100 days of Modi 2.0: A hundred worries now

Narendra Modi. (PTI Photo)

No government can be judged by its performance in the first 100 days in office, but they give intimations of its nature and strength, aims and priorities and the directions it seeks to set. The second Narendra Modi government which has completed its 100 days has given ample indications in all these respects, and the picture that emerges from them is not all rosy, as its leaders and spokesmen claim. After the emphatic election victory in the May elections, the government is politically stronger and surer of itself, and the Opposition is weaker and uncertain. The government and the ruling party have actually worked to weaken the Opposition, but an enfeebled Opposition is not good for the country. Democratic institutions have come under pressure in other ways, too. There is a spreading mood of confrontation in politics and society, and the government cannot escape responsibility for that. It is compassion and not confrontation that should guide a government and society, but the country has become more conflicted now. 

Much of the credit for the strength and decisiveness claimed for the government has come from its decisions and actions in the legislative field. The scrapping of Article 370 which gave a special status to Jammu & Kashmir is the most important of them, but its consequences are unknown. Most other legislative measures pushed through by the government are flawed in one way or the other — the triple talaq bill for its criminal provisions, the UAPA bill for the arbitrary powers it gives to the State and the RTI bill for the weakening of the citizen’s right to information. The government has managed to weaken parliament itself as an institution, as it is now in a position to get any legislation approved by it, however controversial it is. 

The worst concerns and worries are on the economic front, with economic growth slipping to a six-year low of 5% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. In nominal terms, it is at a 17-year low. Investor confidence has been badly hit. Neither the budget nor any subsequent response to the slowdown has had an impact on the slowdown. Job losses and all-round declines in many sectors are adding to the gloom. This is where the government should concentrate its attention in the coming weeks and months. Measures like the expansion of the Ujjwala scheme and the income support plan for farmers, and promises and initiatives on rural housing, drinking water and freedom from plastic etc are welcome, and the nation will wait for their outcome. But at the end of 100 days, the report on the economy, society and politics is not happier than it was at its beginning.

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