Modi government began on the hope and promise of Acche Din. But, it also came to power riding on huge hype! Hope and hype together can be very difficult to sustain. When the hype is huge – and the Indian cricket team should be able to confirm this – even a few minor failures can be seen as huge disasters. And especially when hope has just been rekindled into a disillusioned mass – Arvind Kejriwal might be able to second this – a few setbacks can make people more sceptical than they ever were previously.
In this context of extreme hope and hype, has the Modi government been able to perform well? Has it lived up to expectations? Has it performed better than previous Indian governments? Are people able to perceive the change for which they brought a new government into power? Are things moving as quickly as one was hoping for, or were our hopes far exceeding the possibilities of an executive rotten with red-tape and corruption? If judged on a scale of 100, what would the Modi government score as of today?
Key Parameters to measure government performance
We bring to you a detailed scorecard of Modi government’s first year in power. As the government implies the executive arm of our Constitution, we have analyzed its performance along 3 key parameters, the 3 Ps – Policies and Projects, Power and Partnerships, and Perception.
- Policies and Projects: Setting the right direction for policies, and initiating and executing key projects is the core of any government. Its overall importance in our scorecard is 40%.
- Power and Partnerships: The first year of any government is a big test on how it is able to take along the other 2 pillars of our Constitution – its judiciary and legislature (the Parliament) and it also sets a working chemistry for the future. It also sets the stage for co- operation between central and state governments. Hence, these power equations and partnerships get a weight as high as 40% in the first year.
- Perception: In the age of media, a government’s perception assumes high significance. A good international perception can bring in greater economic benefits to the country. A good domestic perception across all sections of society can bring in a sense of optimism, and rejuvenate faith in the government. Hence government perception, both in India and abroad, is given a weight of 20%.
Our scorecard rates the overall performance of the Modi sarkar a 76 out of 100. A detailed breakdown of this score is given below:
Modi Sarkar scores 33 out of 40 in Power and Partnerships. Despite a minority position in Rajya Sabha, the government has done exceedingly well in being able to conduct the affairs of the Parliament smoothly. It has also set a good working chemistry with the state governments, but the National Judicial Accountability (NJAC) Bill has been a source of friction between the government and the judiciary.
Modi Sarkar scores 30 out of 40 in Policies and Projects. Modi Sarkar has done reasonably well in setting initial policy direction with an emphasis on bills like Land Acquisition Bill (LAB), and a unified Goods and Services Tax (GST). It has also overcome the policy paralysis which it inherited from the UPA government, and brought about a positive reversal on coal and spectrum auction policies. But it needs to show far greater resolve in pushing through land, labour and tax reforms despite the opposition in the Upper House of Parliament.
Modi Sarkar scores 13 out of 20 in Perception. The government has failed in maintaining the perception of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas which was the guiding motto of the government. This failure has been prominent on the domestic front with minorities feeling threatened on account of emboldened fringe elements. In some part though, the fault also lies with the media for creating false perceptions like in the case of Christian attacks where almost all the attacks were eventually discovered to be law and order problems, and not communal attacks http://www.opindia.com/2015/03/is-a-community-under-attack-or-a-prime-minister/ ). The government has done poorly in countering these biased perceptions.
Let us delve deeper into the 3 Ps and see how the government has delivered on each parameter:
Policies and Projects – Key highlights
The overall direction of the government is in favour of economic liberalization, an increase in FDIs and FIIs, and industry-favouring reforms like LAB and GST. Further, the government’s dismantling of extra-constitutional bodies like NAC, and its involving of the citizens in crowd sourcing of policies through mygov.in has been a credible success. Though the overall policy direction seems to be right, the government needs to show greater resolve on key bills like GST and LAB, and should not hesitate in calling a joint session of the Parliament instead of delaying it through referral to standing committees. Hence, the government scores an average 10 out of 15 on direction and strength of policy.
The government has introduced innovative projects like Swachch Bharat which have directly involved the masses through social media and celebrities, and have resulted in the creation of over 7 lakh toilets in the country. It has also come up with social security schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, and insurance and pension schemes for the poor. But the government has not shown enough gumption to dilute ineffective schemes like MNREGA. Also, many of its policies like FDI in insurance seem like repackaged UPA policies. Thus, it scores an average 7 out of 10 on nature of policies and projects.
But, the government scores a high 13 out of 15 in increasing the efficiency of bureaucracy. The bureaucracy has become more proactive due to a disciplined council of ministers. India’s track record of being poor in disaster management like in case of Uttarakhand floods has been completely transformed, and we are setting standards in emergency response situations in the world today providing rescue support to multiple nations from high risk zones like Yemen. But there is still a long way to go for a similar alacrity to be seen in the grassroots-level officers and for the common man to receive the benefits of the programs initiated by the government.
