We are at roughly the halfway mark of the NDA-2 Government under PM Narendra Modi. Before the elections, the Modi campaign had promised that citizens would witness ‘Acche Din’ (Good Days) if they voted for the NDA coalition. It is natural for citizens and opposition parties to ask – are we seeing ‘acche din’?
In a country as vast and diverse as Bharat, the parameters to answer this question can vary a lot. But broadly speaking, the answer must be based on two essential criteria –
1.) Is there relative improvement in governance compared to the previous Government?
2.) Are the bulk of the citizens optimistic about the future and seeing a visible change in their lives?
Parameter # 1: Is there improvement compared to UPA-2?
At an equivalent same time in the last Government’s (UPA-2) term, i.e. 29 Sept 2011 – the main page of Times Of India was as below –
As we can see, the main news was the 2G spectrum scam. For those who a need a reminder, this was a scandal in which politicians and officials under the Indian National Congress (Congress) coalition UPA government undercharged mobile telephone companies for frequency allocation licenses, leading to a loss of INR 1.76 lakh crores for the exchequer.
The 2G scam was first broken in Dec 2008 by J Gopikrishnan of The Pioneer paper, but came to national limelight only after the Radia Tapes (series of taped conversations between Nira Radia, a lobbyist, and senior journalists, politicians and bureaucrats) became public in Nov 2010 and spread like wildfire on social media after initial censorship by most mainstream media outlets.
The stench of corruption & mal-governance under UPA rule had started spreading when the CWG (Commonwealth Games) scam broke in 2010. By Sept 2011, the Jan Lokpal and India Against Corruption (IAC) movements had also shaken the whole country.
Today, big ticket corruption has totally vanished from the highest levels of Government. Yes, corruption still exists in many states and at the municipal level – but the change in mindsets and adoption of IT (Information Technology) which is being driven from the top will filter down as we go along.
So, on the first parameter, we can give a resounding YES – Modi sarkar is far better than the corrupt UPA/Congress sarkar.
Parameter # 2: Are citizens seeing visible change and feeling optimistic?
A recent Pew survey showed that 81% of Bharatiyas have a favorable view of PM Modi and 80% think the economy is doing well. Two-thirds (65%) of the public are satisfied with the direction of the country – a 36 percentage points increase since 2013.
The survey shows that most Bharatiyas beliveve Bharat plays a growing role on the world stage – while citizens largely approve of his foreign policy, the only blip for Modi sarkar is the 50% disapproval of his handling of Pakistan. With today’s news that Bharat has conducted surgical strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan, and the review of MFN status and Indus Water treaty – looks like the message has reached the Government.
So, there is no doubt that people are happy with how the Modi sarkar has done and are optimistic that more ‘acche din’ are round the corner.
But perceptions aside, is there visible change? The just-released Global Competetive Index (GCI) by WEF (World Economic Forum) shows that Bharat has jumped 32 places in the last 2 years. The reasons given for this rise would be heartening for citizens mired in hopelessness under the previous UPA regime –
Here are some of the other key stats & assessment of investors that prove how things have changed on the ground–
- At 7.6% in FY16, Bharat is now the fastest growing large economy, up from 7.2% the previous year.
- FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflows rise 40% on Make in India initiative. Bharat hits eight-year high in FDI inflows ($44 billion), says UN trade agency report
- Inflation is half of what it was 2 years ago, budget deficit has shrunk to 3.9% of GDP from 4.4% in 2014.
- Bharat has moved up by 12 places to 130 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking over last 2 years.
- Power sector has witnessed a complete turnaround – e-auction of coal blocks, highest ever capacity addition of 46,738 MW in conventional power attained in 2014-16, energy deficit down to 2.1% in 2015-16 (lowest ever)
- Surface transport sector is performing well – highway construction has picked up pace, inland waterways are being developed and efficiency of ports has increased – Bharat has jumped 19 places on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI).
- Railways is undergoing major structural reforms to decongest and improve customer service.
- Bharat at takeoff stage, growing faster than China: Mark Mobius, Franklin Templeton Investments
- Investors upbeat over Bharat’s reforms push such as GST, insolvency law etc: Boston Consulting Group
Social sector schemes
- JAM (Jan Dhan bank accounts, Aadhar, Mobile) – Around 20 crore bank accounts opened under PMJDY, over 12 crore people opt for social security cover (insurance schemes)
- Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) for around 35-40 schemes and approximately Rs 40,000 crores were directly transferred to the beneficiaries in 2015
- Sum insured under PMFBY (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana) jumps over 70% in kharif 2016
- MUDRA, in which of the Rs 1.2 trillion of loans disbursed in 2015-16, nearly half went to 3 crore borrowers with an average ticket size of Rs 19,000.
- The Ujwala Yojana launched recently aims to provide subsidized LPG connections to 5 crore BPL (below-poverty-line) households over next 3 years – over 25 lakh connections have been released.
A lot more remains to be done – especially in areas like law & order, judicial reform (intransigence of Supreme Court is a major hurdle) – but there is no denying that we are on the right track.
Many Hindus who worked passionately for the LS 2014 campaign are legitimately disheartened that nothing has been done on Ram Mandir, UCC, Article 370, and what @realitycheckind calls the #CoreRight agenda – revoking RTE, freeing temples from Government control, removing sectarian grants/scholarships etc. We must continue to argue cogently on these issues, create mass awareness and engage with the Government to advocate our cause.
Those who are derisively called ‘bhakts’ have proven to be the most informed & balanced critics of the Modi sarkar, and must continue to channel their feedback to the Government.
But the bottom-line is that for millions of citizens of Bharat who were suffering from despondency in 2013, Modi sarkar has indeed delivered ‘acche din’. Modi-haters and cynics can crack all the ‘acche din’ meme jokes they want, people of this country have seen the qualitative difference in governance delivered by Narendra Modi and will continue to back him over the other dispiriting options like Sonia, Rahul, Nitsh, Lalu, Mulayam, Mamta, Kejriwal, Yechury etc.