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Modi Government Completes Two Years in Power: Are ‘Ache Din’ Here?

May 25, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA 2 government completed two years in office on 26 May 2016. Modi came to power on the back of raging anti-incumbency. The Indian electorate was palpably disenchanted with the sagging economy, scam-ridden UPA government and dwindling employment opportunities for the ever growing young population. In times such as those, Narendra Modi promised Indians the moon. He campaigned in different nooks and corners of the country. Growth, development, employment seemed to be the keywords in all his oratories. The three-time Gujarat chief minister became a national obsession. Aspirational Indians wanted to believe him and gave him the mandate. Then started the eager wait for the promised ‘ache din’.

Two Years of Modi Government

Two Years Too Long?

A normal tenure of a union government is five years. But as Modi would have most likely realised soon after assuming office, he was inheriting a different universe. There was increasing pressure from the demographic bulge coupled with a troubled economy and lopsided policy-making by previous coalition government. Modi swung into action and introduced path-breaking schemes within the next few months.

Schemes Launched

The first among the slew of Modi government schemes was the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. Till May 2016, the scheme has opened 21.74 crore accounts with Rs. 37,445 crore in deposits. This is an important achievement in financial inclusion and empowerment. Swachch Bharat Mission was launched on 2 October, 2014 to initiate a mass movement on cleanliness and move towards clean sanitation facilities, streets and public places. This mission is critical for a healthy and also a modern India.

The decision to retain and expand the Aadhaar biometric identification card and using it for Direct Benefit Transfers to intended beneficiaries was also a wise one. This move will help in plug leakages and cut wasteful expenditures. Schemes such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and subsidized sales of fertilizer and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders will now hopefully find their way to deserving recipients. Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawal Yojana, the government has resolved to bring LPG cylinders to 5 crore BPL households. It is heartening to note that the scheme is being financed partly from the savings generated through voluntary surrender of LPG subsidy by existing richer households.

A much-delayed yet much-needed focus has been put on agriculture and rural infrastructure. The recently launched National Agricultural Market, which proposes to integrate 585 agricultural produce market committees under one electronic platform, is expected to give farmers better returns for their produce. Krishi Sinchai Yojana is aimed at creating a robust irrigation system to uplift India’s primarily agricultural economy. The government has speeded up the process of rural electrification and road construction. The Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is focused on holistic development of India’s villages.

A number of schemes have been launched in the human resource development sector in order to tap the potential of India’s sizeable young population. These are E-basta, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat, DDU-Grameen Kaushal Yojana, Skill India, Nayi Manzil and Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Steps are under way to improve the school and higher education system in the country.

For the large number of employees in the unorganised secor who do not enjoy any insurance cover, the government has launched Atal Pension Scheme. The Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (insurance against accidental death), Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (insurance against death), Jan Aushadhi scheme and dialysis programme are notable steps in healthcare department.

The Digital India program is an initiative to make government services accessible to citizens electronically through improved online infrastructure and internet connectivity.

State of the Economy

On taking charge as the 15th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi promised minimum government and maximum governance. He recognised that in order to uplift the sagging economy the government had to play the key role of facilitator. The Land Reforms Bill, GST Bill, amended version of FRBM Act, 2003 are key steps in this direction. Some of these have been lying stuck in the Parliament because of stiff resistance from the opposition. Here, it remains to be seen how the Modi government manages to bring the opposition on board and ensure smooth passage of these bills which could play an important role in catalysing the country’s economy.

Apart from this, the Prime Minister has been campaigning and entreating foreign investors to ‘Make in India’. The aim is to attract international investors to invest in India and make the country a manufacturing hub. This is expected to create job opportunities for India’s youth. However, to make this idea a success, Modi will have to ensure that there is a welcoming environment in place to let investors operate smoothly from India.

The Mudra Bank Yojana, Stand-Up and Start-up India initiatives are all aimed at giving technical and financial support to small business entities and encouraging young start-up entrepreneurs, including those hailing from weaker sections. It is hoped that these measures will help more and more people become self-employed and contribute constructively to the economy.

The Sagarmala Scheme was launched recently to modernize India’s ports and facilitate port-led development to contribute in India’s growth.

One issue boggling the Indian economy has been the vast amount of unproductive gold assets stashed in Indian households. The Gold Monetisation Scheme aims to mobilise this gold by encouraging their depositors to earn interest on their ‘metal accounts’.

The Modi government aims to uplift urban infrastructure and make Indian cities truly world-class through the Smart Cities, AMRUT and Namami Gange projects.

Nonetheless, it is heartening to note that since the Modi government took power, the GDP has grown, fiscal deficit gone down and inflation is also low. While the global slowdown has affected demand for India’s commodities, it has also helped bring down the inflation. It is hoped that the economy will be on an upward growth trajectory as and when the schemes come to fruition.

Modi the Diplomat

In terms of foreign policy, Narendra Modi had set the tempo at his oath-taking ceremony itself. Modi invited leaders of the neighbouring countries in what was being hailed as a mini-SAARC summit. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s presence at the event triggered hope for improvement in ties between the two countries.

Modi made his US visit within four months of taking over. This was followed by US President Barack Obama’s visit to India to be the chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day parade. This was the first for any US President and it demonstrated warmth in ties. Both countries announced an important breakthrough in the operationalisation of Indo-US nuclear deal. Modi’s enhanced engagement with the Middle-East and West Asia has been evident in his successful visits to UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iran more recently. He has actively reached out to the Indian diaspora to engage them in India’s progress and development.

Some blunders have been made when it comes to Nepal. India’s excessive interference in Nepal’s internal affairs has antagonised Nepal which is now playing the China card. Relations with China too have been difficult especially after the former blocked India’s bid to designate Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist. But there is no reason to lose hope and here, consistent efforts hold the key. There have been flip-flops with regard to Pakistan as well who has tested India time and again despite repeated efforts at mending ties.

Ties have improved greatly with the eastern neighbour Bangladesh, with whom India has sealed a historic agreement to settle the crucial border issue. The agreement paved way for amicable exchange of enclaves between the two sides. On Sri Lanka too, ties have improved following the electoral defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the taking over of Maithripala Sirisena as the new President. India is hopeful that the new Sri Lankan government will hasten the reconciliation process with Lankan Tamils and take steps to find a humanitarian solution to the problem of fishermen encroaching on each other’s territories. Sri Lankan government has maintained that it is neither pro-India nor pro-China which should be a positive news for Indian diplomacy.

In the last two years, the Modi government has made its mark successfully on the international stage reaffirming its objective of positioning India as a leading global player. Focus is on building solid partnerships with like-minded states to enhance India’s economic and diplomatic profile.

Miles to Go, Promises to Keep

So what does this all come down to? Are ‘Ache Din’ here or not? The Prime Minister’s silence on the intolerance debate and the growing clout of RSS affiliates have caused reasonable anxiety in some quarters. Efforts must be made, and more importantly, seen to be made, to assuage these concerns. Schemes have been launched but it is pertinent to ensure that they meet their intended targets. Modi may not have lived up to the hype and rhetoric but it must be noted that the work is in progress. India has a lot of catching up to do and the restive Indian electorate is looking to Modi’s government to deliver. The 2016 Assembly election results are indicative of the same.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

Keen follower of Indian politics. Content writer in more ways than one.

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