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Home / Politics / Policy /  One year on, Modi govt performance has matched expectations: Poll

The general discourse has been that Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn’t done a great job in his first year in office. While he has an approval rating of 74% (as measured by a Mint-InstaVaani poll), and has made significant progress on a number of economic measures (as this editorial argued), his performance has its fair share of sceptics. In order to get a better understanding of his performance and industry’s perception of it, Mint in partnership with market researcher Ipsos conducted a survey among more than 200 corporate executives. The main question they were asked was whether the government’s performance had matched their expectations. The response is one of resounding support for the Prime Minister, more overwhelming than the support indicated in the approval rating poll conducted.

Out of the 228 respondents, only 14 respondents were disappointed by the government’s performance, and another 23 were neutral. Putting it differently, at least 84% of respondents think the government has positively matched their expectations.

Approval rating

The respondents were from three cities (Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi) and were classified into five categories—CXOs, bankers, brokers, chartered accountants (CAs) and mid- and junior-level executives. Table 1 shows the “approval rating" (as defined by the proportion of respondents in each category who have either agreed or strongly agreed with the National Democratic Alliance having matched their expectations) by category of respondent and city. What is striking is the Prime Minister’s exceedingly high rating in Bengaluru, across categories.

We assume our sample isn’t biased, but not one respondent in Bengaluru was even neutral to this statement, all expressing their approval of the government’s performance so far. Things aren’t so rosy among bankers and CAs in Delhi and brokers in Mumbai, with approval ratings among them significantly lower than average.

Digging deeper

Beyond asking for respondents’ approval of the government itself, the survey went on to elicit their opinions on a number of other policy-related matters, such as the macroeconomic environment, ease of doing business, project implementation and ease of interaction with bureaucracy. Responses to these questions in the survey can help us understand what makes people happy (or unhappy) with the government. Let us look at only the 37 respondents who are either neutral or negative on the government having met their expectations, and look at their responses to the other survey questions to understand why they are not happy with the performance of the government.

Table 2 summarizes the responses. Unfortunately, the data here doesn’t provide us with any clear-cut answers. There is no single factor (among those we have identified by way of our questions) that explains the lack of happiness among this group.

It seems to be a case of the (partial) Anna Karenina principle—each respondent who is not happy with the government is not happy with the government for his/her own reason. But what about those who are happy with the government (either agree or strongly agree with the statement that the government has performed up to expectations)? Are there any particular factors that explains their happiness, and are there any collective concerns among these people?

Table 3 is similar to Table 2, except that here we look at respondents who are happy with the government’s performance. Again, it is hard to discern too many patterns from this, but it seems like people who are happy with the government’s overall performance are happy with the performance on all counts, and are optimistic about the future.

There are a couple of concerns, though—a large part of the respondents who are generally happy with the government believe that the threat of tax terrorism persists. Recently, there has been the case of foreign investors having been unhappy of the levy of the MAT (minimum alternate tax). While the finance minister mentioned in his budget speech that there will be no fresh cases of retrospective taxation, the lack of clarity on existing cases of retrospective taxation seems to be a sore point for executives. The other concern that stands out is that getting bank loans has not got any easier under the new government. However, on that one, we must confess that our wording of the question itself was a little ambiguous, with a negative that was perhaps inappropriately placed, and hence we should take that response with a pinch of salt, and we will not try to further justify the response to the question.

Correlations

Finally, it would be interesting to analyse which of the follow-on questions is best correlated with the “main" question (on the respondent’s satisfaction with the government’s overall performance). We will analyse this by using “similarity scores". In other words, for each follow-on question, we will look at the proportion of people who have answered identically to their response to the “main" question, irrespective of their answer. We will be strict about such counting, and if a respondent has “strongly agreed" to a follow-on question, and has only “agreed" to the main question, we will not consider it to be a match.

Another way of doing this would be to assign numerical values to each response (an intuitive way would be to assign 1 to each “strongly disagree" and 5 to each “strongly agree") and compute a correlation coefficient. However, that would make assumptions about the distances between responses, which may not be correct (who is to say that a “strongly disagree" is as far away from “disagree" as “strongly agree" is from “neutral"? This is a common mistake that surveys commit, however). The table contains the similarity scores by follow-up question and category of respondent. This basically tells us the proportion of people in each category that has responded identically to each follow-up question as they have to the main question, thus giving us a suggestion of the priorities of each group.

What this tells us is that bankers’ answers to the overall question are most correlated with their answers to whether Make in India is doable. Among all of CAs, CXOs and mid- and junior-level executives, the answer to whether implementation of projects has improved seems to be most correlated with their satisfaction with the government’s overall performance.

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