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Narendra Modi's Fourteenth (14th) week in Office Analysis

Narendra Modi's Fourteenth (14th) week in Office Analysis

Work Done by Modi Government in the 14th Week is as follows : 

Bank accounts for all households and a move to weed out outdated laws …this week saw some big action even while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to reshuffle the Parliamentary Board, their highest decision-making body.

Jan Dhan Yojna launched, 1.5 crore bank accounts opened on first day

With a view to providing bank accounts to every single household, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Jan Dhan Yojna that is aimed at financial inclusion of the poorest of the poor. On the day of the launch itself, 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened. This plan was launched across the country by several chief ministers and Union ministers. Now, the poor people can borrow from the bank instead of the money lenders who charge very high rate of interest.

Under this plan, all the account holders are entitled to zero balance and will be given a Rupay debit card with life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 and an accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. Later, they will be given an overdraft facility up to Rs 5000. The government is eyeing at covering 75 million households by January 26, 2015.

The Jan Dhan Yojna is one of the biggest projects to be launched by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government ever since it came to power in May 2014. With a view to bring everyone under this plan, the government has announced an additional life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 to all those who open the account before 26 January 2015.

It was, indeed, a record broken when 1.5 crore people opened bank accounts on the same day. However, the challenge will be to keep all these accounts active and running. Experts say the bank should lend the poor money at lower rate of interest and link the repayment to the harvest period, where they earn money and the loan amount can be repaid. This is one way to keep the accounts active and build their confidence in the banking system.

Outdated laws may soon be history

Outdated or archaic laws act as hindrances to good governance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to set up a committee that will identify obsolete and archaic laws with a view to repealing them will bring in the much-awaited freshness to the legal system in India.

The committee headed by Prime Minister Office (PMO) secretary R. Ramanujam will look into all the Acts that had been recommended for repealing by the Committee on Review of Administrative Laws. This Review Committee was appointed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998 and had recommended 1,382 Acts to be repealed, but only 415 have been repealed so far.

The Ramanujam committee is expected to come up with the report within three months. 

Road ministry empowered

With a view to boost the implementation of highway projects, the NDA has government decided to give the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways more powers.

The Ministry can now amend the Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for highway projects and also decide the mode by which the projects will be delivered.  

The MCA is a legal contract that governs the terms by which road projects will be executed. Currently, any changes in the MCA or changes in the mode of project delivery have to be approved by an inter-ministerial group that includes road ministry officials, finance ministry, law ministry and the planning commission. This then has to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

In this process, the CCEA was unnecessarily getting burdened with the process of approvals – that too on issues that were not exactly their area of competence. This led to added delays in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) road projects. The NHAI is the representative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways that awards and builds national highway projects.

Now with an empowered ministry, the government is looking forward to reviving private sector participation in the roads sector. In the fiscal year ended March 2014, NHAI had awarded 1,436 kilometres of highway projects, way below its target of 4,030 kilometres. In 2012-13, it had awarded 1,116 kilometres against the target of 9,500 kilometres.

With its new powers, the road ministry can easily implement changes in the MCA or mode of delivery in case it fails to attract private investment through BOT (Toll) or BOT (Annuity) Method. (BOT refers to Build, Operate, Transfer). In the past two years, about 20 projects worth Rs 27,000 crore have failed to attract investments. This may now change and hopefully the road ministry will be successful in attracting better private participation.

BJP Parliamentary Board undergoes a reshuffle

The BJP has dropped senior leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi and Lal Krishna Advani from its Parliamentary Board (PB), the highest decision-making body of the party. The new members inducted in their places are party general secretary J P Nadda and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The dropped leaders now form part of a five-member Margdarshak Mandal, a mentors’ panel that comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, apart from the three senior leaders.

Chaired by BJP party president Amit Shah, the 12-member PB includes the names of Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar.

This move is being seen as a continuation of the generational change that was initiated in the BJP with the appointment of Modi as the chief of election campaign committee.

The role of Margdarshak Madal will be restricted to offering guidance to the party, but it is up to the PB whether to accept it or not. In the ‘Modified’ BJP, senior leaders, though with age and experience on their side, are thought to be fast losing touch with the party as well as the younger generation. 

School to focus on mathematics and language skills

The 2013 Annual Status of Education Report compiled by Pratham, a non-profit organisation, shows that most of the children attend schools but are not learning the basics of most subjects. Poor learning at primary level is turning out to be a huge concern.

To tackle this, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has launched a new scheme that aims to improve mathematics and language skills of students across India. As part of this scheme, every year at the elementary level, about 500 hours will be spent to improve language, while 300 hours will be spent on Maths. The HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, launched this project and also vowed to plug the infrastructure gaps in all the schools by using a portion of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds. Irani also asked the state education secretaries to ensure toilets in every school for girls by July 2015.

It is learnt that the ministry has also directed the states to focus on female literacy in the backward and rural areas, where the literacy rate is below 50 percent. With this, the central government is aiming to raise the standard of living of women.


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Last Updated on August 30, 2014, 12:32 pm