In 10 charts: Where the Modi government's biggest bets of each year stand today

Demonetisation has been seen as one of the government’s biggest policy blunders. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Demonetisation has been seen as one of the government’s biggest policy blunders. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint


  • From financial inclusion through a bank-account scheme to financial disaster through a rejig of India’s banknotes, here’s a look at what worked and what failed during the current government's decade in power.

During its decade in power, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has had its share of glides and stumbles in implementing its reforms agenda. How close did it come to delivering on the promise of “achhe din" (good days) through its various policies? 

In the concluding part of the “Election Pitch" data series, we pick one significant reform from each year the current government was in power, and check where things stand now.

2014: Banking the unbanked

A decade after its launch, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) has over 520 million accounts with a total balance of around 2.32 trillion. The scheme provides a zero-balance bank account, a RuPay debit card and 1-lakh accident insurance. Despite early scepticism, it has largely been successful in providing formal banking to unbanked individuals, particularly in rural India, and forms one of the three pillars of India’s digital public infrastructure (the others being Aadhaar and ‘mobile’).

However, there are some humbling reality checks that warrant attention. By December 2023, nearly a fifth of these accounts had not seen any customer-initiated transactions for over two years (though that’s similar to the overall banking sector, according to the government). The accident insurance component also has a sketchy record, with nearly a third of the claims being rejected since the scheme’s inception, according to data shared in the Rajya Sabha.

2015: Pucca housing for poor

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) aims to provide financial assistance for pucca housing for poor households. Its urban component (PMAY-U) was launched in 2015 as a demand-driven scheme, and relies on proposals by states. The rural piece (PMAY-R), which came a year later, aimed to build 29.5 million pucca houses in two phases.

Under PMAY-U, nearly 12 million houses had been sanctioned and 8 million of them built as of February. PMAY-R has completed 88% of its target. Women individually or jointly own nearly 72% of the houses under PMAY-R, against the national figure of 43% reported by the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey.

On the flip side, a Parliamentary standing committee has pointed to limited contribution by several states, leaving nearly 60% of the house cost burden on the beneficiary, potentially defeating the scheme’s goal. The scheme has also seen the exclusion of beneficiaries and fraudulent sanctions, according to an audit conducted in Tamil Nadu.

2016: The banknotes gamble

The decision to pull high-value currency notes ( 500 and 1,000) out of the system and bring in another high-value note ( 2,000) has been seen as one of the government’s biggest policy blunders. Pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a means to tackle black money, the move ended up causing a long-lasting economic shock instead. 

Supporters say demonetisation helped speed up the digitisation and formalisation of the economy, but the period after demonetisation also saw five million lost jobs, according to a 2019 report by researchers at Azim Premji University. 

Nearly all the scrapped notes found their way back to the Reserve Bank of India (meaning that the initiative hardly removed any black money) and the new 2,000 note was eventually phased out last year (though it continues to be legal tender), raising more doubts about the purpose and success of the entire exercise.

2017: A tax gamechanger

It took nearly two decades to implement the goods and services tax (GST) framework, which subsumed 17 types of indirect tax, but it became one of the biggest reforms under the Modi government. 

Several teething issues of the new regime have been resolved over the years. Seen as a notable example of a successful centre-state partnership through GST Council meetings, the indirect tax regime has also witnessed differences over how much states should be compensated for foregone revenue, and for how long. 

The growth in GST collections has stabilised, but remains lower than that in income and corporate tax, even as it has surpassed nominal GDP growth in the past couple of years. While the implementation and stabilisation of the GST regime is a feather in the government’s cap, it is still miles from simplifying the system as several tax slabs, input tax credit, and the compliance burden continue to attract criticism.

Also read: In charts, the GST’s five-year report card

2018: A pre-poll booster dose

The Ayushman Bharat scheme, launched months before the 2019 elections, has been the centrepiece of the government’s affordable-healthcare initiative. The scheme has two components: strengthening primary healthcare centres and providing 5-lakh cover to poor families for need-based care. 

Supporters say the scheme is an important step towards achieving the sustainable-development goal of universal health coverage by protecting the poor from out-of-pocket spending. The scheme has provided for 65 million hospital admissions worth 81,979 crore so far, shows health ministry data.

Yet, hamstrung by low health spending, the scheme has faced teething issues on implementation, such as exclusion of eligible beneficiaries and under-utilisation of allocated funds, as highlighted in reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Parliamentary panel on health. Moreover, building primary health infrastructure to provide preventive care is where the public funds are most needed, some experts say.

