I was one of those 2014 voters who wanted Narendra Modi to become the Prime Minister. Now, after 5 years of Modi sarkar, I have taken a “look-back” and arrived at my top 10 Delights & Disappointments.
The views presented here are based on my observations as an ordinary citizen. I have attempted to apply some logic on top of what’s reported by the media and what’s claimed by the ruling & opposition parties. I’m neither a political commentator nor a political scientist.
Top 10 Disappointments 🙁
Note: You can click on the specific title (e.g. Fuel Prices) to read the detailed contents.
Top 10 Delights 🙂
Note: You can click on the specific title (e.g. External Affairs) to read the detailed contents.
Disappointments 🙁 in Detail
One may wonder whether I’m blabbering. Despite PM’s tweets, FM’s blogs and PM’s addresses in radio & rallies, I have always felt that there had been a miss in terms of communication. Let us take an example. The opposition parties and the media accused that the data related to growth (GDP, etc) was fudged. However, there wasn’t enough representation from the Government (or the ruling party) to tell its side of the story. In most of the issues, either the communication was “too late, too little” or “none”.
In the previous UPA regime, there were quite a few ministers viz. Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh, Chidambaram, etc – who did the job of defending Govt’s actions and/or justifying their stand. Maybe, there’s no rapport between BJP and the media. It’s okay, but the genuine citizens should know both the sides of the story to arrive at fair conclusions. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
Negligence of South India
By and large, I have an opinion that the southern States have not been given enough importance. Couple of key issues that can be cited –
- The majority in Lok Sabha and victories in most of the State elections post 2014 were a big plus for Modi. He could have used the opportunity to take a “Statesman” stand and (permanently) solve the long-standing issue of Cauvery dispute between the Southern states. Even the setting up of Cauvery Management Board (as per Supreme Court ruling) was delayed. There seems to be truth in the opposition’s accusation that the delay was due to the Karnataka assembly elections.
- The Kerala govt. took advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Sabarimala issue. It went ahead with the “implementation” of the ruling without any concern for the voices on the ground. At that time, the silence/inaction on the part of the Central govt. was really appalling. The argument that the Centre didn’t have any room to play a role is not convincing.
[Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
Lack of attention to UPA Scam Cases
Modi’s government did not give necessary attention to the cases related to the alleged scams during UPA regime. It is very disappointing that none of the alleged scamsters got punishments in the court of law. In Tamilnadu, the DMK govt. led by Karunanidhi in 1996 setup special court to accelerate the hearing of the corruption cases related to Jayalalitha’s 1991-96 regime. Any such act by Modi’s govt to “fast track” and prove the corruption cases on UPA regime would have done a world of good. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
During UPA-II under Manmohan Singh, the petrol prices touched Rs.80/litre. Despite all economic explanations, it was really disgusting to have such a rise. In the initial years of Modi’s rule, the petrol prices did see 60+/litre ranges. However it didn’t last long and went upto 85 or so and has been hanging around 75 in the past few months. The govt. and its supporters give a different dimension on the pricing structure during UPA-II and now. Whatever said, this price range isn’t acceptable and simply indicates the govt’s failure in this regard. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
During Manmohan’s rule, Modi strongly criticized the weakening of Indian Rupee (against US Dollar). But, the Rupee went on to become the weakest during Modi’s rule. 1 USD was equivalent to 60+ Indian Rupees (max) during Manmohan’s rule, whereas it was equivalent to 70+ Indian Rupees (max) during Modi’s period. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
Demonetization vs. “Less” Cash
Demonetization had quite a few short-term negative impacts such as growth hit, people suffering, etc. Even if you accept those negative items for long-term benefits (as the govt and a few economists say), I don’t find much impact in normal day-to-day life. In my view as a normal citizen, the real success of demonetization lies in the reduction of “cash” transactions. As such, there’s no drastic improvement in “cashless” transactions, especially in Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities. Added to this – the banks have taken advantage of the post-demonetization scenario to impose quite a few rules & charges on the customers (e.g. only 5 free ATM transactions per month). [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
10% Reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Section)
Our Constitution provides reservation (in education and government employment) for “socially” and “educationally” backward classes. Modi government brought the bill on 10% reservation for “economically” weaker sections within upper castes. This is a fundamental shift in reservation policy as per the Constitution. The government did not give enough time for detailed deliberations to bring in “economic backwardness” as a parameter for reservation policy.
