Dr. R Balashankar
It is not an exaggeration to say that “leadership is about changing lives, leadership is about reinventing possibilities to improve living standards of the most neglected and deprived”. The NDA government in the last four years has sincerely tried to make a difference, transform and better the lifestyle of the poorest Indian.
The Modi government has devised many schemes to directly reach benefits to 310 million families so far. The target is to touch every Indian by 2022 through these programmes. Instead of giving populist doles to the poor, which used to be the practice with previous governments Modi government devised schemes to empower the poor to stand on their own feet providing them with the basic support to move out of the vicious circle of poverty and indebtedness. In the process Narendra Modi redesigned the economic architecture by trying to redistribute wealth, widening tax base and strengthening the last mile delivery, mechanism. This will transform the society, make it accountable and law abiding and force the crooks to crave for cover.
Today, India is the fastest growing economy at a rate of 7.5 per cent. India‘s GDP in current prices increased by 31% between 2013 & 2017 while the Global GDP increased by 4%. Inflation which was 9.5 per cent under the UPA has been steady at 3.5 per cent under Modi government. Till 2014, India had built 93000 KM of national highways, which today has grown to 1,23,000 KM Modi had inherited a power situation mired in scams and scarcity. Today India is power surplus. Not only that for the first time 19000 villages have got electricity under the Ujala Yojana which is to light up every village in the country. 35 million families have got free cooking gas connection out of a target of reaching it to 80 million families.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, 15 million new houses have been built, in the 2022 target of Modi for house for all. The new toilets built under the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan are 750 million. The Mudra Yojana has benefited 120 million families by providing with small loans to start a new living. Modi Care, the new health insurance scheme to provide five lakh to each poor family for medical care will target to cover one third of the population.
In the last four years the rural road building progressed at 139 KM per day which used to be 69 KM per day till 2014. Last year India received the largest number of tourists in history, because of the 45 per cent increase in aviation capacity and 30 per cent growth in hotel accommodation.
Linking Aadhar as the ultimate identity of an Indian, Jandhan Yojana which enrolled 210 million new bank account holders are two other flag ship projects of the government. An IIT and an AIIMS in every state is a new approach to uplift education and healthcare. The highest number of minority children has received scholarship for higher studies under Modi Government. Marrying economics with social welfare has been the biggest achievement of Modi. The success of Demonetisation and GST has to be seen in this light. It played a major role in eliminating corruption, black money, fake notes and tax evasion. The two adventurous economic disruptions bestowed Modi the mantle of the Socialist Messiah and made him the darling of the poor and downtrodden. The schemes were criticized, many experts including former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh predicted economic downslide and doom, but Modi pulled them off with great aplomb. It is the conviction to take up challenging economic reforms and stay the course in the midst of adverse reactions that earned Modi the new political base and approval rating.
He has lifted an economy which had lost all hopes of a turn around because of corruption, low growth rate, policy paralysis, high inflation, slackening FDI inflow and capital flight. The India story had almost been written off. The world had started telling “that used to be India”. The country that had fallen to the lowest in the ease of doing business created a world record by notching up 50 points in just two years. This is the Modi miracle. Agriculture growth has almost doubled in the last four years, though farm distress is still an issue. Modi has promised to double the farmer income in five years, a herculean task in the present situation. The high fuel prices are a problem area. This is a hangover of the Socialist past which thought fuel a luxury item. Modi has inherited a whopping NPA problem to the tune of 10 lakh crore. This has shattered the capital base of PSU banks. This cannot have accumulated without political loot. Bringing the culprits to book and gallows is a major challenge for Modi. The NPA tackling and bank recapitalization are gathering momentum.
Modi has laid a solid foundation for the economy to grow. This is election years. If Modi is judged on the scales of words and deeds, he has redeemed his promises well and ignited hopes for the future. For 2019, he practically has no challenger.
Restructured the economic architecture of the country, redistributed wealth and empowered the poor to stand on their own feet. This is not a small achievement.
(The author is a political analyst and member BJP Committees on Training and Publications)