Wednesday, June 29th, 2022 09:32:57

Brand India Modi-Style

Updated: June 2, 2016 4:03 pm

The Modi government completed two years last week and the performance bell of the government is ringing loud. Narendra Modi as a leader has become more prominent in Indian politics as well as in international arena. But the performance of the government as a whole is yet to fulfil the so-called “huge expectations”. The BJP is a cadre-based party and it is very important to take care of the ideological family, which is also waiting to happen. But yes the government has adhered to the ideological moorings of the party. Rising price of essential commodities is still a nightmare that is haunting the government. Reforms that were expected in different fields from this government are still in pipeline. For the first time, the Congress played a decisive role as an Opposition party and their message to the government is clear that “Modi means business” was a political stunt. Here, let me emphasise the fact that central to our idea of India is the affirmation of its diversity. The bedrock of the Indian republic is the promise that all its citizens can find space, in which they live freely, confident that all their basic necessities will be taken care of, and they will be equally protected by the law of the land. When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, 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 two years, they have been proven thoroughly incorrect and this is substantiated by PM Modi’s total commitment to all-round development of the country. His commitment can be gauged by the fact that during the last two years, 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. And it will be the government’s economic performance that is likely to determine its future trajectory. India’s economy seems to be doing well at the moment, with estimates suggesting that the country has overtaken China as the world’s fastest growing economy. At a time when major global economies are shrinking against the backdrop of a strong American dollar and falling commodity prices, India remains one of the few bright spots. When Modi inherited office in May 2014, retail inflation was 8.28 per cent; it was at 5.39 per cent in April this year. According to Moody’s, country’s economic growth is expected to reach 7.6 per cent this year, compared with the 7.2 per cent in 2014. India also replaced China as the top destination for foreign direct investment last year, largely on account of the push from the Modi government to increase manufacturing through “Make In India” initiative. Firm leadership, ending drift in decision making, fiscal discipline and respect for monetary policy autonomy helped.

In fact, during the last two years, 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 a brilliant track record of working for the poor. As news of farmers’ suicides make headlines, a ray of hope has come in the form of a crop insurance scheme–Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana. The government has also launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna, under which 5 crore BPL [below poverty line] households will be provided subsidised LPG cylinders over the next three years. The target for the current fiscal year is 1.5 crore households. The Budget 2016-17 announced three major initiatives related to health: Health insurance, Jan Aushadhi Yojna and dialysis programme. 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. One major reform initiative, the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST) – to subsume all indirect taxes such as excise duty and service tax into a single standard rate – has yet not been implemented. Otherwise, the Modi government is galloping on the path of development. Yet a section of media and intelligentsia, based on their sample surveys, paints the Modi government’s achievements to be a mirage, which is a matter of serious debate whether the common man is happy with the government or not. 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.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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