In a free-and-frank interview to Swarajya on 30 June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the challenges faced by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government when it took over from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2014, its approach to economic reforms, especially the privatisation of public sector units (PSUs), the efforts to put Indian banking back on the rails, the political challenges from a Mahagathbandhan against the NDA in 2019, the NDA’s own allies problem, the Kashmir crisis, the alleged concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) talent deficit, and many other topics.
In the interview, Modi makes the following points:
One, the economy was in much worse shape than he had imagined, and some of the budget’s numbers were “suspicious”. Put simply, he implied that the budget numbers left behind by former finance minister P Chidambaram were not a correct statement of the finances of the government. But Modi decided that he would not play politics with these numbers, since the country could not afford to “multiply the distress”.
Two, on the lack of jobs, he said that “more than a lack of jobs, the issue is a lack of data on jobs”. This is what needs fixing first. Moreover, with data from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation showing a rise in formal sector jobs, informal sector jobs too would have risen, as would jobs created by Mudra loans. He added: “our traditional matrix of measuring jobs is simply not good enough to measure new jobs in the new economy of New India.”
Three, the farm distress issue, and the promise of doubling farmers’ income are being addressed in a four-fold strategy, which involve cutting inputs costs, raising prices of produce, ensuring minimum harvest and post-harvest losses, and creating more avenues for income generation. “If you focus closely on our policy interventions, they are aimed at helping farmers at every step – beej se bazaar tak,” he told Swarajya.