Trying To Bea Pro-Poor Prime Minister
When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister last year, the pseudo-secular brigade expressed grave worries that this new government would be driven by another idea of India, an idea of majoritarian domination, which is alien to the social and political philosophy on which this country was built and consolidated. They feared that what this other idea of India could lead to is riots
Riding high on the expectations of the people, for the first time in three decades, Narendra Modi came into power last year with clear majority. In this one year, while critics claimed that Modi phenomenon has failed, others have given him full credit for putting India on high pedestal in the world. Congress and other parties in their usual habit termed Modi government a pro- corporate government, working in the interests of rich corporate houses. â€œThis government is for the poor, working for the welfare of the poor,â€ thundered Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Mathura, commemorating his one year in government. Accused of being pro-corporate, Modi projected his government as pro-poor and pro-farmers and lashed out at his critics for their “congenital habit” of running down BJP. Modi has been trying very hard to dispel the notion of his government being pro-rich and it was obvious by the fact that his address was dominated by the theme of welfare of the poor. Addressing the massive rally at the birthplace of BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya, Modi listed the Jan Dhan Yojana, soil health card, revival of sick fertiliser units, pension and insurance schemes for the poor as the major achievements. Launching a sharp attack on the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that he had succeeded in breaking the infamous power circle that ruled Delhi through an â€œunholyâ€ nexus with government officials. This was the first of the BJPâ€™s 200 rallies planned to mark the first anniversary of the NDA government. While attacking the previous regime, Modi said another year of UPA rule would have â€œsunkâ€ the country.
When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister last year, the pseudo-secular brigade expressed grave worries that this new government would be driven by another idea of India, an idea of majoritarian domination, which is alien to the social and political philosophy on which this country was built and consolidated. They feared that what this other idea of India could lead to is riots, polarisation, the pulling back of the state from public expenditure on health, education and nutrition in favour of large subsidies to the private sector, weakening of labour and the theft of natural resources in the name of development. But after one year, they have been proven thoroughly incorrect and this is substantiated by his total commitment to all-round development of the country. His commitment can be gauged by the fact that during the last one year, he never took a leave from his work. It cannot be gainsaid that under his stewardship, India seems to be better integrated with the world and is slowly earning confidence of international investors as a favoured investment destination. Already there has been 40 per cent increase in FDI in the country after the Modi government came to power. Once Modiâ€™s visits start translating into investment, the country would witness unprecedented successes. Modi knows things are not easy. The states that failed to work on creating better infrastructures may fail to attract investment in the short run. This explains why Maharashtra and Gujarat scored in his recent visit to China. Furthermore, in the first year of the government, the macro indicator has turned green, growth-inflation mix improved, the current account deficit is in check, which is a result of good policies, and one of the major gains is on the inflation front, which has eased. The government has also fast-tracked the decision-making process, improved ease of doing business, energised bureaucracy and taken some steps to raise growth potential of the economy.
In fact, during the last one year, Modi has presented himself not just as the head of the government at the centre, but as a motivational political leader of the government who was constantly seeking to inject self-confidence and inner belief among people at large. No surprise, a government that has been dubbed by critics to be working for the corporate, has an impressive track record of working for the poor. For the first time, the government has launched many innovative schemes. These would provide some form of social security to the poor at a very reasonable cost and thus the government sent an impression that the government cares for the poor. Let us go into these schemes of Modi and analyse whether these schemes have benefitted or will benefit the poor.
JAN DHAN YOJNA
The Pradhan Mantra Jan Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has created history by providing new bank accounts to 11.5 crore households who have so far remained outside the banking network, in just around six months. This would substantially increase the share of the households having access to the banking system from less than two third of the households to close to 100 per cent now. This move towards financial inclusion, which was mainly spearheaded by the public sector banks, is a feather in the cap of Narendra Modi. The availability of banking facilities to all households would be a great boost- up for the poor who were till now mostly outside the formal banking system. Access to banking facilities will not only provide new opportunities to a larger number in the low income group to build saving and ensure better protection from income fluctuations but also enable them to make larger lumpy investments and even avail of credit. Availability of credit from the formal sector will also help the poor to substantially reduce the high interest burden charged by the informal sector. This is especially so in the Indian case because the new bank accounts have been plugged with the unique identification numbers under the Aadhar scheme and is expected to be the platform for disbursing direct benefit transfers under various government schemes. And the evidence is already visible because as many as 3.23 crore of the new bank account- holders have brought in new deposits of Rs 9188 crore into the banking system.
