While concluding the overview of the 5 years of Modi government, various comparisons and analogies surface. A glaringly visible approach towards policy making, as we approach the 2019 General Elections are the populist and not reformist policies proposed by the BJP Government when in power. An iconic example of repetitive attempts by the Modi government to please the majority of the populace can be illustrated from the biopsy of the interim budget.
Appointment of populist economic methods that appeal to the majority of the population belonging from myriad sectors point out that those reforms are not only superficial but also destructive to the failing Indian economy in the long run. Another interesting fact is that the most advertised “brand” in India from 16th November to 18th November 2018 in Indian media platforms was BJP. While economists all over the world have declared demonetisation to be an economic fiasco, the Modi government has succeeded in portraying its efficient target fulfilment through advertisements.
Several questions remain unanswered regarding the intentions of the present Government with regard to the kind of plans announced with the approach of General Elections. 90% of the workforce in India is employed by the informal sectors and the demonetisation had a debilitating impact on this entire ecosystem. However, as a witty move to appease and gather support just prior to the General Elections, the interim budget has been used as an important tool to serve the purpose of collateral damage control.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan was declared for workers in the unorganised sectors who earn less than 15000 on a monthly basis. In addition to that, with an allocation of approximately 5 crore, an old-age pension of 3000 rupees monthly as a direct transfer benefit has also been proposed. Pensions would be available upon the attainment of 60 years of age. In order to avail this benefit, workers would require to save an amount of 100 rupees every month from 29 years of age or 55 rupees from 18 years of age. This scheme has been extended to workers in sectors such as handloom, leather and constructions. Particularly those sectors have been pointed out who suffered a huge blow due to demonetisation. The most important observation from the entire landscape of this scheme is that the Modi government is neither promising nor expecting enhancement of conditions for workers of these sectors towards attainment of better job quality or pay. This in turn illustrates the populist nature of the scheme which doesn’t provide an iota of contribution towards the sustainable development of these sectors intrinsically or extrinsically. Instead, these sectors end up being even more dependent on the help provided by the government.
Despite the regime of the Modi government being hit by acute distress in the rural areas, it has been indifferent in addressing the policies pertaining to farm sectors. Moreover, the government has also proved its inefficiency in initiating appropriate response to the recurring droughts in 2014 and 2015. Several other policy failures in turn lead to the profit of consumers but falling food prices crippled Indian farmers at the same time. In order to superficially address this problem just before the General Elections, yet again the interim budget was used as an appeasement tool. The Pradhan Mantri KisanSamman Nidhi extended for only those farmers who owned less than 2 hectares of land. Yet again, the most vulnerable class in the agriculture sector- landless farmers remained unaddressed.
As a result of this appeasement strategies being announced, the Modi government has successfully swayed a section of the existing population who did not identify within the BJP constituency earlier. The long-term con of this yet another election-gimmick strategy could be further fragmentation of the existing landholdings among the landowners. Agricultural families who earlier had large chunks of lands would now try to intentionally split the land in order to qualify to avail this lucrative scheme. A productive alternative could have been facilitation of irrigation schemes, prevention of slash and burn agriculture, fertilizer subsidy, calculated loan schemes to help farmers escape clutches of money -lenders and more. This shows the hunger of the BJP government to stay in power and delusion India into its transcendence into ache din while it mutilates the core sectors and cripple them just to introduce superficial populist economic reforms and gain votes.
Picture Credits : thewire.in
This article is a part of the ‘Of Tugs and Tussles: General Election 2019’ feature series where we focus on quality content written and chosen to focus on specific areas surrounding elections. Find a link to other articles of this feature series here: