In the 5 years in power, BJP has had a lot of hits and misses. And with the elections nearing, it’s time for us to access the past years and prop up a Modi Report Card. So how do we go about doing that?
Consider yourself a teacher and PM Modi/BJP your student. In order to move to the next class (gain another election term), BJP needs to score stars in different subjects. And you are the one to decide the score.
So let’s analyse how the party fares in solving India’s core problems and give it stars (out of 5).
Remarks: The Great Indian Aadhaar Heist
Aadhaar has become an essential part of people’s lives giving them a legal identity and it proves the efficiency of the government. According to a research by the Medium, today, 1.2 billion people (99% of the population) have an Aadhaar card. And as for the remaining 1%, every day, more than 7 lakh people register for an Aadhaar through the UIDAI online portal.
The government initially designed it simply as a biometric database, but it is now used for a wide array of economic and social doles like bank accounts, mobile phone and gas connections, direct cash subsidies for food and fertilizers, medical insurance, pensions, and other government schemes.
But while the Aadhaar has only proved more and more fruitful over time, there’s still so much haze and confusion surrounding it. In a country like India with high illiteracy and ruralization, simply understanding the importance of the card can be an issue. A lot of people are still unaware that Aadhaar is connected to subsidies and schemes, because of which they lose out on these benefits.
Secondly, the methods used by the government to register are so unreliable, that they have led to a lot of discrepancies (like duplication of cards, trees have Aadhaar, etc.). This can also lead to misuse in banking transactions and individual information being compromised, thus making the benefits of the card moot. And finally, there’s a big question of security of information.
It’s highly important to protect the data of 1.2 billion people, the loss of which can act as food for the dark web and organised crime. We’ve already heard news of the Aadhaar system being hacked before allowing unauthorised persons, based anywhere in the world, to generate Aadhaar numbers at will.
So to sum it up, the Aadhaar was a brilliant idea to bring the whole nation under one register and smoothen government functioning, for which it deserves 5 stars. But the massive security costs attached with it and previous hacks, have brought it down to 4 stars in the Modi report.
Read more about privacy concerns over your Aadhaar card.
Subject: Education and Development
Remarks: Let’s play School-school
According to the MHRD budget documents, the government spent only 2.7% of the GDP on education 2018, compared to 3.1% in 2013. This seems appalling considering MHRD Head Prakash Javadekar’s earlier statements to increase education budget to 6%.
Not just this, but the BJP has taken many controversial decisions in the education arena like the unplanned closure of 2 lakh government schools, RTE’s ‘no detention’ policy, replacing French with Sanskrit in schools mid-semester, rewriting history textbooks, etc. Add to this, issues like Rohith Vemula’s suicide and attack on the Aligarh Muslim University, and you get a recipe for a messed up department. Not to mention, Smriti Irani’s innumerable controversies during her stint as MHRDM – conflict over the autonomy of IIM, separate eating space for vegetarian students in IITs, her fake education degrees, etc.
But despite all this, some of the government’s policies brought more good than any of the previous controversies could dare negate.
For example, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BJP’s flagship scheme) has put lakhs of girls in schools and increased the sex ratio in state schools from 860 to 920.
It has also prevented hundreds of cases of child marriage and female foeticide in India’s villages. And just for this, the Modi report score in the Education section goes up to 4 stars.
Subject: Poverty Alleviation
Remarks: Gareebi gareeb hatao
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was the government’s scheme to address rural poverty and low income by offering employment guarantee. MGNREGA is the largest rural employment scheme in the world.
Under the scheme, each year adult members of rural households are guaranteed 100 days of employment in unskilled manual labour at a minimum wage. It is not a demand-driven programme but its success depends on its acceptance at the state and local level. It has, however, failed to rise up to public expectations. Most of the funds set aside for rural employment haven’t been transferred to local authorities to even hire labour for 100 days. And after GST, families are in even more of a need for MGNREGA jobs.
A survey conducted by All India Trade Union Congress found out that a fifth of India’s small businesses which contribute to 32% to the economy and give 11 million jobs (especially to rural population), faced 20% fall in profits. And as a result of GST, these companies laid off hundreds of labour class employees, making MGNREGA more significant than ever. The same survey noted that India’s unemployment rose from 4.1% to 6.4% in July 2017. Keeping this in mind, the government has clearly failed to improve the poverty situation in India giving it a mere 2 stars.
Subject: Farmer Problems
Remarks: The hungry farmer paradox
As per a report by the Hindustan Times, agricultural production in India has dropped in the past 4 years. Compared to an average growth rate of 5.2% per annum between 2010-2014, the agricultural growth rate has dropped to 2.4% per annum between 2014 – 2018.
India produced more foodgrains in 2017 than ever before, and the government’s agriculture budget rose 111% over four years since 2014, as India Spend reported in January 2018. Yet prices crashed, unpaid agricultural loans grew 20% over the year to 2017, and 600 million Indians who depend on farming struggled to get by. The average income of a farmer across 17 states was merely Rs. 20,000 a year, which is Rs. 1,666 per month.
Considering the inflation rate and cost of living in India, this is too low an income. As a result, farmers started facing rising indebtedness, financial insecurity, and massive depression.
This led to over 36,000 farmer suicides between 2014 and 2016, and a series of kisan protests across the nation. In 2014, the BJP had promised that farmers would receive “50% profit above the cost of production and the MSP.” But that promise never materialised. Moreover, the Modi government had also promised waivers to farmers who had taken heavy loans for expensive crops and farming machinery. But the government made a joke of that promise too. In UP, for example, they first extorted thousands of rupees in bribes from farmers for processing their loan waiver documents, and then, when the farmers were finally given waivers, it was in the form of 10 rupee cheques.
The same thing happened in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Add to this the limited success of PMKSY and PMFBY – the government’s flagship schemes for farmer problems.
Farmers feel that they have no place in today’s economy. The government’s failed promises, schemes, and low budget allocation to agriculture (6%) are the reasons for this feeling.
For this huge farmer crisis in India and the government’s well motivated but failed efforts, it gets only 2 stars.
Remarks: Lost your job? Pakode becho
Narendra Modi came to power on the promise of creating 1 crore jobs for the youth every year. But in the past 5 years, we got only 20 lakhs every year.
According to a recent survey, India’s unemployment rate increased to 6.1% in February 2018 making us the most unemployed country in the world.
As per data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, there are currently 31 million people in India looking for a job.
This is obviously the reason why we are seeing so many youth protests today – demanding more quota in jobs. But amidst all the youth anger, came PM Modi’s Pakodanomics jab that understated the country’s unemployment problem. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in January 2018 stated that street food vendors (selling pakodas) should also be considered in employment statistics and hence unemployment in the country is actually much lower than statistically reported.
Since then, Pakodanomics also became a light-hearted reference to the economic policies of the government and there were many comedic references at campaign rallies and on television. Modiji’s idea that highly qualified unemployed youth should open a pakoda shop rather than asking for the government for jobs, has become a big bone of contention in BJP’s reelection in 2019. But regardless of this jab, the country is still facing massive joblessness with no solution in sight. And for this, we only add 1 star to Modi report.
Modi report is filled with good, bad and ugly. But which of them will prove more dominant in determining BJP’s reelection? Only time will tell.