After providing bank accounts to 15 crore unbanked people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three social security schemes, including a Re 1 per month insurance cover, and said that the poor need empowerment, not aid. While the three schemes will come into force from June 1, the Prime Minister while launching the schemes said that in the first seven days of the trial-run, banks have enrolled 5.05 crore people, including 42 lakh from West Bengal.
The schemesâ€”Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY)â€”were simultaneously launched at 115 locations throughout the country.
PRADHAN MANTRI SURAKSHA BIMA YOJANA (PMSBY)
The scheme will offer a renewable one-year accidental death-cum-disability cover of Rs 2 lakh for partial/permanent disability to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-70 years for a premium of Rs 12 per annum per subscriber.
PRADHAN MANTRI JEEVAN JYOTI BIMA YOJANA (PMJJBY)
PMJJBY, on the other hand, will offer a renewable one-year life cover of Rs 2 lakh to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of Rs 330 per annum per subscriber.
ATAL PENSION YOJANA
Atal Pension Yojana will focus on the unorganised sector and provide subscribers a fixed minimum pension of Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000, Rs 3,000, Rs 4,000 or Rs 5,000 per month, starting at the age of 60 years, depending on the contribution option exercised on entering at an age between 18 and 40 years.
The Modi government has also eased the compensation norms for famers by reducing the clause of 50 per cent crop loss to 33 per cent and enhanced compensation by one and a half times for loss of crop due to bad weather. In his open letter to the citizen of India Modi wrote: â€œGuided by the principle of Antyodaya our government is dedicated to the poor, marginalised and those left behind. We are working towards empowering them to become our soldiers in the war against poverty. Numerous measures and schemes have been initiated: from making school toilets to setting up IITâ€™s, IIMâ€™s and AIIMS. From providing a vaccination cover to our children, to initiating a people driven Swachh Bharat mission; from ensuring a minimum pension to our labourers to providing social security to the common man; from enhancing support to our farmers hit by natural calamities to defending their interests at WTO; from empowering one and all with self-attestation to delivering subsidised directly to peopleâ€™s banks; from universalizing the banking system to funding the unfunded small businesses; from irrigating fields to rejuvenating Ma Ganga; from moving towards 24×7 power to connecting the nation through road and rail; from building homes for the homeless to setting up smart cities, and from connecting the north-east to prioritising development of eastern India.â€
However, there are many things the government needs to do. As for example it has to come clean on the promises it made to people on the issue of retrieving black-money, providing employment to youths and bring in a system that would make winning or losing justifiable. During 2014-15, Gross Domestic Product, despite best efforts by the government, could reach at only 5.6 per cent. Although a section of media and intelligentsia, based on their sample surveys, paints the Modi governmentâ€™s achievements to be a mirage, it is a matter of serious debate whether the common man is happy with the government or not. For, prices of essential commodities are hitting through the roof, and that of petro products are continuously rising; youths seems to be disenchanted as there is no employment opportunities for them. But one cannot deny the fact that Modi has taken several initiatives, the outcomes of which will be seen only in the medium-to-long term. Initiatives such as developing affordable residential projects, robust infrastructure, financial inclusion of the low income segment into the banking sector, etc., are important initiatives but require time to fructify. Hence, critical evaluation of success at this stage may be premature.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
E-Tourist Visa: Government of India has launched e-Tourist Visa scheme (old name: Tourist Visa on Arrival) on 27th November 2014 with the objective of facilitating short duration international travelers whose objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit etc. As of 20th April 2015 the scheme has been extended to 45 countries at 9 Indian airports. It is proposed to extend the e-Tourist Visa scheme to 150 countries by March 2015. Since the launch of the Scheme on 27th November 2014 over 1, 15,000 visa have been issued.
IVFRT: The project on Online Visa application processing and monitoring (IVFRT) is being implemented across the world and within country. This has global outreach since the scope of the project includes 177 Missions, 81 ICPs (Immigration Check Posts), 13 FRROs (Foreigners Regional Registration Offices), and 716+ FROs (Foreigners Registration Offices) in the State/District Headquarters. The project has been implemented in 160 Indian Missions and 450 FROs across the country. Out of which 15 Indian Missions and 250 FROs have been implemented in last one year.
Merger of PIO &OCI: Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015 was enacted on 11-03-2015. This was done with the prime objectives of merger of PIO and OCI cards and easier acquisition of Indian Citizenship.
By enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015 the acquisition of Indian Citizenship has also been facilitated. Keeping in mind the busy travel schedule of applicants from professionals/businessmen’s category a relaxation upto 30 days has been given in continuous stay period of 12 months.
The enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2015 is extremely positive step in seeking the help and contribution of Indian foreign based well wishers in the growth and development of the country.
The Government has reviewed the cross border firing across the International Border of India-Pakistan and has decided given clear direction to firmly deal with this issue.
Revision of norms of relief assistance: The Government has reviewed the norms of relief assistance provided to the people affected by disasters from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The revised norms have been issued by the Ministry of Home Affair’s letter dated 8th April 2015. As per the revised norms, the scale of assistance to the next of kin of deceased person has been increased from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 4lakh per person. The farmers, who have suffered crop loss between 33% and 49%, which were earlier not eligible for assistance, will also be eligible for assistance. The scale of assistance to agriculture sector has been increased by 50%.
Ministry of Home Affairs has approved a National Policy and Action Plan to address Left Wing Extremism in the country and the same has been circulated to States and other stakeholders in January, 2015. The Central Government has multi-pronged strategy to tackle LWE menace; Security Related Measures, Development Related Measures, Ensuring Rights & Entitlements of Local Communities , Public Perception Management and good governance. Declining trend in the quantum of Left Wing Extremism(LWE) violence as well as resultant killings which started in 2011 has continued. There has been 22% less killings in 2014 compared to 2013. However, recent attacks in Chhattisgarh are cause of concern.
The UAV Base has been shifted from Hyderabad to Bhilai in March, 2015. This would more than double the flying time available to the forces in the LWE affected areas.
Out of 10 Bns sanctioned for Chhattisgarh, 05 Bns have been moved to Chhatisgarh for counter anti-LWE operations.
Two Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorist (CIAT) Schools were sanctioned for the newly created States of Telanganaand Andhra Pradesh.
THE FALL OF UPA’S CRONY CAPITALISM
By Arun Jaitley
Look back at the situation that existed a year ago before the NDA Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office. The Government wanted to centralize power in its own hands rather than promote non-discretionary and rule-based governance. For Sale signs hung over all Ministries. Spectrum was allocated at throw away prices to the favoured few. Investors lost their investment. Ministers, civil servants, investors were jailed and prosecuted. Coal blocks were allocated at virtually no price. Environmental clearances were up for sale. The Congress Party leaders had become rent seekers and name lenders. They were partners in a large number of companies which got coal blocks allocated. The discretionary and arbitrary allotment motivated by collateral considerations led to prosecutions of many and a virtual paralysis of the coal mines sector. It had an adverse impact on user industries such as the power sector. Even the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was not spared on account of the self-destruct policies of the UPA. The courts had to intervene and cancel the allocations. The mining sector provided for a statutory mechanism of allocation based on the obsolete principle of first come first served. The State Governments some of the poorest in the country were taken for a ride. They got very little out of valuable resources such as mines in their States. Even gold imports were controlled by a few. This was crony capitalism at its very worst. Businessmen and industrialists lined up to Ministers and party functionaries to seek favours. Chits were regularly issued from party functionaries to Ministers indicating the name of the allottee to be favoured with State largesse. In this chaotic regime, nepotism reached its climax when investigative agencies such as the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate were directly controlled by political individuals. Dubious appointments were made to these agencies. Political opponents and inconvenient business persons were harassed. The agencies whose primary job was to unearth corruption had themselves been corrupted. Courts had to regularly intervene to seek action against the possible guilty. Investing in India inherently included the risk of prosecution. Was it any wonder that investors fled the country? This had disrupted the business environment in the country.
Where do we stand one year later? The whole parade of industrialists lining up outside South Block and North Block is now over. The corridors are empty, the silence cheery. FDI increased from $20.8 billion in 2013-14 (Apr13â€“Feb14) to $28.8 billion in 2014-15 (Apr14-Feb15). The others are in advance stages of the approval process. The environment Ministry has set up institutional mechanisms whereby clearances based on objective criteria are being routinely granted. The regime of an unlegislated tax on environmental clearances is over. The spectrum auction has fetched over rupees one lakh crores. A few coal blocks being auctioned have fetched over rupees two lakh crores. There is no role of Ministers except in laying down policy. Prices are determined by a market mechanism and the successful bidder is determined by auction. The word corruption is being removed from India’s political dictionary. The environment of prosecute the investors has been completely reversed. There is a thrust towards reforms and liberalization but no crony capitalism, no harassment. The scam and scandal, corruption and retribution Raj is behind us.
