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Dear Friends,

India has voted. 

The biggest festival of democracy has just concluded and in those lakhs of EVMs lays the verdict of the people of India. Counting of votes will take place on 16thof May but today we already have the undisputed winners and they are the people of India! Once again, India has won, the power of the ballot has triumphed and the spirit of democracy has shown itself to be supreme.

Narendra Modi blogs on the conclusion of 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

I would like to express my gratitude to the Election Commission for conducting this mammoth exercise.I thank and salute all those countless election staff, security personnel and police personnel without whom no Election is possible.

It is unfortunate that we witnessed some untoward incidents during the poll process during which some lives were lost. I salute all those who wereunfortunately martyred and offer my deepest condolences to their families. These brave individuals lived and died for democracy. It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifices do not go in vain. 

History will remember the 2014 Elections as historic and marking a paradigm shift from conventional electioneering. Normally, the party in power sets the agenda of the campaign but for the first time it was not the case. Far from setting the agenda, the ruling party was neither proactive nor responsive. It was only reactive throughout the campaign

What makes me very happy is the fact that the NDA remained firm on our agenda of development and good governance. We did not stop there; we successfully forced these two issues to become the focal point of the campaign. Yes, there were attempts to digress from these issues but we remained firm. The result was- those who wanted to praise us said we were doing well and those who wanted to critique us kept saying ‘we are doing better than BJP ruled states.’ An election must be fought on positive issues and I am glad we were able to alter the discourse in a way that helped people make their choices on the basis of a positive agenda.

2014 Lok Sabha elections will stand out for the increased turnout. Whenever polling would end for a particular phase, I would eagerly wait for the polling numbers and invariably my joy would increase seeing the jump in turnout.  Be it the cities or villages, old or young, men or women, everyone voted in large numbers. In most of the places it was sweltering, in some places there was rain and in some of the places in the hills it was cool apart from the hilly terrain but none of this deterred people from going out and voting.

Here I want to make a special mention for the increasing turnout among youngsters. Back in the day, voting was not believed to be ‘cool enough’ for a lot of youngsters. Today that is history. Voting is cool and rightly so! One needs to log in to Facebook or Twitter on polling day to see the number of Selfies my young friends are sharing. This is a very positive sign and I hope it continues in the times to come.

Throughout the campaign, I was able to connect with local people and local issues and this was something that I enjoyed very much. Connecting with local sentiments in this manner would not have been possible without social media. This is the first election where social media has assumed an important role and the importance of this medium will only increase in the years to come. Our Party, our campaign and me personally have gained tremendously from social media. It became a direct means of information and gave us the much-needed local pulse on several issues without any bias. It is said that the success of an Organisation depends on the accuracy and promptness with which there is an upward flow of information from the grass root level workers and well-wishers to the top that is complimented by clear and timely guidance from the top rung to those working on the ground. With the advent of social media this principle of Organisational working stands further strengthened.

There is one more thing for which we have to profusely thank social media- it has caused the downfall of manufactured lies and half-truths at a very nascent stage. Earlier during Elections we had people whose lies would reach every section of society. In a time when means of communication were less, they could get away with their same old speeches and half-baked assurances. Social media has changed that! In this age of information and social media the lies that come out of their microphones cannot even get past the podium of their speech venues, forget reaching others. More power to social media in the days ahead.

I congratulate friends in the media for covering every aspect of the Elections. The media was active in every part of the nation, keeping us abreast with latest happenings.  I do however feel that there is immense room for improving the debate and discourse surrounding the elections. At the same time, the continuous election humour that is a part of every election kept the smiles on our faces.

Along with the Lok Sabha Elections there were Assembly Elections in Odisha, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Two newly created states out of Andhra Pradesh will begin their development journey. Due to the Lok Sabha campaign, the local issues of all these states could not be discussed the manner in which they ideally should have been. I did make it a point to talk about my experiences in these poll bound states wherever I went across the nation.

Yes, this has been a hard-fought election. It had its joyous moments and there were heated moments as well. Now is the time to put the heat and dust of campaign behind and look ahead. Irrespective of who wins on the 16th, the dreams of a billion Indians should not suffer. Yes, as political parties and candidates we have differing ideologies but our goal is one- to work for India and to fulfill the aspirations of our youth.

This is the right time to look ahead. It is a time to connect with each other. Lets place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness. It is natural for the spirit of bi-partisanship to get temporarily lost in the midst of an election campaign but now is the time to resurrect it.

Personally, this campaign has been a remarkable journey. In my Blog a few days ago I talked about how this journey was extensive, innovative and satisfying. I had never imagined that someone like me would find himself here today. This is the power of Democracy and this is the power of Bharat Mata. I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this journey. Your support and criticism made this journey a lot livelier. I want to specially thank the security forces who have travelled with me or travelled before me to the various rallies for security arrangements. If Narendra Modi could address so many rallies and meet so many people, a lot of credit goes to them.

