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100 Days of Modi Government


03-09-2014100 Days of Modi Government


 

100 days of Modi Government : Bouquets and Brickbats 

100 days in power! There is a lot being discussed and written about the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre as it completes its first 100 days in office. Here is our bit:

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge on May 26, 2014, the world looked at him with high expectations. This was because not only did his party — the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) — manage to emerge as a single majority party with 282 seats to form the coalition government, but India was also in dire need of a strong leader who could steer the country towards the path of growth and bring in renewed hope and optimism to a crumbling economy. With NDA coming to power, it seemed in 30 years India had finally voted for a strong and effective government.

During his campaign, Modi had strongly voiced his opinion about the lacklustre performance of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. His manifesto had laid stress on bringing down inflation, renewing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and retrieving black money from abroad, among other initiatives.

As the government completes 100 days, one thing that emerges is that Modi walked the talk when he spoke about minimum government and maximising governance. His ministry has a clear, flat structure – he is the head and his ministers — mostly below 75 years — directly under him, where he keeps a strict eye on them. He has made it clear that his government wants to do away with the Planning Commission and replace it with a think tank. As soon as he assumed power, he made efforts to bring in efficiency – government officials now reach office on time and are putting in at least 12 hours; any purchase above one lakh is sent to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) for approval; cars and foreign travels have been restricted and allowed only when required. Modi has become synonymous with the BJP-led government and time and again proved that he means business, along with speaking inspiring words that he has a penchant for.

The ministries under Modi have been trying to keep pace with his dynamism. The Human Resources Development Ministry headed by Smriti Irani has notable achievements – like her initiative towards establishing the National Academy Depository for maintaining academic degrees and certificates in e-format, thus reducing paper work and saving considerable time. The ministry also plans to make about 20 classrooms in 21,000 colleges Wi-Fi enabled. The Oil and Gas ministry has also done its bit in terms of regulating the prices and major price hikes have been averted to a certain extent. Also, there are attempts being made to reduce the price gap between petrol and diesel.

Hundred days may be too soon to judge the performance of a government because the benefits of some of the steps undertaken may only be realised in the long run. During these days, the government has been busy picking up tasks from the manifesto and ticking them. However, all their actions are not without criticism.

Here is a roundup of some of the major decisions or initiatives that were applauded and some brickbats that ensued:

Work done in first 100 days of Modi Governement that deserve a Thumbs up

Bilateral relations

  • Even before he assumed office, Modi had begun nurturing diplomatic relations with other countries. Inviting SAARC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony marked a renewal of the foreign policies, which had remained paralysed for over a decade now. This move was applauded by everyone and also earned him warm welcome during his subsequent visits to Nepal, Bhutan and Japan. He was the first premier to visit Nepal in 17 years.
  • At the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, Modi bargained hard and was able to launch the much-awaited New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. Though there were talks about China becoming a global power through this move, there was general contentment over the fact that there was equal sharing of funds by all the five countries, instead of power resting with the country that contributed the maximum share and that the first president of the bank will be from India.
  • While India showed warmth and friendship towards Pakistan by inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the swearing-in ceremony, the Modi government was quick to take a tough stand by cancelling the foreign secretary level talks when Pakistan went ahead and met Hurriyat leaders, despite India’s warning not to. This showed that India could extend an olive branch but at the same time withdraw, if steps were taken to provoke its sensivities.

WTO

  • India’s stand on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was criticised by the developed countries as having derailed the talks. But Modi decided to stick to its stand and later took out time to explain the visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry as to why India was opposed to the agreement. India is wary that that the TFA could compromise its own food security.

