Narendra Modi government has completed 57 months of its 60 months term which started in May 2014. Election Commission of India had already declared the schedule for the 17th Loksabha elections, effectively ending the tenure of the current government. Though new government would only be formed in May 2019, post the declarations of the results of general elections on 23rd May, this government won’t be able to take major policy decisions, as the Model Code of Conduct for the general elections has come into force according to the rules of the Election Commission.
Communication has become an Achilles heel for this government. Government isn’t able to communicate its decisions to masses as evident from recent state assembly elections, where despite doing such good work, BJP lost the elections. Communication which was BJP’s strength in 2014 elections had emerged as a weakness before the Balakot airstrikes, from where BJP has been able to wrest back control over messaging.
So, the time is ripe for us to see, what this government has achieved in last 57 months. I’m providing a list of schemes/work done by this government. I am not accounting for old schemes like Aadhar etc, though they have been much improved by the current government. In any case, government inherits all the most of the schemes, but the sheer number of new schemes, and work done by this government is mindboggling to say at least. Let’s start with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
Narendra Modi – Prime Minister: Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister of the country on 26th May, 2014 on the back of gloomy days and various corruption scandals left behind by the Congress-led UPA government. Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat for 12 consecutive years and known for Gujarat model of development, before he took over as Prime Minister of India. People reposed faith in Narendra Modi and his slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ and elected him with clear majority of 282 seats for BJP alone. This was after 30 years, that any party in India got a clear majority to form the government. True to his slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, PM Modi has charted out clear path for progress of India and all Indians without any discrimination, as we will see in the works in various sectors listed below.
Department of Space – ISRO directly works under, and reports to the Prime Minister. Though the success of ISRO is an incremental process, but ISRO’s launch of 104 satellites in one go, which created a world record, beating previous record of 37 satellites by Russia by a huge margin can be counted as big success. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his last Independence Day speech of the current tenure from Red Fort has also announced to put the man in space before August 2022 when India celebrates its 75th year of independence, which is also a significant announcement. India would be the only fourth country in the world – after USA, Russia and China to achieve this feat. Recently the cabinet has cleared manned mission at the cost of Rs 10,000 crore. ISRO chairman K Sivan recently said that, the ISRO is all set to launch Gaganyaan by December 2021. Indigenous navigation system, NavIC has also been launched by ISRO making India self-dependent in the navigation, and without having to depend on American Global Positioning System (GPS). It may be recalled that during the Kargil war, USA refused to provide GPS locations of Pakistani intruders to India, which hampered Indian operations a bit, however Indian army overcame those hurdles, and had convincing victory over Pakistan in the war. This incident however forced India to build indigenous navigation systems and ISRO lived up to the challenge, and it has launched NavIC for domestic use for common citizens, as well as Indian security agencies. Recently Tamil Nadu fishermen were provided with NavIC powered devices, to give them real time update about weather, position etc.
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions – Successfully gave benefit of 7th Pay Commission to the government employees (though I don’t like this very provision of Pay Commissions but since it exists, we have to follow it, till the time a new alternative is found). It also completely changed the face of online public grievance portal www.pmopg.gov.in with much speedier resolutions of the complaints lodged by the people. I have had a personal experience of this service.
Biometric attendance system for government employees and online monitoring – This has resulted in government servants coming to office on time and shorter lunch breaks. Earlier it was hard to find government servants on their seats. This system has been replicated on state government levels and even in smallest government offices like municipalities and panchayats. No wonder, government servants are unhappy with Modi. So much so that, the Congress party assured in its manifesto of Madhya Pradesh elections to do away with the biometric attendance. Anyone can track attendance of government servants through the portal www.attendance.gov.in. PM has also cracked down on golf club, gymkhana club lunches of senior IAS officers during official duty time. The government has also retired non-performing civil servants from the services including IAS and IPS officers, showing no nonsense attitude of the government.
Narendra Modi also did away with the interview requirement of class 3 and class 4 jobs of the government and made these appointments solely on the marks of written examination. The recruitments to these posts were often marred by the corruption where candidates used to bribe officials for the appointment and interview marks were adjusted according to bribe given. Many state governments also followed the suit and did away with the requirement of interview in class 3 and class 4 jobs.
Narendra Modi also did away with the need of attestation of documents from Gazetted officers and brought in the system of the self-attestation of the documents. Earlier common people had to run around to find a gazetted officer, just to get their documents attested.
