I work as a journalist with Radio Dwarka (www.radiodwarka.com), India’s first online Community Radio, an initiative by a group of old media hands in Delhi. According to Wikipedia, community radio stations are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve. They provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media. In short, it is a mini democracy in action, a media service of the people, for the people and by the people.
As a reporter I try to get an in-depth understanding of issues. I have been able to look at people’s confusions, aspirations and fears from close quarters. And in my opinion, our country is in urgent need of a Universal Basic Income. The employment situation doesn’t look that bright to me.
There are various schemes that have been introduced by the current government to skill people and generate employment. The government’s social media machinery has done a good job publicising these schemes. Youngsters from privileged backgrounds, who probably do not need to avail benefits of government schemes want to participate as volunteers wherever possible. However, the schemes should reach the people from the back of beyond, who really need them the most.
Perhaps the most talked about business loan scheme is the ‘MSME Business Loans in 59 Minutes’. Financial assistance of upto Rs 1 crore is given to micro, small and medium enterprises that form the backbone of any economy. MSMEs contribute to around 40 percent of the GDP. A time frame of 8-12 days is taken to verify the credentials of the business, but the actual approval or disapproval is given in 59 minutes flat. It saves one from so much stress.
Some day, I would like to start my own initiative –a community radio for my hometown, Gaya. Gaya has numerous stories in its bag apart from the Mahabodhi temple. The world needs to know about us. I keep updating myself about the various ways in which the government is aiding people, who want to work towards their own businesses.
As about voting in the last elections, yes I had voted for the BJP and my vote will again go to the same party.]]>
I feel the employment situation has remained static over the last four years under the Modi regime. However, since I have never entered the workforce, I am not in a position to make a very informed and in-depth comment about the issue. But most people my age who opted to take up jobs, have found employment. Whether they are happy with their jobs and the salaries they are getting is another issue altogether.
I have definitely heard of quite a few government schemes, but never tried to enrol myself in any of them. I don’t even know anyone personally, who is availing the benefits of any of the government schemes. I think by far the most popular scheme is the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Almost everyone has heard of it and it has centres across the length and breadth of the country. In Delhi you have these centres in places as diverse as South Extension 1, Narela, Najafgarh, Uttam Nagar, Rohini, Khajuri Khas etc.
I am currently not working anywhere and focusing my energy on procuring a government job. I want to serve the country as an efficient policewoman and study long hours to be able to live my passion soon. I also attend coaching classes for these exams. However, if I am not able to clear the exams essential to secure a government job, then perhaps I would like to go for self-employment. I still haven’t figured out what business I would like to take up if I go for self-employment.
I didn’t vote in the last elections, but I would like to vote for BJP in the upcoming elections for I believe they truly understand the essence of India, right down to the grassroots level.]]>
I am not an economic expert and thus can only speak for myself. In my opinion, the employment situation has improved, though the recent report released by NSSO (National Sample Survey Organization) says otherwise. Having said that, to form an opinion about matters as serious and as multi-layered as this, one needs to delve deep into the subject.
I am happy about the fact that the government has increased the taxable income slab to 5 lakh per annum. I understand that it still needs to be passed in the parliament and as of now is only a proposal, but is a good start nonetheless. The ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Scheme) amendment that came into effect on January 1, 2017, is also a welcome step for those already in the workforce. After the amendment, the wage limit of employees covered under the scheme went up from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000. This new move also included insurance cover for family members of employees.
The current government has definitely created a conducive environment for start-ups with the launch of the Start Up India Scheme launched in 2016. I particularly like the fact that the Mudra Banks Scheme (Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana) provides micro-finance at low-interest rate loans to entrepreneurs from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This means anybody, who has a great idea, irrespective of their socioeconomic background, can dare to dream and take the leap.
As someone, who would love to start his own enterprise, I love to read about how the government is helping turn ordinary people’s ideas into reality through steps such as, creating a Rs 10,000 crore start- up funding pool; reduction in patent registration fees; improved bankruptcy code, to ensure a 90-day exit window; freedom from mystifying inspections for first three years of operation; freedom from Capital Gain Tax for the first three years of operation; and self-certification compliance.
