Published On: Fri, Jul 8th, 2016

Modi Govt’s second ANNIVERSARY: Many promises many hopes/Web of hope

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AS THE MODI GOVT IN INDIA COMPLETES TWO YEARS OF RULE,
SKEPTICISM AND BELIEF IN ITS COMPETENCE RIDE HIGH…

Neeraj Bajpai*


Amid positive projections regarding India’s economic growth by United Nations and international rating agencies and the BJP-led NDA dispensation’s poll victory in the North-Eastern state of Assam, the Narendra Modi Government marks its second anniversary in office, side-stepping critics who nurse suspicions regarding successful completion of a plethora of schemes – more than 50 launched during last two years.

A critical assessment of the Government’s performance is underway by various quarters-common man, executive, opposition parties, wizards of various disciplines for the ground reality check up on narratives of promises and deliveries. Common refrain among growth drivers is massive development will be both palpable and visual soon as they have now riveted eyes on ground for time bound implementation of plans rather than unveiling new plans.

War of perception is being waged on the government’s performance and both the ruling side law makers and army of officials say results show that it is “happening India” .Their critics are equally vociferous and dub promises of the development as mere mirage, lacing their doubts with price rise of essential commodities.

The perception is that it is a scam free government so far and if two straight droughts would not have been there, the situation would have been brighter with check on the food prices and inflation. The Government is buoyed by forecast of good monsoon this year. Many in power corridors say that the price rise of agro produce, too, would be contained with bounty of monsoon. It will give boost to the agro economy in more ways than one.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Indian economy is estimated to register 7.6% growth in 2015-16, notwithstanding contraction of global exports and two consecutive years of shortfall in monsoon. Amid weaker outlook across the globe, he said that India’s experience of strong economic growth, comfortable price situation, low Current Account Deficit (CAD), and adherence to path of fiscal recovery have projected it as an outpost of opportunity for global investors. The United Nations, too, has said India’s economy is slowly gaining momentum and it is projected to grow by 7.3 per cent this year .The World Bank situation and prospect report in its mid-2016 update envisions 7.5 per cent GDP growth in 2017. It has pointed out some delays in domestic policy reforms and enduring fragilities in the banking system. The investment demand is supported by the rising FDI, infrastructure development and public-private partnership, the report has said.

Ever since the Modi government stormed to power in 2014, a large number of schemes were launched. More than 50 schemes are underway and periodic review is being taken to take stock of the situation. Many say it is a mixed bag of success and failures but overall perception gaining currency is that barring a few disturbing statements  by some MLAs and MPs and social tensions  due to various reasons, the government is marching ahead with the agenda but much is to be accomplished vis-a- vis leaping ambitions of common man.

India has established good rapport across the world including with Pakistan, inked historic land boundary agreement with Bangladesh to solve border disputes, increased FDI, launched Swachch Bharat Mission, Smart cities, Aadhaar linked transactions to bridle corruption, Skill India development, Start ups and Stand up India among other schemes.

The Government hopes to get the most talked-about and stalled Goods and Services Tax Bill passed in coming Parliament session in the wake of a possible increase of its strength in the upper house of Parliament post Assam polls. Fall of oil prices in the international markets, slowdown in China’s economy, speeded up infrastructure development, more highways and roads, building tempo of  Make in India has provided ample opportunities. Many say banking system must be firmed up to tighten noose around defaulters, inspector raj is to be contained and more efficient ways be adopted for management of water scarcity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his latest Maan-ki- baat on AIR, has also highlighted these factors.

Schemes being implemented include Jan Dhan Yojna, Awas Yojna, Sukanaya Samridhi Yojna, Mudra Yojna, Jeevna Jyoti, Atal Pension Yojna, Suraksha Beema Yojna, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna, Fasal Bima Yojna, Soil Health Card, Gram Seechayee Yojna, Jan Aushhadhi Yaojna, Make in India, Swachch Bharat. Other plans also comprise Digital India, Skill India, Beti Bachao Beti Padao, Gram Jyoti Yojna, Mission Indradhanaush, Smart City, AMRUT Yojna, Swadesh Darshan Yojna, Uddan scheme, Gold Monetisation, Start up and stand up India, Rashtriya Gokul Mission, PAHAL, NITI ayog, Namai Gange, Rea Estate Bill, Aaadhar Bill, Clean my coach scheme and Ujjwala yojana.

The focus of the present Government is on areas such as non-conventional power generation, the country wide sanitation campaign, rural electrification. In most the departments, a plethora of plans were unveiled during last two years. Aadhaar enrolment & applications shot up to over 101.11 crores in May 2016, as against 63.22 crores in June 2014. More than 37.89 crore Aadhaar cards have been issued in the last two years.

