Premiership of Narendra Modi

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Modi reading from a paper into a bank of microphones
Modi (far right) being sworn in as Prime Minister, in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee (far left), 2014.

Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He became the first Prime Minister born after India's independence from the British rule.[1] His first cabinet consisted of 45 ministers, 25 fewer than the previous UPA government.[2] 21 new ministers were added to the council of ministers in November 2014.[3] His current cabinet has a strength of 78 ministers, which is one of the largest cabinets in recent years.[4]

Economic policies[edit]

The economic policies of Modi's government focused on privatisation and liberalisation of the economy, based on a neoliberal framework.[3][5] Modi liberalised India's foreign direct investment policies, allowing more foreign investment in several industries, including in defence and the railways.[3][6][7][8] Other reforms included removing many of the country's labor laws, to make it harder for workers to form unions and easier for employers to hire and fire them.[5] These reforms met with support from institutions such as the World Bank, but opposition from scholars within the country. The labour laws also drew strong opposition from unions: on 2 September 2015, eleven of the country's largest unions went on strike, including one affiliated with the BJP.[5] The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, a constituent of the Sangh Parivar, stated that the reforms would hurt laborers by making it easier for corporations to exploit them.[3] In his first budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promised to gradually reduce the budgetary deficit from 4.1% to 3% over two years, and to divest from shares in public banks.[3] Over Modi's first year in office, the Indian GDP grew at a rate of 7.5%, making it the fastest growing large economy.[5] This was basis a revised formula introduced a year after he took office, which surprised a lot of economists.[9] However, this rate of growth had fallen significantly to 6.1%, even by the revised metric, by his third year in office.[10] This fall has been blamed on the exercise of demonetisation of currency.[10]

The funds dedicated to poverty reduction programs and social welfare measures was greatly decreased by the Modi administration.[11] The money spent on social programs declined from 14.6% of GDP during the Congress government to 12.6% during Modi's first year in office.[3] Spending on health and family welfare declined by 15%, and on primary and secondary education, by 16%.[3] The budgetary allocation for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, or the "education for all" program, declined by 22%.[3] The government also lowered corporate taxes, abolished the wealth tax, and reduced customs duties on gold, jewelry, and increased sales taxes.[3] In October 2014, the Modi government deregulated diesel prices,[12] and later increased taxes on diesel and petrol.[3] In July 2014, Modi refused to sign a trade agreement that would permit the World Trade Organization to implement a deal agreed in Bali, citing a lack of protection to Indian farmers and the needs of food security.[3] The addition to Indian airports grew by 23 percent in 2016 while the airfares dropped by over 25 percent.[13]

Modi at the launch of the Make in India program.

In September 2014, Modi introduced the Make in India initiative to encourage foreign companies to manufacture products in India, with the goal of turning India into a global manufacturing hub.[3][14] Supporters of economic liberalisation supported the initiative, while critics argued it would allow foreign corporations to capture a greater share of the Indian market.[3] In order to enable the construction of private industrial corridors, the Modi administration passed a land-reform bill that allowed it to acquire private agricultural land without conducting a social impact assessment, and without the consent of the farmers who owned it.[15] Under the previous bill, the government had required the consent of 80% of the owners of a piece of property before acquiring it for a private project: this requirement was waived.[16] The bill was passed via an executive order after it faced opposition in parliament, but was eventually allowed to lapse.[16]

The government substantially increased the percentage of central revenue directly granted to states, while decreasing the amount granted through various central government programs. Overall, states' share of revenue increased marginally.[11] The criteria upon which individual states' allocation was determined were changed, such that the revenue to 19 states increased, and that of 10 states decreased. Only one of the ten states was ruled by the BJP when the policy was enacted.[11]

The government signed large deals with General Electric and Alstom to supply India with 1,000 new diesel locomotives, as part of an effort to reform the Indian railway, which also included privatisation efforts.[17][18] In December 2015, Modi's government signed an agreement with Japan to jointly build a bullet train system linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad.[19] The Indian government put forward a plan on converting 101 rivers into national waterways for the transport of goods and passengers. The government also began an ambitious program to increase the number of highways in the country,[20][21] allocating 700 billion (US$10 billion) to the project.[3]

