Prime Minister Narendra Modi is less than ten days away from completing action-packed three years at South Block. This month on 26 May, the Modi government will enter into fourth year of its five-year term.
Prime Minister Modi promised many economic reforms including ease of doing business, inflation control, fiscal deficit, trade deficit, job creation, manufacturing revival - that seems to have been delivered with the exception of job creation on which India has, so far, failed to perform as expected.
Whatever may be the reason behind falling job creation and slow down in manufacturing industry, the Prime Minister has seemingly tried to address these two issues by introducing several key initiatives such as 'Make in India', 'Skill India', 'Start-up India'. Also, the Prime Minister last year on November 8 demonetised large currency notes which was later termed 'the single most economic reform in the history of independent India'.
Let's take a look at his economic achievements in three years in office:
Goods and Services Tax
The GST bill, which is scheduled to be effective from July 1, is the biggest tax reform being undertaken since Independence. It will subsume all indirect taxes to create one rate and integrate the country into a single market. Once the GST is in force, it will replace at least 17 state and federal taxes and bring them under single unified tax structure.
GST is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. It is expected to bring about a qualitative change in the tax system by redistributing the burden of taxation equitably between manufacturing and services.
While officials are busy in laying down the guidelines for effective GST regime, the International Monetary Fund has already appreciated India's effort to reform country's taxation system. "The government has made significant progress on important economic reforms that will support strong and sustainable growth going forward," IMF Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang said.
Last year on November 8, the Prime Minister scrapped old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to what he called a step to root-out black money and fake currency in the system. Six months later, it was noticed that the move couldn't achieve the desired results as fake currencies were still running and corruption was still rampant. However, the government succeeded in profiling the people by getting to know the differences between actual flow of money and the undeclared money. Recently ,it was reported that India has more car buyers than the taxpayers in the country.
In last assessment year, there were only 5.5 lakh people, out of the 3.65 crore individuals who filed returns, paid income tax of more than Rs 5 lakh and accounted for 57 per cent of the total tax collection. This essentially means that only 1.5 per cent of those filing tax returns (3.65 crore) were contributing to 57 per cent of tax kitty. The Prime Minister wanted to address this issue by bringing the unaccounted money into banking channel.
While many top-notch economists were divided over its impact on the economy, former UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani hailed Modi's demonetisaion move and said that it would see a massive activation of digitisation of financial services in the country. He also explained as to how India's over 80 per cent work force will come into formal channel, he said: "The more important thing is when the economy becomes formal, when everybody's financial transactions are digitised ...India is going to go from data poor to data rich and that will make it more and more difficult for people to do dishonest things or to be outside the system. You will reduce the amount of black money in the system."
Jan Dhan Accounts
It was 15 August 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India's biggest ever financial inclusion drive. PM Modi launched his first flagship programme called Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana which was country's National Mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely savings accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner.
Prime Minister's move was to provide access to formal banking services to more than 15 per cent of the unbanked population in the country. It helped Prime Minister Modi re-establish his image as the leader of masses. Jan Dhan Yojna was not just about banking but also about several other benefits that the Prime Minister Modi offered with the accounts.
Under the scheme, if a person holds an account for more than six months s/he is allowed an overdraft of up to Rs 5,000. Last year, the ET reported that over 19 lakh account holders had already availed an overdraft amounting to Rs 256 crore. Jan Dhan accounts holders are also able to claim accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. The scheme also provides life cover of Rs. 30,000 payable on death of the beneficiary. Prime Minister Modi tapped country's over 15 per cent population with just one economic policy. So far, over 27.84 crore accounts have been opened under Jan Dhan Yojna.
After promising banking for all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched another flagship housing scheme 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojna' with the aim of providing 'Housing For All' by 2022. The scheme was designed entirely for the rural masses. The ambitious scheme aimed to provide affordable houses to 4 crore people living below the poverty line. Under the new rural housing scheme, the central government will provide a financial assistance of Rs 120000/- for constructing the home. An additional assistance of Rs 12000 would be provided for construction of toilets in households.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna says that "By the time the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna will bring a 'Pucca house' for every family in urban cities with water connection, toilet facilities, 24x7 electricity supply and complete access." In Uttar Pradesh alone there are '1.5 crore people who don't have houses'.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana
Gram Jyoti Yojana was launched to ensure round the clock electricity supply to farmers and rural households. The scheme was kick-started by the Prime Minister on 25 July 2015. The programme was expected to initiate much awaited reforms in the rural areas. During his Independence Day speech in 2015, the Prime Minister had announced that all of the country's villages would be electrified in 1,000 days and that by December 2018, all Indian citizens would have access to electricity.
"At the time when the NDA government came to power, there were 18,452 un-electrified villages. Out of these, we have electrified 12,022 villages under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). The ministry is trying its best to complete the target by 1 May 2018," The Sunday Guardian quoted a ministry official as saying.
PM Ujjwala Yojana
Last year on May 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an ambitious social welfare scheme - Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana - with the aim of providing 5 crore LPG connections to women below the poverty line across the country. The scheme was aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels mostly used in the rural India with the clean and more efficient LPG Gas.
Prime Minister Modi's pledge to provide cooking gas cylinders to every households has helped India to become the world's second-largest importer of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG. Earlier Bloomberg reported that India's import of LPG, mostly used as cooking fuel, increased 23 per cent during the financial year that ended March 31 to 11 million tons. India replaced Japan from the second position whose imports slipped 3.2 per cent during the same period to 10.6 million tons.