When Narendra Modi took over the rein of power in May 2014, India's GDP was $2 trillion and per capita income $1,573.9, which has now risen to $3.73 trillion and $2,601, respectively. In terms of Indian rupees, GDP at current prices, was Rs 104.73 lakh crore in 2013-14, which is estimated to have reached Rs 272.04 lakh crore in 2022-23. If we adjust the GDP for the increase in prices, then also GDP shows an increase of 63 percent in nine years, that is 5.6 percent annually, despite negative growth during the pandemic. India was at 10th position in the world according to GDP in 2014 and now it is ranked fifth. Only USA, China, Japan and France are now ahead of India. Further, on purchasing power parity basis, with a GDP of $13 trillion, India has become the third largest economy in the world, with only USA and China ranked higher.
Sometimes macro-level data fails to capture the reality of the fate of the common citizens. For this we need to examine, the Modi government’s performance with respect to how inclusive that growth has been under Modi’s regime.
Housing For All
According to the 65th Round of the NSSO Survey made between July 2008 and June 2009, 17 percent of rural households and 2.1 percent of urban households in the country lived in kutcha houses, which was equivalent to 3.15 crore households. In addition, 21.3 percent of households lived in semi-pucca houses. There has been major progress in the construction of pucca houses, under PM Aawas Yojna, both rural and urban. Approval has been given for the construction of 4.1 crore households (2.85 crore households in rural areas and 1.23 crore households in urban areas). Under this scheme, houses are being built for economically weaker sections (EWS), and also affordable houses for lower and middle-income groups with government assistance. About 2.87 crore houses have been built in less than eight years. This is considered to be a big effort to raise the standard of living of the rural and urban poor, on which a grant of Rs 5 lakh crore has been given by the central government so far. According to a rough estimate, Rs 20 lakh crore has so far been invested in rural and urban houses built under these schemes.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
From 12 kilometres in 2014-15, during the first year of the Modi government, the speed of road construction has reached 22.23 km per day in 2022-23. This speed was much less during the UPA regime. When we compare with the UPA government, we see that from Rs 10,000 crore annual expenditure by the central government on road construction, it has increased to Rs 15,000 during the NDA government. However, visibly there is much better achievement regarding road construction on the ground, for which cabinet minister, Nitin Gadkari has been earning a lot of appreciation.
Apart from roads, with the expansion of waterways, railways and a rising number of indigenously developed and manufactured fast trains like Vande Bharat, there has been a phenomenal growth in India's infrastructure. The number of passenger airports has now doubled from 74 airports in 2014 to 148 airports now; with air travel by nearly 4 to 5 lakh passengers daily. Recently, the world was surprised when Tata’s Air India placed an order for around 550 aircraft. Another 450 planes have been ordered by other Indian air carriers. This has become possible due to the increasing demand for air travel and the expansion of the airports network. The 'Gati Shakti Yojana' is considered unique in the world for making infrastructure investment in the most efficient way and for coordinated development of all types of infrastructure.
Socio-Economic Protection and Upliftment
Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under the Act was already in force since the UPA days. Even during Modi’s regime, huge expenditures continued unabated on the same. In the last nine years, almost Rs 5.89 lakh crore has been spent on MNREGA. The expenditure on MNREGA increased significantly during the pandemic.
The government has also implemented programmes such as the Ayushman Bharat Scheme under which 10 crore poor families can get treatment up to Rs 5 lakh, as also the provision of toilets (Izzat Ghar) for all, accidental and life insurance scheme at minimal cost, the Ujjwala Yojana and free gas cylinder for smoke-free kitchen for women. Universal electrification, with 100 percent coverage of villages, reduction in electricity consumption by provision and promotion of LED bulbs in addition to enhanced traditional and renewable electricity generated, with an objective to get rid of power cuts, are some of the other programmes which not only have improved the lives of the people at the bottom of the pyramid, but also removed the obstacles to development to some extent.
Financial Inclusion with Efficient Exchequer
The opening of more than 45 crore zero-balance bank accounts has not only made financial inclusion possible, but with a reduction in corruption, government expenditure has also been made more efficient. Although there have been efforts in every government to compensate the people left behind in the race of development, due to the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan bank account, Aadhaar-mobile banking), the government’s support is reaching directly to the beneficiaries free from leakages. This has also made it possible to make India a digital power, with the highest number of digital transactions.
Resolve to Make Bharat Aatmanirbhar
Although the corona pandemic of the year 2020-21 affected all sections, the worst hit were workers - both daily wage earners and salaried. Even businessmen, especially small businessmen and MSMEs, were badly hit. It was a huge challenge for the Modi government, to bring the economy back on track. Prior to the pandemic also India was facing the problem of huge dependence on imports, especially from China, where Indian manufacturing had been worst hit.
In view of this problem, the government adopted various measures under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme. At first, 14 industries were identified, which included electronics, medical equipment, active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APIs), telecom products, food products, ACs, LEDs, high-efficiency solar PV modules, automobiles and auto accessories, textile products, special steel, drones, etc. These were industries that have either faced closure or are on the verge of closure, after lagging in competition in the face of increasing imports from China. Dumping by China at predatory prices, export subsidies by the Chinese government and the insensitive policy of the then government and the continuous reduction of import duties helped the Chinese to capture Indian markets. Later, semiconductors were also added to the scheme, which, according to experts is going to be a game changer for India’s economy in general and Indian manufacturing in particular. Significantly, so far Rs 3.5 lakh crore have been earmarked under Production-Linked Incentives.
Efficient COVID-19 Management and Making India’s Presence Felt in the World
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Modi Government faced a huge challenge of providing food, medicine and vaccination to the people, as well as bringing the economy back on track by restarting the closed businesses. India’s performance was better than even developed countries, in terms of Covid management, Covid-induced deaths and corona vaccination; we provided free food grains to 80 crore people for more than 2 years, and also the medical treatment and anti-Covid vaccination. While other countries including the US could not vaccinate their population completely, for many reasons, all eligible people could be vaccinated in India.
Nine years of the Modi government can be considered to be excellent years for the economy and people of India. Despite the worst pandemic of the century, in these nine years, India’s international standing has also improved significantly, not only in terms of ranking in GDP but also in terms of cooperation with other countries, both rich and poor. India demonstrated its utmost sensitivity towards all countries when it provided medicines and vaccines during the pandemic. India stood firmly when there was huge pressure, not to buy oil from Russia, post-Russia-Ukraine war. We not only continued to buy cheaper oil from Russia but even increased our oil purchases by almost 50 times.
It was never smooth sailing for the Modi government, as it faced opposition to its several decisions, including decisions to amend land acquisition law, enact farm laws, demonetisation and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), paving the way for granting citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim citizens of neighbouring countries. Despite the opposition of the Modi government’s decisions, no one could prove any mal-intention of Prime Minister Modi. While taking these decisions Modi government also showed its utmost sensitivity to the opposition both from the ideological allies as well as from opposition parties; and was ready for making course corrections, even facing the wrath of the media, which tried to criticise the government, calling it a ‘roll back government’.
Ashwani Mahajan is a professor at PGDAV College, University of Delhi, and the national co-convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Views are personal and do not represent the stand of this publication.