On 25 June 2015, Modi launched a program intended to develop 100 smart cities.[22] The "Smart Cities" program is expected to bring IT companies an extra benefit of 20 billion (US$300 million).[23] He also launched a "smart villages" initiative, under which villages would be given Internet access, clean water, sanitation, and low-carbon energy, with Members of Parliament overseeing the program's implementation. The program had a stated goal of at least 2,500 smart villages by 2019.[23]

Give up LPG subsidy is a campaign launched in March 2015 by the Indian government led by Narendra Modi.It is aimed at motivating LPG users who can afford to pay the market price for LPG to voluntarily surrender their LPG subsidy.[24] As at 23 April 2016 1 crore ( 10 million) people had voluntarily given up the subsidy.[25] The surrendered subsidy is being used by the government to provide cooking gas connections to poor families in rural households free of cost.[26] Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Tamil Nadu are the top five states to give up the subsidy.[27]

In his regime Railway budget was merged into the Union Budget of India. The date of presenting budget was moved from 28 February to 1 February and financial cycle was changed from July to April. Further, the artificial distinction between planned and non-planned expenditure was removed. Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), considered as a hurdle in FDI, was scrapped by Modi government.[28]

Modi government put in place the Goods and Services Tax, the biggest tax reform in the country since independence. It subsumed around 17 different taxes and became effective from 1 July 2017.[29]

Financial inclusion[edit]

Modi launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in August 2014. The initiative aimed to create bank accounts and debit cards for 150 million families, and to allow them an overdraft of 5,000 (US$75) and accident insurance. After the launch, 125.4 million accounts were opened by January 2015.[3]

Modi government launched the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) in April 2015. Under this scheme, loans up to 1 million (US$15,000) are given for non-agricultural activities under the three categories: Shishu (loans up to 50,000 (US$750)); Kishore (loans from 50,000 (US$750) to 500,000 (US$7,500)) and Tarun (loans from 500,000 (US$7,500) to 1 million (US$15,000)). According to a report by the SKOCH Group, this scheme has generated 1.68 crore incremental jobs in the first two years till September 2017.[30]

Anti-corruption initiatives[edit]

In his first cabinet decision, Modi set up a team to investigate black money.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37]

Demonetisation[edit]

On 9 November 2016, the government demonetised ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes, with the stated intention of curbing corruption, black money, the use of counterfeit currency, and terrorism.[38] The move led to widespread protests throughout the country, including one by opposition parties, which stalled the winter session of parliament.[39] In the days following the demonetisation, banks across the country faced severe cash shortages,[40][41][42] which had detrimental effects on a number of small businesses, on agriculture, and on transportation. People seeking to exchange their notes had lengthy waits, and several deaths were linked to the rush to exchange cash.[43][44] As a combined effect of Modi's announcement and the US Presidential election results, the Indian stock indices BSE SENSEX and NIFTY 50 declined steeply.[45]

The decision met with mixed initial reactions. Several bankers like Arundhati Bhattacharya (Chairperson of State Bank of India) and Chanda Kochhar (MD & CEO of ICICI Bank) appreciated the move in the sense that it would help curb black money.[46] Businessmen Anand Mahindra (Mahindra Group), Sajjan Jindal (JSW Group), Kunal Bahl (Snapdeal and FreeCharge) also supported the move adding that it would also accelerate e-commerce.[46] Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy praised the move.[47][48]

Former Chief Election Commissioner of India S. Y. Quraishi said demonetisation could lead to long term electoral reforms.[49] Indian social activist Anna Hazare hailed demonetisation as a revolutionary step.[50][51][52] The President of India Pranab Mukherjee welcomed the demonetisation move by calling it bold step.[53][54][55][56] The opinion of the masses varied both ways on micro-blogs and social media sites like Twitter.[57]

By and large, international response was positive which saw the move as a bold crackdown on corruption.[58][59][60] International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a statement supporting Modi's efforts to fight corruption by the demonetisation policy.[58]