Future expectations are carrying out reforms in Indian bureaucracy, which are very much needed and government has taken a step towards it by announcing lateral entry at the post of joint secretary in some ministries for the interested people from private sector.
GEM portal – Government has centralized the purchase requirements of all government departments and converted it into online portal. Any vendor in India can enlist himself/herself on this portal and sell their products to government departments and PSUs. All government departments now have to compulsorily list their requirements on this portal and purchase at a lowest rate offered, thereby disrupting a complete lobby of select few suppliers and bringing in transparency. The process started with Central government departments shifting to GEM portal and now most state governments and PSUs are also onboard with GEM.
PRAGATI Portal – Prime Minister himself takes overview of stalled infrastructure projects once in a month through video conferencing meeting with concerned officials and the chief secretary of the concerned state. This has resulted into greater accountability and necessary to complete infrastructure projects on time which are languishing from years. One example of this is the stretch of NH 24 passing through Delhi. After PM laid foundation stone of the project, there was no movement on this project for more than a year. When this project came up for discussion in PRAGATI portal, officials started citing different reasons for the delay citing different departmental permissions. PM sternly warned them, that henceforth he won’t lay the foundation stone of the projects where all approvals are not in place. This had a desired effect, and this project was completed at a lightning speed in next 18 months. Through PRAGATI portal, PM has reviewed more than 250 projects which were delayed by 20-30 years’ worth Rs 12 lakh crore.
Accessible PM – PM is accessible to common man through his Twitter account where he regularly responds common man. He also does a regular monthly radio broadcast named Mann Ki Baat where he touches small issues and how can we improve as country there. This show is completely apolitical in nature. He has travelled in metro trains quite often, few days ago he travelled from Shahid Sthal Station in Ghaziabad to Kashmere Gate in Delhi. People can freely sit with him; get photographs clicked during such journeys. No VIP has travelled in metro trains so often as PM Modi. In contrast, Arvind Kejriwal travelled in metro for the first time when he was going to take oath as Chief Minister during his first tenure. Since then, there is no news about him using metro services. So much for the man who loves to call himself an Aam Aadmi. This proves how down to earth to PM Modi is. PM Modi also has held town hall meetings with citizens from different spheres like IT professionals, students etc. He held ‘Pariksha Per Charcha’, a direct town hall talk with students appearing for the board examinations, where he gave them tips to handle the pressures of examinations and life. He also penned down a book on the topic named Exam Warriors, which was well received by students. He invariably addressed Indian Community in most of his foreign tours based in that country, either through town hall meetings or public meetings. This never happened in past.
Divyang – coined the better word, Divyang instead of Apang in Hindi and popularized it. English word differently abled always existed for physically handicapped people but its Hindi alternative was lacking. Today hardly anyone uses the work hardly Apang. This gave immense self-confidence to differently abled people and recognition to them. Soft skills of Narendra Modi are equally popular.
International Solar Alliance (ISA) – Narendra Modi and Emmanuel Macron, president of France came together to form ISA, a unique initiative to form a group of 121 countries between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn which benefits maximum from the sunlight. Modi has spoken about this group becoming an alternative to oil producing nation group of OPEC in future as world has accelerated its shift to clean energy. Modi and Macron were jointly awarded UN’s Champions of the Earth award for this initiative in policy category. UN also mentioned in its citation that this award is given to Modi for his initiative to ban single use plastic from India by 2022. This fact is hardly known to anyone, nor has Modi spoken about it publicly. But that he’s working towards this goal, is a testament of policies coming in future to achieve this. Modi had changed the name of Ministry to Environment and Forests to add Climate Change in it. Everyone thought by just changing nomenclature, nothing is going to be achieved, but Modi did prove that he meant business.
International Yoga Day (IYD) – IYD was again a unique initiative by Narendra Modi which was supported by 171 counties in the United Nations to declare 21st June as IYD. Everyone is witness to the success of IYD in last 3 years, since it was first observed in 2015. This unique gift of Indian civilization to the world has proven success in maintaining wellbeing of mankind.
Skill Development – Narendra Modi established a separate ministry for skill development after coming to power, a subject very close to him, since his days as Gujarat CM. Indian workers did lack in skills was a proven fact and he took the steps by establishing a separate ministry for it and today ministry has been successfully running several programs for skill development.