I have heard about the Skill India campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 July 2015 which aims to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022.
As I mentioned above, even though I currently work as a business analyst, sooner or later I would like to start my own business, or in other words looking forward to being self-employed. Currently I am doing research about what it is that people need, so that my business can help fill the gap in the market.
I did not vote during the last elections, however since 2014 I have begun to take a keen interest in politics and must say I am impressed with the ruling party’s work and would like to vote for them in the upcoming elections.]]>
A leaked National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report says in 2017-18, the unemployment rate was 6.1% and the highest in 45 years. Those in power, make their best efforts to paint a rosy picture to mislead people so that do not have any clarity over the unemployment rate in the country right now. But one thing is certain- there are fewer jobs available in the market. This can be observed on a daily basis when one skims through the pages of newspapers with news stories that talk about PhD and MBA holders applying for a peon’s job. There’s no doubt about the fact that the situation of unemployment has worsened in the last few years. I have heard about the Skill India mission but haven’t been enrolled in any such program. However I have also read about how this mission has been a massive failure since its focus has been largely on the short-term skill courses, resulting in low placements. Narayanan Ramaswamy, partner and head of education and skill development, KPMG in India, recently said PMKVY was an ambitious scheme to impart short-term skills. I am currently a research scholar so haven’t intensively searched for a job but I have looked for jobs in both the private and the government sector during vacations and have had harrowing experiences. In the government sector there aren’t enough jobs available and the private sector has jobs but they are underpaying and exploitative in nature. I didn’t vote for the BJP in the last general elections but wasn’t bitter against this party since I was a little too young to understand the kind of politics of hatred it indulges in. This year I am definitely going to acrimoniously campaign in my capacity against the current government. I don’t think I would ever be able to give out an exhaustive list of reasons to vote against this party because it would be a colossal task. In short, the current government is a fascist one that has always focussed on dividing the country on communal grounds. Not only have lynchings against minorities increased but the government has also successfully provided impunity to the perpetrators of the crime, meanwhile creating false enemies of the nation like farmers and students protesting for their rights.]]>
th amendment to the Constitution. Of course, there is a flip side to being too decisive, it can turn into rigidity if one is not careful. Narendra Modi needs to be careful and balanced if he gets a second term as the prime minister. I would love to see him get a second chance in 2019. I see no other leader, who can stand up to Modi. Rahul Gandhi needs to better himself many times over to be taken seriously as a potential candidate for prime ministership. Having said that, there are some things that Modiji needs to take care of if he gets the mandate. He needs to take care that he doesn’t just limit himself to being a ‘ghoshna naresh’ (king of big promises and announcements). He should fulfil the promises he made to people or else people will stop trusting him. The Indian electorate is very astute. A certain section of the society is not happy that he has not followed up on his promise about the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Artists like me feel hurt that he only talks about curbing cow vigilantism, but does not act on it. As a pensioner, the price rise in petrol costs and the subsequent rise in prices of perishable items like vegetables etc. do pinch my pocket, yet being a part of the middle-class, we have been making adjustments almost all our lives. Also, Modiji should think several times over before taking a step like demonetization. I was preparing for my daughter’s wedding when the announcement was made and had a very difficult time organising her wedding and paying off everyone. I think it was purely a political strategy, rather than an economic one, that was played out keeping the then UP elections in mind. Recently the government announced 10 percent reservation for the economically weak among the upper castes, but what use is it if there is no job creation? Practical legislations are the need of the hour. However, I feel Modi has done some good work as the Prime Minister. People now take cleanliness way more seriously. Modes of public transport like buses and trains are cleaner — one doesn’t shudder at the thought of undertaking long journeys. The seed of being sincere towards taking care of the country has definitely been planted in the minds of youngsters. However, end to end waste management still needs to be taken care of. That is something