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Modi government’s initiatives: An analytical frame

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New Delhi | Updated: June 27, 2018 7:19:37 AM

Govt’s key schemes can be packaged into three categories of inclusive growth, human development and security.

In showcasing its performance, the government has chosen to package its schemes into 11 focused areas.

Ask anybody about the Narendra Modi government’s performance in the last four years and the answer could be highly variable—from stellar to awful to mediocre. Yet all would agree on one point that the government has launched numerous new programmes during its tenure. Even a serving, seasoned bureaucrat may not be able to give an exact count. I remember attending a meeting where a policy observer got confused, momentarily though, between Ujjwala Yojana and Ujala Yojana—the first is meant to provide free LPG connections to the BPL households, while the second is aimed at encouraging the use of LED light bulbs. Admittedly, the number of initiatives are far too many for anybody to be able to remember, let alone comprehend those.

 

In showcasing its performance, the government has chosen to package its schemes into 11 focused areas: Accelerating Growth, Commitment to Social Justice, Development for All, Eliminating Corruption, Harnessing Yuva Shakti, Healthy India, Infrastructure for New India, Putting Farmers First, Speed and Scale in Transformation, The World Sees a New India, and Women-led Development.

This way of packaging is useful insofar as it is positively framed and identifies some focused areas with large beneficiary groups (farmers, women, yuvas). Further, the number of focused areas conveys an impression of progressing India and of the government playing an important role therein. While this way of classifying programmes/initiatives may appeal to the general public (or the voters), it is not very revealing to a discerning mind. For those analysts who would like to have a better frame for understanding the key programmes/initiatives, the following classification may probably come handy.

The government’s key programmes/ schemes can also be packaged into three distinct categories:

a) Accelerated and inclusive growth;

b) Human development;

c) Equity, security and resilience.

Each of these is represented by a circle (see graphic). Almost all flagship programmes of the government can be placed in one or more of these categories. That is why there are overlapping or intersecting circles. Further, all three circles are circumscribed by a boundary that characterises two key principles: (1) honesty, transparency and accountability, and (2) sustainable development.

Accelerated and inclusive growth: Accelerated growth has to do with programmes/initiatives to improve investment climate as well as ease of doing business in the country. Inclusive growth, on the other hand, has to do with democratising economic growth by encouraging micro, small and medium enterprises and also promoting self-employment through programmes such as MUDRA aimed at collateral-free loans to small businesses. Further, various sectoral policies such as for tourism, textile, leather, aviation sectors and so forth are framed with the view to accelerating growth and, therefore, belong to this category, even though these are not listed in the figure.

Human development: It has to do with initiatives aimed at realising India’s potential demographic dividend. This group includes initiatives designed to make India’s population healthier, skilful and more productive. Promotion of yoga among the masses as well as initiatives such as Khelo India are aimed at improving physical fitness of the people. At the same time, through a series of initiatives, the government is trying to improve the quality of education at all levels. In this tech age, it is laying emphasis on inculcating innovative thinking among students early on while they are still in school.

Equity, security and resilience: This category includes wide-ranging interventions—from providing food, nutrition and income security to preventing the households from falling into poverty trap due to different shocks. Programmes such as Food for All and Poshan Abhiyan provide food and nutritional security, while Suraksha Bima Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, National Health Protection Scheme and the like are meant to insure them against different risks, and AMRIT and Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana are meant to protect the people against the rising healthcare costs. There are a number of programmes aimed at protecting and promoting the welfare of lower-income households.

A few deserve special mention as they span more than one category.

  • Atal Innovation Mission is aimed at promoting a culture of innovation as well as tech-entrepreneurship. Hence, it is common to both ‘growth’ as well as ‘human development’ categories.
  • PM Awas Yojana is aimed at promoting Housing for All, and is also meant to spur the housing industry given its scale and, hence, it overlaps two categories.
  •  Stand-Up India is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship specifically among certain disadvantaged sections of society. It spans both the categories of ‘inclusive growth’ and ‘building (income) security’.
  •  Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is aimed at not only on improving the sex ratio at birth, but also improving education of girls. For this reason, it spans the category of ‘equity’ and ‘human development’.
  • Ayushman Bharat is designed to not only make curative (hospital) care accessible to the poor through the National Health Protection Mission, but also to make promotive and preventive care available to all. Because of its promotive health components, it spans ‘human development’.
  • Kaushal Vikas Yojana, or Skill India, spans all three categories. Skill-building directly promotes ‘human development’, contributes to ‘inclusive growth’, and also provides ‘income security’.

It is noteworthy that Poshan Abhiyan, though an important programme to build nutritional security for children, women and adolescent, is meant to raise human resource potential and not in the realisation of that potential. So, it doesn’t span the category of ‘human development’.

Not only are the programmes governed by the two broad principles of honesty, transparency, accountability as well as sustainable development, but also there are specific enabling initiatives to uphold these twin principles. While Aadhaar legislation, Jan Dhan and the like are meant to promote transparency and accountability, initiatives such as International Solar Alliance, promotion of renewable energy, Swachh Bharat Mission are aimed at promoting sustainable development.

This, then, is another frame to look at the various schemes of the government. There is no claim that this frame is better than the one put forward by the government, only that some audience may find one frame more useful than the other.

The author is a development economist, formerly with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank. ahujaahuja@yahoo.com

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