The National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked its seventh anniversary at the end of last month. The celebrations were muted because of the sickness and death that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to us. But the Prime Minister did put out a document on the achievements of the seven years. It was called “Vikas Yatra” and had 15 points.
The first point was “Ease of doing business”. In the World Bank’s report, India has risen from 142 to 63 in “doing business”. This is indeed commendable. What does it mean? It is a survey of limited firms of a particular size and how easily they are able to obtain permits in two cities (Mumbai and Delhi). The Vikas Yatra document does not refer to what the result of India climbing on the index was. Presumably making doing business easier would result in more businesses investing in this country.
But India’s investment rate has fallen from 38 per cent of GDP before Narendra Modi to 28 per cent now.
The second point is called “Ease of living”. This is not an index that the world measures and it is not quite clear what is meant by it, so I will leave it alone. The third one is “Eliminating corruption”, and it says that “PM Narendra Modi has led a historic battle against corruption… Now, honesty is honoured, and transparency is the norm”.
In Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perceptions Index, India has fallen from a rank of 76 in the world in 2015 to 86 this year.
The fourth point is called “Empowering youth opportunities”. It says: “The last seven years of the Modi government have focused on clearing the path of India’s youth as they navigate through opportunities across fields.”
The latest Periodic Labour Force Survey conducted by the Narendra Modi government says that youth unemployment in urban India is 23 per cent. This means that one in four young people looking for work cannot find it. This is the highest rate that India has ever had.
The fifth point is “Health for all”. Here we need not look beyond what is going on all around us at this very time. India’s government is unique in the world in several ways. First, because it has the highest cost of vaccination in the world. Second, because there are three different vaccination procurements -- the Centre, states and private companies. And third, because India has defaulted on its commitments to vaccinate the world. We need not go into all the details of this today. So far as health for all is concerned, only a few days ago oxygen was being sold for Rs 60,000 a cylinder lasting for a few hours in Delhi and there was (and there is) no national helpline for finding oxygen and essential drugs.
The sixth point is called “Infra for growth”. India’s GDP growth has been falling since January 2018, according to the government’s own figures. It fell from eight per cent to seven per cent to six per cent to five per cent to four per cent to three per cent even before the pandemic. Last year the economy contracted in the biggest fall in its history.
The seventh point is called “Mobility for the middle class” and says that “no other government has done more for them as the Modi government”. Last month a report by the Azim Premji University showed that during the pandemic 27 crore Indians were pushed into poverty. This means that they were not poor according to the government’s poverty line before but have become now.
The Vikas Yatra’s eight point is called “Nari Shakti for New India” The participation of women in India’s labour force is around 10 per cent today, the lowest in history. In a 2018 study by Thomson Reuters, India was found to be the most dangerous place for women in the world. In the 2020 Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace and Security Index, India ranked 133, having fallen two places since 2017.
Point 9 says “Prosperous farmers for prosperous India”. It claims that “farmers’ welfare is a top priority for the Modi government”. The tens of thousands of farmers currently holding protests outside Delhi’s borders, who have been sitting there for the past six month and who have been vilified as terrorists, Khalistanis and anti-nationals, will disagree.
Number 10 is “Putting India first”. The claim here is on national security. We haven’t been told yet what the status of our patrolling in Depsang is by the government, but if experts are to be believed we have given away considerable space to China.
Numbers 11, 12, 13 and 14 are called “Renewed focus on the Northeast”, “Social empowerment”, “Taking development to the poorest” and “Transformative economic growth”. These are generic terms, but we can accept that work has been done on them. The final point is “India fights Corona”. It would be interesting to see what the world thinks of that statement. Even with its under-reporting of numbers on infections and deaths, India has the second highest number of cases in the world and the third highest number of deaths. Estimates say that in reality it is the leader in both and that the number of deaths just in the second wave has been over a million across India.
This then is the state of the Government of India and of our country as we enter the eighth year of the Narendra Modi government....