Swachch Bharat – How can one forget the personal initiative of Swach Bharat Campaign announced by Narendra Modi in his victory speech itself on May 16th, 2014. Officially the program was launched on 2nd October 2014 and such is a mindset change in people now that they think twice before littering or spitting on the road. Most impact of this campaign is on the school children, which are inculcating good habits right from childhood. When they grow up, India would be certainly cleaner country to live in. Under this scheme India’s sanitation coverage has jumped from 40% in 2014 to almost 100% as of now. All government schools which lacked toilets, the toilets were constructed in one year within coming to power. Modi has also swept roads quite often to display his commitment to the cause. He also washed feet of five sanitation workers after taking dip in Prayagraj Kumbh recently as a token of appreciation of their hardwork. When did you last see any Indian PM doing this? This shows how humbled and down to earth PM Modi is.
Namami Gange – This is again a personal initiative of Narendra Modi. River Ganga is holy for all Indians but unfortunately it is suffering from heavy water pollution due to various reasons, primary being sewage and industrial effluents from the towns and cities on the bank of Ganga being directly released in the water without any kind of treatment, which polluted the river. Even though Ganga is not completely clean yet, certainly it would take time because pollution of so many years can’t be washed away in 3-4 years, there’s a considerable difference in water quality of Ganga in last 4 years. Recently Asia’s biggest drain on Ganga, Sismau drain in Kanpur was closed and completely diverted to sewage treatment plant. A recent scientific survey has recorded improvement in water quality of Ganga. Recently a team of World Wild Fund for Nature – India (WWF – India) along with Uttar Pradesh Forest department found the number of Gangetic Dolphins increased to 33 from 22 in 2015 indicated the positive river health. Another census in Bihar also revealed the rising number of Dolphins. During recently concluded Kumbh at Prayagraj, saints and seers praised the government efforts saying they had never seen such clean water in River Ganga during Kumbh in past.
Lateral Hiring – Bureaucracy is often referred to as steel frame of India – the word coined by Sardar Patel himself. However, it is often seen that bureaucracy is the biggest hurdle in the development of the country as recently stated by former president Pranab Mukherjee. They just believe in status quo which hampers development. The government has now come with the idea of lateral hiring at 10 joint secretary posts in crucial departments like agriculture, civil aviation, revenue, financial services etc. Joint secretary in central government is very crucial post reporting directly to the secretary/additional secretary of the department and a key post in policymaking. The government has decided to hire experts from the private sector for these posts. This has rattled IAS officers. Though its currently only limited to 10 posts, a start has been made. Over 6000 people applied for these 10 posts, showing the excitement of private sector to work with government. Government has also come with a proposal on getting public feedback in promotion of officers, thereby making them more accountable.
NITI Aayog – Replaced Nehru era Planning Commission, which had outlived its utility with more efficient and professional NITI Aayog which has the role of think tank and task of framing policies for central and state government. Planning commission merely used to allocate funds to state earlier and was used as political tool to stall the development of the opposition-ruled states. All the chief ministers along with the Prime Minister are on the governing council of NITI Aayog leaving no scope for political football and stalling development. Five year plans of planning commission have been replaced with 15 years vision document by NITI Aayog.
Nuclear regime – During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to various countries in the world, deals and agreements related to nuclear power have been signed with several countries, including France, UK, Australia etc. Just yesterday, it was announced that US will cooperate in building six nuclear power plants in India. India in last 5 years have become member of all the key anti-nuclear, biological and chemical weapons proliferation groups like the Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) except for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), where India’s admission is opposed by China at the behest of Pakistan. NSG rules suggest that a new member can be admitted only if all the members mutually agree. Even if one member opposes, the new member can’t be admitted. China is using this clause to its advantage for stalling India’s admission, where all other members of NSG are positive about India’s admission to the NSG. India has joined all these groups due to effective diplomacy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
G20 meet in India – India is set to host leaders of top 19 economies of the world, at G20 meet in 2022, which would be India’s 75th year of independence. This is the first time that India will host a multilateral summit like G20. Another feather in the cap for Modi’s diplomacy to host a summit of this scale.