Chinese state media Global Times praised the move and termed it as "fierce fight against black money and corruption."[59] Former Prime Minister of Finland and Vice-President of European Commission Jyrki Katainen welcomed the demonetisation move stressing that bringing transparency will strengthen Indian economy.[61][62] BBC's South Asia Correspondent Justin Rowlatt in his article praised the move for its secrecy and success and elaborated on reason behind demonetisation.[63]Tim Worstall termed the demonetisation as welcome macroeconomic effect in his article in Forbes magazine.[64] Swedish Minister of Enterprise Mikael Damberg supported the move by calling it bold decision.[60]

Shell companies[edit]

After demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1000 rupee notes[65][66][67] various authorities noticed a surge in shell companies depositing cash in banks, possibly in an attempt to hide the real owner of the wealth. In response, in July 2017, the authorities ordered nearly 2 lakh shell companies to be shut down while Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) imposed trading restrictions on 162 listed entities as shell companies.[68][69] In September 2017, the government froze bank accounts of nearly 2 lakh shell companies.[70] A day after, the Corporate Affairs ministry decided to: ban around 300,000 directors of shell companies from serving on the boards of other firms, track down the beneficial owners of suspected shell companies and take penal action against those who divert funds from these shell companies.[71]

Infrastructure[edit]

Modi government passed the National Waterways Act, 2016 to develop 111 National Waterways in India.[72]

Hindutva and social policies[edit]

During the 2014 election campaign, Modi expressed hopes for a tenure without communal violence. The BJP sought to identify itself with political leaders known to have opposed Hindu nationalism, including B. R. Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Ram Manohar Lohia.[11] The campaign also saw the use of rhetoric based on Hindutva, however, by BJP leaders in certain states.[73] Communal tensions were played upon especially in Uttar Pradesh and the states of Northeast India.[73] A proposal for the controversial Uniform Civil Code was a part of the BJP's election manifesto.[74]

Several state governments headed by the BJP have enacted policies aligned with Hindutva after the election of Modi as prime minister. The government of Maharashtra banned the killing of cows in 2014.[73] The government of Haryana made changes to its education policy that introduced Hindu religious elements into the curriculum.[75] External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj suggested after the election that the Bhagvad Gita be adopted as India's "national book".[73] The Modi administration has generally avoided directly supporting policies related to a Hindutva agenda.[73] There has been an increase in the activities of a number of other Hindu nationalist organisations, sometimes with the support of the government.[11][73] The incidents included a campaign against "Love Jihad", a religious conversion programme, and attempts to celebrate Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, by members of the right wing Hindu Mahasabha.[11] The attempts at religious conversion have been described by the VHP and other organisations involved with them as attempts at "reconversion" from Islam or Christianity. There have been a number of reports of intimidation or coercion of the subjects during these attempts.[73] Officials in the government, including the Home Minister, have defended the attempts.[73] There were additional incidents of violence targeted at religious minorities by Hindu nationalists.[11] Modi refused to remove a government minister from her position after a popular outcry resulted from her referring to religious minorities as "bastards."[11] Commentators have suggested, however, that the violence was perpetrated by radical Hindu nationalists to undercut the authority of Modi.[11]

The Modi administration appointed Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, who had previously been associated with the RSS, chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research.[74] In reaction to his appointment, other historians and former members of the ICHR, including those sympathetic to the ruling party, questioned his credentials as a historian. Several stated that the appointment was part of an agenda of cultural nationalism.[74][76][77]

The government began formulating a New Education Policy, or NEP, soon after its election. As of March 2016, this policy had yet to be implemented.[75] This was the third education policy introduced by the Indian government, following those of 1968 and 1986.[75] The policy was described as having overtones of Hindutva.[75] The RSS had a role in its creation, and it did not explicitly mention the goals of "socialism, secularism and democracy" that had been mentioned in the first two policies.[75] The policy emphasized the education of minority students, as well as those of economically backward groups, in particular on improving enrollment in schools among those groups.[75] The policy proposed bringing religious educational institutions under the Right to Education Act.[75] There was also a debate about removing caste-based reservation in favor of reservation based on income, a move supported by the RSS, but which was criticized as being discriminatory on the basis of caste.[75]

Social welfare[edit]

