The Indian PM Modi who turned 65 this year has been praised by the world leaders for his ‘out of box’ thinking and ‘dynamism’. This one and half year old government has launched various schemes and policies directed towards the overall economic development of the country. Modi has been performing exceptionally well at the international level – many foreign policy and economic experts believe that Modi’s foreign policy has been “truly dynamic and imaginative”. Modi and his team is working hard to make India a destination – where technology is part of governance, people prefer plastic money more than the cash, manufacturing hub, a digitally literate society and excreta. One may come to a conclusion that the policies and schemes launched by this government are directed towards making India a place for business – where are the people? There is no doubt that the government is more business friendly, after all the long term held wisdom and who can deny that “industrial progress is the ultimate weapon of development”.
Here are the list of top 5 initiatives launched by the Modi government:
- Digital India
Modi launched this scheme on July 1 2015 to ensure that Government services are made available for citizens electronically by creating internet infrastructure to all over India including rural areas. This scheme has got all around positive responses from private sector players both from India and abroad. The tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have promised to invest in India to digitalize India. Indian players such as Reliance and Airtel also pledged to support this mission. The government is working hard but investment remains a major obstacle to achieve it soon.
Critics worry that ‘privacy issue’ and ‘data security’ can be used for surveillance on its own citizens.
- Jan Dhan Yojana
This is a financial scheme that has focused on the lower economic strata of the country for financial inclusion. It has achieved its target of opening 7.5 Cr bank accounts before time in Dec 2014. Nationalized banks were given targets and they successfully achieved it. This scheme provides an opportunity for the large section of people to enjoy universal and clear access to banking facilities. The account holder is provided with a range of facilities such as: overdraft facility of INR 5000, RuPay Debit Card with inbuilt insurance cover of INR 1, 00,000 and RuPay Kishan Card. This scheme can be very helpful to people because, now government can transfer subsidies directly to bank accounts.
However, critics argue that it is no better than other popular schemes. Based on the records, out of 7.5 Cr bank account opened, 5.48 Cr accounts have zero balance – nearly 75% of total accounts have no balance. The public banks met their target but they followed the KYC norms or not is a big question. Another strong point is that the account holders have not been given any documents yet to claim their insurance cover.
- Make in India
‘Make in India’ is one of the ambitious initiative of Modi government launched on 25 September 2015. The objective of this initiative is to simply encourage international and domestic companies to manufacture their products in India. In order to realize this objective the government has initiated several steps to arrest the attention of business leaders. Brouchers of 25 industries and a web portal was launched under the scheme to make it simple for the business. Foreign caps were eased for various industries for instance, cabinet of India approved 49% FDI in defence sector and 100% FDI in Indian railways. According to a report released by RBI, India attracted FDI worth $34.9 billion of fiscal year 2015, 61% up against the last fiscal year (2013-14).
However, a large section of foreign players say that India needs a structural reform before they can fully step in India. Unclear rules and regulations of Indian tax authority is one of the primary concern. The withdrawal of proposed Land Reform was also seen as the government’s weakness and it is expected that providing sufficient rights to landowners while easing land procurement will remain a difficult rope walking of the government. Other important areas where government has to deliver – GST bill and creating a skill workforce.
- Smart Cities
The government of India has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns for larger cities. Recently, the list of chosen 98 smart cities was declared and Utter Pradesh got maximum number 13 smart cities. INR 200 Cr per year will be granted to these cities for five years. The growing infrastructure pressure on larger cities has encouraged the government to forge this policy. The private companies are optimistic about this initiative and till now companies from 14 countries have been selected for making Indian small towns smarter.
Despite the shiny image of India having smart cities, experts wary that developing 100 smart cities will require a lot more than the infrastructure and technologies provided. It is well known that Indian cities are lacking basic infrastructure and governance – making the existing cities smarter rather than creating new cities is a wise decision – is a tough question.
5. Skill India
Modi is savvy PM – he understands the initiatives launched by him – won’t be successful until and unless the so much talked ‘Indian Demographic’ is equipped with employable skills. To realize this, the government has launched various schemes for equipping the youth with industrial skills such as National Skill Development Mission, National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) scheme and the Skill Loan scheme. PMKVY aims to recognize and provide skill to 24 lakh youths belonging to unorganized sectors. Under the Skill Loan Scheme, the government will provide INR 50,000 to 1.5 lakh as loan to 34 lakhs youth seeking to enhance their industrial skills. It is not that India didn’t have skill development schemes under the previous government but the difference lies in their approach. Earlier, the emphasis was on traditional jobs but this government gives all the jobs equal importance. Previous skill develpmnet schemes were scattered around different ministries but this time, it has been clubbed together – Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is the principal ministry that will guide the other ministries and agencies.
India where nearly 60% of the youths (15-29 years) are not attending any formal education, equipping them with skills will be an uphill task for the government to deliver. Even the bureaucrats working with the government accept that “we are starting with a poorly educated youth population and little linkage with industry”. Critics argue that before making Indian youth skillful, the government has to reform the education system and making it more linked to industry, only then the real objective of these schemes can be achieved.
|Nachiket Nishant loves to write on issues related to politics and international affairs. He has done his masters in international relations. Currently, he is a lead policy researcher at The Indian Iris.|
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Indian Iris and The Indian Iris does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.