The Indian government’s policy promises are like the legendary old ship Titanic. Grand and pompous, but often humbled by reality.
India has had a hard time bearing the brunt of many “historic” policies introduced by PM Narendra Modi led central government. For its latest grand reform, the ruling party has set its sights on the farming community of the country.
Having retained power with an unprecedented mandate, the BJP-led central government has a history of engaging in highly partisan policymaking. Farm Bills are the perfect example. There might be a plethora of other factors in play for the ruckus over the bills that the government claims will transform the lives of farmers. But one thing is certain: the central government’s policies are excellent showbiz with poor box office collections.
Many policies and reforms, that were touted as monumental, have failed to deliver the bright future promised. People stood in queues, walked down to the ATMs, businessmen came to terms with the hard way of taxation. Despite the government’s intentions and people’s expectations, these policies turned out to be economic disappointments, forcing hundreds of thousands into distress.
Let’s put light on the three such policy promises from the Modi Government that flattered to deceive Indian citizens:
- Indian Bank Note Demonetization 2016
- Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Ayushman Bharat Yojana (Universal Health Insurance Scheme)
When the Central government decided to demonetize 86 percent of Indian currency on November 8, 2016, the decision was touted to be a financial masterstroke that would expose the tax evaders of the country, and pave India’s path towards digital payments. The economy and people suffered drastically. But the government’s expectations were hardly met.
Critics have, since then, questioned the outcome of the move, calling it miscalculated and short-sighted. Reports also surfaced which pointed out logical fallacies in the government’s expectations. In a board meeting before the demonetization move was made public, RBI officials had informed the government that estimates put only seven to eight percent of India’s hidden black money to be held in cash. This made the government’s intention to counterfeit currency worth ₹400 crore trivial in comparison to ₹17.7 lakh crore already in circulation.
This is precisely what happened two years later. 99 percent of the banned currency made it back into the financial system. The collateral impact including worsened unemployment, plummeting GDP and a financial blow to India’s millions of small businesses who ran entirely on cash. Many of them still haven’t recovered from the shock. As for digital payments, the market no doubt experienced a spur immediately after demonetization. However, the increase was restored to pre-demonetization levels in time. This is in regard to the 2019 figures to eliminate the impact of covid-19 outbreak.
GST (Goods and Service Tax)
The government itself accepted on November 27, 2019, in a written statement to the states that GST collections have been extremely underwhelming and that the Centre won’t be in position to compensate the states. Matters were only made worse during the pandemic when the sale of luxury goods, large SUVs, tobacco, cigarettes, coal products, etc. plummeted dramatically. The additional tax imposed on these goods were planned to fund any shortcoming in the promised 14% growth of revenue for states. However, since the implementation of GST, the Indian economy has been performing so bad that not even one state has achieved the ‘14% revenue growth’ target.
PMJAY Universal Health Insurance Scheme
Another policy case study from the Modi Government comes in the form of the universal promise of healthcare — Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. Claims amounting to ₹7,602 crore were raised across the country in 2019. Despite a promising figure, a large amount of the money did not get sanctioned. However, the worst failure of the scheme was witnesses when people needed it the most i.e. the pandemic.
A report by National Health Authority reported more than 50 percent dip in the average weekly claims during the lockdown period. The coronavirus outbreak also reflected another shortcoming in the policy — absence of compensation for lost wages during the period of hospitalization. It is insufficient to cover the indirect cost involved in the process of hospitalization. And this is especially detrimental to the poor despite being drafted especially for them.
Watch: 50 percent reduction in Ayushman Bharat claims amid COVID-19
There is increased questioning about the government’s ways of working from people. Different protests at different times of the year involving various sections of society, testifies the fact that people are gradually growing wary of how things are working out currently. Dramatic inflation and unemployment are no more alien to citizen’s eyes.