India’s Narendra Modi has a grand vision for 2030 – but it is short on details

India’s Narendra Modi has a grand vision for 2030 – but it is short on details
The Narendra Modi government presented the Interim Budget 2019 on February 1IANS
  • During the Interim Budget 2019, the Modi government presented Vision 2030.
  • From clean Ganga to an astronaut in space and building hubs for Digital India, the Vision 2030 agenda has big plans.
  • The government’s current track record in some cases and the lack of details in others are uninspiring.
Indian government’s budget for 2019-20 was supposed to be an interim vote on account before the elections in the upcoming summer. However, the government’s promises, hopes and estimation went as far as 2030.

Here’s the 10-point agenda for the next decade set by Piyush Goyal, standing in for finance minister Arun Jaitley.

“We are poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years and aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter.”

The message from the government is that it is not just focussed on the headline growth, but also on the quality of life. “On the social infrastructure side, every family will have a roof on its head and will live in a healthy, clean and wholesome environment,” said Finance MInister Piyush Goyal.

It was 2017, when prime minister Modi promised to double farmers’ income in the following five years. However, the rural distress has been one of the biggest failures of the administration.

While ‘housing for all by 2022’ is still an ongoing project, there is still a lot left to desire in electrification and sanitation of villages.


“Digital India into every sector of the economy”

There were two announcements towards digitisation of the economy – to turn 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years, and a plan to build centre of excellences for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This is not the first time the government has promised a push for AI. ₹3,073 crores were allocated for the programme in 2018-19. This fund was supposed to boost the development of artificial intelligence, robotics, big data analysis, and digital manufacturing, by setting up centres of excellences in the country. However, there has been little or no progress so far.

The Indian government had allocated ₹10,000 crores in the last budget for Bharat Net phase II-- a pan-India broadband network--to create 500,000 rural wifi hotspots. By December 2018, the network had covered half the target range, but the utilisation was reportedly less than 10%. “Over ₹17,000 crore has been spent already on BharatNet. No results can be seen. There is no utilisation...Public money has been wasted and it will become a serious problem for the government," a senior official at Trai told Mint in January.

“This India will drive on Electric Vehicles with Renewables becoming a major source of energy supply. India will lead the world in the transport revolution through electric vehicles”

India did assume the lead in the global fight against climate change after the Paris pact of 2016. But the push towards green vehicles at home has had, at best, a sputtering start.

While there has been a growth in demand for electric two-wheelers, only 1,200 electric cars were sold in FY 2017-18, according to a report done by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.

The main concern of the automobile companies is the lack of infrastructure for growth of EVs in India as well as the absence of clarity regarding the EV policy.

“Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment”

Both industrial growth and employment have been among the big failures of the Modi regime, mostly because private investment has been lacking.

The most recent data in factory output growth was the lowest in 17 months.

A news report based on leaked data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) said that India’s unemployment rate has hit a 45-year high by December 2018, with a majority of job losses seen in rural India, showing that the government’s policies have so far failed to spur industrialisation and jobs.

“Our Government has worked vigorously for cleaning River Ganga. Fifth Dimension of our Vision for India of 2030 is Clean Rivers”

The government has already approved ₹25,500 crores for ‘Namami Gange Mission’, but the impact has less than satisfactory, according to environmental activists. There was no additional in the current budget for the same programme.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been "wastage of the public exchequer" because "without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream", said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet "Waterman of India".

“Our efforts in the Sagarmala programme will be scaled up and we will develop other inland waterways faster.”

According to a reply to a right-to-information petition filed in 2018, it was reported that just 80 projects had been completed out of the 220 projects envisioned under the Sagar Mala project, over three years after its inception.

“Placing an Indian astronaut into space by 2022”

The ISRO chief K Sivan in a press conference last month had announced that under the Gaganyaan mission,a three-member team will be sent to space which could also include a woman astronaut. It’s too soon to evaluate the progress of this plan.

“High farm production and productivity will be achieved through modern agricultural practices and value addition”

India, a country which has over 45% of its population employed in agriculture, is also a major exporter. According to reports, during April-October 2018, exports of agricultural and processed food products totalled US$ 21.61 billion.

India now faces the problem of surplus, where farmers are ready to answer the demand for more produce. However, the farmer has not been in the winning end of the deal. A report of the Committee on Strategy for Doubling Farmers' Income by 2022 states that “The WPI (wholesale price index) of food articles was lower than that of agricultural inputs for most years, indicating that farmers received lower market prices for agricultural commodities than the prices paid for the purchase of inputs.”

“Aiming at healthy society with an environment of health assurance and the support of necessary health infrastructure”

The Indian government had announced its ambitious Ayushman Bharat scheme in 2018. The Finance Minister during his budget speech announced that so far ₹3000 crore had been allocated to Ayushman Bharat which has benefited over 10 lakh people.

However, many states have pulled out of the scheme criticising it for legitimate and political reasons. As the minister from Chhattisgarh explained, Ayushman Bharat provided insurance for secondary and tertiary healthcare in hospitals, whereas nearly 80% of the state’s citizens required primary healthcare services.

Outpatient treatment, which is hugely popular with India’s poor households according to a Brookings report, isn’t provided under the scheme. In addition, as public hospitals lack the requisite infrastructure, the government is relying heavily on private hospitals, which aren’t that widespread in semi-urban and rural areas and can promote expensive treatments to improve their margins

“Transforming India into a Minimum Government Maximum Governance nation”

‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’ was one of the many slogans that Modi came up with ahead of the 2014 elections. Indeed, he managed to reduce the layers in bureaucracy and made processes simpler in many cases. It helped India to rise to the 77th position in the ease of doing business ranking assessed by the World Bank, up from 142 in 2014.

Yet, the spirit of the slogan does not pervade all parts of the government. For instance, startups, which mushroomed in India in the years where there was no focussed regulation, have now hit a wall with the infamous ‘angel tax’.

Early stage investors who back these startups were burdened with higher tax in a bid to control money laundering. The sweeping tax on all angel investors hurt new investments in startups.

Even the steps taken to assuage the concern has only added to the layers of permission required to start a new business.

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