With the fiscal deficit contained and Government’s revenues improving, the emphasis is now on strengthening social security and social sector schemes. Over 15 crore Jan Dhan accounts have been opened. An effort is now on to put money in those accounts. Besides, Government schemes for the weaker sections, the LPG subsidy is now being transferred directly to over 12.6 crore beneficiary households. The insurance scheme for accidental death launched on 9.5.2015, in the first nine days, has 5.57 crore policy holders. This scheme involves a premium of Rs.12/- per year. The life insurance scheme involves a premium of Rs.330/- per year and has 1.74 crore subscribers in the first 18 days. The Atal Pension Yojana has been well received. The un-pensioned section of the Indian society will become a pensioned one. The MUDRA bank will assist 5.77 crore small entrepreneurs in raising funds. The distressed farmer has been given relief under the liberalized norms. Additional money has been allocated for MGNREGA. The enhanced resources of the State will be increasingly used towards infrastructure creation, irrigation and social sector schemes. Herein lies the difference between UPA’s crony capitalism and institutional destruction and NDA’s liberalization and anti-corruption, combined with an emphasis on both strengthening institution building and social security for the poor and vulnerable.
Achievements Of Ministry Of Defence
- For speedy indigenization Government has increased the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit from 26% to 49% through approval route in August 2014. Above 49%, the proposal may be considered on case to case basis.
- Defence products list for the purpose of industrial licensing has been substantively shortened and notified.
- Government has notified a Defence Exports Strategy for faster clearance for export of defence items.
- Interactions with industry intensified through DRDO and DDP.
- Of 39 acquisition proposals approved by the Government, 32 proposals worth Rs. 88900.18 crore (95.63%) come under Buy (Indian) and Buy & Make (Indian) categories.
- Capital Acquisition Budget fully utilized.
- 26 contracts signed/indents placed during the financial year 2014-15.
TOTAL CONTRACT/INDENTED COST IS RS 64768.65 CRORE.
- Government of India and Government of France have agreed to conclude an Inter Governmental Agreement for supply of the 36 Rafale jets to Indian Air Force.
- The maiden canisterised trial of India’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Agni-5 was successfully carried out on 31st January 2015.
- Indian Navy successfully test fired indigenously developed ship launched ballistic missile Dhanush on Nov 14, 2014.
- Drop trials of first winged version of glide bomb Garuthma were conducted successfully on 19th December 2014.
- Phase IV User trials for demonstrating Trench Crossing and Step Climbing capabilities of Arjun MBT Mk-II has been completed in-Sep 2014.
- Dynamic trials of 120 mm Penetration-cum-Blast (PCB) ammunition for MBT Arjun Mk II were conducted successfully during 02-06 Jun 2014.
- An Advanced Parachute System was designed, developed and evaluated by DRDO.
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, embarked on the newly inducted India’s largest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on 13 June 2014. He dedicated the aircraft carrier to the Nation.
- A new state of the art Very Low Frequency (VLF) Transmitting Station was inaugurated on 31 July, 2014 at INS Kattaboman.
- INS Kolkata, an indigenous destroyer built at Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai, the biggest warship ever to be built in India to date, was commissioned by the Prime Minister on 16 August, 2014.
- INS Kamorta, an ASW corvette built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, Kolkata, was commissioned on 23 August, 2014.
- Offshore Patrol Vessel INS Sumitra built by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), was commissioned on 04 September, 2014.
- Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) started a new Joint Venture with “Thales” of France for production of new technology radars.
- BEL successfully manufactured Light Weight Portable radars Bharani for Army and Ash Lesha for Air Force.
- Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) inducted into Air Force. Tejas trainer PV6, the two-seater version of Tejas LCA for Air Force took its first flight. LCA (Navy) Prototype 1, the first indigenously designed and developed combat aircraft designed to operate from aircraft carriers, took-off from a Ski-Jump facility.
- The Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) created to replicate the aircraft carrier with a Ski Jump for take-off and arrested landing, became operational at INS Hansa.
- The first Su-30 MKI aircraft integrated with BrahMos Missile and 75th HAWK MK 1321 Advanced Jet Training aircraft handed over by HAL to Indian Air Force.
- Maiden flight of the upgraded strike aircraft, Jaguar Darin-III was carried out successfully on Mar 25, 2015.
- Indian Navy’s first Scorpene submarine INS Kalvari under Project 75 undocked by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) on 06.04.2015.
