By Sumit Kr:
Two years ago, when I was busy preparing for my semester exams, a historic story was being written in the Indian democracy. It was May 16, 2014, when a non-Congress party had achieved absolute majority in the Parliament for the first time in independent India. The people had delivered to Narendra Modi, by giving his party a historic mandate. It became the turn of latter to abide by the promises made by him to the electorate.
The most popular and socialistic endeavour of this government has been the universalisation of LPG connections. Initiated by the erstwhile UPA government in 2013, the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has been given more of a push by the incumbent government through the Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar card and mobile popularly called as the ‘JAM’ trinity. It has helped to eliminate the game of middlemen from the subsidy chain. The ‘Give It Up‘ scheme, that aimed to transfer the gas subsidies from the well-off sections of the society to the poor ones became a huge movement with around 1.2 crore people voluntarily giving up their subsidy. The ‘Ujjwala Yojana‘ scheme that seeks to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to the BPL households by 2019, if implemented successfully, will be a great help to the poor who have hitherto suffered the nasty smoke of conventional fuels.
There has been a serious thrust on the electrification process especially in the rural areas. The Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification scheme has by time, electrified a number of villages and is a pre-requisite for the Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Yojana. At the city level, the programme is christened as the Integrated Power Development Scheme. The International Solar Alliance will help in leveraging the solar energy for electricity which will alongside help India to meet its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The new power tariff policy announced in January that seeks to establish micro-grids to provide electricity to unconnected villages is all set to augment the Deen Dayal Rural Electrification programme. The UDAY bond scheme is another step towards the universalisation of electrification which envisages the revival of debt-trapped distribution companies so that they can work with full efficiency.
The business and entrepreneurship environment has been given a push through full government support as reflected in the recent Ease of Doing Business ranking in which India has laddered up 12 positions from it’s earlier ranking. The e-Biz portal, deregulation, delicensing, abolition of tax-terrorism, the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, Mudra Yojana and the Skill India campaign have been the major ingredients which have contributed to providing a conducive environment for the business to operate and work in India. The GST bill,which has recently gotten the nod from Parliament, will help in boosting demand and may spur growth in the economy and employment, though it could also surge inflation for a narrow time period.
The exports have declined continually and despite all the emphasis on the Make In India scheme, it remains a dream that looks like it will take some more time to turn into reality. The NDA government, instead of batting for an increase in the GDP figures, should find ways for generating more employment to harness the demographic dividend. If not, it won’t take time for the demographic dividend to convert into demographic disaster.
Most important of all, the populist endeavours of the government has been the financial inclusion programme. It started with the Jan Dhan Yojana which was aimed towards connecting every household to the formal banking chain who were left out of the banking system even after seven decades of independence. The PM Suraksha Beema Yojana and the PM Jeevan Jyoti Yojana gives life insurance and accident insurance at a lower cost while the Atal Pension Yojana seeks to provide financial support to the elderly. Not to mention, in-principal approval from RBI to 11 payment banks and 10 finance banks tries to fill in the loopholes that arises in the aforementioned financial inclusion programmes.
Albeit his foreign policy, as a whole, has been commendable till date, with a number of energy pacts being signed in the gulf, the defence deal struck with France, the rousing relationship with the business fraternity of the United States, the Iran-India-Afghanistan trilateral pact and so on. Praise apart, the Modi government has thoroughly failed when it comes to foreign policy with our neighbouring countries like Nepal, Pakistan and China. The ‘big-brother muscular’ attitude towards Nepal during it’s constitutional crisis forced them to tilt towards the Chinese. The recent transit pacts signed between China and Nepal further emboldened their relations and on the other side, the cancellation of the Nepalese President’s visit to India and the repatriation of the Nepal ambassador has heightened the rift between India and Nepal. Losing a strategic understanding with Nepal is the worst that can happen to India’s neighbourhood policy.
“Talks and terror can’t go together” used to be the ideal phrase of the BJP when it used to sit on the opposition benches. Suddenly, they belied their ideal phrase as soon as they got the way to the treasury bench. Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Pakistan last year could be justified with a number of arguments. But is it not a contradiction of PM Modi’s own approach who had promised us a tough policy on Pakistan stating that terror will be not be tolerated and will be retaliated with stringent options. Instead of cutting relations with Pakistan, Modi chose to allow ISI to visit India to investigate the Patahankot attacks. China has been countering India’s claim to the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) and the UN Security Council. If Mr. Modi could reshuffle the approach towards these countries, then his foreign policy could be as good as Nehru’s.
With around 40 percent of the time spent by the NDA government in power, there are mixed feelings among people about the functioning of this government. Some are happy and some are unhappy. It has succeeded on some fronts and failed on some major fronts as well. Overall, the performance has been average with some good moves on the cards.