In September 2013 Narendra Damodardas Modi was named the BJP’s candidate for prime minister in the 2014 Lok Sabha election who played a dominant role in the BJP’s election campaign. The results being such that BJP won 31% of the vote, and more than doubled its tally in the Lok Sabha to 282, becoming the first party to win a majority of seats on its own since 1984. The second term for the Modi government started with a boom with the BJP having won 303 seats and their allies National Democratic Alliance won a total of 353 seats in the 543-seat Lok Sabha, the strongest mandate since the 1984 elections where Indian National Congress had won. The ceremony was noted by media for being the first ever swearing-in of an Indian Prime Minister to have been attended by the heads of all BIMSTEC countries. Modi’s campaign agenda focused on corruption scandals and high GDP growth, a message which found support among young and middle class Indians.
When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto was released, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not just set the party’s goals for the next five years. He, in fact, listed his party’s plans far ahead to 2047, offering a compelling vision of how he would steer India to a better future, ushering in a new Bharat by 2022. When the Modi government took over in 2014, it implemented a range of schemes and programmes to revive India’s economic growth, ensure employment to crores, eliminate cross border terrorism, curb corruption and black money flowing in the Indian economy among others. Well, the sad part today is that Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.5 per cent in the second quarter of FY20, data released by the government showed, marking the slowest expansion in 26 quarters. In gross value added terms, the economy grew at 4.3 percent compared to 4.9 percent in the previous quarter. In the current GDP series, the lowest growth rate recorded was 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of FY13. The growth rate for the second quarter of FY20 is the lowest since then. Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its report states that even Bangladesh is growing richer at a faster rate than India. Its per capita GDP growth overtook India’s in 2017 when it clicked 6% growth compared to India’s 5.8%. It would continue to grow faster in 2020 too – at 6.6%, compared to India’s 5.9%. Bangladesh is also catching up fast in income with its per capita GNI for 2017 reaching $1,470 against India’s $1,800. The same for some of the other Asian countries are: South Korea – $28,380; China- $8,690; Sri Lanka – $3,850 and Pakistan – $1,580. Modi has built ties with the Gulf and Japan but nations closer home remain aloof. Maintaining India’s primacy in South Asia has proved to be a challenge in the face of a rising China. Nepal and Sri Lanka continue to remain in the orbit of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China’s lack of support to vote Masood Azhar as being a globally designated terrorist in the UN three times, a low point in ties, although in a huge diplomatic win for India, the United Nations on May 1, 2019 designated Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, a decade after New Delhi approached the world body for the first time on the issue. The BJP’s 2014 policy promised to ‘reboot and reorient foreign policy’. Five years later, an outcome-oriented foreign policy seems to be the government’s biggest achievement, even as the challenge of Pakistan and a rising China remains. Though some of the highs from the External Affairs Ministry were: PM Narendra Modi’s visit to 93 countries in the last five years, outreach to the Arab world-Saudi Arabia, strengthening existing defence ties and others.
If ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ and ‘Make in India’ has been the silver lining so has ‘Demonetisation’ and ‘GST’ been the bolt from the blue which has shredded the Indian economy to tethers. Having said so, ‘Make in India’ initiative is yet to take off. One of the reasons could be the slowdown in private sector investment. On one hand where Surgical Strikes had united the country, on the other hand acts such as NRC and CAA had divided it, albeit both being very bold steps initiated. Going digital and building smart cities has no doubt globalized India’s footprint with the country boasting of an envious 63rd position out of 190 countries in World Bank’s ‘Ease of doing business 2020’ report, but a basic fact remains that India still has a third of world’s illiterates. India is home to one in every three illiterate persons in the world with 34% of the illiterate population in the world. While we have ambitious projects like Chandrayaan, more than 32 million Indian children of age up to 13 years have never attended any school, the majority of them belonging to the socially disadvantaged class, all of this when we have ‘Right to Education’, ‘Mid-Day Meal’, scholarships and even reservations in private schools, designed to encourage maximum enrolment of students from underprivileged backgrounds. While the schemes are in place, and are excellent on paper, the results tell a different story. When it comes to quality education, there is an extreme shortage of qualified and dedicated teachers. Evidently, nothing extraordinary can be expected from students. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and several other studies reveal that more than 50 percent of class 5 students cannot even read basic text or solve a basic arithmetic problem. No doubt the percentage of graduates in India is at a shameful 9. Merely imposing ‘Triple Talaq Ban’ and creating union territories out of states will not solve the burning issues at hand, even if we succeed in unearthing the evolution of the moon.
The key to a country’s success lies in its citizen’s growth and welfare and the basics of it starts with proper education. Understanding the term ‘underprivileged’ and comprehending the socio-economic background of the underprivileged is an absolute necessity. Let us rise beyond petty politics and work united for a common cause. The journey can be slow, but has to be effective. Bangladesh in this sense has lots to teach India and there’s no shame in learning. Our honorable Prime Minister’s dream of a new Bharat by 2022 is just round the corner but has lots of catching up to do. It’s a composite responsibility of 130 million of us to ensure that we surge ahead leaving behind all the negativities of the past, just as we leave behind a bad dream and start afresh.