A Report Card on 3 Years of Modi Government
On 16 May, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government completed three years in office. With just two more years left before the party returns to the people seeking re-election, it is a good time to take stock of what the government promised and how much has been fulfilled.
Towards that end, an organization called LocalCircles organised a 3 year governance assessment poll conducted over a three week period and covering 40,000 respondents, who collectively sent in 200,000 votes to give their feedback on the government’s performance thus far.
Before analyzing the survey results, it’s important to keep in mind that 40,000 is certainly not representative of 1.21 billion people, but since the survey was spread over 200 cities, it does give some idea of the trend and direction of what people are feeling. Here is what the survey has revealed.
The most significant outcome of the survey was that 61% of the respondents felt satisfied with the Modi-led government and 59% felt that the government was on track towards fulfilling its election promises. For both, the PM and his NDA colleagues, this outcome would be heartening.
However, there were several areas where the gap between expectation and fulfillment was still wide. These are going to be areas for the ruling party to reflect upon as two years is not a very long time.
Direct Benefit Transfer / Pahal
This is one of PM Modi’s big social welfare initiatives that is aimed at plugging leaks in the delivery of social subsidy benefits to the needy by ensuring money reaches them directly, thus doing away with middle men. The survey showed 47% of the people believed this was the government’s most effective program.
This is one of the largest financial inclusion initiatives in the world and has seen good success. 29% of the respondents expressed satisfaction with this initiative as the second most effective after Pahal.
Clean India Mission has been very close to the PM as he highlighted the need for a toilet in every home. The scheme was launched with high expectation and much publicity. However, only 16% expressed satisfaction over the success of the mission. This is an area the government will need to revisit.
Creation of jobs for an ever expanding youth population was a hope that the PM gave to the youth. Just 8% gave their approval to the Make in India initiative of the government.
This was to be a game changing initiative to spur manufacturing in India by attracting overseas investment, and was one of the reasons why the PM went on a series of international tours immediately after taking office. Clearly the government has failed to create more jobs and despite the overall sense of satisfaction with the Narendra Modi government, this will be a crucial factor in the next elections.
63% respondents agreed that the unemployment rate had not come down. This is a serious issue for the present government and it’s not just a perception but facts on the ground that point to little being done on this front.
Demonetization and corruption
The Modi government came to power on an anti-corruption platform and this survey showed 47% of respondents felt that corruption had come down while 43% felt it hadn’t. The gap isn’t enough for the government to feel comfortable.
Demonetization was thrust on the people rather abruptly with the aim of fighting black money, bringing down corruption and terrorism. 51% of the respondents believed that the government was successful in going after black money but only 37% agreed that demonetization had actually reduced corruption with 47% believing otherwise. When asked whether the overall corruption had come down, 47% believed it had reduced while 43% didn’t agree.
UPA II suffered due to a perception of policy paralysis, especially in its last two years. 65% of the respondents agreed that infrastructure development had improved under the Modi government. However, on healthcare, 58% believed the government hadn’t done enough.
The opposition has been very vocal about increasing communalization but as per the survey, 61% respondents felt that the government had done reasonably well in handling such issues, with 31% believing otherwise.
Crimes against women has continued unabated and only 28% believed it had come down. 60% felt it was on the rise.
Foreign policy, Pakistan and terrorism
After being sworn-in, PM Modi took direct charge of India’s foreign policy initiative. 81% of respondents agreed that India’s overseas image had improved. That’s a big positive for the PM personally.
On India’s handling of Pakistan, 64% respondents supported the government’s initiative with 30% disagreeing.
On dealing with terrorism, 51% felt it had come down while 42% believed it had not.
Going beyond Narendra Modi
The survey clearly showed strong approval for the PM himself but when it came to people’s elected representatives at the local level, 69% felt their elected representative hadn’t done enough, with only 14% being satisfied. This should be a matter of concern for the PM.
This survey, though not adequately representative, does give an indication that people are largely supportive of the PM’s initiatives and believe the government is on the right track in fulfilling what it promised. It also highlighted several critical areas where much had to be done and should serve as a wake up call for the government.