If you would’ve asked any Indian in May 2014, who the next Prime Minister would be, the answer from majority would have been Narendra Modi. The hope and the hype created (as a result of a well-crafted marketing campaign) by the slogan of “Acche Din”, was inevitably followed by huge expectations which bordered on being unrealistically high. The incumbent Prime Minister was expected to deliver on all of the promises his government had made to the populace, to clean up the mess left by the UPA, and in general, to be a messiah to all of India’s problems.
Understandably, there is a lot to be analysed and said about the performance of the Modi Government now that it has been exactly one year since it came to power. This article will examine the successes and failures of the policies adopted by the NDA government as well as take a look at the promises which failed to be delivered.
Policies and Projects–
- The overall direction of the government is favourable to greater economic liberalization. This was by the route of FDI in key sectors like insurance and defence, ending policy paralysis through getting a head start with big ticket reforms like LAB and GST and abolishing of extra-constitutional bodies like NAC.
- The country’s macro-economic situation has improved in the past one year, with decline in inflation, stability in currency and attractive financial markets.
- The government took up social issues like sanitation through innovative projects like ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, social security schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana for the poor, and bold social campaigns like ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’.
- But a greater resolve needs to be shown on key areas like land acquisition and GST, which are still stuck in parliamentary limbo.
- The’ Make in India initiative’ set the appropriate business environment for manufacturing and services sector, but it is still in its nascent stages and execution of such programs is yet to be seen on ground.
- The focus should also be on further improving ease of doing business.
- Nothing has been done to structurally change low productivity policies like MNREGA.
- There is nothing concrete yet on the critical matter of job creation. Regrettably, there has been no thought on education reforms as well.
- The efficacy of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was formed to unearth Indian ‘black money’ stashed abroad, is being questioned. There needs to be more seriousness on the government’s part on this matter considering that it was a major point of BJP’s pre- election manifesto.
- There has been no progress on the ambitious Clean Ganga Project as well.
- There has been a sea change in the bureaucratic culture and efficiency through inculcation of discipline. Cutting through red tape in critical matters, like defence purchases, was a welcome move.
- There has also been a complete turnaround in the country’s disaster management approaches- with the standard set by our country in emergency response situations, like providing rescue support to multiple nations from high risk zones like Yemen, and the rapid relief operations carried out in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.
- Top- level corruption has almost disappeared which is corroborated by the return of investor confidence and transparency that has been achieved with the successful completion of auction of coal blocks and spectrum, raking in over Rs 3 lakh crore for the Centre and states.
- But the government has failed to privatize even one inefficient PSU.
- Instead of divesting stake in Air India, MTNL, BSNL, government insists it can manage them better.
- Modi provided greater financial autonomy to States by directly sharing the revenues of the coal auction and also accepted all the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.
- Niti Ayog also provides for a key role for States as opposed to the erstwhile Planning Commission.
- Parliament productivity has increased and he has working support from staunch opponents like TMC (for GST) and INC (for Indo- Bangladesh land boundary bill).
- But the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill (NJAC) which aimed to reduce nepotism and partial appointments of Judges is a double edged sword and many believe that it compromises on judicial independence.
- The lack of majority in Rajya Sabha is causing delay of critical bills like GST and LAB. These bills cannot be passed without opposition support.
- India’s brand image internationally has improved dramatically because of the way our PM asserts himself and creates the image of a strong government under a strong leadership heading towards economic reforms.
- India’s demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council has changed from a mere request to an earned right.
- Our disaster management interventions are well lauded internationally.
- The engagement with important powers like the US, Germany, along with China and other neighbouring countries at the summit level makes a lot of difference in India’s perceptions.
- At the domestic front also, it is being viewed as a clean government because there are no corruption issues (which became daily headlines during the UPA run).
- But the government is yet to address the issue of taxation relating to FII’s problems on retrospective liabilities and legislations like MAT (which has dented investor confidence again).
- There does not seem to be any adequate response to the biased coverage by the media ranging from genuine mistakes to false statements and in law and order problems which were painted as communal attacks by being called violence against Christian minorities.
- Poor remarks by BJP legislators on social issues also negatively impact the perception of the government and Modi’s inability to rein in such loose talking ministers is not befitting of a leader.
Conclusion: It is important for the industry and the commentators to realize that an economy of two trillion dollars, well integrated with the world, can’t be catapulted into high growth, just with the change of the government. The Prime Minister has been categorical in asserting that he was elected on a development plank and extraneous issues will not derail him. So far, it seems that he is setting the pace for a long- distance run. With the government entering its second year, it is critical that it takes good decisions as the investments made now and undertaken in the coming years will determine its future.
For anyone who believed the hype and expected a trail- blazing year of Modi government will certainly be disappointed. But in reality, this year has not been all that bad. The direction and the vision are right. After a year of governance, the hope for ‘Acche Din’ still remains and people still believe in Modi. The fact that after such hype, the government has been able to sustain this hope is an achievement. Given the challenges, Modi has done reasonably well. But this is just the beginning and he has his work cut out for him. Only the next four years will show whether the faith in this government will sustain till May 2019.
1) Acche Din Aa Gaye Kya? – A detailed scorecard on one year of Modi Government. (n.d.). Retrieved from Opindia: http://www.opindia.com/2015/05/acche-din-aa-gaye-kya-a-detailed-scorecard-on-one-year-of-modi-government/
2) Modi govt scores 7 on 10 for first year’s performance:ASSOCHAM. (n.d.). Retrieved from DNAIndia: http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report-modi-govt-scores-7-on-10-for-first-year-s-performanceassocham-2086632
3) Modi govt’s one year: Reasonable start, but much remains to be done. (n.d.). Retrieved from Hindustan Times: http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/one-year-of-modi-govt-reasonable-start-with-packed-agenda-but-still-much-needs-to-be-done/article1-1347739.aspx
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