Updated: May 28, 2016 5:53:33 pm
It’s time to take stock of the two years of the Narendra Modi government. But before we do so, it is important to reflect on the decade prior to 2014 when we had a prime minister who was always helpless and looked to 10 Janpath for any and every decision he had to take.
Unfortunate as it may sound, that had been the administrative practice during the two terms of the UPA regime, from 2004 to 2014. 10 Janpath was far removed from reality, detached from the needs of this country and its people. Perhaps that was the reason for widespread pessimism and cynicism about politics in the country then.
However, the situation is completely different today. We have a prime minister who is strong, decisive and always available to the masses. He has a professional work style and has invigorated a new work culture in the government. He routinely conducts review meetings with ministers, top bureaucrats, and interacts with officials across the country via video conferences. He talks to people through ‘Mann Ki Baat’, his monthly programme on radio. He has used these opportunities to launch massive campaigns such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and has been successful in evoking a sense of patriotism in the youth. Whether it is an earthquake in Nepal, or Indians stranded in Yemen, floods in Kashmir, or a fire in a Kerala temple, the Modi government has always reached out to the people with relief and rescue measures.
The biggest achievement of this government has been to curb widespread corruption in the system. Since it took over in May 2014, the government has not faced a single corruption charge. At the same time, it has brought in one of the toughest legislation in the world to deal with the black money menace.
Barring a few sporadic incidents, the borders have been peaceful. Apart from Pakistan, relations with all our neighbours have been cordial. Ties with Pakistan, too, would have been better had the civilian government in that country enjoyed full autonomy. Even so, in the last two years, there has been a slump in the incidents of cross-border terrorism. According to the latest statistics provided by the government, in the last decade, these past two years have been the most peaceful.
By touring the world, Modi has sent out the message that India cannot be ignored. Today, he has personal equations with heads of state of all major countries and has established a good rapport with all nations, big or small. He has visited countries where significant numbers of the Indian diaspora reside, and has invited them to invest in their motherland. In September 2014, when he addressed a huge crowd of Indians settled in US in New York’s Madison Square Garden, at least 40 senators along with governors of four states were present in the audience. The perception of India is completely different today — the world community has more confidence in us compared to two years ago, and there has been a 42 per cent increase in foreign direct investment.
Modi has set his sights sky-high but his feet are firmly on the ground. Soon after coming to power, he announced that he was not the prime minister of India, but the “pradhan sewak”. His government has announced 52 programmes which directly benefit the poor, including Jan Dhan Yojana (bank accounts for the poor), schemes for housing, for the girl child, life insurance, the Atal Pension Yojana, crop insurance, Start-up India, Skill India and Stand-Up India. Following his initiative, at least 19 crore people have opened bank accounts, more than one crore people gave up the gas subsidy, which in turn, has helped the government distribute new free LPG connections to five crore poor households.
When the benefits of all these schemes start trickling in, we will see how fast the economy grows. Similarly, the PM’s dream of smart cities has created a lot of enthusiasm among several stakeholders. And though the Congress is creating hurdles in the passage of major indirect tax reform, the Goods and Services Tax, and in bringing a uniform tax regime across the country, the government is determined to go ahead.
The two years of the Modi government have proved that, for the first time, India has got a visionary statesman. There has been a dramatic change in the way the country has got back on the path of development, beating the economic slowdown. There is perceptible change in the self-confidence of people today, the days of pessimism are over. Acche din have arrived.
(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘The return of optimism’)
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