Modi 3 years: 6 Hits, 3 Flops

Given the multitude of assesments available, I have focussed on the statistics mostly.

Our reviews are less important, our agenda is to educate voters. As far as the voters are concerned, multiple surveys indicate a fairly high degree of Satisfaction with the Modi Government. So what we did was take into account key factorsthat were important to the voters in 2014. The factors that were important are available in the CSDS 2014 post poll survey.

We identified a total of 11 attributes of which statistics were available for 9 attributes (Poverty and Water were not available). The summary of the Modi Government's performance is as below. The greens indicate improved performance in 2016-17 year versus the final year of the UPA-2 regime. The reds indicate deteriorating performance or under performance.

Big issues are in Control - Inflation, Corruption, 'Development', 'Growth

I travel across the country and when I ask voters what they think is the direct benefit they received since Modi came to power, almost everyone says it is inflation. While most of them are still not happy with inflation, they think it is in significant control when compared with UPA years. RBI surveys suggest that only the retired group are likely to be still dissatisfied with this Government (Inflation almost eats away their deposit interest earnings due to low interest rates). This was the top issue in the election in 2014.

The second issue that voters are happy with it the absence of any reported cases of corruption. This was the second most important issue in 2014. Our surveys show that opposition parties struggle on this critical issue. Unless the Government fails on this issue, the opposition parties will find it difficult to make a counter case unless they think creatively. The third most important issue is development and on many of the aspects (roads, power etc) the Government's perceived performance is good though it is unlikely that voters have directly benefitted from the Government's performance. 

There are numerous other Government programmes - Jan Dhan, LPG scheme etc which appear to have done well but similar to NREGA unlikely to convert to a large number of votes. 

2 Es that are Failures - Employment & Education 

In terms of non-performance, employment is one area the Government has underperformed. The number of new jobs being created is quite low and there is little evidence that this will suddenly take off. However, the situation is not as grim as made out to be. Given India's low labour force participation, only about 54%, or only 13 m eligible workers.

My calculation is that the final unemployment number is closer to 4.5 million or about 18% of the cohort group. This is still high but not high enough to create substantial dissatisfaction. Greece for example has an unemployment rate of about 40% amongst its youth. 

In my view, if things continue as they are, unemployment will become a serious issue only in 2020 or when the economy slows down. In the meanwhile the first group to suffer will be Engineering college graduates who are likely to face the brunt from 2018 onwards.

On education, the Government has little to show as performance. Neither have they been able to do much on education outcomes or on the new education policy or on RTE issues. Big learning for Mr Modi is that one of Mr Nehru's biggest blunder was not losing to China or the disaster around Kashmir, it is inadequate attention given to primary and secondary education. Mr Modi so far is following the same path. Irrespective of whether education is a concurrent subject, the PM's personal attention can have a significant impact on how our education system delivers quality students.

In sum, there are no major threats for this Government as far as performance is concerned. They look well placed to come back to power with a significant majority irrespective of the various alliances concocted by the Opposition. Instead of worrying about alliances, the opposition must brainstorm on how they intend to challenge the Government going forward. The current methods are unlikely to yield results. Are there opportunities for the opposition? Yes, really large ones but only for the brave.

Political Consultant

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