that should be focused upon in 2019. Some members in Modi’s cabinet, such as external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj and defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman have thoroughly impressed me. I love how they conduct themselves without any fear. I am impressed by the way women are taking centre stage in Modi’s cabinet. When I hear people say that there is an atmosphere of hatred that has been created, I feel that they are just jumping to conclusions, without going in-depth. I have many friends in the Muslim community and we have no problems with each other. We participate in kavi sammelans and mushairas and enjoy being together. Yes there are people who kill others in the name of religion (lynchings), but in my opinion they are not representatives of Hinduism, rather they are anti-social elements who deserve to be punished. There’s a lot of love in this country of ours and I am proud that as an artist I have been able to spread love among the people. In 2019, I want a balanced country; a country that is strong both on the outside and inside; a country that values both modernity and tradition. People, who will vote this year need to be careful not be swayed by fake news that is being spread around these days. I personally try to keep myself well-informed, so that I am able to take the right decision when the time comes.]]>
‘apna toh roz ka kamana, roz ka khana’ (we live on a daily basis). We don’t hoard cash and thus when demonetisation happened, it was pretty easy for me to get the notes in my possession exchanged. I believe the note ban was a courageous move that no other leader could pull off. There is not one leader in the Opposition of this calibre. People say that political decisions should be taken with a cool head. But I feel sometimes, one should strike only while the iron is hot. Decisions should be taken with a courageous heart at the right moment. Only then a real change will come. I believe in the dictum ‘Apna hath jagannath’ (Your destiny lies in your own hands). And I believe I share this trait with our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi ji. This means we keep our focus on what can be done and not what cannot be done. No one is perfect and we will keep making mistakes, but we can’t be living in doubt. When it comes to decisiveness, the Opposition pales in front of Modiji. Good or bad, our PM is at least proactive. I sincerely hope that he will learn from his mistakes and come back in 2019.]]>
Priyanka, 41, Beauty Parlour Owner, Jharkhand If you have a pretty face, makeup is inconsequential; it just enhances your beauty. It is like the icing on a cake. If the base of the cake is well-baked, you will have a delicious cake. If we apply the same logic to our current government, then our Prime Minister’s oratory skills are just an icing on a badly baked cake or makeup for ugly governance. The decision to reserve 10 percent of jobs for upper caste poor too, I feel, is a way to cover up for five years of bad governance. I firmly believe in merit and people who have courage and self-belief do not need any kind of reservation. People who lack confidence, will always be needing something more, no matter how many incentives they get. But I do believe that there are people in very remote areas who don’t have access to good education, they should definitely be helped in getting access to good education. Coming back to bad governance… I have overcome many a tough situations in life, but demonetisation perhaps posed one of the toughest challenges for me. Oh! those long queues at the banks and the uncertainty of whether I will be able to withdraw money after the wait! Demonetisation happened bang at the beginning of the wedding season. Beauty parlour owners like me wait all year round for the wedding season since it is the most lucrative period for us. I am not too upbeat about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) either. Maybe in big cities, people don’t mind paying more after GST was introduced, but women in small towns are not at all ready to shell out extra bucks. Even if you tell them that the charges of services like manicure, pedicure, waxing etc. have gone up because of GST. In the 2019 election I would like to vote for a candidate who understands both microeconomics as well as macroeconomics. Or at least tries to learn about them and open to other dissenting views. However, there is a marked difference as far as cleanliness is concerned. Things are definitely getting better in the heart of the town. But I get disheartened, when I see that garbage is still being dumped on the outskirts of the town. The concept of recycling is still alien to most people here. My tip to Narendra Modi: Since people feel so connected to him, I think he should have a Chai pe charcha at the end of his tenure and this time he should take feedback from people to ensure good governance. (The narrator did not wish to share her photograph. The images used are representational)]]>
