As participants in the social contract, citizens in a democracy entrust governments to provide services that they cannot individually secure. However, government accountability is not inherently guaranteed by this social contract. Effective leadership becomes crucial in this complex scenario.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands as a tall example of strong, effective leadership that can deliver on its promises.
In a letter written to the people of Rajasthan on the eve of upcoming assembly elections, PM Modi recalled fondly the characteristic history of Rajasthan. He said that the state’s past is replete with examples where people have sacrificed even their lives to stay true to their word. In a similar vein, the Prime Minister enunciated ‘Modi Yaani Har Guarantee Poori Hone Ki Guarantee’.
‘Modi Ki Guarantee’ denotes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to the aspirations of the common man. It echoes the resolution of his government to serve the last man standing. It allows us to witness a political phenomenon, hitherto missing, where promises carry meaning and are executed meaningfully.
The expanse of these guarantees extends to the most fundamental of needs. We have been a witness to the reality of most people in our country still being deprived of the basic necessities of life even as we celebrate Independence year after year. Past efforts have fallen short of building a nation, equally abundant and statistically inspiring. However, the summer of 2014 set in motion a volley of changes that gave us hope and enlivened in us the idea of daring to dream beyond the basics.
As we begin, we must appreciate the tremendous transformation of India, from being a net importer of food grains in the ‘60s to one of the largest cereal exporters today. In recent years, significant progress has been made in improving access to food and expanding the security net for the underprivileged. Speaking at a rally in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, the PM said, “During Covid-19, the biggest concern of the poor was what they would feed their children…then I decided that I will not let any poor sleep hungry, hence the BJP government started the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.” The scheme guarantees free rations to 80 crore Indians and has been extended for the next five years. Besides, the annadatas of the country, the farmers have been rightfully supported via PM KISAN, a scheme that benefits over 11 crore farmers today.
Also, as studies indicate, 13.5 crore people were lifted out of poverty under the ongoing government of PM Modi—something which once relegated to the rhetoric of previous governments and slogans like 'Garibi Hatao'. The Prime Minister’s concern for the underprivileged stems from years in public life, traveling through the length and breadth of the country. As a result, in the words of the PM himself, his government began its work with a spirit of service with doorstep delivery of services to the poor as its topmost priority. The recently launched Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra is in line with this vision. As it traverses the indelicate realities of rural India, the Yatra aims to reach the last mile, and educate them about a variety of government schemes that they can benefit from. Looking to cover 2.55 lakh Gram Panchayats and 3,600 urban local bodies by January 25, 2024, this initiative is in a way Modi’s guarantee to the poor of this country, to our mothers and sisters, to the farmers and the youth of this country.
As he spoke on the launch of the Yatra, PM Modi highlighted how his government has sanctioned over 4 crore houses under PM Awas Yojana—a unique guarantee towards Housing for All. According to the PM, the approach to focus on long-pending issues instead of picking easy outcomes has helped the government make welfare a reality. 100% electrification of villages which were earlier doomed to live in obscurity is a clear example of this approach.
Water, which is vital for life, had been a distant reality for crores of households in India. Women were at the forefront of this crisis, collecting and carrying water through sickness and health even after several years of Independence. However, the Prime Minister has always encouraged women to be equal partners in India’s development, and his government’s Jal Jeevan Mission attests to that. Today over 13 crore tap water connections have been provided, taking the coverage to 70% of the families from only 17% about a decade ago.
Women have also been at the forefront of bearing the brunt of the sanitation crisis. Before 2014, sanitation coverage in villages was only 40%, whereas after the government’s behavioral nudge in the form of Swachh Bharat Mission, the country is 100% ODF-free. Further, the government’s guarantee of smokeless kitchens is close to saturation with 10 crore LPG connections being sanctioned under Ujjwala. Today almost 100% of villages in India have LPG connections as against 50-55% earlier.
As we speak of bijli, paani, makaan—the other basic human rights that determine good health—the Modi government has been determined to redefine the contours of healthcare ever since it came to power. Today Ayushman Bharat PM Jan Arogya Yojana guarantees free medical treatment up to Rs. 5 lakhs to over 55 crore individuals every year. Nearly 27.38 crore Ayushman Cards have been issued under the formidable plan. Moreover, in a bid to reduce the woes of expanding out-of-pocket expenditure, the Jan Aushadhi Kendras provide affordable yet quality medicines at a minimum discount of 75%, leading to Rs. 23,000 crore in savings. Today, child immunization has expanded its coverage to almost 100% in 6 states/UTs, and 90% in 17 states.
As we walk through the above-mentioned data, it is amply clear that PM Modi’s government has performed competently on the parameters of delivery and diligence. The past has outlived its circumstance marred by corruption, appeasement politics and a clear lack of vision. Today, PM Modi’s whole-of-government approach has made the underprivileged its topmost priority, taking each initiative to its logical conclusion with effect.
As India’s journey towards equitable and inclusive development advances, PM Modi has expressed optimism for a future where every individual, particularly the poor and the underprivileged, will have access to essential amenities. “A ration card ensuring free rations, an Ujjwala gas connection, consistent electricity supply in homes, access to tap water, Ayushman card for healthcare, and security of a home,” the PM said reassuringly.