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND DISASTER RELIEF
- Indian Armed Forced played a significant role during various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations including Operation Megh Rahat during floods in J&K, Operation Lehar during cyclone HUDHUD in the Coastal Andhra Pradesh region, Operation Phuktal during formation of the artificial lake due to landslide in River Phuktal, controlling massive forest fire near Vishakapatnam, supply of over 2400 tonnes of water to Maldives during crisis situation due to failure of de-salination water systems, evacuation of Indian and Foreign nationals from Yemen and Opertaion Maitri during Earthquake in Nepal.
- The first ever Warship, built by GRSE, Kolkata, was exported to the Government of Mauritius and was Handed Over to the Govt. of Mauritius on 20th December, 2014. India also handed over a Fast Attack Craft INS Tarasa to Seychelles Coast Guard.
Joint exercises with militaries of several foreign countries such as United States, UK, Russia, Japan, Singapore and China were held.
Achievements Of Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched Mission Indradhanush, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, to fully immunise more than 89 lakh children who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated; those that have not been covered during the rounds of routine immunisation for various reasons. They will be fully immunised against seven life-threatening but vaccine preventable diseases which include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis-B. In addition, vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis and Haemophilus influenza type B will be provided in selected districts/states of the country. Pregnant women will also be immunised against tetanus.
The first round of the first phase started from 7 April 2015-World health Day- in 201 high focus districts in 28 states and carried for more than a week. This will be followed by three rounds of more than a week in the months of April, May June and July 2015, starting from 7th of each month. The 201 high focus districts account for nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children in the country. Of these, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and account for nearly 25% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of the country.
Within the districts, the Mission will focus on 4,00,000 high risk settlements identified as pockets with low coverage due to geographic, demographic, ethnic and other operational challenges. These include nomads and migrant labour working on roads, construction sites, riverbed mining areas, brick kilns, and those living in remote and inaccessible geographical areas and urban slums, and the underserved and hard to reach populations dwelling in forested and tribal areas.
Total of 297 districts will be targeted in the second phase to commence from September 2015.
Â MATERNAL AND NEONATAL TETANUS ELIMINATED (MNTE) FROM THE COUNTRY
Total of 32 States/UTs have been validated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) and the formal communication from WHO has been received. For the remaining four states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Jammu & Kashmir, field visits have been conducted by the joint team of WHO and UNICEF and the parameters for MNTE validation were found to be satisfactory. However, the formal communication from WHO is expected in two months.\
This has been possible through systems strengthening including improvement of institutional delivery which is also a proxy indicator for clean delivery and clean cord care practices and by strengthening Routine Immunization. Strategies to improve clean delivery have been included in the innovative Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK).
Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) is defined as less than one neonatal tetanus case per thousand live births per year in every district. In 1989, global deaths from Neonatal Tetanus (NT) were estimated at 7.87 lakh per year of which India contributed approximately 2 lakh deaths.
NATIONAL HEALTH PORTAL (NHP)
The National Health Portal (http:/nhp.gov.in) was launched on 14 November 2014 to provide authentic healthcare information to the citizens of the country. It aims to:
- Improve health literacy
- Improve access to health services
- Decrease burden of disease by educating citizens on preventive aspects of various diseases
- It is available in five languages English, Hindi, Tamil, Bangla, and Gujarati.
NATIONAL HEALTH POLICY-2015
The Ministry has formulated the Draft National Health Policy, 2015 and placed it in public domain on 30th December, 2014 for wide stakeholder consultation. The feedback received from the stakeholders is presently being analysed.
The aim of the National Health Policy 2015 is to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of the Government in shaping health systems in the country. This covers investment in the health
sector, organization and financing of healthcare services, prevention of diseases and promotion of good health through cross sectoral action, access to technologies, developing human resources, encouraging medical pluralism, building the knowledge base required for better health, financial protection strategies and regulation and legislation for health.
Modi Still Popular In Masses
As Narendra Modi completes a year in the government, surveys conducted by various news agencies agree on one thing: Modi sarkar still continues to enjoy great popularity across the nation.
The Times of India: Its front page report stated that its Ipsos poll survey revealed that with 77.5 per cent rating, Modi government got distinction in its first year.
India Today: Fifty-six per cent respondents in the India Today Group-Cicero snap poll rated the BJP-led NDA government’s performance as good.
ABP News: According to ABP News-Neilson opinion poll, around 61 per cent people across Indian think PM Modi’s performance as the head of the Indian government is above average.
IBN: The survey showed that over 72 per cent were satisfied with the Modi government’s performance. 56 per cent felt that Modi is effective as a Prime Minister.
Livemint: Modi had an approval rating of 74 per cent in a survey, down from 82 per cent last August.