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Modi Government: Connecting the Dots

Exactly three years ago, Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister of India with a promise to revive growth momentum and job creation. Such landslide victory ended 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which was marred in various kinds of scams. It is evident that the political leadership was failing to tame the massive irregularities which baffled the citizens.

Recognising the aspiration of the common people, Prime Minister Modi promised many things to deliver ranging from job creation to doubling farmers’ income and uprooting of corruption in India.

With strong leadership will, the Union Government took several policy decisions and dismantled various colonial relics of policy making. In this backdrop, Impact News is shedding light on how the Modi Government scripted a new policy narrative in the last three years which are largely ignored by experts.

From Demonetisation to Remonetisation: At a time when Indians were grappling with huge fake currencies, the Union Government demonetised two banknotes of 1,000 rupees and 5, 00 rupees in late 2016.  It was an unprecedented step. Following this decision, the entire nation was queued to exchange their notes in the given time span as mandated by the Union Government. It posed severe hardships to many families but the Government was determined. According to the Economic Survey 2017, “The aim of the action was fourfold: to curb corruption; counterfeiting; the use of high denomination notes for terrorist activities; and especially the accumulation of “black money”, generated by income that has not been declared to the tax authorities.” In this backdrop, the Union Government aggressively advocated embracing a cashless economy.  To dispel confusion and hone the understanding of the currency swap practice, the state-driven narrative countered the opposing voices and dissents in a concerted effort. With the arrival of new notes, they claimed that India has entreated into the phase of remonetisation.

Replacement of the Planning Commission: In his maiden address from the rampart of historic Red Fort in 2014, Narendra Modi -Prime Minister of India- underlined the importance a new organisation to deal with challenges of an emerging economy.   Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru – the then Prime Minister of India, the Union Government crafted the Planning Commission in the 1950s to plan Indian economy.  With formation this apex institution, it served the nation.  With changing nature of governance and demand, the policy makers released inadequacy of the Planning Commission in dealing with various states. But the top leadership lacked the courage to scrap this dominant institution. With the arrival of theNational Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), the Planning Era has lost its relevance. After the third annual meeting,  NITI Aayog showcased its action plan for three years. 

The merger of the Railway Budget with the Union Budget:  In 2017, the Union Government decided to scrap the Railway Budget. It was a complete departure from the past. The Railway Budget was an enduring legacy of the colonial rule. As we all know that the colonial ruler introduced a huge rail network to exploit and extract the natural resources in India. Such rail networks required a separate budget. In order to run it properly, the British Government installed the network.  Since then, the Governments actively involved in this customary policy exercise. From time to time, experts questioned its relevance but it managed the onslaught of the economic liberalisation in the early nineties.  According to the official documents, the merger of Railway Budget with General Budget is based on the recommendations of the Committee headed by Bibek Debroy, Member, NITI  Aayog.   Shedding light on the merger, the Economic Times reported, “The merger of the Union Budget and Railway Budget was proposed by the Railway Minister and endorsed by the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India- Government of India’s policy think-tank established to replace the Planning Commission).”

Tracking the Migration:   The Economic Survey 2016-17 revealed that labour mobility in India is much higher than has been previously estimated. Migration within India is between 5 and 9 million annually. Another interesting finding of this study is that the acceleration of migration was particularly pronounced for females and increased at nearly twice the rate of male migration in the 2000s. The Survey stated that the Cohort-based Migration Metric(CMM) is developed to analyse recent trend in labour mobility.  Outlook quoted, Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the Finance Ministry, “The first-ever estimates of internal work-related migration using railways data for the period 2011-2016 indicate an annual average flow of close to 9 million migrant people between the states. Both these estimates are significantly greater than the annual average flow of about 4 million suggested by successive Censuses and higher than previously estimated by any study.”

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Picture Courtesy : Hindustan Times

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