BJP's successive victories no miracle
The opposition is suffering from a Modi-phobia. They privately concede that 2019 is a foregone conclusion, writes Sudesh Verma
When you abide by the mandate, you do not worry about what your critics are saying. It is safe to suggest that their criticisms are based on stereotypes, old parameters, and innuendoes. Critics fail to see the new realities, new aspirations and how each step of the government is helping transform the country like never before. In Narendra Modi, we have a Prime Minister who works assiduously to find solutions to problems and empower an average Indian to change his/her destiny.
To an average Indian, the most empowering decision has been to allow self-attestation and drop the need for attestation by Gazetted Officer. Why should the government not trust its citizen?
The same element of trust is visible in the government's decision to give concessional loans to entrepreneurs under Mudra Scheme and Stand-Up Yojana. In most of such loans collaterals are not required, and people have easy access to money to give shape to their dreams. Small entrepreneurs such as vegetable vendors, tailors, electricians, carpenters, etc. who had to depend on expensive loans from money lenders to start their business are happy. More than eight crore beneficiaries have used these loans. If we make a rough estimation that one person after taking loan would employ at least one person, this will create 16 crore meaningful jobs.
Those who are attacking the Government saying that jobs have plummeted are ignoring this very reality of massive expansion of the dynamic sectors such as self-employment, infrastructure, etc. More than 75 companies have started mobile phone manufacturing units in India and close to 30 companies are involved in the manufacturing of batteries for these mobiles. And more than seven lakh jobs have been created in the IT sector.
Critics rely excessively on the data of the labour ministry. This data is misleading since it focuses on only eight selected areas such as Textiles, Leather, Metals, Automobiles, Gems and Jewellery, Transport, IT/BPO, and Handloom/Powerloom. Furthermore, it's a sample size of only about 1900. The labour bureau has failed to capture the massive expansion in other areas. In the same way, the opposition is failing to see employment generation as a result of massive public investment undertaken by the Government.
For example, more than 85 crore man days of employment have been generated under the Prime Minister Awaas Yojana (Housing scheme) in 2015-16 and 2016-17 compared to 25 crore man days generated under the Indira Awaas Yojana during 2012-13 and 2013-14. More than 53 crore and 40 lakh man days of jobs were created in 2015-16 and 2016-17 under Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana (Roads) in place of 41 crore and 90 lakh man-days during 2012-13 and 2013-14. This meant 11 crore and 50 lakh man days of more jobs when compared with the UPA. Similarly, more than 36 crore man days of jobs have been created under the Swacch Bharat Mission that focused on building toilets created additional man days of 36 crore. Massive investment in Railways, National Highways, Urban Development, Cleaning of Ganges, etc. has created additional man days of jobs running into crores.
Employment in the formal sector can be gauged by calculating the number of employees making contributions to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). By the end of March 2014, 3.26 crore people were contributing regularly to the EPFO. At present this figure is 4.5 crore showing the creation of 1.5 crore jobs in the formal sector.
All these would help explain why India has been able to achieve seven plus percentage of GDP growth while the world is facing a severe economic crisis. Jobless growth is not possible in a developing economy, and if there has been growth, it must have been backed by economic activities. If people are voting for the BJP under Modi, cutting across caste and religious divide they must be benefitting from the Government's policies.
If one is still not convinced, one should look at the expansion of the banking system for the poor. Banks were nationalised in 1969, but it took 45 years and the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi to connect poor to the banking system. More than 28 crore people have opened their zero balance accounts. For a poor man, having his own account is empowerment. These accounts together with mobile phone and Aadhaar Cards have helped check corruption. Now, close to 95 per cent benefits under various schemes of the Government are being transferred directly into the accounts of the intended beneficiaries.
The Modi government's flagship in care for the poor is the Ujjawala Yojana under which it is determined to give five crore free gas connections to women in poor households. Already more than two crores have already been distributed. Each of these families used to inhale polluted smokes causing severe health hazards. This step has received the support of the well off sections as well. Close to one crore people have voluntarily given up their subsidised gas connection on the call of the Prime Minister. They trust that their contribution would go a long way in empowering the poor.
In all of the steps mentioned above, the focus has been women. They have been given preferential treatment in the allocation of these loans as in the case of free gas connections. The country is witnessing unprecedented empowerment of women. From his time as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he has realised that empowering women empowers the family. He used to encourage payment for dairy farming directly into accounts of women head of the household.
"Beti Bachao Beti Padhao" campaign has been very successful in creating awareness about the need to care for the girl child. All mobile phones sold after March 1, 2018, shall have a special button that one can press in case of an emergency. This will help check crime against women. 24X7 women help desk is being set up in police stations all across the country. And in cases of crimes against women, the concept of Zero FIR has been introduced to ensure that crime is reported without any hassle.
The biggest insult is terming this government anti-farmer. The Green Revolution had once brought prosperity to Punjab and Haryana. Why weren't similar irrigation systems not thought of for other parts of the country suffering droughts in regular intervals? Why was the dependence on the Monsoon not minimised?
The Modi government has earmarked substantial fund for long-term irrigation development and short-term dedicated micro irrigation system such as drip irrigation. While increasing availability of water for irrigation needs has been emphasised, the focus has been to maximise this scarce resource through the slogan of each drop more crop. This government has increased expenditure on rural and agriculture by 24 per cent. All these and many more steps would help the government achieve the target of doubling farm income by 2022.
To tackle farmer-related issues and to decrease dependence on Monsoon, the government has brought new lands under irrigation. The target is to bring 76.03 lakh hectares of land under irrigation. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been taking care in case of crop failures. Close to 1.72 crore farmers have already benefitted under this scheme. Farmers are now getting liberal loans at a concessional rate of 3 per cent.
In the event of a farmer's death, compensation has been increased from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The government has enhanced allocation for MGNREGA by 27 per cent. Urea is available in abundance due to neem coating, and farmers are getting Soil Health Card of their lands. About eight crore farmers have been issued these cards that enable them to know what crop should be sown, which fertiliser should be used and how much quantity of manure should be used to get the best productivity. Up to 17,000 small and medium soil testing laboratories have been set-up. This number was a mere 15 in 2011-14.
The country is witnessing massive development activities- something unheard except during the six-year regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that weaved the country through a network of four-lane roads. Instead of 4-6 Km per day, this government is constructing national highways at 24 KM per day. This is to go to up to 40 km per day in coming days. Railways are witnessing expansion and old and dilapidated tracks are being replaced with new ones. Rail safety and services have become priorities.
Why are the critics so charged up then? Is it due to the impression that people are giving huge thumbs up to this government since it is working hard and taking bold decisions? Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas is not a mere slogan but a way to bring citizen-centric politics to the forefront.
Congress leaders thrived in confusion and obfuscation so that it could retain discretion and make money for themselves and their cronies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to dismantle the system that allowed corruption. There is more transparency and accountability. Not a single case of corruption has tainted any Minister of the Union Government despite taking numerous decisions. This in itself is a significant achievement.
The entire opposition is suffering from a Modi-phobia. They privately concede that 2019 is lost for them and that they should prepare for 2024. They have begun to realise that people would never throw out a performing government. Every citizen has a stake in the continuation of this government. The victory of the BJP in successive elections has not been a miracle. These have been built on trust developed through honest work.
(Sudesh Verma is National Spokesperson of BJP. The views expressed are strictly personal.)