In June 2015, Modi launched the "Housing for All By 2022" project, which intends to eliminate slums in India by building about 20 million affordable homes for India's urban poor.[78][79] Modi also launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) on 1 May 2016 to distribute 50 million LPG connections to women of BPL families.[80][81][82] A budgetary allocation of 800 billion (US$12 billion) was made for the scheme. In the first year of its launch, the connections distributed were 22 million against the target of 15 million. As of 23 October 2017, 30 million connections were distributed, 44% of which were given to families belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.[83] In 2018 Union Budget of India, its scope was widened to include 80 million poor households.[84]

A total of 4,718 camps were held from 2014-2017, benefiting 6.40 lakh beneficiaries under Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids/Appliances (ADIP) scheme, as compared to 37 camps from 2012-14.[85]

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017[edit]

The BJP Government formulated the bill after 100 cases of instant triple talaq in the country since the Supreme Court judgement in August 2017.[86] On 28 December 2017, Lok Sabha passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017.[87] The bill make instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddah) in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp illegal and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband. MPs from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and AIML[clarification needed] opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal, while Congress supported the Bill tabled in Lok Sabha by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.[88][89] 19 amendments were moved in Lok Sabha but all were rejected.

Health and sanitation policies[edit]

In his first year as prime minister Modi reduced the amount of money spent by the government on healthcare.[90] The Modi government launched a "New Health Policy" in January 2015. The policy did not increase the government's spending on healthcare, but placed emphasis on the role of private healthcare organisations.[91] In its budget for the second year after it took office, the Modi government reduced healthcare spending by 15%.[91] This represented a shift away from the policy of the previous Congress government, which had supported programs to support public health goals including reducing child and maternal mortality rates.[91] The National Health Mission, which included public health programs targeted at these indices received nearly 25% less funds in 2015 than in the previous year.[91] 15 national health programs, including those aimed at controlling tobacco use and supporting healthcare for the elderly, were merged with the National Health Mission, and received less funds than in previous years.[91] Modi initially appointed Harsh Vardhan, a doctor and an advocate of tobacco control, minister of health. However, Vardhan was removed in November 2015.[91] The government also proposed introducing stricter packaging laws for tobacco, but this effort was postponed because of the efforts of the tobacco lobby.[91]

On 2 October 2014, Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ("Clean India") campaign. The states goals of the campaign included eliminating open defecation, eliminating manual scavenging, and improving waste management practices.[92][93] The campaign was announced on the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, and was planned to achieve these aims in five years, or in time for the 150th anniversary of his birth.[93] As part of the programme, the Indian government began the construction of millions toilets in rural areas, as well as efforts to encourage people to use them.[94][95][96] The government also announced plans to build new sewage treatment plants.[97] The administration plans to construct 60 million toilets by 2019. The construction projects have faced allegations of corruption, and have faced severe difficulty in getting people to use the toilets constructed for them.[93][94][95] Modi has generally emphasized his government's efforts at sanitation as a means of ensuring good health.[91] He has also advocated yoga and traditional forms of medicine.[91] An article in the medical journal Lancet stated that the country"might have taken a few steps back in public health" under Modi.[91]

Modi's government developed a draft policy to introduce a universal health care system, known as the National Health Assurance Mission. Under this plan, the government was to provide free drugs, diagnostic treatment, and insurance coverage for serious ailments, although budgetary concerns have delayed its implementation.[98][99][100] The government announced "Ayushman Bharat" (National Health Protection Mission) in 2018 Union Budget of India. It is World's largest health protection scheme, also being called ModiCare.[101][102][103] The scheme will help 10 crore families in their medical need.[104] Under the Ayushman Bharat programme, there is a new scheme has been announced by Arun Jaitley, the finance minister of India, called National Health Protection Scheme, providing a health insurance cover of ₹5 lac a family per annum. [105]

Education and skill development[edit]

