Every political party makes a slew of promises to voters before elections, thus raising our hopes and aspirations.
However, promises exist in all corners of our bleak political world. We are provided with a fresh set of aspirations in the next election, with no accurate status of the country’s performance against the previous promises.
The initiative Election Promises Tracker, attempts to solve this issue. It seeks to give voters a chance to track the performance of their government in the fields of education, health, governance, economy and agriculture. The performance is tracked against the promises the party in power made in its election manifesto.
Given below is the snapshot of the overall status of 3 years of PM Modi government.
Highlighted below is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance against the main promises made by them before elections. The answer has four parts: Governance, Health, Economy and Flagship Schemes and Programmes.
Judiciary: 10% Judges posts are lying vacant in the Supreme Court, 41% in High Courts and 20% in District and Sub-Courts. This gap exists despite the promise of high priority filling of the vacancies and doubling the number of courts.
However, an alternate dispute resolution has emerged as an important development under the PM Narendra Modi-led BJP government and deserves appreciation.
Nearly 3.5 lakh cases have been settled by means of arbitration, reconciliation and Lok Adalats, and nearly 11 lakh pre-litigation matters have been resolved since the party came to power three years ago.
Similarly, new courts have been set up for resolving and handling commercial matters, making litigation less of a burden for businesses in India.
Though this shows that the government has focused on resolving small and petty matters, however, in constitutional matters, and matters of national or state importance, the performance of the government threatens the most important institutions in our country – the judiciary.
Elections: PM Modi had promised to eliminate criminals from politics. He reiterated his promise in his first speech in the Parliament, where he assured the House of fast-tracking cases against such politicians.
However, three years since he came into power, nothing has been done in this regard. On the contrary, one-third of PM Modi Government Cabinet Ministers face criminal charges, and nearly one-fifth face serious criminal charges such as rape, attempt to murder, murder and kidnapping.
Police: PM Modi government had assured that the police force will be more fair, transparent and citizen-friendly.
However, the Model Police Bill that seeks to make police independent of political interference, gives security of tenure to officers and sets up complaint authority to investigate abuse of power by police officers, hasn’t even been tabled in the Parliament. This would have been in alignment with the Supreme Court judgment in Prakash Singh Vs. Union of India case.
On the contrary, the Delhi police which is directly controlled by the Centre has been on a spree to arrest AAP MLAs. Of the 13 MLAs it has arrested or slapped charges against, the Delhi police struggled to justify them in Court, thus drawing ire of judges for abusing its power.
Transparency: In an unprecedented move towards transparency, PM Modi government had announced uploading of all RTI responses online. Three years hence, only two responses have been uploaded, failing the entire initiative.
However, in an appreciative move, the program for digitisation of land records that started under the UPA government has received boost under this government, but progress is slow.
Additionally, the government has not mandated the digitisation of all government work to reduce corruption and delays. This is in contrast to the election promise Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) made. PM Modi government has rejected more RTIs than Dr. Manmohan Singh government.
Broadband in Every Village: BharatNet (earlier called National Optical Fibre Network), a project initiated by UPA-II in the year 2011 has been commissioned in 18,039 gram panchayats out of 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. The programme aims to 100 Mbps bandwidth in all Gram Panchayats in the country. But the project since 2011 has been commissioned in 7% villages only.
Ease of Doing Business: India’s rank in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ improved from 142nd rank in 2014 to 130th rank in 2016, according to the World Bank. This is an improvement of 12 places for which the credit rightly goes to the PM Modi government for facilitating several procedures.
Single Window Clearance: No single-window system has been implemented so far by the BJP government. However, some ministries like the Ministry of Coal and communications have started to implement it at their own level – via custom clearances, permission for housing-related projects, etc. This promise was reiterated by the Finance Minister in his 2017-18 Budget speech.
Availability of Credit: Finance Facilitation Centre, an online portal, which allows MSMEs to apply for loans from various banks on NSIC Portal has been set up. The BJP government has boosted up the Credit Guarantee Scheme set up in 2000, covering more than 5 lakh guarantee approvals in the year 2015-16, which is the highest so far. It has registered a growth of about 28% over the previous financial year.
Simplification of Tax Regime: The Parliament passed the Goods & Services Tax Act (GST) to create a hassle-free environment and boost up the investor’s confidence. The bill has been given assent by the President and has been ratified by 21 states. The government is yet to notify the act.
The BJP government appointed a committee to recommend measures to simplify the income tax structures. The Committee submitted its second report to the government in December 2016. However, no major income tax reforms were announced in the budget in February 2017.
Non-Performing Assets: The Non-Performing Assets (NPA) crisis has continued to grow throughout, both in terms of absolute amount and as percentage of advances. In the year 2016, it increased by 56% and reached Rs. 6.14 lakh crore.
