From economic reforms like demonetisation and GST to the beef ban and the surgical strikes on terrorism – some of the NDA’s policy decisions have garnered applause while others have attracted criticism.
But a government is not only successful because of the policy decisions they make, but also by how they react to unpredictable trends and random occurrences around the country – do they immediately hold press conferences to make sure the countries citizens are briefed on how an emergency situation is being handled, or do they leave everyone in the dark, wondering “What next?”. Does the government focus on unifying the country in times of crisis, or does it divide the population? Is it tough on crime, or nepotistic in doling out punishments?
In this 2 part series, we cover headlines – a combination of unpredictable trends and random occurrences – that could make or break the NDA.
1. India Conducts Surgical Strikes Across Line Of Control, Takes Out Pak Terrorists
In September 2016, four heavily armed terrorists attacked an army base in Uri, killing 19 military personel. The Pakistan-based terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) was suspected of perpetrating the attack. In retaliation, the Indian Army and PM Modi successfully executed a ‘surgical strike’ across the Line of Control (LoC) targetting terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. Then in February 2019, a suicide bomber identified as Adil Ahmad Dar from the JeM, rammed a car filled with explosives into a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway near Pulwama. As a result, 40 security personnel were killed in what was the deadliest attack against the Indian army in Kashmir since 1989. Once again, the Indian government retaliated with a surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan.
Both these surgical strikes were met with applause for the NDA and PM Modi. They’ve not only received appreciation from the public but have been lauded across party lines, evoking a sense of national pride for everyone in the country, and creating nation-wide support for the Indian Army. Through this decisive and speedy retaliation against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, PM Modi painted himself as a leader who is not only a statesman, but can be counted on to lead military operations too. The slogan – ‘War On Terrorism’ – can be very powerful in commanding public opinion. It’s what helped secure George Bush a second term of power in 2004 and allowed the US to ravage Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. Considering India’s traditionally hostile relationship with Pakistan, if our ‘War On Terrorism’ is aimed at Pakistan, it is bound to create public support for the NDA and could help Modi secure a second term too.
2. India rescues 1,000 nationals from Yemen
Yemen has been in clutch-hold of a civil war since 2014, and the conflict worsened in 2015, when Saudi Arabia joined the conflict. Airstikes over Yemeni cities were becoming commonplace, killing hundreds daily. Many of the people caught in this crossfire were not Yemen natives, they were expats from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Britain, France, the United States, etc. So, in April 2015, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), led by Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, launched the ‘Operation Rahat’ to evacuate Indians from the war-torn country. More than 4,000 people were evacuated, including foreigners from 26 countries other countries as well. Besides Operation Rahat, the NDA-led Government has successfully conducted similar operations in Iraq, where 46 nurses were rescued from the hold of ISIS in 2014 and 168 more trapped there were rescued in 2015. During the 2015 Nepal earthquake, the MEA launched Operation Maitri and evacuated over 500 people trapped there. They also dispatched tons of food packets, dry rations, water, medicines, tents and blankets to Kathmandu.
India’s MEA has a long-standing tradition of coming to rescue of people stranded in wars and natural disasters, but under the NDA and Sushma Swaraj, this tradition has gone a step further. From saving people from being trafficked to helping them get speedy passports in an emergency situation, the list of the MEA’s accomplishments is long and impressive. This steadfastness has created a sense of security in the minds of native Indians and Indians abroad. They feel like the Indian government will always have their back, and will be there to help in times of crisis. This feeling could go a long way in extending the term of this government.
3. Resolution under IBC: Creditors recover Rs 50,000cr
An extremely fragile banking sector and a pile of non-performing assets (NPA) were one of the biggest challenges that the NDA government inherited. There was a strong case to suggest that there was politically motivated lending by public sector during the UPA 1 and UPA 2 that led to the NPAs growing out of control. In the light of such circumstances, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha in 2016. It sought to consolidate the earlier framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. It is a one-stop solution for resolving the issue of insolvency and bad debt of a company by making the process faster and more streamlined. Because of the code, creditors have recovered almost 56% of their admitted claims, thus bringing back around Rs. 50,000 crore back into the economy.
The law has undoubtedly been revolutionary, and a hallmark of the NDA along with other important reforms like the deregulation of petrol and diesel prices, opening up to more foreign direct investment (FDI), shifting to Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT), the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and improving the ease of doing business in India, as a result of which India jumped from 140th nation on the list to 100th in the World Bank rankings. The success of the government towards making business easy in India can definitely contribute towards the possible success of the NDA in the Lok Sabha elections.
4. PM Narendra Modi launches bank accounts for all
Including as many people into India’s economy as possible has been one of the foremost goals of the NDA government since the day it took over the country’s executive. Just months after taking office, PM Modi announced the Prathan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in August 2014, with the aim to get atleast 75 million people to open bank accounts for the first time and reduce the circulation of unaccountable cash as much as possible. In 3 years time, by August 2017, the government helped open more than 294 million accounts under the scheme, with additional benefits in the form of debit cards, insurance cover, and overdraft facilities. This increased bank account use has brought marginalized groups into the financial mainstream. Another NDA programme, the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has been most effective in eliminating layers of intermediaries in subsidy transfers, has helped curb middleman corruption in implementing benefit schemes for the poor and marginalized.
There have been various other policy initiatives by the government like the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, which offered life cover of Rs. 2 Lakh to people at just Rs. 330 per annum, and Ayushman Bharat, popularly known as ‘Modicare’, which provides 5 lakh medical coverage to 50 crore Indians, as well. All these social welfare schemes make India’s poor more financially literate, independent and stable. They’ve been well-received by the Indian middle class and the lower socio-economic strata of the country. This demographic of India is probably the largest and most influencial when it comes to elections, the fact that the NDA has prioritized their financial needs is bound to help swing votes in their direction this summer.
5. Swachh Bharat Grameen Confirms Usage of 96% of its Toilets
On 2nd October, 2014, PM Narendra Modi launched the ‘Swacch Bharat’ campaign. The aim was to create a clean and open defecation-free India by triggering a behavioural change about sanitation and cleanliness. The NDA-led government said they would fund the construction of toilets at homes and in communities around the country to control the diseases and crimes connected with open defection. Through heavily circulated awareness programs and highly publicised cleanliness drives, the government created a buzz like never before about the issue of keeping Bharat swacch. The strong political will and inspiring leadership behind the programme makes the fact that 96% of rural India is now apparently open defecation-free a very unique and impressive achievement.
And it’s not just toilets and sanitation. The NDA, led by PM Modi has also made great strides in environmental conservation. At the international level, PM Modi has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change. At COP21, under his leadership, India has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030. He also vowed to abolish all single-use plastic by 2022.All this combined with the big announcements on environment can go a long way in winning people’s hearts in upcoming elections.
The last 5 years haven’t been all good. Just like these headlines could make the NDA, there are a number of headlines that could contribute to them losing the 2019 election as well. Read about those here.