On May 26, 2015, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government completed a year of governance. Having come to power on the strength of mega-promises centered on the prospect of achhe din for all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot but feel the weight of popular expectations on his government after an uneventful first year. The vast majority of those who backed him, those who gave the BJP he led a clear mandate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and believed he could bring in much-needed change and put the country back on a trajectory of growth and development.
Hits of the Government
Going by macro-numbers, the Narendra Modi government has a lot to cheer as it enters its second year. It has been fortunate for Modi regime that the prices of crude oil in international market have dropped to half when it took power last year. Falling deficit both on the current account and fiscal fronts, and rising foreign exchange reserves should be cause for relief, even rejoicing. Both core and retail inflation rates have eased, prompting the Reserve Bank of India to cut repo rates twice this year. Reading these trends in tandem with the rise in indirect tax collections and a marginal drop in the levels of non-performing assets, a confident Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, suggested last week that better days are really round the corner. There have also been significant reform initiatives in the area of foreign direct investment covering sectors such as insurance, defence, railways and construction.The successful auctioning of coal mine leases and spectrum, thereby setting the stage for a transparent policy regime, is noteworthy. However, the government’s inability to push two crucial pieces of legislation — the land bill and the GST bill — has reflected poorly on its legislative management skills. This has also revealed an unhealthy, ‘my-way-only’ attitude in a democratic set-up.
The push toward financial inclusion through the Jan Dhan Yojana seems to have yielded quick results with crores of poor people induced to open a bank account for the first time in their lives. This is quite unlike the proposal for smart cities and the Make in India project that have had no substantial results to show for all their potential, and haven’t so far made any tangible change in the lives of ordinary people. Not surprisingly, the government appears to be aware of this shortcoming and is preparing to announce a large-scale social sector scheme.
Misses of the Government
On the first anniversary, some of the promises remain as proposals and many others appear too remote with little or no chance of coming to fruition in the next four years. Given the state of India’s slow-moving bureaucracy the expectations were perhaps unrealistic to begin with, but Mr. Modi had fed them with election-time rhetoric. From ensuring efficient delivery of basic services and quickening clearance for infrastructure and industrial projects to ending corruption and bringing back black money kept in foreign banks, his was a long and exhaustive list of promises. As the previous Congress-led government ended its term entwined in scams and scandals, Mr. Modi marketed himself as everything his predecessor Manmohan Singh was not, and sought to represent the varied aspirations of whole classes of people. He wanted to offer much more than a concrete programme of action; he wanted to present a vision of the future, a vision of India taking its place as an economic superpower in the first world. Of course, it was not as if nothing got done during the year, but the achievements pale in relation to the expectations. Inevitably, the comparison being made is not between the last year of the Manmohan Singh government and the first year of the Modi government, but between Mr. Modi’s words and his deeds, between the promise of achhe din and the harsh, unchanging realities on the ground.
In the last one year, the government looked as if it were in a hurry to accommodate big business by seeking to dilute the safeguards in the land acquisition legislation and extending tax benefits to the rich. While it was not enthusiastic about the previous government’s rural employment guarantee and food security schemes, it took up in all earnest the controversy-ridden Aadhaar scheme, seen as a first step towards targeted social benefits and capped subsidies. Instead of laying claim to a pro-growth label, the government found itself trying to fend off an anti-poor tag. All told and added up on the political ledger, the debit column has certainly ended up being longer than the credit column.
[quote_box_center]Article By : Satyam Prajapat[/quote_box_center]