Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn into office on May 26, 2014. The BJP-led NDA will complete four years this year as it readies to celebrate its achievements. Next year, the Prime Minister will lead the fight for re-election, and therefore, this is a good time to look back on the past four years and make a fair assessment of his government’s achievements and where it failed to make an impact.
A good start is to revisit BJP’s 2014 Election Manifesto and look at what was promised and what has been delivered.
100 Smart Cities was promised along with the development of 100 most backward districts. The Smart Cities Mission has been a major area of focus for the government. The Mission has identified 99 cities whose proposals qualified to come under the Mission.
Achievements: Total cost of Projects – Rs 2,01, 979 lakh crores; Total Area Based Development Plan – Rs 163,138 lakh crores; Total Pan City Solution Cost – Rs 38,841 thousand crores.
The Smart Cities project is work under progress and significant improvement has been seen in the target cities. The investment, focus, and involvement of the central government in executing and monitoring these projects are significant, and the impact of these projects will become more visible with each passing year. Varanasi, the PM’s constituency is a good example where overhead electricity cables have mostly been shifted underground, leaving the congested colonies with a cleaner look and less hazardous.
Several of the most backward districts of the country has witnessed significant investments in basic infrastructure. On April 29 this year, the PM announced electricity had reached 100% villages – 5,97,464 villages. However, by 2013, 94% of villages had already received electricity. In the last four years, the NDA government added 35,851 villages. Government data shows only 8% of the total villages have all homes with electricity. So this remains a challenge.
The government promised to implement the Diamond Quadrilateral Project of High Speed Bullet Train. In 2018, there is progress only on the Ahmedabad- Mumbai stretch and it seems to be progressing on schedule despite land acquisition problems in Mumbai. Of the rest, some projects are yet to begin the survey, while some have started but not yet completed.
The Agri-Rail network has not seen much progress, while those relating to pilgrimage etc. have seen some progress. The National Energy Policy is under implementation, and the government has succeeded in improving coal availability for power generation and overall power generation.
The government has made significant progress in promoting Renewable Energy covering solar and wind. In December 2014, the installed capacity for renewable energy was 33,791 MW – Wind 22,465 MW, Solar 3,062 MW, Bio Energy 4,272 MW, AND Small Hydro 3,990 MW. As on December 2017, the country had installed or was under implementation 108,000 MW of renewable energy. That is almost three times the capacity in 2014. The target is to reach 175 GW by 2022. Of this, solar is 100 GW, wind 60 GW, biomass 10 GW, and small hydro 5 GW. In renewable energy, this government has placed India as a major player in the renewable energy space.
Also, the NDA government has pushed nuclear energy as one of the areas of focus towards cleaner power generation. India has been praised for its strong stand at the Paris Talks and has emerged as a significant voice in the international clean energy arena.
Checking Price Rise
Spiralling prices remains a problem for the government. Inflation has largely been in check in the last four years but, this was helped by low prices of crude oil. Farmer distress is a serious concern as productivity in agriculture has not achieved its potential. However, the government has taken up several initiatives like the farmer credit card scheme, insurance scheme and has set up the National Agriculture Market, as promised.
The government had promised to introduce e-tendering for government contracts and it is now standard practice. As a result, very few complaints regarding favouritism, and other malpractices are reported.
PM Modi won on the anti-corruption platform, and to his credit, there have been no major scams reported, barring Vyapam in MP. The promise to bring back black money stashed overseas remains a promise. Also, the government faces accusations of crony capitalists taking advantage of the closeness to the NDA government. Overall, the government continues to retain the perception of clean governance.
Employment and Entrepreneurship
Job creation is under much debate. New jobs were promised in labour-intensive sectors like textiles etc. The opposition has been claiming the PM failed to deliver on his promise of creating 20 lakh new jobs. But as per NITI Aayog, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority have released data showing 35.3 lakh new jobs were added in the formal sector between September 2017 and February 2018. Data on jobs creation in the informal sector is not available, but with India growing at above 7% annually, the addition of new jobs can be an expected outcome.
Women – The Nation Builder
BJP promised 33% reservation for women in Parliament but has failed to meet that promise. However, 6 out of 26 Cabinet Ministers in April 2018 are women. India can boast of women in two critical Cabinet ministerial posts – Defence and External Affairs.
The government had promised to implement and expand the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme. The scheme was launched in 2015 and has since been introduced in all the 640 districts in the country. The aim was to reduce the female infanticide rate by encouraging education and welfare of the girl child. Between April-March 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, out of 161 districts, 104 had reported an improvement in the female sex ratio at birth.
Given the government’s strong focus on the outcomes, it can be expected to deliver better results as more data is released going forward.
The problem has been the rising cases of child and women rape. The government has responded by introducing the death penalty for rape of minors below 12 years and for all rape cases under the stringent POCSO Act to be fast-tracked. The rising trend remains a major concern.
SCs, STs, OBCs and other Weaker Sections – Social Justice and Empowerment
Social Justice and social harmony were promised in the manifesto. This is an area where the government suffers public perception, especially among the marginalized groups. The Dalits, STs, and OBCs continue to feel denied of privileges available to other sections, and continue to voice their demands. The selective attacks have attracted media attention, fueling the negative perception. It is an area where the government must deliver more and soon, given 2019 General elections is around the corner.