At the same time, the 10% reservation for EWS bill was passed in parliament in a very short time period (almost like an “overnight” change). Such a hasty move exposed the “vote bank politics” of most of the political parties (including Congress & Communists). One can only hope that the Supreme Court intervenes and brings sense to this matter. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
There’re conflicting data on “unemployment” and “job creation”. The govt. has not come up with any concrete counter-argument on this topic. The private investment by domestic players was not high. Though “Startup India” program gave a boost to startups, it’d not have resulted in many jobs as most startups start “lean”. Modi should have influenced the industry leaders to create more jobs. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
As far as Jammu & Kashmir is concerned, I believe there’re two sets of issues –
- External: (Pakistan backed) terrorists pose threats
- Internal: J&K’s regional parties fuel the mindset of Kashmiris to remain independent of India and Pakistan
While military and police operations can control the external threats, there needs to be political will and in-depth efforts to bring the common Kashmir people into the Indian nationalistic mainstream thinking. I think that BJP has missed an opportunity to do so, in spite of being in power along with PDP as a coalition partner in J&K State and being a leader of a stable government at the Centre. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
Tamil Nadu Raids
There were quite a few IT department and CBI raids that happened in Tamilnadu in the last two years. One raid was conducted in the Tamilnadu Secretariat itself. That raid resulted in the ouster of the then Chief Secretary. There was another raid in a Minister’s house. None of the findings, at least to the knowledge of the public, have been taken to any court proceedings or so. The opposition parties claimed that such raids were only used for “remote control” (of the State government by the Centre) and narrow political gains. The lack of any proper explanation from the BJP added strength to such claims. This is certainly a blot on the credibility of Modi and his team on Centre-State relations with regards to Tamilnadu. [Back to “Top 10 Disappointments” list]
Delights 🙂 in Detail
Modi government’s approach on the country’s defence has been extraordinary. Earlier, India has always been looking to “strong diplomatic messages” from the western powers for any attack by the (Pakistan backed) terrorists. But, Modi government gave a free hand to the Indian Army to execute retaliatory “surgical strike” actions for Uri and Pulwama attacks (by the terrorists). India’s Dokhlam stand-off was an unprecedented action to take on China’s authoritarian attitude. These were really path-breaking actions to convey the world that India cannot be caged with the “peace loving nation” image. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
There had been lot of memes mocking Modi’s foreign travels. But, I think that the impact of his travels has been positive. Without his regular travels and consistent touch with world leaders, India could not have mustered the support of major powerful nations on issues of international importance. USA’s silence on India’s surgical strikes and strong condemnation to Pakistan are results of Modi government’s strategic approach in External Affairs.
On the other hand, Sushma Swaraj has made MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) as a people-friendly ministry for all the Indians staying/travelling abroad. “Any time” response (to the Indian nationals who ping issues through social media posts) and immediate actions have been the hallmark of Sushma and her team. Kudos!! Hope the MEA continues this culture. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
One major success of Modi government – that even many opposition parties agree – is the vigorous focus and results on the infrastructure front. The key achievements that grabbed my attention are –
- Rural electrification to ensure that approx. 6 Lakh villages received electricity
- Accelerated construction/expansion of highway roads with a big leap from 7 Kilometres/day in 2014 to 30 KMs/day in 2019 (with an increase of 70% in the total kilometres, compared to previous regime)
- Significant improvement in inland waterways transport (as a part of “Sagar Mala” programme) for Cargo ships/Container vessels across the river Ganga to bring down the logistics costs
[Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
Regulation of NGOs & Shell Companies
The cancellation of FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) licenses of 20,000 NGOs is a bold step to control foreign funding for “India unfriendly” activities in the name of “social service”.
