anti-corruption measures in both police and judiciary.
Security and Foreign policy
This is one area where the Modi government has done remarkably well by making ties with foreign countries, whose support post-terrorist attacks aided India in isolating Pakistan and designating Masood Azhar as a terrorist in UN sanction list.
Foreign Funds: A lot of NGOs were created by foreign agencies, which acted as a proxy to be used against national interests in the name of social welfare, human rights, environment protection, promotion of religion etc. The government amended the FRCA act in 2016 and passed an order to make it mandatory for all such organisations to give details of the expenditure of the foreign funding that they receive. Around 20k NGOs who refused to give such details and were shut down in 2016. Many people at prominent positions who were beneficiaries of such funds had termed the move fascist.
Terrorism: The government started its term by engaging with Pakistan government in good faith by inviting Pakistan PM in swearing ceremony and by visiting Pakistan and by allowing Pakistan team to investigate and collect pieces of evidence for the assault on the IAF base in Pathankot, but that policy of cooperation didn’t yield any favourable results like in the past. Afterwards, when it became clear that Pakistan government don’t want to act against terrorists then the government pivoted its policy towards offensive defence to overtly retaliate against Pakistan sponsored terrorists through the ground and aerial surgical strikes after terrorists’ attacks. This new development is an indication of strong leadership. The country has also not seen any major terrorist attack on civilians however the government failed to bring a better version of POTA bill.
Naxalism: The government has made good progress in reducing the influence of left-wing extremism and has reduced the number of districts affected by Naxalism. The bigger triumph government has achieved is through the exposure of Urban Naxals, who covertly support Naxals on the ground through logistics, recruitment, funds, legal and other kinds of support.
Saffron terror: Various senior leaders of previous government used this term to disrepute Hindu community and as per R.V.S Mani, a former officer in the Home Ministry, the government had forced Home Ministry officials to manufacture a false narrative about the presence of Saffron terror. As per Wikileaks, a top leader of the opposition party during their tenure in a private conversation to US ambassador remarked that Saffron terror was a bigger terror threat than the Lashkar-e-Taiba, thus revealing the true position of the party regarding Hinduism. Several people who were falsely implicated in various terror attacks to manufacture this fake narrative are finally acquitted by courts. Attempts were also made during Mumbai attacks to term it as Saffron terror, but all such efforts failed when one of the terrorists was caught alive. Gauri Lankesh, a journalist-turned-activist, was murdered by members of Sanatan Sanstha and BJP was accused to be behind it but later the accusing party gave the ticket to a person associated with that organization at Ratnagiri–Sindhudurg constituency.
Kashmir policy: Government started with a soft approach by engaging various stakeholders in resolution talks, but when that approach didn’t work then the government changed its direction and is now taking strong steps by banning radical organisations and taking strong actions against separatists and militants.
Defence preparedness: The defence sector was neglected badly for long and had a shortage of modern weapons. The present government is pushing to manufacture weapons in India under Make in India initiative and modernizing the armed forces with latest weapons through procurement of artillery guns like Dhanush, M777 and K-9 Vajra, Chinook and Apache Guardian helicopters, bulletproof jackets etc. It has approved construction of seven stealth frigates and six nuclear-powered submarines, manufacturing of AK 203 rifles and acquisition of S-400 missile systems etc. The Rafael fighter jets were acquired at urgent basis and the testing of crucial ASAT system held for long was another big achievement. Resolving the long pending issue of OROP has also boosted the morale of our security forces.
Immigrants and Refugees: Government has resolved the long-pending border issue with Bangladesh and the completion of the ongoing process of border sealing will prevent illegal immigration. Further, progress on implementation of Assam Accord signed by ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi to update NRC in Assam and to identify illegal immigrants and revoke their Indian citizenship is another progressive step, unlike the past where the earlier government during 2010 was unable to do it even in just two Tehsils on a pilot basis.
When these people were taken into custody then there was a huge support for them from certain high-profile lawyers, politicians, journalists etc., thus exposing the reach and prevalence of anti-India forces in various institutions.
This is new unique development where the government was able to expose anti-national and acquired nationalistic party status although everyone is confused that why certain parties and people are opposed to signs of nationalism like national song, flag etc., against banning of Pakistani artists, against anti-terrorist attacks in Pakistan, against implementation of NRC, oppose actions against Kashmiri terrorists, against banning of illegal immigrants etc., actions whose opposition would only appease anti-national people and why these nationalistic acts are called divisive.
Boat incident: India intercepted a suspicious Pakistani fishing boat, laden with explosives, who blew themselves up after being chased. The government might have avoided another 26/ attack, but an opposition party asked the government to come clean and provide evidence of terrorist organisation behind the perpetrators.
Break India forces: The issue of break India forces first came to fore when in the raw footage of the event, which was later proved genuine by CBI forensic lab, held in JNU on the day of execution of Kashmiri terrorist Afzal Guru, various anti-national slogans like “Bharat tere tukde honge inshallah” were heard. BJP government acted against these anti-nationals but some opposition parties, journalists, activists etc. defended such elements in the name of free speech, which caught everyone by surprise. That was the first big exposure of anti-India elements within India.
National Flag: Then came the directive from HRD ministry to hoist national flags on central universities to instil patriotism but to the great surprise of most Indians even this harmless move was opposed by calling it a political attempt to divide the nation and terming it against freedom of expression by fake liberals.
National Anthem: It was followed by SC order to make national anthem mandatory in cinema halls to infuse nationalism in people. Again, the same set of people opposed it on the basis of freedom of expression and termed it against their rights to honour such acts.
Surgical Strikes: In response to Uri strikes, India did surgical strike by entering PoK and destroyed launching pads of terrorists, unlike in the past where governments chose not to retaliate even after several terrorist attacks all over the country. Most of the people celebrated this Indian response but sadly the same set of people who previously opposed government for action against break India forces now opposed strong response of government by asking for proofs, termed it political and called the PM anti-peace.
Urban Naxals: The government found urban Naxals to be orchestrators of caste-based riots at Bhima Koregaon during their investigation of the incident and they also found them to be planning the assassination of Indian PM as per the letter recovered from them. When these people were taken into custody then there was a huge support for them from certain high-profile lawyers, politicians, journalists etc., thus exposing the reach and prevalence of anti-India forces in various institutions.
Air Strikes: In response to Pulwama attacks, the government did air strikes on the terrorist camps at Balakot. Not surprisingly this time too due to the repeated pattern, the same set of people tried to undermine the huge operation and success of India by questioning the attacks on terrorists.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.