Minorities – Equal Opportunities
The manifesto promised modernization of Madrasas and overall communal harmony across the country. The Muslim community is the largest minority group in the country and continues to feel insecure under the sustained pressure of the Hindutva agenda pushed by several Right-wing Hindu groups. The government has partly succeeded in Madrasas introducing social science and mathematics into the curriculum but still face resistance in many areas of the country. The government needs to do more to reassure the minority groups of equal opportunity in development, as promised in the manifesto.
Greater Attention to Border Areas
The government has raised the investment and attention to border areas development, and it is seen in the massive railway projects underway. 14 strategically important projects have been identified, of which, the 498 kms Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line is the most important. Six rail projects are under various stages of construction in the eastern theater bordering the Line of Control. Investments in the road, housing, education, and health have been raised from pre-2014 levels.
The manifesto spoke of abrogating Article 370, but after coming to power, the government has quietly buried this claim.
Neo-Middle Class- Meet Their Aspirations
A general promise was made to improve health, medical insurance, housing, and transport systems. The government has raised investments in all the areas but most visible is the implementation rate of metro rails in respective cities. Affordable housing for the middle class has still not picked up the pace in Tier-I and Tier II cities. With RERA under implementation in the various states, home buyers are now more confident of investing in real estate, and investment is expected to pick up in 2018-19.
The NDA government has indeed taken up a hard stance against terrorism, and this is most visible, but its efforts seem to contradict itself in Maoist-hit areas of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. However, the government is caught up in its political commitment in J&K which experiences the maximum cases of terrorism. Its now-on, now-off relationship with coalition partner PDP, exposes its inability to take a harder stance.
The manifesto promised tax breaks for senior citizens, and the government has extended several benefits for them. In the 2018 Budget, senior citizens were the biggest beneficiaries. The exemption limit for income from interest stands raised up to Rs 50,000 per year for senior citizens. Similarly, deduction benefits for expenditure on health insurance and healthcare have been raised form Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000.
The manifesto had promised to pass the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities bill, and it passed in December 2016. Under the bill, the list of disabilities raised from 7 to 21. This will go a long way in bridging the gap on rights with abled persons.
Youth – Making India Unstoppable
The manifesto promised to establish a talent search initiative for the development of youth. Several initiatives are under implementation including the popular Target Olympic Podium scheme for identifying and supporting potential Olympic medal winners. It is among several other initiatives undertaken.
Health Services – Increase the Access, Improve the Quality, Lower the Cost
This sector has traditionally been under focused and under invested. The manifesto had promised an AIIMS in every state. Till 2014, seven AIIMS were operational – Delhi was set up in 1956 while the others were set up in 2012.
The NDA government has set up six new AIIMS at Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur, and Rishikesh. Two more are planned – Rae Bareli (U.P) and Raiganj in North Dinajpur (West Bengal). 97 of 148 acres stand acquired in Rae Bareli, but the West Bengal Government is yet to hand over the required land.
Simplified Tax Regime
BJP had promised to simplify tax filing, and it has done so. The information to be filed by individuals and business significantly reduced, and submission made completely online. The time take for tax refunds have come down significantly.
Agriculture – Productive, Scientific and Rewarding
The manifesto had promised reforms to the APMC Act, National Land Use Policy, ensuring 50% profits to farmers over the cost of production. The APMC Act reforms and 50% profit over production costs are still not implemented. Farmers have been distressed, and growth in agriculture has been far behind expectations. Farmer loans and lack of crop insurance has raised the situation to critical levels in many drought prone areas in the country. Despite significant investments, the government has not kept pace with farmer expectations.
Industry – Modern, Competitive and Caring
BJP promised to bar foreign investment in multi-brand retail, but this year Walmart has just made the world’s largest invest in an ecommerce start-up – Flipkart. Other brands are making an entry as well. Promoting MSMEs was another promise, and here the government has taken several initiatives – from the ease in credit terms, financing for modernizing capital equipment, and skills development, all of which is contributing to the overall GDP growth. The 2018 Budget saw Rs 3,794 allocated to MSME sector, and the introduction of GST shall together help boost the MSME performance. The government has sanctioned Rs 4.5 lakh crore under the MUDRA scheme started in 2015. The biggest beneficiaries have been women (76%) of which over 50% beneficiaries are belonging to SC, ST, and OBCs.
The party had promised to implement to set up a Veteran’s Commission to address their grievances. OROP has been implemented giving major relief to military retirees.
Other Promises in the Manifesto
The manifesto promised Uniform Civil Code which it has quietly shelved. Promises for building Ram Temple in Ayodhya remains under the court’s purview. Setting up of Lok Pal too has been sidelined.
Major gains not promised in the manifesto but have been achieved
Foreign Policy: The PM can single-handedly claim to have taken India onto the center stage of international diplomacy. India has cemented a robust relationship with the US, carefully keeping Russia on its side and enhancing engagement with Japan for investment and strategic cooperation. Nearer home, it has strengthened engagement with Bangladesh. The government, however, is struggling to keep the Chinese at bay from increasing their influence in our backyard – Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
The speed of implementation and its scale has placed India as a role model for other underdeveloped and developing countries.
This poorly thought action by the government will remain an enigma for what it promised and what was achieved. It disrupted a recovering economy and slowed down the government’s achievements.
Rise in NPAs
The financial system, including privatization of public sector banks, is in urgent need of reforms. Also, several PSUs like the Air India, Railways, and many other PSUs need to be privatized, at least partially. Despite strong majority, the government has failed to roll out reforms in the past four years
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