General Budget

  • When the new government presented the Budget within 45 days, it was hailed as a progressive one with focus on long term benefits. Though it did not have major reforms or market-shaking policies, it certainly had something for everyone. The general notion was that if the steps outlined in the Budget were implemented, India would stand to progress. Tax reforms that would lead to some more money going into the common men’s pockets and setting aside funds to boost the sectors like manufacturing, infrastructure, irrigation, health and sanitation, among other initiatives, were applauded.
  • The Railway Budget focussed on greater efficiency giving a go ahead to the much-awaited bullet trains and a totally revamped reservation system where about 7,200 tickets can be booked per minute and about 1.2 lakh people could be logged in at the same time. Wi-Fi is expected to be introduced in A1 and A category trains.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

  • The government’s plan to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways, excluding train operations and safety, could well put the cash-strapped sector on the reform track. Industry leaders feel that apart from modernising and giving a boost to the infrastructure, this move is also expected to generate employment.
  • The government has also cleared the FDI proposal in the defence and insurance sectors, where the investment cap has been raised from 26 percent to 49 percent. The insurance bill, however, ran into rough weather in the Rajya Sabha and is yet to be passed.

Reform Bills

  • In these hundred days, many bills have been reformed and authorities given more power – like the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Forward Markets Commission (FMC). This is expected to bring in more efficiency to the system.
  • Financial inclusion
  • One of the biggest achievements of the Modi government was the launch of the Jan Dhan Yojana, where the aim is to provide every poor and backward household with a bank account. On the day of the launch itself, 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened.

Cleanliness

  • In a bid to clean the river Ganga, sacred to millions of Indians, the Modi government has set aside Rs 2,037 crore. Besides this, Modi has been stressing on clean India where he has laid the responsibility on the shoulder of every Indian to keep the country clean. Toilets in every school and household have also been high on the agenda and there are plans to handover one village each to the MPs with a view to developing them efficiently.

Digital India

  • The Modi government is all for transforming governance through its initiative Digital India and has launched portals where every common man can participate in governance. Modi also plans to connect the most backward areas in the country through Internet.

Work done in first 100 days of Modi Governement that deserve a Thumbs down

Inflation

  • Inflation seems to be still high and food prices are not showing any signs of abating. This is a serious and urgent concern that is yet to be addressed.

Violence and security

  • There have been incidents of communal violence in some states.
  • Women security ranked high on the agenda and Modi strongly took up the rape cases and urged parents to guide and advise their sons so that they learn to respect the women in their lives. However, much remains to be done to enhance the security of women.

Ceasefire violations

  • Modi is also being accused of not doing much to stop the consistent skirmishes across the Line of Control by Pakistan and China.

Decisions

  • The Modi government denied Congress the Leader of Opposition seat. Many do not see it as a pragmatic decision.
  • Decision to transfer and sack governors appointed by the UPA government have not gone down well with many.

Environment

  • There have been no major development in the environmental sector, rather there has been urgency in clearing off projects without much consideration to the environment. This has raised concerns.

Others

  • Black money still rests safely in banks abroad. Though a committee has been formed to look into this, nothing worthwhile has happened.
  • Experts feel that Modi’s ministers holding multiple portfolios may hamper the progress of the ministries. The responsibilities, they feel, have to be distributed evenly as early as possible.

Summing up

Surveys conducted to judge the performance of the government have thrown up mixed reactions. In a survey conducted by Macquarie Research, the Modi government has been given a stupendous rating of 8.5 on 10. The survey was based on four parameters – governance, economics, Parliament productivity/ state relations and foreign policy. Modi government was given 10 on 10 for foreign policy and on the other parameters, it was given 8 points each.

In another survey conducted by the leading English daily The Times of India, 58 percent respondents rated the government as good or excellent. Whereas 51 found Modi’s style of functioning as decisive or authoritative, while 53 percent found that the government had set its priorities more or less right, and 56 percent found the government handled communalism in an impartial manner.

While the country is busy dissecting and analysing the Modi government, the GDP has touched 5.7 percent this quarter, up from 5.4; the manufacturing sector is kick-starting to life and India has just bagged an USD 35 billion investment from Japan. There have been misses too like India has still not been able to sign the nuclear deal with Japan nor it has been able to clinch any power deals during Modi’s Nepal visit, among others.

However, won’t it be fair to say that this government has been serious in its work since day one? Out of the various initiatives it has undertaken, won’t it be right to say that majority of the population may have found at least one initiative worthy of nodding in agreement? The ball is, clearly, in the people’s court!

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Last Updated on September 3, 2014, 10:07 am