New Delhi: On May 26, two years back, the heads of SAARC nations, several Chief Ministers, political leaders, celebrities, corporate honchos and religious heads gathered at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The occasion was of the swearing-in ceremony of new Government of India. Exactly at 6pm, President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office and secrecy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet.
The swearing-in ceremony of the ‘majority’ BJP government gave a hint that it was ready with a game-changing plan for the country. After the two years of governance, about two-third of the people say that they are happy with the Narendra Modi-led government's performance.
A survey done by LocalCircles concluded its 20 point citizen poll with over 15,000 citizens voting on each question.
According to the survey, 64 percent citizens say the government performance met with expectations, while 36 percent found it below expectations.
The key areas where more efforts were needed, include with regard to women and child safety and controlling price rise.
Citizens rated the Direct Benefit Transfer initiative highly over Swachh Bharat and Make in India. Overall, 76 percent citizens feel optimistic about their and their family's future in India. Most want the government to focus on bringing investments and creating jobs in the next three years.
"Around 61 percent believe government has done its best to get GST approved while 30 percent don't believe so. About 72 percent believe there has been growth in infrastructure development but only 20 percent disagree," the survey said.
Citizens from different parts of India and some NRIs participated in this exercise which lasted almost a month and included a combination of 20 polls and discussions. Over 15,000 citizens participated in each one of the polls and a total of 375,568 responses were received making it a very large sample size.
The sample also included people from all age groups -- 18 and above. Also, 46 percent of the respondents were from tier 1 cities, 27 percent from tier 2 cities and 27 percent were from tier 3 and rural parts of India.
The report said that 35 percent believed that the unemployment rate had reduced, while 43 percent believed otherwise. About 38 percent believed prices of essential commodities have come down, while 55 percent believed they have gone up.
About 38 percent believe crime against women/children has reduced, while 44 percent believe it has not reduced. Around 18 percent believe their elected MP is engaged in constituency issues, while 66 percent see no engagement.
According to the report, 36 percent believed ministries are taking citizen feedback and acting but 48 percent believed they are not. About 67 percent believed cleanliness and sanitation in their city has improved, while 28 percent saw no improvement.
The report also said that 61 percent believed corruption has reduced, while 32 percent didn't see any reduction. About 56 percent saw an improvement in power/water situation while 34 percent haven't experienced improvement.
About 72 percent believe that terrorism has reduced, only 21 percent believe they have not. A whopping 90 percent feel India's image and influence in the world has improved, while only eight percent disagree.
According to the report, 34 percent believe relationship with Pakistan has improved, while 51 percent don't see an improvement. About 63 percent believed issues of communalism have been effectively handled, while 31 percent don't think so.
About 68 percent believe government is on track to deliver to promises made before elections, while 26 percent don't believe so.
Survey results may indicate good going for the two years in power for the Modi government. However, many relevant outstanding issues have not seen much change on ground. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has perhaps been the government’s biggest failure in Parliament. The current government has failed to negotiate the hurdles posed by the Congress over the passage of a bill that it had envisaged and drafted under its watch. This, perhaps, is one blot that the government desperately needs to write off its books.
Prime Minister Modi’s global engagements have gained much intention – for reasons both right and wrong. Many had dubbed inviting Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to the swearing-in ceremony as a masterstroke by Modi. This was followed up with his surprise visit to Lahore to wish his Pakistani counterpart on his birthday and attend a family event. The results, however, were not encouraging. Barely days after the PM’s diplomatic overture came the Pathankot attack, forcing India to rethink its strategy in trusting and dealing with its turbulent neighbour. Pakistan has been a challenge to superpower US and there is no reason that India, its bête noire, will be treated any differently.
Moreover, there are issues pertaining to its tall promises of transformation that Modi will need to address going forward. A survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies across 15 states covering 4,000 respondents from the rural and urban landscape, found inflation, inability to provide employment and bringing back black money as the government’s major failures. As per the survey, 49 per cent of the respondents said that they felt no change in their living standards, while 15 per cent felt the situation had actually worsened.
It is challenges like these that Modi needs to address as his government embarks on the next leg of its journey. The intent of the government, so far, appears right. The focus, however, must stay on its resolve that brought it to power with a record mandate.