After listening to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the BJP National Convention, I felt his achievements are significant. Upon digging deeper and checking his claims, I found what he has accomplished is unparalleled. I hold three masters’ degrees in policy, journalism and economics and am well-versed in my domains. Having spent a significant time attaining these degrees overseas, as well as studying in India, I see changes every time I return to India. I see the country experiencing multiple positive transformations. The government has laid down the building blocks for long-term schemes and some benefits are already visible. For example, Ayushman Bharat — which just completed 100 days — has provided hospital treatment to 6.85 lakh patients. And what's even more important than these initiatives, I see a non-stop energy within Modi to make a ‘New India;’ one where quality of life is comparable to the US and UK. Let me share the statistics behind Modi’s accomplishments in line with today’s speech:
The prime minister opened by saying the BJP has proved the government can be run without corruption; the last term was full of scams. When I looked into the financial schemes launched under the National Democratic Alliance, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) have been the two best financial reforms for economic transparency. I applaud the government in accomplishing GST implementation, with each state being involved in decision-making. The IBC also has done wonders for the system, as many leaders will testify. Recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Rs 80,000 crore was recovered in 66 cases and crores of rupees more will be recovered.
Don’t forget how careless the United Progressive Alliance was with the economy. Super high inflation, falling reserves and a completely unorganised housing market left most of the country’s youth unable to get a start in life. Today, the GST is making life easier in many areas: including real estate. Because of the tax, the entire market is well on its way to being organised. Millennials, remember the days where landlords could charge whatever they wanted for substandard living and only accepted cash? Those days are gone thanks to the GST. Renters can see an exact breakdown of payments. Thanks to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) — also implemented by the NDA — far more affordable housing is available and youth is opting for it. Small but promising real estate start-ups like CoHo have sprouted up to give millennials practical housing options in multiple cities. Millennials can realistically look at living and working without the hassle of unaffordable rent, haggling with landlords and substandard living conditions. We can now spread across the country and develop areas that are in dire need.
Modi also touched upon attaining loans. He claimed there were two ways of getting a loan; the common way and the Congress way: Referring to illegitimate measures. Today, a young entrepreneur can get a loan easily thanks to significantly improved Ease of Doing Business. India has jumped from 142 to 77 on the Word Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. This had led to a plethora of opportunities for entrepreneurs and India’s vibrant, young workforce. Today, India has a unicorn club of its own that it can boast of. Members include Ola, Paytm, Zomato and Flipkart. An entrepreneur can even acquire a loan of Rs 1 crore in less than an hour. The Modi government has created support schemes to boost Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups alike for budding entrepreneurs. MSMEs have a 12-point support plan that allows owners to focus on growth rather than the hassles of paperwork and compliance.
And for the youth from economically weaker and rural sections: More people are connected to the banking system than ever before. It is a fact that when there is financial inclusivity, the country’s productivity and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increases. India has the most vibrant workforce: over 65 percent of its 1.3 billion population is under the age of 35. In just one term, the prime minister has managed to ensure that the working poor have bank accounts. Over 33 crore Jan Dhan accounts have been opened. What does this do? The welfare funds they receive goes directly into their accounts: no corrupt middlemen.
Before the NDA, this level of financial inclusivity simply did not exist. As Modi correctly noted in his speech, for the Congress it seems farmers are merely ‘vote banks’. Additionally, the quota bill giving 10 percent reservation for education and jobs to economically weaker sections is an incredible win for young India. Now, equal opportunity is a realistic possibility for youth regardless of race and religion. As it should be.
In his speech to the BJP, the prime minister emphasised the importance of the youth for the future of India. He stated that providing youth guidance and facilities will make them independent. This is also being done. The UPA did not do much on this front for years. The NDA is fixing this mess in a smart and strategic way. First, the government is heavily encouraging technology through Digital India. Young people who are skilled have many opportunities. Tech-centric platforms in rural areas are helping youth get skilled. This never happened before. Online learning platforms do not require teacher to be present.
Second, the NDA is strongly pushing entrepreneurship. With a huge young population (over 65 percent are under 35), this is an incredibly strategic and smart move. If there is a lack of jobs, train people to create jobs. The benefits can already be seen. Fifteen crore entrepreneurs have benefitted from Mudra loans. And with the Ease of Doing Business in India getting significantly better, companies have a better chance to flourish, generate wealth and increase hiring.
To all the naysayers, I say this: Has the Congress elaborated on any strategy to create jobs that has actually been implemented successfully and with the same results? If you look at statistics, the answer is no. So why would I vote for the party that has no strategy whatsoever versus the candidate actually trying to tackle the issue? Which brings me to my next point.
NDA vs Opposition: Facts don't lie
According to the prime minister, the Opposition is full of talk and the result of the NDA schemes are more than a good answer for unfounded Congress accusations and lies. I looked into the statistics and found validity in Modi’s claim. The NDA government has completely revived the highway sector. Twenty-seven kilometres of roads were constructed per day from 2017-18. Rural road connectivity is over 90 percent; before Modi came to power, it was only at 70 percent.
Through the Setu Bharatam initiative, all national highways will be free of railway-level crossings: which will increase efficiency and connectivity for both mediums. Freight loading reached an all-time high of 1,160 million tonnes (MT) in 2017-18. The NextGen airports for MABH Nirmal is increasing the number of air passengers that come through. In 2017, there were 265 million passengers. The number will increase in the next decade. Unserved and underserved airports are being developed under the regional connectivity scheme. Perhaps the most impressive development in my opinion has been the Sagarmala port scheme. Within only two years, the scheme has shown significant improvement to port capacity, efficiency of taking goods from place to place and coordinated connectivity. This connectivity has not only increased business, but also has created employment. As ports get further developed, it can only bring in more economic activity and employment.
With Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign, rural sanitation is at 96.72 percent. Before he took office, it was at 38.7 percent. More girls can stay for the entire school day because there are toilets. This will lead to more girls being educated and more young women contributing to the GDP. Moreover, the NDA just recently has officially given out its sixth crore LPG connection. In 2014, only 54 percent of households had connections. Today, the number lies at 90 percent with the government aiming at 100 percent coverage in the near future. As a result, more young people can study and stay connected. And what about electrification? As of 2018, 95 percent of homes have been electrified. The government is aggressively aiming for 100 percent soon.
And if after all this, If I still haven’t convinced you that Modi is the best candidate for the country in 2019, let’s look at his final words of today’s speech. Modi asked: “What kind of PM do you want?” We have two options: One lacks experience and has not passed anything significant in his entire political career. The other may have flaws (who doesn’t?), but has a proven track record as Gujarat chief minister and now, as prime minister. It is very easy to criticise someone in the public eye. You have the luxury of sitting on your laptop or phone and typing insults on your sofa.
But while you are doing that, you have a candidate working 18 hours a day for you to have the luxuries of increased accessibility, connectivity and amenities. I’ll end with a message of mobilisation to all youth: instead of nit-picking, look at the amount of positive development during the NDA and compare it to the UPA. The initiatives named in this article are merely a handful. Many initiatives are being successfully implemented that you may not even be aware of!
Modi cares about our nation’s youth. It is this candidate that will take our ideas, careers and lives forward. After completing my education at Harvard last summer, I chose to ignore six-figure offers in New York City, Boston and Chicago because I believe that India is now a land of opportunity. With Modi as my leader, New India is a possibility. And I sure want to be part of that.
The author is an executive producer and anchor at New India Junction. She holds masters' degrees from Harvard, the University of Southern California and the London School of Economics and Political Science
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Updated Date: Jan 12, 2019 22:38:21 IST