By Anit Mukherjee —
Over the last five years, the Modi government set ambitious targets in several of its social programs. It promised to issue biometric IDs, open bank accounts, build toilets, and provide cooking gas, electricity, and housing. As the five-year term of the government comes to an end, it is a good time to take stock of what has been achieved both in terms of the numbers and its impact.
Based on the latest available data from official sources, the overall verdict is that the government has done well in achieving its targets. India’s biometric ID, Aadhaar, is now the world’s largest such database of citizens, covering nearly all adults in the country. All households have at least one bank account. Almost all rural households now have a toilet, electricity, and a cooking gas connection.
However, not all the government’s programs have seen such success. The government’s performance in improving urban sanitation and building affordable urban housing have fallen short of expectations. As India becomes increasingly urbanized in the coming years and decades, the government needs to focus the challenges that result from such urbanization.
The story behind the numbers also point to future challenges. While independent reviews have largely supported the official figures, they show that there is more to be done. There is uncertainty regarding the use of Aadhaar for banking and financial transactions. A significant number of new bank accounts opened through the Jan Dhan scheme remain unutilized. Finally, while access to necessities such as cooking gas and electricity has certainly improved, poor households may not be able to afford their consumption without the government subsidizing their continued use.
As the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes its five-year term, the numbers paint a story of a government that has delivered on its targets. However, there is scope to do better in the future, which is crucial as Indian citizens head to the polls in the spring of 2019.
Table 1: Progress of Key Social Programs Initiated by the Government of India
|Name||Program Activity||Announced||Target||Latest numbers (GoI)||Independent Validation|
|Aadhaar||Biometric ID number for Indian residents||Aug 2014||1.33 billion||1.20 billion||More than 90 percent of India’s population is covered. Source: State of Aadhaar Report 2017-18.|
|Jan Dhan Scheme||Opening bank accounts||Aug 2014||210.6 million||210.6 million||82 percent of Indians over age 15 have a bank account. Source: World Bank Global Findex Database 2017.|
|Swachh Bharat||Household toilet building||Oct 2014||110 million (2019)||91.8 million (98.7 percent of rural households covered)||N/A|
|Ujjwala LPG scheme||LPG cooking gas for rural households||May 2016||50 million (2019)||60.7 million||Program well targeted; 90 percent genuine beneficiaries. Source: MicroSave.|
|Saubhagya||Household electricity connection||Sep 2017||24.9 million (Rural)||24.4 million (as of January 17, 2019)||N/A|
|PM Awaas Yojana||Affordable housing||Jun 2015||Demand driven – not specified||Urban
(As of January 7, 2019)