Modi scores with citizens but this is how he can get a first class

NEW DELHI: Four years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre have largely drawn approval from citizens but he needs to do more if he wants to pass with a first class, that is more than 60 per cent approval on important issues. 57% of persons surveyed by a community social media platform, LocalCircles, believe the Modi government has either met or exceeded expectations as it completes four years in power while 43% said its performance was below expectations. Is the government on track to deliver on its promises made in the manifesto? 56% agreed while 40% disagreed.

The Modi government has more than 60% approval of surveyed persons on infrastructural development, general optimism, India’s global image and handling Pakistan and terrorism. But its approval is below 60% on a good number of issues. Similar surveys by LocalCircles in the past two years showed a gradual decline of people backing the government’s performance on certain issues. For instance, in its 2016 poll, about 64 per cent believed the government was doing good, this year it was 57 per cent. While the findings of the latest survey are positive for the government, certain issues need more attention from the Modi government if he needs to pass the citizen-approval test with first class.

The jobs crisis can hit Modi’s electoral prospects as 54% of those surveyed don’t believe the government has been able to reduce the unemployment rate (create new jobs on a net basis), a key promise made by Modi before elections. Only 35% believed it did. However, the government believes the jobs numbers are not reliable in the absence of comprehensive data. Now it is carrying out a massive survey to map jobs across the country. Payroll data released by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and the National Pension System for the first time a week ago showed the economy added at least 2.2 million formal jobs over the six months to February. A recent report by Prof. Pulak Ghosh of IIM Bangalore and Dr. Soumya Kanti Ghosh, chief economic adviser, SBI, studied payroll data to conclude that 15 million jobs were being created every year. However, the reports showing rise in employment have been hotly contested by several experts.

Sixty per cent of the surveyed persons said they did not experience lower prices or lower monthly costs after the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Only 32% said they did. The government had claimed that GST would bring prices down. Price-reduction efforts gained pace in November last year when the GST Council dropped tax rates on 200 products to 18% from 28% to ease the burden on consumers. Wanting to ensure the cut was passed on to consumers, the government had even sent notices to several prominent business under the anti-profiteering law. 60% of the surveyed persons did not feel the prices of essential commodities and the cost of living had reduced even though the Modi government has controlled inflation. This could show heightened popular expectations from the government for which he needs to do more.

Only 49% persons believed that corruption in India had reduced during the four years of the Modi government while 44% believed it did not. However, the number could be a positive in comparison with the perception during the previous government. Yet, Modi’s much-publicised crackdown on corruption has yet to get a majority approval.

Crime against women and children poses another challenge to the Modi government as 58% felt such crimes had not reduced. Only 32% felt these crimes did come down.

Half of the persons surveyed said the government had been effective in handling issues related to communalism in the last four years and 45% said it hadn’t been effective on that count.