Under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY), more than 21 crore new bank accounts were opened and out of this 61 per cent were in rural areas. It has a deposit of more than Rs. 34 ,000 crore. Similarly, in PM Suraksha Bima Yojana, policies worth Rs 9.40 crore have been enrolled till last month. In the Atal pension Yojna, 20 lakh subscribers are there now after its launch in Kolkata last year . Likewise, an amount of Rs 1,17,517.77 crore has been sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna, for non corporate and small businesses as on March 31, this year. Introduction of Gold Coin, National InfrastructureINVESTMENT FUND, are other major initiatives.

Another scheme, Stand up India, was also launched to promote entrepreneurship mainly among women, SC/ST with a provision for loans upto Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 100 lakhs.

Humming beat by beat latest theme song that “India is transforming”, officials unload stacks of data to back their claims of work done during last two years, but detractors suspect that the figures might be fudged. Officials say given the growing transparency in transactions, prevalent RTI culture, hawk eyed sleuths around and various other factors leave nil scope of data manipulation.

Over 26.11 crore Bank Accounts were linked with Aadhaar till May 2016 as against 6.7 crore in June 2014. More than 19 crore Bank accounts got linked in last two years. There were over 167 crore Authentication transactions in May 2016 against 8.8 crore in June 2014. More than 158 crore Authentication transactions were effected in last two years. As many as 42 central schemes have been included under Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme.

Many big ticket plans included Crop Insurance scheme –Pradhan Mantri   Fasal Bima Yojna. It is to be implemented from Kharif Season in 2016, A sum of Rs 5,500 crore -73 per cent increase since last year, has been provided in the budget this year.

Satellite monitoring of crop damage, soil health card, Irrigation plans, Neem coated Urea, national agriculture market, animal husbandry improvement were some of the schemes launched in the agro sector. Now, India is number one in milk production with achievement of 137.61 million tonnes output in 2013-14 and 160 million tonnes (projected) in 2014-15. It is projected to increase by nine per cent this year. For Blue revolution, for Fisheries sector, a sum of Rs 3,000 crore has been earmarked.

In civil nuclear deal with US, much progress, official sources say, has been done. Commercial negotiations between NPCIL and Westinghouse for construction of six of the AP-1000 reactors at Mithivirdi, Gujarat, are on course for finalisation this year. Long term contract for purchase of Uranium was signed with Kazakhstan in July last year and similarly long term supply contract was inked with Canada. Many deals were also signed with other countries. In foreign relations, PM himself took lead and toured across the world and inked many mutual beneficial pacts. The Home Ministry and HRD also stole the limelight for various plans.

The International Yoga day was marked  on June 21 worldwide and the Rajpath show created two Guinness Book records- largest Yoga lesson involving 35,985 participants and maximum number of nationalities ( 84) taking part in a single Yoga session. Now plans are afoot to popularise it more in coming years.

In the department of fertilisers, the highest ever urea production of 245 LMT was achieved in 2015-16 and timely supply was ensured across the  country. The New Urea policy was also notified last year besides ensuring production of neem coated urea.

Officials say steps were  taken to control drug prices and the drug price control order was notified two months back to fix prices of various drugs. Many incentives, like cluster development programme for the pharma sector,  are being pursued in addition to concentration on the medical devices  sector.

In the aviation sector, official sources say a growth of  21.6 per cent has been clocked in the air passenger traffic this year with 851.98 lakh passengers between March’15 to March’16 in  comparison to previous figure of 700.84 lakh passengers. Officials say Air India has  started making monthly operating profits after a gap of 10 years.

In the once scam tainted coal mines allocations, the Government officials say so far 74 coal mines have been allocated through transparent process to regulated sector power (48) and non regulated sectors like iron, steel, cement and captive power (26) both in private and public sector. The auction and allotment proceeds from 73 coal mines (31 coal blocks through auction and 42 blocks through allotment) have been estimated at more than Rs 3.44 lakh crore over the life of mine lease period. The coal sector has seen many other initiatives and production has also soared.

According to sources in the Commerce and Industry ministry, Make in India has made a mark and over two dozen thrust areas were identified and much has been accomplished. The most striking indicator of progress was the opening of key sectors like Railways, Insurance, Defence, and Medical devices. This has resulted into inflow of FDI in a big way.

FDI inflow, sources say, increased by 44 per cent from June 2014 to February 2016. During last 21 months, FDI has increased to USD 63.16 billion from USD 43.87 billion over the preceding period. Substantial investment has come in electronics, automobiles, food processing, textiles, garments, solar energy, renewable energy, construction sector etc. 100 per cent FDI was allowed under the automatic route in the rail infrastructure sector.

Other   flagship programme  was Start up India, launched by PM in January this year to build a strong eco system to nurture innovations and start ups. A slew of incentives were announced for new projects.