Let me end with a few words to all my fellow candidates and workers from BJP and the NDA who fought shoulder to shoulder with us- thanks for your efforts and partnership.  I wish each and every one the very best for 16thofMay.

Let us begin the journey towards ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ and create an India our founding fathers would be proud of.

Yours,

Narendra Modi

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Reforms by Conviction and Incentives
June 22, 2021
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The Covid-19 pandemic has come with whole new set of challenges to Governments across the world in terms of policy-making. India is no exception. Raising enough resources for public welfare while ensuring sustainability is proving to be one of the biggest challenges.

In this back-drop of financial crunch seen across the world, do you know that Indian states were able to borrow significantly more in 2020-21? It would perhaps pleasantly surprise you that states were able to raise an extra Rs 1.06 lakh crores in 2020-21. This significant increase in availability of resources was made possible by an approach of Centre-State bhagidari. 

When we formulated our economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to ensure that our solutions do not follow a ‘one size fits all’ model. For a federal country of continental dimensions, finding policy instruments at the national level to promote reforms by State Governments is indeed challenging. But, we had faith in the robustness of our federal polity and we moved ahead in the spirit of Centre-State bhagidari. 

In May 2020, as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package, the Government of India announced that State Governments would be allowed enhanced borrowing for 2020-21. An extra 2% of GSDP was allowed, of which 1% was made conditional on the implementation of certain economic reforms. This nudge for reform is rare in Indian public finance. This was a nudge, incentivising the states to adopt progressive policies to avail additional funds. The results of this exercise are not only encouraging but also run contrary to the notion that there are limited takers for sound economic policies.

The four reforms to which additional borrowings were linked (with 0.25% of GDP tied to each one) had two characteristics. Firstly, each of the reforms was linked to improving the Ease of Living to the public and particularly the poor, the vulnerable, and the middle class. Secondly, they also promoted fiscal sustainability.

The first reform under the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ policy required State Governments to ensure that all ration cards in the State under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) were seeded with the Aadhaar number of all family members and that all Fair Price Shops had Electronic Point of Sale devices. The main benefit from this is that migrant workers can draw their food ration from anywhere in the country. Apart from these benefits to citizens, there is the financial benefit from the elimination of bogus cards & duplicate members. 17 states completed this reform and were granted additional borrowings amounting to Rs. 37,600 crores. 

The second reform, aimed at improving ease of doing business, required states to ensure that renewal of business-related licences under 7 Acts is made automatic, online and non-discretionary on mere payment of fees. Another requirement was implementation of a computerized random inspection system and prior notice of inspection to reduce harassment and corruption under a further 12 Acts. This reform (covering 19 laws) is of particular help to micro and small enterprises, who suffer the most from the burden of the ‘inspector raj'. It also promotes an improved investment climate, greater investment and faster growth. 20 states completed this reform and were allowed additional borrowing of Rs. 39,521 crores. 

The 15th Finance Commission and several academics have emphasised the crucial importance of sound property taxation. The third reform required states to notify floor rates of property tax and of water & sewerage charges, in consonance with stamp duty guideline values for property transactions and current costs respectively, in urban areas. This would enable better quality of services to the urban poor and middle class, support better infrastructure and stimulate growth. Property tax is also progressive in its incidence and thus the poor in urban areas would benefit the most. This reform also benefits municipal staff who often face delay in payment of wages. 11 states completed these reforms and were granted additional borrowing of Rs. 15,957 crores. 

The fourth reform was introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in lieu of free electricity supply to farmers. The requirement was for formulation of a state-wide scheme with actual implementation in one district on a pilot basis by year end. Additional borrowing of 0.15% of GSDP was linked to this. A component was also provided for reduction in technical & commercial losses and another for reducing the gap between revenues and costs (0.05% of GSDP for each). This improves the finances of distribution companies, promotes conservation of water and energy and improves service quality through better financial and technical performance. 13 states implemented at least one component, while 6 states implemented the DBT component. As a result, Rs. 13,201 crore of additional borrowings was permitted. 

Overall, 23 states availed of additional borrowings of Rs. 1.06 lakh crores out of a potential of Rs. 2.14 lakh crores. As a result, the aggregate borrowing permission granted to states for 2020-21 (conditional and unconditional) was 4.5% of the initially estimated GSDP. 

For a large nation with complex challenges as ours, this was a unique experience. We have often seen that for various reasons, schemes and reforms remain un-operational often for years. This was a pleasant departure from the past where the Centre & States came together to roll out public friendly reforms in a short span of time amidst the pandemic. This was made possible due to our approach of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas. Officials who have been working on these reforms suggest that without this incentive of additional funds, enactment of these policies would have taken years. India has seen a model of ‘reforms by stealth and compulsion’. This is a new model of ‘reforms by conviction and incentives’. I am thankful to all the states who took the lead in ushering in these policies amidst tough times for the betterment of their citizens. We shall continue working together for the rapid progress of 130 crore Indians.