Modi govt@3: Past halfway mark, govt well on track to meet its key promises
Tackling inflation and starting conversations around cleanliness are among the government’s key achievements but many objectives, such as creating jobs and bringing back black money from abroad still to be metindia Updated: May 26, 2017 11:42 IST
As the Narendra Modi government completes three years in office, a look at the work on 10 major promises the Bharatiya Janata Party made in 2014 shows the government is on track:
Inflation: The manifesto promised steps to rein in inflation and stop hoarding of money and black marketing. The government, along with the Reserve Bank of India, largely achieved this target. Retail inflation is down to 3% in April while wholesale is at 3.85%.
A price stabilisation fund has also been set up, as promised, to cool prices of food items in off seasons. An electronic platform for National Agriculture Market (eNAM) has been created to display prices of grains, vegetables and fruits on a real time basis.
Corruption and black money: In its first Cabinet meeting in 2014, the government met its promise to set up a task force on the problem of black money, cash or assets hoarded to avoid taxes. Last year’s demonetisation drive furthered the black money crackdown and a rollout of the GST in July is likely to strengthen the initiative again.
Law enforcement agencies have also been cracking down on benami properties and assets that seem disproportionate to the income of public servants. But the government is yet to achieve a breakthrough in bringing cash stashed away abroad, a major poll plank.
Cross border terrorism: The government has dealt with this issue firmly, but the jury is still out on the results. The Indian army carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 2016 and cross-border raids in Myanmar a year earlier to target militant groups. These operations marked the first time the government not only authorised such action but also owned up to targeted operations. The surgical strikes demonstrated India’s hardened military resolve to the world.
Employment: In its manifesto, the BJP had criticised the then UPA government for dragging the country through 10 years of jobless growth and promised to give high priority to job creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship. But much of that objective has not been met. Unemployment rate has inched up to 5% in 2015-16 from 4.9% in 2013-14 and a latest Labour Bureau report shows 1.52 lakh casual labourers lost their jobs in the October-December 2016 period after Modi announced in November his decision to scrap Rs 15.44 lakh worth of high denomination notes. Big corporate houses have also been cutting jobs to protect their profit margins. L&T has slashed 14,000 jobs, HDFC Bank shed 10,000, Tata Motors 1,500 and the IT sector close to 50,000.
100 new smart cities: After promising to build 100 new cities in its manifesto, the government whittled down the ambitious plan to focus on making existing cities smarter by technologically upgrading them. So far, 60 cities have been chosen under the smart cities mission. Till March, 731 smart city projects worth Rs 46,366 crore have been approved.
Rail safety: The BJP manifesto promised to prioritise safety and invest in long-required overhaul of its stressed infrastructure. A Rashtriya Rail Suraksha Kosh (Rail Safety Fund) with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore has been announced, but only Rs 10,000 crore allocated as budgetary support for this year. Railways are struggling to raise the additional Rs 10,000 crore to take up projects to enhance rail safety under the scheme during the current fiscal. Safety upgrade plans like installation of Train Protection Warning Systems (TPWS) have not gathered pace.
High speed trains: A Diamond Quadrilateral network of high speed trains (bullet trains) was promised. Institutional, administrative and the financial mechanisms for building the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor in collaboration with the Japanese government are in the process of being firmed up, but plans to build similar high speed lines on other routes have remained at the preliminary survey stages. Civil work on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line is expected to begin by 2018 and the project is targeted for completion in 2023.
Implementation of one rank, one pension scheme: The government implemented the OROP scheme in 2015. A four-decade-old demand, the scheme grants equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement. Nearly three million ex-servicemen and widows benefitted from the scheme. Implementing the scheme cost the government between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 crore, a figure that will increase in future.
Cleanliness and sanitation: Five months after coming to power, PM Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2 to end the practice of open defecation by 2019. In three years, the progress on the ground is far from rosy. Its thrust has mainly revolved around constructing toilets. Not much has happened on managing solid waste, a sector that requires urgent action. The government is, however, seen to have successfully made sanitation a part of everyday discourse.
Low-cost housing: Housing-for-all program launched in June 2015. Of the 1.87 million houses approved for construction, only 0.14 million houses were built in 2016-17.
(With inputs from Rajkumar Ray, Moushumi Das Gupta, Rahul Singh and Rajesh Ahuja)