World’s largest electoral exercise is underway in India for its citizens to choose who would govern the country for the next 5 years. The million-dollar question is what would be the verdict — is it a renewal of the current government or new government?
I strongly sense that the overwhelming majority of the 1.37 billion Indians and 30 million NRIs will opt for the continuation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi because of the all-round development of the country and the several bold measures taken by his government that catapulted India several notches up on world stage as measured by several key parameters.
The NDA launched development-oriented schemes to improve the livelihood of the people. Through programs like Mudra Yojana, a collateral-free loan scheme for small entrepreneurs, 160 million loans were sanctioned, mostly to women. Jan Dhan Yojana transferred Rs. 3.66 lakh crore to 340 million accounts to cut middlemen and corruption. Ujjwala Yojana distributed 60 million gas cylinders to the poor and increased gas connections from 12 million to 130 million, and Swachh Bharat policy increased sanitation coverage from 38 percent to 98 percent.
The NDA government spent billions of rupees on infrastructure by providing electricity to all, increasing highway construction 30km/day from 12km/day, building airports, enhancing waterways, etc. Bharat Mala, a centrally-funded road and highways project reminds me of President Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system in the U.S.
Prime Minister Modi envisioned a “New India” that will transform the country by 2022 to make an impact on the lives of 1.37 billion people. The goals include doubling agricultural income and eliminating corruption, poverty and injustice, as well as providing houses, electricity, and water for all.
We heard garibi hatao (eliminate poverty) slogan since 1971, but the Congress party could not eliminate poverty for the last 50 years. Rahul Gandhi’s surgical strike on poverty has been a non-starter.
Under Prime Minister Modi, government revenue has increased with the change in tax structure. The NDA government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to stop people from looting banks with defaulted loans. It is estimated that in the last two years about 3 lakh crore of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) have been recovered.
Ayushman Bharat, the flagship healthcare program, can cover up to 500 million people. It ensures that 40 percent of the poorest Indians will get free hospitalization up to an expenditure of Rs. 5 lakhs a year.
The NDA Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has done many things that impacted the Indian diaspora. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is just a tweet away for resolving issues. Swaraj never let down the Indian community. Her proactive monitoring of issues with Madad (grievance) portal has improved services.
She instructed consulate officers to reach out and help the community. Just to give an example, consular officers have reached out to students, who were in jails all around the U.S. because of the fake university issue. Merging OCI and PIO cards have helped the Indian community. NDA government has increased passport centers from mere 77 all across the country to 505 and made it easy to apply for passports.
Indian government evacuated thousands of Indians from Yemen, Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and many countries whenever Indians were in a harm’s way. NRIs are not orphans anymore and they count on India to help.
India needs a strong government for long-term investments and continuous development. We have seen uncertainty and instability in the 1990s during the failed coalition governments of V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Deva Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral. All these governments have lasted less than a year. These short-term governments caused anxiety among investors and caused severe economic slowdown and increased corruption.
In the current situation, no party can muster more than 100 seats except for the BJP. All the family-based parties have their family interests ahead of the country interests. So it is important to have a strong and a full majority government at the center for fast development.
India’s international stature has improved during the last five years. India invested in diplomacy with all major countries around the world. Good relations with other countries are very important for NRIs, especially where most of the NRIs live — the Middle East, the U.S., South East Asia, and Europe. One good example is the muted response from the international community after India’s airstrike on Pakistan in retaliation to the terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir.
India is the world’s top recipient of remittances this year, a whopping $80 billion. I believe NRIs have confidence in the current government. Sometimes people are misled by a section of media, which highlights a few unfortunate incidents and portrays that these incidents occur more frequently. If it were true, BJP would not have won so many states in the last few years and Prime Minister Modi would not have won many prestigious awards from the United Nations, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, etc.
“NRIs4Modi,” including the Sikh Diaspora in the U.S. have been organizing Chai Pe Charchas in 20 cities — from Boston to Seattle, from Los Angles to Houston. They also organized Car rallies, Chowkidar marches, Snowmobile rally, Flash mob dances, and Call-A-Thons. Thousands of NRIs are making calls to their families and friends in India seeking support for Modi and the BJP. Hundreds of NRIs are on the ground to campaign for BJP. Many NRIs who were never connected with the BJP are joining the campaign and they want to see Modi as the Prime Minister for the next 5 years.
It is a choice between doers versus talkers, stability v instability, good governance v incompetency, transparency v corruption. I strongly believe that a majority of NRIs across the world will want the mandate for Prime Minister Modi is renewed.
Krishna Reddy Anugula is the president of OFBJP-USA.