Since the Modi government came to power in 2014 it has been facing relentless criticism for good and bad reasons. No government is perfect and healthy criticism is always needed. After Rahul Gandhi made a statement that Modi govt is that of "Suit boot ki Sarakar" - I began to introspect if this is indeed true. The irony is that it is the same suit boot (industries and corporates) stand to benefit the least from the government's policies so far. Industries, corporates and small start ups are waiting for drastic reforms in ease of doing business that hasn't happened.
So, does this mean the government has done something in other non-corporate sectors? The answer is "Yes". There are several initiatives and policies whose implementation has to begun to show concrete results. I list just some of them that has had an impact on the common people. This is in no particular order of preference.
1) MUDRA Yojana - (Micro Units Development Refinance Agency) - a scheme to promote entrepreneurs, especially, in the lower strata of the society. The government will provide financial assistance and proper guidance in setting up a company or a business whose proposal is accepted by the banks. The lending amount is 50,000 (SHISHU), 50k-5 lakh (KISHOR), 5-10 lakh (TARUN). The objective is not just to finance these budding entrepreneurs, but also guide them from a technical stand point and help them in registration and official set up of the business venture. Once a proposal is accepted MUDRA scheme will finance from banks, financial institutions (Non-banking) and micro financial institutions. Close to 44,000 crore rupees have been sanctioned so far under this Yojana. Even though the pace of the growth is not as expected the initiative has helped nearly 66 lakh people, mainly women, who are able to run their own small company. The PM himself made a mention of a lady in Madhya Pradesh (source) who is now able to make wallets and supply to her village and district because of Mudra Yojana.
MUDRA is good only for selected people who have had no access to capital. This cannot be used for agricultural or corporate needs. Start ups that can fuel more jobs are kept out of MUDRA. This is where a similar scheme must exist to propel economic growth,
2) Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (PAHAL) - This scheme is quite popular where the beneficiaries pay market price for LPG cylinder and get the difference of market and subsidized price in bank accounts. This is one of the most transparent ways in which LPG has reached the intended beneficiary. Recently, "1906" helpline number was launched (24*7) for customers be able to lodge complaints, talk to all 3 major oil marketing companies that distribute LPG. http://www.mylpg.in/ is a dedicated website only for this scheme and one can see how the scheme has benefited 14.79 crore beneficies.
3) Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana - under which you get Rs 2 lakh accidental life insurance cover for Rs.330 per year which is so cheap. Never before in India has insurance penetration been so high. 2.8 crore members are beneficiaries of this Yojana.
4) Atal Pension Yojana - under which after retirement age a person is entitled to get a guaranteed amount ranging anywhere between Rs.1000-Rs 5000 per month. Although the amount is too small, it can only act as some sort of additional income to the beneficiary. For more, read here at http://www.jansuraksha.gov.in/. This amount is hardly enough to sustain a life, but it is better than getting nothing from the government.
5) Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana: The father/mother of a girl child can open a bank account in India under this and deposit amount (amount restrictions apply) where 9.25% annual interest rate is added every year. This is a phenomenal scheme available to all Indian citizens by which they can save money for the girl child. Close to a million accounts have been opened so far.
6) Self- attestation scheme for all government services - The existing non-sense notarized attestation mechanism was the order of the day and citizens were harassed in this regard. The government passed an order that self attestation is sufficient on all the copies of the documents while applying for a service. The applicant must provide the originals only at the time of delivery of service. Even though Center has passed this order, all states have to ratify the decision. As of now most states have accepted this.
7) Abolition of interviews for Class III and IV Central and state government jobs. These jobs are those of peons, clerks, junior engineers and many more in central and state government offices. Most of the vacancies were being filled by bribing selected officials. Now, interview has been banned and some form of aptitude test has been replaced in most positions. This is a huge step since it can curb corruption. The meritorious were kept out of the system (source). Only time will tell if this has turned out to be efficient. The intricate details of this new test is not yet known.
8) Huge job opportunities for people of Bihar because of 2 locomotive plants - US company GE and French company Alstom together won the bid for building train locomotives in Madhepura in Bihar. This is 100% FDI in Railways and they will manufacture 1,000 locomotives of 4,500 hp and 6,000 hp, to be supplied annually over 10 years and 800 locomotives of 12,000 hp to be supplied over 10 years (source) respectively. This is the largest investment of this kind in Railways. This is a win-win situation for Indian Railways and people as Railways will get some best practices in the design of locomotives while people will get employment.
9) Several initiatives in Indian Railways - I had written a separate blog regarding this that can be read here
10) Indian Railways has partnered with several food chains like Haldrirams, MTR, Food panda and now wants to promote Self Help Groups whose ownership is held by women(here). These SHG's give employment so many women whose lives depend upon their culinary skills. By giving them a market Indian Railways has created a win-win situation for both customers and SHG's.
11) EPF Withdrawl made easier - Until now if one had to switch jobs or move to different places an EPF account had to be every where and this created confusion for lakhs of employees. In addition to this the employee had to get employer's signature to do the same. The government passed an order that the EPF account once opened will be with the employee forever irrespective of job or place switch and that the employee doesn't require the consent of the employer (source).
12) All NCERT + CBSE Text books from Class 1 to 12 have now been made online and available via Mobile app (source) for free. The app is called E-Pathshala.
Our PM is not someone who will give into vote banks. He has a vision and strategy that none of the contemporary politicians have. He is working round the clock with no break. However, any strategy that doesn't take into account the pulse of the people can boomerang in the long term. He needs to be cognizant of this. Art of adaptation is an art in itself. Our PM will have to adapt himself and change his strategy in 2016 to make sure the performance accelerates.