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana logo

PMKVY is a skill development initiative scheme of the Government of India for recognition and standardisation of skills.[106] Cabinet approved an outlay of 120 billion (US$1.8 billion) for the project. The scheme has a target to train 1 crore Indian youth from 2016-20.[107] As of 18 July 2016, 17.93 lakh candidates were trained out of 18 lakh who enrolled for the scheme. The aim of the pmkvy scheme is to encourage aptitude towards employable skills and to increase working efficiency of probable and existing daily wage earners, by giving monetary awards and rewards and by providing quality training to them. Average award amount per person has been kept as 8,000 (US$120). Those wage earners already possessing a standard level of skill will be given recognition as per scheme and average award amount for them is ₹2000 to ₹2500. In the initial year, a target to distribute 15 billion (US$220 million) has been laid down for the scheme. Training programmes have been worked out on the basis of National Occupational Standards (NOS) and qualification packs specifically developed in various sectors of skills. For this qualification plans and quality plans have been developed by various Sector Skill Councils (SSC) created with participation of Industries. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been made coordinating and driving agency for the same.[108]

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)[109][110] is a skill development initiative scheme of the Government of India for recognition and standardisation of skills.[111]

The aim of the pmkvy scheme is to encourage aptitude towards employable skills and to increase working efficiency of probable and existing daily wage earners, by giving monetary awards and rewards and by providing quality training to them. Average award amount per person has been kept as 8,000 (US$120). Those wage earners already possessing a standard level of skill will be given recognition as per scheme and average award amount for them is ₹2000 to ₹2500. In the initial year, a target to distribute 15 billion (US$220 million) has been laid down for the scheme. Training programmes have been worked out on the basis of National Occupational Standards (NOS) and qualification packs specifically developed in various sectors of skills. For this qualification plans and quality plans have been developed by various Sector Skill Councils (SSC) created with participation of Industries. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been made coordinating and driving agency for the same.[112]

An outlay of 120 billion (US$1.8 billion) has been approved by the cabinet for this project.[113] The scheme has a target to train 1 crore Indian youth from 2016-20.[113] As of 18 July 2016, 17.93 lakh candidates were trained out of 18 lakh who enrolled for the scheme.[112]

Foreign policy[edit]

Modi with other BRICS leaders in 2016. Left to right: Temer, Modi, Xi, Putin and Zuma.

Foreign policy played a relatively small role in Modi's election campaign, and did not feature prominently in the BJP's election manifesto.[114] Modi invited all the other leaders of SAARC countries to the ceremony where he was sworn in as prime minister.[115][116] He was the first Indian prime minister to do so.[117] Observers have stated that due to Modi portraying himself as a strong and nationalist leader during his election campaign, he would be politically unable to follow a policy of restraint that India had previously followed after terrorist attacks, and is more likely to have a military response.[115]

Modi's foreign policy focused on improving economic ties, improving security, and increased regional relations, which is very similar to the policy of the preceding INC government.[114] Modi continued his predecessor Manmohan Singh's policy of "multialignment."[118] This involved the use of regional multilateral institutions and strategic partnerships to further the interests of the Indian government.[118] The Modi administration tried to attract foreign investment in the Indian economy from several sources, especially in East Asia.[114] The Modi government also upgraded several of India's military alliances, although it was unable to conclude negotiations for a trilateral defense agreement with Japan and Australia.[114] As a part of this policy, the Modi government completed India's application to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is led by China and Russia. (SCO). It also joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank founded by China.[118] Together with the US government, it created a "Joint Strategic Vision" for the Indian and Pacific oceans.[118] The government also tried to improve relations with Islamic republics in the Middle East, such as Bahrain, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as with Israel, with the intent to also "link west."[118] Modi added five bilateral strategic partnerships to the 25 that had been agreed by his predecessors Singh and Vajpayee.[118]

Prime Minister Modi with President Barack Obama of the US, 2015

During the first few months after the election, Modi made trips to a number of different countries to further the goals of his policy, and attended the BRICS, ASEAN, and G20 summits.[114] During these visits, Modi attempted to draw further foreign investment in the Indian economy,[114] with the use of slogans such as "Make in India" and "Digital India," put forward during a visit to Silicon Valley.[118] One of Modi's first visits as prime minister was to Nepal, during which he promised a billion USD in aid.[119] Another early visit was to Bhutan.[119] IModi also made several overtures to the United States, including multiple visits to that country.[116] While this was described as an unexpected development, due to the US having previously denied Modi a travel visa over his role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, it was also expected to strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.[116] As of July 2016, Modi had made 51 trips to 42 countries with the intent of strengthening diplomatic relations.[120][121]

