When it celebrates its first anniversary on May 25, the Modi government wants the focus to be on its pro-poor policies, not on the steps taken to bolster the economy. And the celebration will be modest rather than elaborate.
Based on a broad outline provided by the Prime Minister’s Office to top bureaucrats and the cabinet secretariat, a government communication has been issued saying the spotlight should be on how the NDA’s programmes have “touched lives”, especially the poor, farmers, women and youth.
The emphasis on its social agenda comes at a time when the government is fighting to shake off the ‘anti-poor, pro-industry’ tag given to it by the Opposition, which has vowed to defeat its ‘anti-farmer’ land acquisition law and criticised the budget for “unjust cuts” in spending.
The letter avoids any mention of economic reforms, steps to boost investment or improved economic growth. This despite government data saying India’s growth in 2014-15 was a likely 7.4% — making it the world’s fastest-growing economy, surpassing China.
Instead, the anniversary will likely have more of “achievements” and “success stories” at the “ground level” as a result of people-oriented policies. “The thinking within the government is that it is not an occasion to burst crackers or cut cakes but an opportunity to take stock and proactively highlight the good work done by it,” an official said.
“The focus should be on… policies and programmes that have touched lives and made a difference to people from different sections of society, including the deprived and poor, farmers, women, children, youth and the common,” the communication says. It directs each ministry to come out with “outcomes” and “consequential progress” of various schemes.
Advertorials marking the anniversary are likely to play up schemes such as Swachh Bharat (clean India), the banking-for-all Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhaon for the welfare of the girl child, and Mission Indradhanush that plans to immunise 89 lakh children by 2020 and reached over 6 lakh children in the first four days since its April 7 launch.
Social security initiatives such PM Suraksha Bima Yojana, a state-funded insurance scheme for the poor, and Atal Pension Yojana, a senior citizens welfare fund, are also likely to get priority. As a feel-good factor, the Mars mission has been indentified for special focus.