One year of Modi govt 2.0: 62% say govt fulfilled expectations, 59% feel India handled COVID-19 effectively, finds survey

Factors on which govt has been rated include tough stance against terrorism; improved relations with foreign countries; passing of important bills; and India's promptness in taking tough steps to control COVID-19 pandemic

Around 79 per cent said India's image and influence in the world has improved Around 79 per cent said India's image and influence in the world has improved

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government completes the first year of its second term in office, 62 per cent citizens feel the Modi government 2.0 has either met or exceeded expectations, the survey done by LocalCircles reveals. Of the total number, around 26% of citizens said the government exceeded expectations, while 36 per cent said the BJP-led government met expectations.

The factors on which the government could have been rated high by people include "tough stance against terrorism, improved relations with foreign countries and India's growing global influence; passing of important and pending bills; and India's promptness in taking tough steps to control the COVID-19 pandemic", the survey suggests.

Notably, the Centre's Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in February predicted the Indian economy would grow at 5 per cent in 2019-20, the lowest in the last decade. While the government was already fighting the economic downturn, the novel coronavirus pandemic pulled the economy back even further. The four phases of lockdown have resulted in huge losses for all, small, medium and large companies, job cuts and business closures. To bring some respite to small businesses and the poor, the government launched Rs 20 lakh crore Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package.

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A total of 36% of citizens in the LocalCircles poll said prices of essential commodities and cost of living had reduced in the last year. India jumped to 63rd position in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business 2020 report, compared to the 77th spot in 2019, marking an improvement of 14 places over several measures to make the business activity easier in India. When asked if they feel doing business has been easier in the last 1 year, 43 per cent said yes and 33 per cent said no.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, India's unemployment rate saw a major spike in March and April 2020, which is the highest in the last few years. However, the nearly 2-month long COVID-19 lockdown has forced many businesses to cut back or in some cases shut down, thereby leading to many companies laying off employees and contributing to unemployment numbers. Just 29% said the government has been able to address the unemployment situation in the last 1 year, while 56 per cent answered 'no'.

When it came to tax harassment, 52 per cent said they believe harassment by tax officials has reduced in the last 1 year. Eliminating corruption was an important part of the Modi government's election manifesto of both 2014 and 2019. Around 49 per cent citizens said they believed corruption in India had reduced in the last year.

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Around 79 per cent said India's image and influence in the world had improved, 73 per said they believed terror in India had reduced in the last 1 year.

The verdict of the Ayodhya case, which was announced by the Supreme Court in November 2019, also seems to have lifted the government's image. Ahead of the verdict, there were fears of violence but the government handled the situation well and no communal incidents were reported. Around 56 per cent respondents said the government had been effective in handling issues related to "communalism" in the last 1 year, the survey claims.

Around 59% said the government handled the COVID-19 pandemic 'very effectively', while 31% said it has been handled 'somewhat effectively'. Only 7% said the handling has not been effective and 3% said it has been handled poorly.

LocalCircles looked at 15 key areas of government functioning and rated the performance of Modi government 2.0 based on people's opinions. The survey was conducted from April 30 to May 14, a period when most of the nation was in lockdown mode as the COVID-19 continued to impact India with the number of cases rising each week. The survey received over 1,27,000 votes from over 65,000 citizens across 280 districts of the country.

LocalCircles had conducted a similar survey last year to assess that performance of the Government in 2019. When compared to last year's results, it looks like citizen ratings for the government have gone down in many areas. Last year, only 39 per cent citizens said the government has not been able to address the unemployment situation. This number has jumped to 56% this year.

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have had a drastic effect on the already struggling Indian economy resulting in business disruption and massive job losses. This has partially contributed to the downward trending ratings on addressing unemployment in the survey. Around 43% this year, compared to 63% last year, have said that doing business in India has become easier. When it came to India's influence in the world, the ratings have marginally reduced from 88 per cent last year to 79% this year, but the approval ratings continue to be high on the backdrop of American President Donald Trump's India visit as well as India's move of providing Hydroxychloroquine to many countries.