In 2015, the Indian parliament ratified a land exchange deal with Bangladesh about the India–Bangladesh enclaves, which had been initiated by the government of Manmohan Singh.[16] Modi's administration gave renewed attention to India's "Look East Policy", instituted in 1991. The policy was renamed the "Act East Policy", and involved directing Indian foreign policy towards East Asia and Southeast Asia.[118][122] The government signed agreements to improve land connectivity with Myanmar, through the state of Manipur. This represented a break with India's historic engagement with Myanmar, which prioritized border security over trade.[122]

He coined the concept of “three Ds” — democracy, demography and demand — to reflect the strength of the country.[123]

Defence policy[edit]

During the 2014 election campaign, Modi and the BJP pledged to revisit India's nuclear weapons doctrine, and in particular India's historical policy of no-first-use.[124] The pressure to revise the doctrine came from a desire for assertiveness among Indian government and defence officials. Soon after being sworn in as Prime Minister, Modi said that no revision would take place in the immediate future.[124] The election manifesto of the BJP had also promised to deal with illegal immigration into India in the Northeast, as well as to be more firm in its handling of insurgent groups.[125] During the election campaign, Modi said that he would be willing to accommodate Hindu migrants who were being persecuted in Bangladesh, but those that came with "political objectives" would have to be sent back to Bangladesh.[125] The Modi government issued a notification allowing Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist illegal immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh to legalize their residency in India.[125] The government described the measure as being taken for humanitarian reasons. However, it drew criticism from several Assamese organizations.[125]

Modi continued the previous INC administration's policy of increasing military spending every year, announcing an increase of 11% in the military budget in 2015.[126][127] This increase was larger than the average growth under the Congress.[126]

The Modi administration negotiated a peace agreement with the largest faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCM), which was announced in August 2015. The Naga insurgency in northwest India had begun in the 1950s.[125][128] The NSCM and the government had agreed to a ceasefire in 1997, but a peace accord had not previously been signed.[128] In 2015 the government abrogated a 15-year ceasefire with the Khaplang faction of the NSCM (NSCM-K). The NSCM-K responded with a series of attacks, which killed 18 people.[125] The Modi government carried out a raid across the border with Myanmar as a result, and labelled the NSCM-K a terrorist organization.[125]

Modi has repeatedly stated that Pakistan was an exporter of terrorism.[129][130] Modi increased the monetary compensation for victims of terrorist attacks, and stated that citizens of Azad Kashmir could also apply for this compensation.[131] In September 2016, he urged the BRICS to target and destroy funding channels of terrorist groups.[132] On 29 September 2016, the Indian Army stated that it had conducted a surgical strike on terror launchpads in PoK,[133] although Pakistan denied the claim, and the details of the confrontation are still in dispute.[134][135]

Environmental policies[edit]

Modi(right) at CoP21 Climate Conference, in Paris, announcing the founding of an International Solar Alliance (ISA). November 2015.

In naming his cabinet, Modi renamed the "Ministry of Environment and Forests" the "Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change."[136] In the first budget of the government, the money allotted to this ministry was reduced by more than 50%.[136] The new ministry also removed or diluted a number of laws related to environmental protection. These included no longer requiring clearance from the National Board for Wildlife for projects close to protected areas, and allowing certain projects to proceed before environmental clearance was received.[3][136] The government also tried to reconstitute the Wildlife board such that it no longer had representatives from non-governmental organisations: however, this move was prevented by the Supreme court.[136]

Modi also relaxed or abolished a number of other environmental regulations, particularly those related to industrial activity. A government committee stated that the existing system only served to create corruption, and that the government should instead rely on the owners of industries to voluntarily inform the government about the pollution they were creating.[3][137] The changes were made with the aim of accelerating approval for industrial projects. Other changes included reducing ministry oversight on small mining projects, and no longer requiring approval from tribal councils for projects inside forested areas.[137] In addition, Modi lifted a moratorium on new industrial activity in the most polluted areas in the countries.[136] The changes were welcomed by business people, but were criticized by environmentalists.[137]

Under the UPA government that preceded Modi's administration, field trials of Genetically Modified crops had essentially put on hold, after protests from farmers fearing for their livelihoods.[138] Under the Modi government these restrictions were gradually lifted.[138] The government received some criticism for freezing the bank accounts of environmental group Greenpeace, citing financial irregularities, although a leaked government report said that the freeze had to do with Greenpeace's opposition to GM crops.[138]

