BJP finally admits Modi repackaged previous UPA schemes, but are they indeed performing better now?


On 13 September, news website The Wire published this article, where the authors, who have been employed by the BJP to consult on election campaigns, claimed that even if the Narendra Modi government may have repackaged the previous UPA schemes, they were being implemented more efficiently than that of the previous government. The authors desperately sought to subtly imply that the schemes were not delivering the intended results during the UPA rule and, therefore, the Modi government decided to relaunch them with new names. And since their relaunch, the authors claimed, these schemes have been doing wonders.

But the statement that “Modi may have re-packaged the scheme”, is the first ever instance of some one officially associated with the BJP publicly admitting that Modi indeed renamed the old UPA schemes and re-launched them amidst huge publicity as new schemes.

The problem was never with changing the names, but launching them as new projects and Modi taking credit primarily to score cheap political points. And when the authors say that this government tweaked and fine-tuned many of the programmes, it is funny because that’s what governments are expected to do. If timely changes are not incorporated into state-sponsored social welfare schemes by the government itself, who else will do that?

At the end of this article, authors have done a comparison of the projects’ performance results before and after the name changes. But, there is a huge problem in that comparison analysis.

I have noticed, as a pattern, all BJP spokespersons, media channels and the right-wing propaganda machinery stick to this interesting method of comparing UPA government’s last two years with Modi government’s first three years. That is too clever an idea especially when you know that the last two years recorded the worst performance of the UPA in government of their entire 10 year tenure spanning over two terms.

When you are comparing Modi government’s performance of first three years with previous government’s performance, you ought to compare it with the first three years of UPA 2, not with last two / three years.

Let us check one by one.

The authors associated with the BJP started with the comparison of Soil Health Cards. The years chosen for comparison is UPA’s 2011-14 and Modi Government’s 2015-17. The stated numbers are 2.8 crore and 9.2 crore cards respectively for the mentioned time periods. The links attached in their article opened the documents shown below. We don’t know what Soil Health Cards has to do with APY and SBM(G)!

Irrespective of the documents they are presenting, let us check the government data for factual numbers. This link will explain what the scheme launched by the UPA and what it was prior to that. One has to wonder how did the authors arrive at 2.8 crore cards number because this PIB press release mentions the issuance of 48 crore soil health cards since 2006 with Tamil Nadu topping the chart.

This PIB release from Ministry of Agriculture gives us a clear picture on the numbers – Samples collected: 90 lakh, Target: 104 lakh, Testing done: 60 lakh and a total of 4.5 crore cards to be distributed to farmers. The numbers in the  Soil Health Card website of government  matches the numbers with what authors of the article claim. But we have a reason to believe that these high number push is just to show the success of the programme.

This Govt portal gives us the details of state wise numbers of soil testing facilities. In many states, several districts have no facility at all. And almost in all the other facilities across the country, labs can not do a complete test. For example, maximum number of labs in Gujarat do not have the facility to test Micro Nutrient, Sulphur and Boron testing facilities at one place. None of them have sulphur testing facility at all. If success in the implementation of a programme is just in achieving the set target numbers without achieving the objectives, Soil Health Card programme is going the right way!

The second scheme mentioned in the article is India Awas Yojana (IAY) compared with what’s now being billed as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Using standing committee on rural development’s report of 16 Lok Sabha, the article claimed that the total number of houses constructed from 2011 to 2015 stood at 5,430,877 units claiming that they used only the partial data. However, while claiming about the implementation success of PMAY under Modi, the authors cleverly refuse to state the actual number of houses constructed. Instead, they mention the approval of 10,000,000 houses citing this Q & A in Lok Sabha.

To check the accurate IAY numbers under the UPA government, we have to use the data from a CAG Report. The reason we have to depend on CAG report for the required data is due to the deletion of original sources such as this. The table below is from the CAG Report of IAY tabled in the parliament on 19 December 2014.

This Report proves that, in the first three years of UPA 2, 85.72 lakh houses were constructed, which is 28.573 lakh homes per year.

Open this site to see the web address and where it is taking the visitor to. We have a unique situation here. Most of the scheme websites under this government boasts of the data boldly only on the website. For the government claim of PMAY data, we have to visit here.

There is something very interesting on this page. Notice the numbers mentioned in last two lines. It claims to have constructed 3,214,564 houses in the financial year 2016-17 and numbers could not be updated due to network/ IT related issues. Curiously, this line has been present there since April 2017.

But, the real numbers are here. The below screenshots are self explanatory and nothing more to be written to prove, the published article was not using the factual numbers with the intention oto mislead the readers to create a hype over the non existing success of PMAY. For that they willfully hid the IAY numbers of year wise completed units.

Third comparison point in the article is Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) Vs Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY -U). Here too, citing an answer in 16th Lok Sabha, authors claimed that under RAY, from 2009 to 2014, approvals were given to 160,314 units; but only 19,920 units were completed. But under PMAY (U), they claim, 2,100,475 were approved in 2016-17.

Though RAY was announced by the then PM in his address to nation on August 15, 2009, the preparatory mode – pilot project – started in 2011 with a two year window to complete. Based on that, RAY became a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CCS) in the current form only on 3rd September 2013 with a time-span lasting till 2022. The authors’ claim on numbers, therefore, have to be corrected. This document will give the background to the scheme itself. These links (here and here) will give a detailed state wise progress report.

In their article, the officials associated with the BJP relied on the numbers published by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. For a minute, let us not question their claims claim, but instead look at the numbers to calculate the speed with which the scheme is progressing.

As per estimates, nearly 20 million affordable houses have to be built by 2022 for the completion of the mission. As the scheme started in 2015, 28 lakh houses have to be constructed every year to make the stated numbers sound logical. But, as per the data submitted by the authors, only 133,999 houses have been constructed till 10 July, 2017 as opposed to expected 56 lakh houses. Perhaps this is a shining example of better implementation of previous UPA schemes under Modi.

To be continued..

(Views expressed here are by author’s own. He can be contacted on Twitter: @t_d_h_nair)