MODI@2: Highs and lows: How Team Modi fared

Our Bureau | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on May 22, 2016


A report card on the performance of core Ministers driving the economy, from those who have excelled to those who have disappointed

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister

Jaitley has established himself as a steady hand at the economic wheel, even if he has not embraced full-throated reforms. He has restored the economic fundamentals: strong growth, inflation under check, fiscal and current account deficits under control. Tax policies too have become stable.

However, despite these efforts, private investment has been slow to revive, and job creation has remained low; likewise, exports have continued to slide and industrial growth has stuttered.

Big-ticket plans to unlock financing for core sector projects through the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund have yet to be finalised. The mess in the public sector banks arising from their high levels of bad loans has choked up credit flow to industry.

Piyush Goyal, MoS (Ind. Charge), Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy

Widely acknowledged as an outperformer. In the first year, his team averted a coal crisis by conducting successful coal mine auctions and ramping up production, reducing solar power tariffs through competitive bidding and reviving stranded gas-based power plants.

In the second year, he launched the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) to revive financially stressed state electricity distribution utilities. The Ministry also made changes to the National Tariff Policy, with the focus on electricity for all, affordable tariffs through efficiency, environment and ease of doing business. The year 2015-16 saw the highest increase in transmission lines (28,114 circuit kilometres, 19 per cent over the target).

Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister

Under his watch, the Railways has, in his own words, come out of the ICU “but still needs care”.

Achievements: MoU with Japan, which has offered Rs79,000 crore assistance for the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project. Some 1,098 km of optic fibre cables laid. Bids finalised for two loco factories at Madhepura and Marhowrah.

To instill greater transparency, e-procurement extended to 216 depots/divisions; e-auction of scrap sale. Security and queries helplines established for travellers. To widen food options, e-catering services introduced.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications and IT

Arguably his biggest achievement is the turnaround in his Ministry’s image – from that of a scam-tainted one to one that conducted a successful spectrum auction that fetched the government 1.10 lakh crore last year. Other achievements: Defence band identification, spectrum trading-sharing, harmonisation, liberalisation, cloud policies, open source in IT… all of which have given a boost to IT and IT- enabled services exports. Revived the postal department, which now offers courier services for e-commerce sector. Under Digital India scheme, the Ministry is pushing the BharatNet project and laying optical fibre to connect gram panchayats. Plan for rural BPOs in place.

M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Urban Develoment

The passage of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, which seeks to regulate the real estate sector and protect the interests of home buyers –– arguably counts as one of the most sterling achievements of his Ministry. Naidu holds charge of two flagship missions of the government — housing for all by 2022 and the ‘smart cities mission’ — and is also putting in place a policy to promote rental housing stock. The smart cities mission is yet to see projects take off, but has been lauded for the ‘competitive approach’ to secure funding.

Prakash Javadekar, MoS (Ind. Charge), Environment, Forest and Climate Change

Javadekar has made it his mission to ensure his Ministry does not serve as a “roadblock” to development. In that endeavour, he has cleared over 940 projects in 21 months. But the jury is out on how well his efforts will protect the environment.

Besides, his Ministry has sought to amend environmental laws in a way that makes them “investor-friendly” rather than “environment-friendly”.

Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS (Ind. Charge), Commerce and Industry

At best a patchy performer: since she took office, goods exports have been sliding. Although weak global demand and falling commodity prices were partly to blame, the continued fall in outbound shipments during the second year, despite the low base effect, is disquieting. Her performance at the WTO ministerial meet in Nairobi came in for much criticism: under pressure from developed countries, India yielded ground on many of its demands. It may also help for her Ministry to take a firm stand on whether free trade agreements are useful.

Published on May 22, 2016
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