Vol. XLII No. 32 August 12, 2018

On Modi’s Claims about Development

Tikender Singh Panwar


NARENDRA Modi, the prime minister of India while speaking at the public meetings in Uttar Pradesh boasted about the ‘enhanced pace of completion of developmental projects’ by him and his government. He remarked that the previous governments were responsible for stalled projects in the country, particularly in UP. According to him, a list of incomplete projects was prepared and the target was set (though four years of the government have already passed) for their completion.

But is it really true? Has there been a surge in the completion of projects and has the functioning actually improved to that extent? The figures, however, speak otherwise. Let us analyse this claim as per these projects and their pace in the succeeding paragraphs.

Meanwhile, the eagerness of the Modi government to prove to the world about its prompt functioning and delivery is part of the World Bank Development Index. Modi wants to be in the first 50 spots in the ‘ease of doing business’ list, thus claiming about completing the projects quickly! It (the ease of doing business) has become a buzzword and the Modi government, in contrast to its earlier position, where it had raised questions on the robustness of the methodology and the ranking system has completely succumbed to the new model.

The country has witnessed some significant shifts in the financial policies since then. The ease of business is a facilitator for the big business capital in the country. The changes brought out in the GST, demonetisation etc.,  are a few in that same direction. It is a different matter that these initiatives have significantly marginalised and thrown out many small entrepreneurs from the market.

The BJP in its election manifesto had stated, “…..to aim at transforming India into a global manufacturing hub.” Thus there is this rush for an aggressive push for energy generation and shifts in policy like single window systems of clearances etc. This is been staunchly helped by the World Bank and the ADB, who have promised to invest more than 40 billion US dollars. The main areas of investment happen to be, smart city, improving urban service delivery, solar energy, modernising railway system, investments in road construction etc. Hence towards these objectives the World Bank is urging the Indian government to improve its ranking on the ‘ease of doing business’.

According to ‘citizen’s review’ (a peer group) of the four years of BJP rule, the ease of doing business is further targeting 7000 small and big reforms. India came out with the business action reform plans which will lead to change in governance policies across the central, state and municipality levels with the aid of the World Bank. Another area of intervention is the change in the labour laws of the country. The ministry of labour and employment has notified a compliance regime based on self-certification for startups that would exempt them from inspection under nine labour laws in the first year. The central government recently allowed for fixed-term contract hiring across sectors to facilitate hire and fire as per the need of the company.

According to the ‘Wada na todo abhiyan’, the result of these rapid changes in financial policies and infestation of development projects has only left the country with an external debt of Rs11,247 crore as of 2017. The NPAs have consistently increased and to top it all, the tall claims of getting the black money back in the economy have fallen flat. The mad rush for projecting India as an investment destination is neither sustainable nor fulfilling any development agenda which is only coming at the cost of undermining the basic prerequisites of environmental and social justice. It’s high time the government reviews its policies and blind rush for attaining unsustainable growth targets at the cost of people and environment.

But all said and done, is this eagerness of ‘ease to do business’ fetching results with respect to the enhanced pace of projects in the country? Let us understand the pace of these developmental projects which is a euphoric cry of the Modi government.

The Modi government in its cabinet meeting held on June 17, 2015, promised to construct two crore houses by 2022. Half of the year 2018 has passed by and so far only 3.61 lakh houses have been constructed. Not just that, but 87 percent of the houses constructed belong to the subsumed programmes of erstwhile housing schemes like the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U). The financial evaluation performance under the PMAY-U has pointed out that the insufficiency of funds, gaps in allocation and release of funds have severely hit the schemes.

The 100 smart cities which is one of the flagship programmes and projects of the Modi government was launched in 2015. The special purpose vehicles (SPVs), the tool to enhance the pace of these smart cities, have been released just 5 percent of the total sum required in a list of 60 short listed cities. One can easily understand the pace of development that is being witnessed. According to a reply in the Rajya Sabha, the government admitted that just 14 percent of the projects have been offloaded as of now. Presently 70 percent of the projects proposed under the smart city mission are still in the project development stage with the completion of just 5 percent so far. But, Modi keeps on singing the rhetoric of efficient performance. Here we have not reviewed the efficacy of the projects of the smart cities and there has been strong criticism of that as well. Just 9 percent of the area in the city is utilizing 84 percent of the budget, which shows the highly centralised form of investment, thus making the city more exclusive.

Similarly, in the water and sanitation sector under the tom-tommed scheme of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), which was announced in 2015 for 500 cities, just 19 percent of the central assistance has been released so far. The status of the projects is no different from that of the smart city mission.

Likewise, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) which was launched in October 2014, mainly to eliminate open defecation through the construction of over 1.4 crore toilets has shown poor results. Just 34 percent of the toilets have been constructed till 2017.

Despite all these figures, Modi while speaking out in front of the people not just hoodwinks them but also plays to the international agencies whose money is being used for various developmental projects in the country. Then to say that the present government is more efficient in the implementation of projects is nothing but ‘true lies’.