Shell companies or firms – which are established for tax evasion and money laundering – have been identified and de-registered in large numbers (approx. 3 Lakh companies) by Modi government. This is certainly a healthy act towards the reduction of black money. Recently, the government has enforced the geo-tagging of the companies’ locations to prevent/minimize frauds in company registration. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
There had been quite a few initiatives that’ll give remarkable results in the long-term viz. Sagar Mala, Clean Ganga, Khelo India, Make in India, Startup India. Of these initiatives, the most impressive have been –
- Sagar Mala programme – aimed at connecting ports and various waterways to transform industrial development with easier logistics. The programme promises development of Coastal Employment Zones (CEZs) near major ports.
- Clean Ganga initiative: The exclusive efforts to clean the Ganga river are commendable. Though there’s a lot more to be done, it is reported that the treatment capacity of sewages drained into Ganga basin has been increased 8 times (from 485 Million Litres a Day to 4000 Million Litres a Day).
- “Khelo India” is a well-defined scheme to improve the sports ecosystem in the country. The key benefit of this scheme is that it identifies the talents at a young age (as low as 10 years) and supports the talented youth financially (5 Lakhs per annum for 8 years).
[Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
Attention to N-E India
Bringing the “Seven Sisters” into the national mainstream in an inclusive mode is necessary for long-term unity of India and protecting the border states from the influence of neighbouring hostile nations. Modi government’s significant attention towards developmental projects in North East is laudable. Some of the key accomplishments/initiatives are –
- Construction of Pakyong airport in Sikkim
- Completion of Bogibeel Bridge (rail & road bridge) – constructed over the Brahmputra river – connecting (Dibrugarh in) Assam and (Dhemaji in) Arunachal Pradesh that reduces travel time by 4 hours. It has to be noted that approx. 60% of the work has been done during Modi’s rule
- Arunachal Express (train) from New Delhi to Arunachal Pradesh
- Completion of Dhola Sadiya Bridge linking Assam & Arunachal Pradesh
- Initiative to setup AIIMS in Guwhati Assam
[Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
Despite the hue and cry over GST, I strongly believe that it’s a major milestone in the history of India’s tax reforms. The idea of GST was proposed during Vajpayee’s period and deliberated for a decade of Manmohan’s rule. The resolve and the determination of Modi government to get GST implemented are commendable. Of course, there were initial hiccups (and there’re some even now) – which are expected in a complex implementation of this scale. But, the subsequent activities of the GST council towards the stabilization of the system are remarkable. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
Attention to Healthcare Sector
Modi government has set the stage for reforms in Healthcare sector. In my opinion, the following two achievements are very beneficial.
- The re-launch of “Jan Aushadhi” programme to provide quality drugs at affordable prices (i.e. providing generic drug equivalents for branded drugs)
- The revision of National Health Policy with emphasis on
- Preventive and primary care (through setup of Health & Wellness Centres, better recognition and inclusion of the alternate AYUSH treatment)
- Improved affordability to healthcare for underprivileged masses through “Ayushman Bharat” health insurance scheme
[Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
I believe that Modi has taken earnest efforts and achieved decent results –
- in bringing down sluggishness in the official machinery (e.g. attendance tracking and stringent performance reviews),
- in the elimination of middlemen and bribery for government jobs (e.g. removal of interviews for junior government jobs)
- in disallowing corruption at the top bureaucratic levels
Obviously, there’ll be a question on Rafale deal when I say that Modi has done something to reduce corruption. Based on my understanding of “Rafale deal” issue, I think that the opposition parties & a section of the media compare “apples” and “oranges”, in terms of Rafale contracts of UPA and Modi’s NDA, to arrive at a “corruption” angle. Probably, the involvement of Anil Ambani’s company in the process gives enough ammunition to the opposition. As of now, I go with the Supreme Court’s (Dec 2018) clean chit verdict for Modi government on Rafale deal. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]
Ease of Doing Business
India’s progress in the World Bank’s EODB (Ease of Doing Business) ranking from 134 in 2014 to 77 in 2018 is a giant leap. In the current scenario, a private limited company can be registered in a span of 7 to 10 days – with all formalities taken care through online. This is a major boost for aspiring entrepreneurs. And, the “Public Sector Bank loan in 59 minutes” for MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise) is a noteworthy booster for small and medium business owners. [Back to “Top 10 Delights” list]