What govt did
Right to Education
In April 2010, the government notified a scheme of free education for all children up to 14, but critics say the proposal does not address the issue of education quality.
Skill development programme
To tap into the demographic dividend, a programme to develop specific skills and meet labour shortfalls till 2022 was launched. Developed under Public Private Partnership, the programme has got a corpus of Rs 2,500 crore, made in a budgetary grants in 2012-13.
Unique Identification Number authority
It was the Big Idea of the UPA – have a biometric-based identification system that would prevent leakages, duplication and corruption. Headed by technocrat Nandan Nilekani, UID or Aadhaar was mired in controversies ranging from cost overruns to turf wars with agencies engaged in similar work, but is now making steady progress.
Relations with Pakistan
Normalisation of relations with Pakistan has proceeded apace, despite the government. After the disastrous Sharm El Sheikh meeting, the resumption of the engagement with Pakistan was heralded with the cricket match the two top leaders of India and Pakistan watched in Mohali. The pace is slow, but this is a foreign policy success story of the UPA.
Prevention of terror attacks and Natgrid
After the Mumbai terror attacks, the government patiently put in place an intelligence network that created a grid of intelligence sharing.
The government did announce that instead of letting grain rot in godowns, it would sell it to the poor at low rates. However, the proposal will be meaningless until an overhauled Public Distribution System is in place. (THE TIME LINE)
What govt did not do
Were ambitious but could not be met. In UPA I, they could achieve road construction at only 4.1 km a day, but the government managed to increase it to only 7 km a day last year, falling short of the 20 km a day target. The capacity of major ports increased marginally from 575 million tonne in March 2009 to 689.83 million tonnes per annum by March 2012. The power sector grew by 6.8 per cent and 5.7 per cent in the first two years and improved its performance to around 10 per cent last year, but coal production fell by 3 per cent in 2011-12, compared to zero growth in 2010-11 and 8 per cent growth in the previous two years. This was largely due to the environment policy bottlenecks and the government’s failure to clear those.
Disastrous! the first challenge was the Arunachal Pradesh (AP), Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections in 2009. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party just managed to form a government for a second time in Maharashtra; their seats in Haryana came down drastically and AP was the only state they won. The losing streak dogged the UPA in Bihar (2010) and in 2011, they won Assam and Kerala (they have a one-MLA majority) but had a poor showing in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. West Bengal was sui generis. The less said about the recent round – including UP – the better.
The Opposition did not let the Houses function (the winter session of 2011). Then their own lack of preparedness and allies let them down (in the case of the Companies Bill, Land Acquisition Bill) and the Special Marriages (Amendment) Bill. A similar delay has dogged Bills for reforms in the banking and insurance sectors and the competition authority.
In the 2010 Congress plenary session at Burari, party President Sonia Gandhi promised elimination of chief ministers’ discretionary quotas, state funding of elections, an open, competitive system of exploiting natural resources, and legal fast-tracking of corruption cases. There has been talk but no action on any of those.
There has been no labour reform, elimination of oil subsidy, or any real move towards reform of the Public Distribution System. Not much has changed in the mining sector. There has been little or no administrative reform and tax reforms like the Goods & Services Tax and the Direct Taxes Code languish for want of political consensus. Worse, retrospective amendments to tax laws, including the Vodafone case, added to uncertainty. The government’s inflation management has been inept and policy changes relating to FDI have met a brick wall at the door of allies, even as FDI inflows continue to grow, at $42 billion in April-February 2011-12 compared to $33 billion in 2010-11 and $38 billion the year before. The stock market, too, fell in sync with a slowdown in FII flows at $17 billion in April-February 2011-12, down from $29 billion in each of the two previous years.