By Sreya Sarkar
With all the excitement, political rhetoric and drama out of the way, and with the people’s final verdict in place, India has woken up to a reality that is being celebrated by some, and sneered at and criticized by others.
Many of us continue bisecting and dissecting why NDA has come back for a second term with a thumping majority. Many friendships and WhatsApp groups are splintering temporarily or permanently, as concerns about the Hindutva agenda tearing apart the diverse fabric of Indian society and its future, take a prominent place in Indian psyche.
Waiting for the election results this time has been nothing less than an emotional roller coaster ride, but all rides come to an end and ultimately, we need to settle down and take account of what Indians are really dealing with, in terms of policy implications that would have a longer lasting effect than the ridiculous and dramatic memes and euphoric victory speeches.
This calls for a quick list of policy victories and defeats in the last five years.
Let us start with the positive flagship schemes launched by NDA government in the last five years, that might not have had the perfect implementation but have made a happy dent, at least.
1. Sahaj Bijli Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya): 25 Million households have been electrified out of total target of 25.4 Million.
2. Ujjwala Yojana: 70 Million households were provided subsidized cooking gas cylinders.
3. Awas Yojana: 15 Million new houses constructed.
4. Jan Dhan Yojana: 348.7 Million bank accounts opened in the last five years.
5. Demonetization with all its mismanagement, made increase in the number of income tax returns (ITRs) filers compared to the past.
Where promises and expectations fell short were:
1. Under the Make in India project, Modi pledged to raise the share of manufacturing to 25% of GDP - the overall measure of goods and services - by 2025. World Bank data shows, the contribution of the manufacturing sector has remained just above 15% in recent years, and experts doubt the target will be met by 2025. However, the overall rate of economic growth (GDP) has remained strong, at around 6-7% per year, and the government has also highlighted more recent data showing signs of improving industrial growth.
2. Modi came to power in 2014 with a promise to create jobs for millions of Indians. The government has delayed the publication of the latest official data on jobs, but a draft version of the report was leaked earlier this year indicating a significant rise in unemployment during the current government's tenure.
3. Millions of Indians still live below the international poverty line, and millions still lack access to basic necessities like clean drinking water, quality education & healthcare. Farmer suicides continue due to debt and falling crop prices.
4. Seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities are in India, according to the latest data released by IQAir, AirVisual and Greenpeace.
5. The security of women in India has proven a huge challenge. India has a dismal record of violence against women, and rape. Government data showed that, on average, more than 100 women were raped every day in the country in 2016.
The list of to do things in India, policy wise is long and tedious, but being aware and monitoring what the government is doing and achieving and where it is falling short is every Indian’s responsibility. And to help carry out that responsibility successfully, we need a responsible media, and policy watch dogs who take it upon themselves to analyze and guide citizens who are truly interested in becoming a part of the democratic process in India. May the rule of law prevail!