However, the government has taken some measures like the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 to ensure time time-bound settlement of insolvency and lowering NPAs, and notifying the ordinance to the Banking Regulations Act, enabling RBI and banks to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against chronic defaulters.
But the crisis is looming, showing the government’s inability to curb the NPAs posing potential threats to the entire economy.
Healthcare Professionals Shortfall: BJP had promised to address the shortfall of health care professionals. However, the number of vacancies of female health workers/Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) at Sub-centres have increased from 18,000 in 2015 to 24,000 in 2016 and the number of doctors at Primary Health Centres have fallen from 27,421 in 2015 to 26,464 in 2016.
This is as per the government’s own Health Management Information System (HMIS) report titled ‘Health manpower in Rural Areas’, which shows the BJP government’s tremendous apathy towards providing healthcare.
Rural Healthcare Delivery: Rural Healthcare continues to be in shambles under the PM Modi Government.
Since 2012, the number of sub-centres with no health worker has increased from 3,159 to 5,258 by March 2016, as per the Rural Health Statistics, 2016.
There has been an improvement in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) with 24,448 PHCs in 2013 to 25,354 in 2016 – an increase of 960. But there still remains a shortfall of more than 4,000 Centres, as per government estimates.
The problem gets compounded due to the fact that nearly 2,000 PHCs are functioning without any doctor. This is worrying given that 86% of rural population is without health-expenditure support and around 48% of overnight trips made by rural Indians is made for medical purposes. This issue is further compounded by the fact that the government has slashed the budget for TB by 4,000 crores, despite nearly 5 lakh people dying of TB every year.
New Health Policy: New Health Policy 2017 shifts the goal post of increasing spending on health to 2.5% of GDP to 2025. This seems far-fetched as India spends a mere 1.4% of its GDP on health, much lower than any BRIC nation.
Malnourishment: About 44% of our children below the age of 5 years are malnourished, placing India at rank 13 among states with the worst cases of hunger. Three crore children are still outside the coverage of Mid-Day Meal Scheme, according to a Parliamentary Panel report. This is contrary to BJP’s promise of “revitalising the Mid-Day Meal Scheme”. Instead, the BJP government cut the funding of the scheme by nearly half.
Flagship Schemes and Programs:
One of the most important features of the PM Modi government has been its ability to bring discourse to important aspects like ease of doing business, girls’ education, entrepreneurship and most of all, sanitation. However, very little of the high decibel campaigns, all of which had the potential to considerably progress our nation, have translated into concrete action – neither in terms of outcomes, nor efforts.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao: Nearly 90% of funds allocated for the scheme remained unutilised till January 2017.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padho was launched in January 2015 to prevent gender-based discrimination and ensure protection and education of the girl child. Under the scheme, awareness campaigns were launched in 161 selected districts. But the government’s inability to spend funds, shows that no work was done and the scheme was a mere PR exercise. Additionally, states like Haryana have fudged their numbers to show progress.
Start-up India: One year since the launch of the scheme, the PM Modi government had invested only 5.6 crore out of the Rs. 10,000 crore allocated for it. This is a mere 0.01%, pointing to the fact that a scheme which was launched with much fan-fare, hasn’t received the necessary government attention.
Start-up India was a mere marketing exercise and this is very well reflected in the country’s rank slipping to 155th rank in 2016 compared to 151st rank in 2014 on ‘Starting A New Business’ parameter, according to the World Bank.
Skill-India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Skill India Mission two years ago, creating the illusion that the Government was now serious about imparting skills to youth who are unable to find unemployment. Over Rs 1500 crore has been spent in skilling 18 lakh youth in 2015-2016, but shockingly, only 12.4% of them were placed.
In a rush to meet the lofty goals of the project, the NSDC focused little on the quality of training being imparted, thus wasting the government’s machinery and resources.
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM): The BJP government’s focus on sanitation is quite praiseworthy. Swachh Bharat started out as a brilliant social campaign that sought to bring the attention to critical issues like toilets. However, against the advice of all experts, the government took a deeply flawed approach to eradicating open defecation by reducing it to a mindless toilet-counting programme.
A recent survey by the government’s National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) shows that over 60% of the newly constructed toilets don’t have water supply, making them unusable, and 40% don’t have a drainage connection which means that they pollute the environment and water bodies. Moreover, it is well known that behavioural change is the single most important factor in reducing open defecation. But the spending on information, education, and communication (IEC) – the headline for behaviour-change activities – was only 1% of the total SBM budget, which did not address the real constraints to behaviour change.
No substantial efforts have been made in the direction of garbage recycling and disposal.
Beyond the hype by governments, it is important to critically examine their claims and performance. Overall, the PM Modi government has performed quite poorly in many areas against their own promises.
There are many areas on which research and information are pending and shall be added in this article. We shall keep updating it and post it for our community members’ benefit.
In case of questions, comment or write to [email protected]
(The author is the Founder of Election Promises Tracker)