Also read: Inadequate government funding keeps healthcare, education in crisis mode

2019: A pro-business shift?

After returning to power in 2019 with a bigger majority, the Modi government's first big move reducing the corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% to boost private investments and growth. 

As the newly appointed finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the out-of-Budget policy move, it was immediately termed as “bold", “progressive", and “proactive". However, the tax cut failed to achieve its goals, as private investments have not taken off and the government has been forced to pump in massive amounts through capital expenditure to support the economy. 

At the same time, the immediate result of the tax cut is visible in collections, which is expected to be 3.2% of GDP in 2024-25, significantly less than the average mop-up a decade before the decision. As such, the government’s coffers are being filled more by personal tax collections than by corporate tax, raising questions about whether it is indeed pro-corporate.

2020: Lockdown relief

A few months before the pandemic the government was looking to boost growth through tax cuts and incentives, but covid and the ensuing lockdowns left the economy in a technical recession in 2020, with millions of poor people in dire straits. 

This led to one of the most important social welfare schemes of the Modi government's second term – the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. To be sure, this was not a new scheme but a temporary tweak made to the National Food Security Act. 

While the act provided 35 kg of subsidised foodgrain to nearly 800 million citizens, the government announced an additional 5 kg for free. However, as the pandemic waned, the government, instead of scrapping the scheme, made the initial 35 kg of foodgrain free as well, only rolling back the additional 5 kg. The scheme has now been extended for another five years. Even thoughit is keeping the subsidy bill elevated, it is unlikely to be a problem given its popularity and near-universal praise.

Also read: Five more years of free foodgrains: The financial and welfare implications

2021: Facing farmers’ ire

One of the key promises of the Modi government in its first term was doubling farmers’ income by 2022. A committee was set up in 2016, which set specific state-wise targets for 2022-23, but by 2019 farmers’ incomes were still only halfway to the target. 

In Budget 2019, the government tried to woo voters by announcing an income-support scheme, but the biggest overhaul came in 2020, with three laws intended to free the farm market from middlemen and price regulations. However, the reforms were immediately unpopular among farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, and led to a year of massive protests. 

Facing strong opposition, the Modi government found itself with no choice but to repeal the laws in late 2021. The rare U-turn has left key reforms in limbo, and farmers are still struggling to improve their incomes.

Also read: A decade of flip-flops on farmers’ issues despite full-majority government

2022: A new way to hire soldiers

The government announced the Agnipath scheme to recruit soldiers aged 17.5 to 21 into the armed forces for four years. This was an attempt to do away with legacy defence recruitment, in which personnel were recruited for about 20 years with the benefit of a pension. 

The scheme, which came as a surprise, led to violent protests in several states including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, mainly because it did not offer pension benefits. 

The government’s already-huge defence pension bill does need pruning, particularly after the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme, but experts raised eyebrows about the government's lack of consultation before announcing the new scheme. The scheme has seen renewed interest as the main opposition party, the Congress, has promised to scrap it in its manifesto. Recruitment under the scheme is currently underway but it is too early to say if it has been the “gamechanger" the government claims it to be.

2023: On the global stage

Just seven months before the general elections, Modi got a shot in the arm when India managed to arrive at a consensus through the New Delhi declaration at the G20 summit . 

As opposed to the Bali declaration of 2022, where strong words were used against Russia, India chose a watered-down version of worries about the war in Ukraine. India has always been a close ally of Russia and also continued to import oil from the country, ignoring pressure from the West, displaying the confidence of an emerging economy and its growing influence. 

The success was seen as a huge win for India’s soft power and strengthened the government’s projection of Modi as a global leader. According to the latest YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey, improving India’s image globally was rated among the biggest achievements of this government, and roughly 70% expressed satisfaction with India’s G20 presidency.

This is the seventh and concluding part of a Plain Facts series covering the top election issues and the government’s report card after nearly 10 years in power.

Part 1: In charts: Story of polls, freebies and politics

Part 2: Why low unemployment rate hides the full picture

Part 3: A decade of flip-flops on farmers’ issues

Part 4: Inadequate government funding keeps healthcare, education in crisis mode

Part 5: Modi govt’s mixed record on corporate reforms

Part 6: Price rise is a pet peeve for voters. Can it shape poll results, too?

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.