Narendra Modi dreams big. Be it a 182-foot statue of Sardar Patel, a Digital India or electricity for all, Modi stands in direct contrast to his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, who did not leave his stamp on the prime minister’s office in a decade. Within one year, Modi has unveiled a slew of ambitious schemes for India.
The Opposition Congress alleges many initiatives are a mere repackaging of the United Progressive Alliance’s programmes. Skill India is similar to the National Skill Development Mission and Swachh Bharat is a renaming of its Nirmal Bharat programme.
When Modi unveiled the ‘Make In India’ logo of a roaring lion during a visit to Germany, he tried to put the country on the global manufacturing map. The multi-pronged initiative aims to facilitate investment, foster innovation, protect intellectual property, and build manufacturing infrastructure.
The Skill India initiative is similarly aimed at harnessing the demographic dividend. The government set up a new ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship in November 2014. Modi, as the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had emphasised on equipping the youth with training. For this, the national skill development mission needs to train between 250 million and 300 million people by 2020.
Modi’s critics have slammed several of these plans as a little more than an attempt to make political capital, disregarding basic priorities of the country. Inspired by the bullet trains in Japan, when Modi announced high-speed trains for India, it was greeted with considerable scepticism. However, the feasibility study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor, co-financed by India and Japan, is slated to be in by June. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, which will benefit Surat’s diamond industry, is estimated to cost ~63,180 crore at an average ~118 crore per km. Another feasibility study, for the Delhi-Chennai corridor, is being undertaken in cooperation with the Chinese railway.
The government has also proposed setting up 100 smart cities with intelligent physical, social, institutional and economic infrastructure, with ample scope for economic activity to boost employment. With existing urban infrastructure far from ideal, critics have questioned the feasibility of such smart cities.
The government’s plan for electricity for all must bring states on board. For the two major schemes announced in the budget — the Integrated Power Development Scheme and the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana — states need to chip in with the bigger share of investment, which Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are reluctant to do.
Contesting from Varanasi, Modi had promised to clean the Ganga. His government has identified seven thrust areas and 21 action points for rejuvenation of the river and its tributaries. However, with little action on this, the government has been hauled up by the apex court.
Modi’s vision of an India boldly staking its claim as a permanent member of the UN Security Council may not be in the offing anytime soon but the efficacy of other big plans will be put to test four years hence.
* PM Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make In India’ initiative aims to push domestic manufacturing and help turn India into a global manufacturing hub
* The National Skills Mission is meant to pave the way for Modi’s “Skill India” dream, and to create job-ready youth in the country through skilling programmes
* The policy for setting up 100 smart cities, with a central allocation of ~100 crore per city per year for five years, was recently cleared by the Union Cabinet
* The Digital India programme aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy by the year 2019
* The plan for high-speed trains, popularly referred to as the bullet train programme, is expected to create infrastructure for reducing journey time by 20 per cent
* Short-term (3 years), medium-term (5 years) and long-term (10 years) plans have been made for the Clean Ganga Mission to clean and rejuvenate the river Ganga
* Through improving fuel supply and strengthening the power transmission ecosystem, the government aims to ensure 24x7 power for all by the year 2019