On the Infrastructure front, a network of industrial corridors is coming up. It includes Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Chennai-Bengaluru industrial corridor, Bengaluru-Mumabi Economic corridor, Amrisar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor and Chennai-Vizag industrial corridor.

The government, official sources say, has taken an initiative to connect coastal and border areas through new road network. Known as Bharatmala   program, it is an umbrella scheme at  an estimated cost of Rs 2,67,200 crore for development of state roads along coastal areas/ border areas, including connectivity of non-major ports; backward areas, religious and tourist destinations. Sethubharatam Pariyojana is for construction of about 1,500 major bridges and 200 road overbridges/underbridges for Rs 30,000 crore and   District headquarter connectivity scheme for development of about 9,000 km newly declared highways for Rs 60,000 crore. The programme is targeted for completion by 2022.

The Centre  has, similarly, started developing about 1177 km of National Highways and 4276 km of state roads in the left-wing extremist-affected areas as special project with an estimated cost of about Rs 7,300 crore. Equally   laudable is the special accelerated road development program for the north-eastern region. This would be of immense help to the far flung  areas of the north-eastern region which always feels neglected.

On healthcare, the Modi Government started on a very positive note. Last  year, the dispensation declared that it wants to make healthcare a fundamental right and ensure that its denial is punishable by law. It wants to make health a fundamental right just as the UPA government made education a fundamental right in 2009. Among other programmes that the  health ministry is giving attention to include Mission Indradhanush  which aims at increasing the immunization coverage to children like the hugely successful pulse polio program.

A new Black Money Act has  been enacted with strict penalty provisions. Special Investigation Team has been constituted which is chaired by ex-Supreme Court Judge. Enhanced enforcement measures have resulted in un-earthling of tax evasion of  approximately Rs 50,000 crore of indirect taxes and undisclosed income of Rs 21,000 Crore (Prov.).

In the Defence  sector, long pending demand of 40 years of the Armed  Forces of One Rank one Pay was agreed. Annual recurring expenditure will be Rs 7,488.70 crore.

Since the launch of the Swachh   Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014, 176.89 lakh toilets have already    been constructed. In addition, 10.89 lakh toilets were constructed under  MGNREGS. In the first two years of NDA Government, 58.54 lakh and 127.41 lakh toilets have been constructed in 2014-15 and in 2015-16.

A  Central Sector Scheme North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS) has been introduced for rehabilitation/ construction / up-gradation of neglected inter-state roads in North East Region (NER).  On 18th January, 2016, Sikkim was declared the 1st Organic State of the  country.

On the renewable energy front, the Government has upscaled the target of renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by the year 2022 which includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power. The government has revised the National Solar Mission target of Grid connected Solar power projects from 20,000 MW by 2022, by five times to generate 1,00,000 MW solar power by 2022.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – a scheme to provide free LPG connections to women from BPL households- was launched on May 1, this year, from Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. Under the scheme, Rs 8,000 crore has been allocated for providing 5 crore LPG connections to BPL women in the next three years. The scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1,600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households. The Ujjwala Yojana is dedicated towards safeguarding rural women from the drudgery of cooking in unhealthy kitchens filled with firewood/ charcoal smoke. Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.

The government has decided to provide to provide 24×7 power across the country by 2019 by creating cost effective infrastructure which was sustainable and inclusive of clean energy solutions. The Union Government is working tirelessly to achieve this milestone before time. It has also taken a joint initiative with States for preparation of State specific documents for 24X7 Power for All.  Documents for 21 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland and Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have already been signed till 30th April 2016.

In the Railways, a number of plans were unveiled with key thrust on consolidation of schemes already underway like Automatic Destination Alerts to passengers through SMS for Rajdhani and Duronto trains. E-ticketing facility launched for disabled persons and for accredited journalist on concession pass, Mobile charging facilities in all new general class coaches have been initiated. Out of 1,252 stations identified for upgradation to Adarsh Stations, 986 stations have so far been developed. In the last two years, 160 were developed. New Generation system has been put in place which can book 7200 online tickets instead of 2000 tickets per minute and can attend 2,00,000 enquiries instead of 50000 per minute, launched.

Department of Science & Technology continued to implement its schemes and programmes during 2015-16 under six broad categories viz. Human Capacity Building in S&T; Institutional Capacity Building; Technology Capacity Strengthening; S&T Competitiveness through Alliances, Partnerships and R&D Missions; Societal Contract of S&T; Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

The Telecom sector had maximum FDI and for the deeper digital penetration in rural areas, BharatNet programme was taken up in mission mode to connect all 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats (over 600 million rural citizens) in the country with 100 mbps broadband to bridge the rural coverage gap both for broadband penetration and voice. Like wise, Information and Broadcasting Ministry resorted to many new initiatives.

*Neeraj Bajpai is joint editor, UNI. The views expressed are personal.

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