Banning red beacons atop public vehicles – Government took a historic decision of banning all beacons atop vehicles of all the ministers including prime minister and all public servants. Red Beacons or Lal Batti as they are popularly known had become the symbol of aristocracy in democracy which set several people who are essentially ‘public servants’ on high pedestal than rest common public. Narendra Modi ended this disparity and brought every person on same pedestal. Only emergency vehicles like ambulance, police and fire brigade are allowed to have yellow/blue beacons with sirens to cut through traffic.
Democratisation of ‘Padma’ awards – The Narendra Modi government has completely democratised the process of awarding ‘Padma’ awards and real people whose works have impacted on ground situation have now started getting recognition in the form of ‘Padma’ Awards. Earlier a select few like governors, ministers, MPs, MLAs, past awardees, could nominate people for ‘Padma’ awards and it generally resulted in people close to Lutyens Delhi or themselves part of Lutyens like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai getting Padma awards just because they were close to the Congress regime. Now anyone can nominate a deserving person through www.padmaawards.gov.in, if eligible according to the guidelines. This has resulted in common people like Dr. Yeshi Dhonden, Tibetan Physician based in Dharamshala, Mrs. V Nanammal of Tamilnadu who is India’s oldest yoga teacher aged 98, Mrs. Sulagitti Narasamma, a farm labourer of Karnataka who has performed over 15,000 deliveries by traditional method free of charge, or Mrs. Lekshmikutty of Kerala who provides medicines on snake and insect bites and preparing over 500 herbal medicines from her memory, getting Padma Awards. Who would have thought that these common people without any recognition so far would get Padma Awards? Narendra Modi truly democratized the Padma awards and ensured that they are given to deserving people.
Direct Benefit Transfer – This government has undertaken Direct Benefit Transfers on a large scale. Almost all the government subsidies are now credited into beneficiary’s bank account directly by the government, eliminating the need of beneficiary going to government offices to get his subsidy and where invariably corruption used to happen. Till date government has directly transferred Rs 6.32 lakh crore directly to the beneficiaries under DBT. Even if we assume corruption at modest 10% of this amount, it has saved Rs 63,200 crore of the public money being pocketed by middlemen. This is a real-time figure which gets updated on daily basis at MyGov dashboard. PM Modi recently said that DBT has weeded out nearly 8 crore ghost beneficiaries and saved 1.10 lakh crore of taxpayers money which can be used in other development programs. No wonder those who were getting free doles earlier would feel that Modi is doing injustice to them and they will cry that Modi is fascist.
Performance Dashboard – Government has displayed its performance at citizen engagement website www.mygov.in, where anyone can see the performance in various sectors on a dashboard. Through mygov.in, people can also participate in various surveys of the government and give their suggestion to the government. Another true example of participative democracy, where citizens’ role is not limited to voting.
Reservation for poor among general category – Narendra Modi government has brought in a constitutional amendment bill and got it approved in both the houses of parliament within two days, to provide quota to poor amongst general category in education and jobs. Till date, poor people among general category were deprived of any benefit as reservation quota was based on caste. This was a cause of great heartburn for poors among general category as they were only deprived of benefits because they were born in supposedly forward caste.
From Look East to Act East Policy – Modi government has changed long standing Look East policy to Act East policy, under which India is focusing on its north eastern states to provide connectivity to countries in Asia Pacific region. The aim of ‘Act East Policy’ is to promote the country’s economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It was originally conceived as an economic initiative, but has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions, including establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation. Connectivity is the most crucial factor in furthering India’s relations with South East Asia, and therefore, it is imperative to focus on improved airways, roadways, waterways, railways and information ways in this region. India’s north-eastern states are active stakeholders in the country’s Act East policy. Greater connectivity and economic integration of India’s northeast with its eastern neighbours is considered a key focus area for growth and development of the region. Act East policy is ensuing economic development of neglected northeastern states of India, bringing greater benefits to people from north east. Under Act East policy government is planning Moreh (Manipur) – Mae Sot (Thailand) highway via Myanmar which would be extended Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Some other projects under this initiative include Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which will connect north-eastern states with Sittwe seaport in Myanmar through a network of river and road networks, India-Bangladesh water transit project, to connect Assam with mainland India through development of waterways in Bangladesh.
100 aspirational districts – Niti Aayog has identified 100 least developed districts of India lagging behind in 49 identified parameters. However, since underdeveloped is a negative word, government has renamed them as aspirational districts, which aspire to be catch up with progress in other districts. These districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.