At the CoP21 Climate Conference on 30 November 2015 Modi announced the founding of an International Solar Alliance (ISA). The headquarters of the ISA would be located in Gurgaon, and would receive support from the Indian government for a few years. All tropical countries were invited to join the alliance.[139]

Governance and other initiatives[edit]

Modi's first year as prime minister saw significant centralization of power relative to previous administrations.[11][140] Modi personally selected the civil servants who served under his ministers, frequently giving them instructions without involving the ministers themselves.[11] Modi's efforts at centralisation have been linked to an increase in the number of senior administration officials resigning their positions.[11] Although the government has a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha, it does not have one in the Rajya Sabha, which led to its policied frequently being stymied there. Thus, Modi resorted to passing a number of ordinances, or executive orders, to enact his policies, leading to further centralisation of power.[16] In 2014, the Prime Minister's Office prevented Gopal Subramaniam from being appointed to the Supreme Court. The stated reason was that his conduct in the 2G spectrum allocation case had been suspect: commentators stated it was because he had been the amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, which had implicated BJP leaders including Modi's aide Amit Shah.[3] The government also passed a bill increasing the control that it had over the appointment of judges, and reducing that of the judiciary.[141]

On 31 December 2014, Modi announced that the Planning Commission had been scrapped. It was replaced with a body called the National Institution for Transforming India, or NITI Aayog.[142][143] The Planning Commission was a legacy of the Indian Independence movement, although critics said that it was slowing economic growth.[144] The new body includes the leaders of all 29 Indian states, but its full-time staff report directly to the prime minister.[142] The move had the effect of greatly centralizing the power previously with the planning commission in the person of the prime minister.[3][16][142][143][144] It also reduced the extent of control individual states had over their financial allocation from the union government,[143][144] and unlike the planning commission, it does not have the power to allocate funds.[143] The planning commission had received heavy criticism in previous years for creating inefficiency in the government, and of not filling its role of improving social welfare: however, since the economic liberalisation of the 1990s, it had been the major government body responsible for measures related to social justice.[143]

As Prime Minister, Modi announced the abolition of a number of regulations previously placed on Indian businesses, such as a complex permit and inspection system. The move was aimed at reducing red tape and making it easier to do business.[145][146] Modi also ordered reform among the bureaucrats of the Indian Administrative Service to ensure a more efficient government bureaucracy.[147][148]

The Modi government launched a crackdown against a number of civil society organisations. Several tens of thousands of organisations were investigated by the Intelligence Bureau in the first year of the administration, on the grounds that they were slowing economic growth.[11] International humanitarian aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres was among the groups that were put under pressure.[11] Other organisations affected included the Sierra Club and Avaaz.[3] Cases of sedition were filed against individuals criticising the government.[11] This led to discontent with Modi's style of functioning within the BJP, and drew comparisons to the governing style of Indira Gandhi.[11][16]

He started a monthly radio program titled "Mann ki Baat" on 3 October 2014.[149]

Repealing obsolete laws[edit]

Modi repealed 1,200 obsolete laws in first three years as prime minister, against a total of 1,301 such laws repealed by previous governments over a span of 64 years.[150][151][152] The legislations passed in the parliament for the purpose include Repealing and Amending Act, 2015, Repealing and Amending (Second) Act, 2015, Repealing and Amending Act, 2016, Repealing and Amending Act, 2017 and Repealing and Amending (Second) Act, 2017.[citation needed]

IT policy[edit]

Modi launched the Digital India programme, which has the goal of ensuring that government services are available electronically, building infrastructure so rural areas get high-speed Internet access, boosting manufacturing of electronic goods in the country, and promoting digital literacy.[153][154][155] Under the programme, 400 railway Stations across the country are being equipped with Wi-Fi technology.[156] In the 2017 Union Budget of India, POS machines, scanners, fingerprint readers, iris scanners and micro ATMs were exempted from all kinds of custom duties. The internet penetration in India rose from 20 percent in 2014 to 28.7 percent in 2016.[157]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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