Modi 3.0: Welfare measures in focus after election setback

Reforms agenda, Modi 3.0, economic reforms
The Narendra Modi government's upcoming budget is expected to prioritise public welfare initiatives,and reflect long-term economic policies.

In her address to the joint sitting of Parliament, President Droupadi Murmu said the government will announce major policy decisions in the upcoming sessions, with public welfare as focal point. The Union Budget is expected to introduce some majors teps, and the President assured that it will be futuristic and reflect the government’s long-term policies. The third term of the Narendra Modi government is likely to focus on four groups: youth, women, the poor, and farmers, as indicated by President Murmu’s preview of the policy focus of the newly formed government.

Among the major reforms expected, agricultural reforms will take centre stage. The government is working on storage initiatives for agricultural products and has increased the minimum support price for farm produce. As the agricultural system undergoes an overhaul, the government is integrating the supply chain of natural farming and related products. Based on the President’s emphasis on agriculture, the Modi government appears to be pushing the rural economy further. Agro-based industries, along with dairy and fishery-based industries, may also receive a boost. 

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New strategy for agriculture

President Murmu highlighted the growing global interest in Indian organic food. The government may be formulating new strategies for agriculture, considering the high demand for organic products in the global market. The government is also campaigning to popularise coarse grains, known as Shree Anna, as a superfood worldwide. On India’s initiative, 2023 was celebrated as the International Year of Millets globally.

President Murmu also emphasised the government’s commitment to improving education and skill development. Recognising the demographic dividend, the government aims to equip the youth with the necessary skills to thrive in a global economy. Initiatives such as the National Education Policy (NEP) are being implemented to revamp the education system, making it more holistic and flexible. The focus will be on vocational training, digital literacy, and higher education reforms to ensure that Indian students are competitive on a global scale. Additionally, scholarships and financial aid programs will be expanded to support students from economically weaker sections. 

Women empowerment

The government’s next focus area is women, who also constitute a significant vote bank for the BJP. Naturally, the government may aim to attract these voters with new housing, self-help groups (SHGs), and reservation laws. In her address, the President said that the construction of three crore new houses for women beneficiaries will be approved. The government will also increase the number of SHGs to fulfil Mr. Modi’s promise to make three crore women “Lakhpati Didis.”

President Murmu also noted the popularity of the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, under which girls receive higher interest rates on their bank deposits. The government may further enhance this scheme and increase benefits under other programs, such as providing free rations and affordable gas cylinders. She also announced that all elderly individuals above 70 years of age will receive free treatment under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

In addition to the aforementioned policies, the government plans to enhance healthcare infrastructure. President Murmu highlighted the importance of accessible and affordable healthcare for all citizens. The Ayushman Bharat scheme, which has already benefited millions, will be expanded to cover more diseases and treatments. The government is also focusing on strengthening primary health centres in rural areas, ensuring that even the most remote villages have access to quality healthcare services. Telemedicine initiatives will be ramped up to bridge the gap between rural and urban healthcare, leveraging technology to provide consultations and treatments to those in need. 

Green economy gets priority

The President’s address indicated a strong emphasis on building a sustainable future. Prioritising renewable energy sources and energy efficiency can significantly reduce India’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, improving energy security and lowering the trade deficit. The green economy also presents exciting opportunities for job creation, especially for young people. Investments in areas like solar power, wind energy, and sustainable infrastructure can generate new and skilled employment.

The President reiterated the government’s commitment to infrastructure development as a cornerstone for economic growth. The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), which aims to invest in roads, railways, airports, and ports, will receive a significant boost. The development of smart cities and urban infrastructure will also be prioritised to enhance the quality of life in urban areas. Furthermore, initiatives like the Bharatmala and Sagarmala projects are set to improve connectivity and reduce logistics costs, making Indian businesses more competitive. The focus on infrastructure is not just about economic growth but also about creating jobs and ensuring balanced regional development. 

Mitigating climate change

With India’s belief in “One Earth, One Family,” the government is taking initiatives to provide solutions to global problems, President Murmu said. Efforts are being made to address issues ranging from climate change to food security, and from nutrition to sustainable agriculture.

Digital transformation remains a key focus area for the government. President Murmu outlined plans to expand the Digital India initiative, aiming to bridge the digital divide and bring more citizens online. Efforts will be made to enhance digital infrastructure, such as expanding broadband connectivity to rural areas and developing a robust 5G network. E-governance initiatives will be scaled up to ensure that government services are more accessible and transparent. The government will also promote digital literacy programs to empower citizens to participate in the digital economy, creating opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

To ensure inclusive growth, the government will continue its focus on financial inclusion. The Jan Dhan Yojana, which has brought millions of unbanked individuals into the formal financial system, will be further strengthened. Efforts will be made to provide microcredit to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, fostering an environment of entrepreneurship and innovation. Digital payment systems will be promoted to enhance financial transactions’ efficiency and transparency. Additionally, the government plans to launch new initiatives to support cooperative banks and microfinance institutions, ensuring that financial services reach every corner of the country.

Despite winning by a small margin, Prime Minister Modi’s historic third term sends a strong message of political and economic stability. One of the most anticipated developments is India’s journey towards becoming the third-largest economy and an influential global power. India is expected to lead both the global East and the global South under a stable government.

For this, India’s manufacturing sector will play a pivotal role. The government must deepen the country’s role in global manufacturing networks, particularly in booming sectors like pharmaceuticals, clean energy, and electronics. Existing incentive programs, such as the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, need fine-tuning to attract more companies to manufacture in India. Additionally, free trade agreements with Oman and other major players are on the horizon, making the reduction of trade barriers and the boosting of exports a priority.

A third term for the current government will be incomplete without renewed efforts to reform labour laws. The 2019 reforms aimed to create a more flexible and business-friendly environment. However, these reforms require significant political capital and cooperation from individual states. Now that the government faces significant opposition, its success hinges on support from state governments.

The government must ensure the continuation of infrastructural schemes like Make In India, Digital India, Startup India, Clean India, Sagarmala, Roadways, etc. Electricity and development must reach the last tribal village, uplifting all Indian populations out of poverty. After all, growth is not complete until it reaches everyone.