First temple in Abu Dhabhi – During his first visit to UAE, Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed to secure 14 acres of land for the first Hindu temple in UAE. According to some reports, this is the first Hindu temple in entire Middle East, which is home to large number of Indian immigrants. In his second visit to UAE in February 2018, he laid the foundation stone of the temple. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (Akshardham) which is constructing the temple is hoping to get temple ready by 2020.
Indo – Bangladesh enclave exchange – India and Bangladesh formally exchanged the land enclaves on August 1st, 2015 situated in each other’s territory. There were 162 such enclaves of about 120 square kilometers of area with the population of about 53,000 residents. These enclaves suffered lack of basic infrastructure, as they were located in each other’s territory making life a nightmare for the residents. India and Bangladesh (Earlier East Pakistan) were in talks since 1950s to resolve the issue, however weren’t able to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. After Modi took over, this issue was solved in a year and enclaves were formally exchanged on August 1st, 2015.
JAM Trinity – JAM trinity refers to government’s initiative to link Jan Dhan Accounts – Aadhar Numbers and Mobile phones to each other to plug leakage of subsidy. Though Supreme Court has ruled that it isn’t mandatory to link mobile with Aadhar numbers, it has said that schemes where public money is spent, government can link Aadhar cards to the beneficiaries account to check leakages. Therefore, basic concept of JAM trinity remains applicable even after Supreme Court’s ruling. It is to be noted that BJP while in opposition, opposed Aadhar on the lack of legal backing and security concerns and was expected to go slow on the program. However soon after Narendra Modi took over, Nandan Nilekani, the prime architect of Aadhar, sought a meeting with Prime Minister Modi and was able to convince him about benefits of Aadhar. Once convinced, government rolled out Aadhar with vigorous fervour and gave it legal backing in March 2016, which was lacking in UPA era. This reporter who was then working for a business paper had asked Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the planning commission, about the lack of legal backing to Aadhar, to which he had shockingly replied, “there are many things in country which work without legal backing,” pointing out the Congresses subservience to democratic procedures and its disregard and disdain for legal systems.
Response to terrorism – PM Modi has managed to turn around the way India responds to terror from feeble whimpers to standing toe to toe with the best in the world asserting that India won’t stand for Pakistan’s shenanigans any longer. As evidenced earlier by the surgical strike and the Balakot airstrikes now, India has decided to retaliate heavily for Pakistan’s misadventures and managed to call out Pakistan’s nuclear bluff effectively.
Statue of Unity – Though Statue of Unity has not been funded by central government to much extent and has been made by the budget provisions of Government of Gujarat, it gives the testimony to the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who conceived the project as Chief Minister of Gujarat and completed it within given timelines. This reporter has visited Statue of Unity, and can confidently assert that no photograph or video can do justice to this tallest statue standing which has to be experienced by one through his own eyes. This has already become great tourist attraction with more than a million people visiting it since inauguration. I won’t be surprised if number of tourists visiting Statue of Unity surpasses, tourists visiting Taj Mahal which is the biggest tourist attraction in India as of now, within first year itself. One can easily spend couple of days at Statue of Unity with other attractions like Valley of Flowers, Sardar Sarovar Dam, enchanting laser show after the sunset whose direct projection is on statue, helicopter joy ride encircling the statue, Narmada Tent City, which was built in less than one month, giving the testimony of work culture established by Narendra Modi as Gujarat CM. Government of Gujarat is planning amusement park, water sports and other attractions at Statue of Unity in near future, so that it becomes an integrated tourist place, uplifting the backward Narmada district which is predominantly tribal, and saving them from preying eyes of Christian evangelists.
Varanasi – Last but not the least. Who can forget development of Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi’s Loksabha Constituency in last 5years? Varanasi has got projects worth Rs 30,000 crore in last 4.5 years, which once completed will completely change the face of this world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Among the notables are much cleaner famed ghats of Varanasi and shifting of all electric lines underground. Varanasi has also got its first river cruise. Yesterday PM Modi laid foundation stone of Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, which once completed, will completely change the face of surroundings of Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The author is journalism pass out from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. After dangerously flirting with the idea of left during his IIMC days, due to the proximity of the IIMC with JNU, a den of radical leftists, he became firmly aligned to right after realizing the futility of the left. He tweets at @kpophale.