Power and Partnerships – Key highlights
The Modi government has shown an innovative and effective technique in dealing with opposition parties, and state governments led by these parties. He shared the revenue earned by coal block auctioning directly with the states, and also accepted all the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. Since Modi as Gujarat CM suffered due to poor centre-state relations during the UPA tenure, he seems to have increased the role of states in decision making. This has provided him issue-based support on key bills from even staunch opponents like the TMC, and a score of 14 out of 15 on co-operative federalism.
Modi’s focus on getting key laws passed has increased attendance in Parliament and also improved its productivity to 121%. Politicians working overtime is a rare sight in the Indian Parliament but this feat has been achieved by Modi in multiple sessions of the Parliament. Despite these positives, the lack of majority in Rajya Sabha still remains a sore issue for the government especially in expediting key reforms in the country. Overall, it scores a commendable 12 out of 15 for managing its relationship with the legislature.
But the relationship with judiciary has not been completely smooth. The NJAC bill, which many in the legal system believe compromises on judicial independence, is intended at reducing nepotism and partial appointments which the judiciary is plagued with. Though India needs massive judicial reforms, NJAC is a double edged sword and Modi would need to be careful that we do not see another A.N. Ray as CJI, who was known for telephoning the then PM Indira Gandhi for advice! Hence, the government gets 7 out of 10 on its relationship with the judiciary.
The international brand image of India has improved dramatically with Modi asserting himself abroad and positively engaging with the Indian diaspora. He has also created a paradigm shift in the way Indian demands like a permanent seat on the UN Security Council are being perceived – from mere requests to earned rights. People are seeing India as a bright spot in the gloomy world economy, and Modi scores a high 9 out of 10 in creating positive perception of India abroad.
Nonetheless, the domestic perception of the government has gone for a toss where it scores a mere 4 out of 10. This is because the government has not been able to rein in fringe elements that are making remarks on the entire spectrum from weird to outright offensive. The government motto of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas needs to not only be the guiding force for the executive, but also should be visible to the common man. After all, for a government to run smoothly, it is essential that it has good faith of all sections of Indian society.
Another glaring hole on the perception front has been the government’s inadequate response to the biased coverage by the media ranging from genuine mistakes, to blatant lies and falsities like in the nun-rape case which was perpetrated by Bangladeshi Muslims, and in law and order problems which were given a completely communal hue by being called attacks on Christians. This issue is further compounded by ineffective loud-decibel spokespersons of the BJP. Strong action by the government against fringe elements especially among the BJP legislators, and a good professional team on the lines of its campaign team Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG) could go a long way in changing this situation.
So, the bigger question still remains – has the first year of Modi been a success? Yes and No. A big No for anyone who believed (after all the election hype) that Modi would score 120 out of 100 in governance. Anyone who expected Acche Din within a year of Modi Sarkar will also certainly be disappointed.
But, for anyone who has the patience to wait and watch the length of the entire 5 years, this year has not been at all bad. It is far better than the previous UPA government, and would be one of the most productive first year governments in the history of the country. The direction is right, the vision is right. Now, what is needed is a little more courage to push through the tough reforms, effort to ensure that the minorities don’t feel threatened, and willingness to strengthen constitutional mechanisms like CVC and CIC which can go a long way in bringing about the much touted Acche Din.
May 2014 was full of hope and hype. After one year of governance, the hype has subdued a fair bit. But, the hope for Acche Din still remains. People are not disillusioned with this government, and still believe in Modi. After such incredulous hype, the fact that the government has still been able to sustain this hope in the hearts of people is a great achievement. The group which got together in May 2013 for its initial meeting with Modi, and later formed CAG, still believes in his potential and that is certainly no mean feat. Yet, this is just the beginning and only the next 4 years will show whether Acche Din will truly arrive and whether the faith in this government will sustain till May 2019.
In the first year, the scorecard reads 76 out of 100. It’s definitely a first class with distinction for Modi Sarkar this time!
– by Shreyans Mehta
Shreyans completed his MBA from IIM Calcutta in 2011, went on to work as a McKinsey consultant for a year, and then started working on a start-up in education. For a year, Shreyans decided to work on the Modi Campaign and he was a co-founder of Citizens for Accountable Governance (CAG), a non-profit which was responsible for the success of Modi campaign initiatives like Chai pe Charcha, Manthan, and 3-D rallies. He was leading multiple teams in CAG including the Statue of Unity Mobilization Campaign, and the 60-member Bihar election team.