From scrapping special status of Jammu and Kashmir to passing the Triple Talaq Bill, expanding farmer welfare programmes to amending anti-terror laws, Narendra Modi 2.0 seems to have tried to deliver on several core promises that have featured prominently in the BJP manifesto over the years.
On a number of other fronts too, the government has had its hands full. By inviting BIMSTEC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony, PM Modi had signalled his priority towards neighbourhood-first policy and followed it up by making the Maldives his first foreign trip after re-election. To streamline the defence forces, Modi announced the creation of the position of the Chief of Defence Staff. If Swachh Bharat Mission was the cornerstone of his first term, Modi has made water conservation and fight against single-use plastic the new national priority in his second term.
“In the last 100 days, the country and the world have seen that India knows how to take on challenges. Be it Jammu-Kashmir, Ladakh, or the deepening water crisis, 130 crore Indians have started looking for new solutions,” PM Modi said at a rally in Haryana on the completion of the government’s first 100 days.
On the economic front, however, the government is facing serious challenges, with the GDP falling to a six-year low of 5 per cent during the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year.
Important decisions of the Modi government in the first 100 days:
* Diluting Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K
The scrapping of the special status provision of Jammu and Kashmir is the most important decision the government has taken after assuming power this year. Besides, the government also passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act, 2019, under which J&K has been bifurcated into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without a legislative assembly.
Abrogation of Article 370 existed in BJP’s manifestos since 1984. On Kashmir, the 2019 manifesto underlined, “We reiterate our position since the time of the Jan Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370.”
With special status gone, all provisions of the Indian Constitution will now apply to Jammu and Kashmir. Property-related laws, criminal laws and crucial central laws like the Right to Information and the Right to Education will be among the many laws that will be applicable to the proposed Union Territories (UTs).
Permanent citizens of Jammu and Kashmir recognised as state subjects will cease to have special privileges. Moreover, the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act — the most important statutes governing criminal trials will apply as well.
Following the government’s decision, Kashmir has been under a lockdown amidst anticipation of violence. Communication links – including internet services – were snapped, mobility was restricted and three former chief ministers and several activists of major mainstream parties have been put under detention or house arrest. Roads are barricaded with spools of concertina wire and regular checkpoints with police and armed paramilitary personnel on patrol.
Though the government claims that restrictions have been eased, top political leaders from the Valley, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are still under house arrest.
* Passage of Triple Talaq Bill
The first hundred days of the Modi 2.0 government also saw the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill that makes the practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a penal offence. The government succeeded in passing this bill in its third attempt in Parliament during the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha.
In its 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto, BJP pledged to legislate a bill to prohibit and eliminate practices such as Triple Talaq and Nikah Halala. Besides this, a uniform civil code has been on top of its agenda.
The bill makes the practice of instant divorce by Muslim men punishable by a jail term of up to three years.
“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!” PM Modi had said after the passage of the bill.
* Strengthening of anti-terror laws
The 2016 surgical strikes and Balakot operation in February 2019 set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections this year. The BJP’s Sankalp Patra released ahead of polls promised to act tough against terrorism and extremism. In its first 100 days, the Modi government strengthened the legal framework governing the National Investigation Agency and brought in amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which has provisions to designate individuals as terrorists.
Recently, the Home Ministry issued a notification designating Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder (LeT) Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim and 26/11 terror attack accused Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi as terrorists under the new anti-terror law.
* National Register of Citizens (NRC)
Combating infiltration and introducing the NRC had also found mention in the BJP manifesto. “There has been a huge change in the cultural and linguistic identity of some areas due to illegal immigration, resulting in an adverse impact on local people’s livelihood and employment. We will expeditiously complete the National Register of Citizens process in these areas on priority. In future, we will implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country,” the manifesto stated.
The Assam NRC, released on August 31, contained just 19,06,657 exclusions, less than half the number of exclusions in the final draft of July 2018. Almost all parties have expressed unhappiness over the exercise with the small number of excluded persons.
* Bank mergers
While the BJP mentioned in its manifesto that it was committed to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, this is one area the government is struggling in its first 100 days. With the GDP falling to a six-year low of 5 per cent in the first quarter of this fiscal year on the back of growth of eight core industries slowing down to 2.1 per cent in July and dipping private investment, the government’s economic management has come under the scanner.
Hoping to mitigate a sluggish economy, the government unveiled a series of steps. It announced the removal of the surcharge on capital gains on shares for both foreign and domestic investors and provided an upfront Rs 70,000-crore equity infusion into public sector banks to boost lending.
For the struggling micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the government announced that all pending GST refunds would be paid within 30 days while it withdrew angel tax provision for start-ups and their investors.
A week later, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the merger of 10 state-owned banks to create four large entities or lenders in order to revive and revitalise the banking sector with the objective of achieving the $5-trillion economy target.
* Farmers’ schemes expanded
The Modi government expanded the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to not just farmers owning land up to two hectares but to all farmers in the country. The Centre extended the PM Kisan Scheme to another 3.44 crore farmers, taking the total number of beneficiaries under the scheme to 6.37 crore. Under the scheme, the government provides Rs 6,000 per year in three equal instalments to the farmers.
Besides this, the government also kept its promise on announcing a pension scheme for small and marginal farmers above the age of 60 years. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana, a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 will be provided to small and marginal farmers in the age group of 18-40 years on attaining the age of 60.