Prashant Rawat, 24, Footwear Shop Owner, Uttar Pradesh The Modi government’s policies and initiatives have benefited me. There have been a few initial hiccups, but then life has only become easier. Take demonetisation for example. In the early days of demonetisation, people from all walks of life, and not just businessmen like me, faced problems. The move had brought our everyday lives to a standstill. But in hindsight, I feel it was a blessing in disguise for me. The move helped me switch to digital money. I started electronic payment facility in my shop. Now about 50 percent of my customers prefer e-payment over cash. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) also came with its own package of initial hiccups. Once we understood the tax slabs, things got easier for us and helped us in our business. Earlier a service tax of 12 percent was charged on all footwear products. Now, goods up to Rs 500 come under a tax slab of 5 percent; and footwear above costing Rs 500 come under the 12 percent bracket. My shop is frequented more by people from lower middle and middle class. And they prefer buying products that are cheaper and priced below Rs 500. So a good chunk of sale in my shop is of products priced below Rs 500 and the benefit of a lower GST of 5 percent is thus, passed on to the customers. There is also an additional benefit – we also make it a point to inform our high-end customers (who purchase goods priced over Rs 500) about the tax slab and the benefit of buying a product worth Rs 500 or less. Some of them happily agree and buy a pair of slippers or sandals in addition to what they have already bought. The Modi government has also been successful in implementing the Swachha Bharat campaign. My shop is located in a busy market with all kind of shops such as, eateries, groceries, wholesale, etc. Earlier there was no provision for dumping garbage. Heaps of garbage would pile up right at the entrance of the market. Also an open nallah (sewage canal) passing adjacent to the market used to drive away customers. Now you can see these dustbins — both for wet and dry waste installed around the market. Representatives from the municipality too, visit us on a regular basis to make sure the market is cleaned up properly. I would give Modi, eight out of 10 marks for the Swachha Bharat campaign. Modi should be given another term since I do not see a better candidate to fit the bill.]]>
Navneet Chauhan, 28, postgraduate student, IIT Delhi Student The last few years have definitely seen a change, but the change is in the perspective towards Modi. Initially he was thought to be the panacea for everything wrong with the country — the harbinger of ‘Achhe Din’. But that is not the case anymore. After being in power for five years and not having fulfilled most of the promises he made to people, he himself seems to have changed the goalpost. Now, he says he needs more time, till 2024. Whether it is doubling the income of farmers or building affordable houses, he wants another term for the job. Promises Falling Flat I voted for Modi in 2014, because he had pledged to clean river Ganga. Had he succeeded in doing so, I would have voted for him once again downright. But all his promises are falling flat. Not even half of his promises have been fulfilled. The problem is that this government has always identified itself with Narendra Modi — it was always called the ‘Modi’ government. It was never perceived as the government of the people of India. Had it been the government of the people of India — it would have respected dissenting views of the Opposition as well. On the contrary it launched a campaign for ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, as if there weren’t any better things, our country needed to be ‘mukt’ of. In a parallel universe created by the Modi government, our country already seems to have gotten rid of poverty, malnourishment, pollution and other maladies. With no positive achievements to showcase, Modi has resorted back to the Ram temple issue to garner votes. I don’t know if Ram Lalla was born where they claim. But I know for sure that Maryada-Purshottam Ram would be deeply hurt after watching all the hateful, communal content being circulated in his name. Secondly, this government succeeded in putting a ban on cow slaughter but did not have a robust plan of what it would be doing with all the stray cows roaming around, once they were abandoned by their keepers/caretakers. Demonetisation and Fuel price hike Demonetisation was badly planned and people suffered because of its childish execution. It had been better if it was done after systems like UPI, online banking, other online payment methods were well established in the country. In a country where a large section of society still works on cash transactions, a move like demonetisation was bound to be a disaster. Now, according to RBI figures, it seems even the white money that was already there in circulation got out of the system. This is because a person, who earns Rs 1,000 per day was not keen on losing one day’s salary by standing in line, rather he chose to get Rs 800 of new notes in exchange of old notes of Rs 1,000 by illegal means. People made a racket out of demonetisation and got away with it. Apart from demonetisation, the rising prices of commodities hurt the economy. The price of a commodity is decided by various factors, such as land, labour, availability of raw materials and most importantly cost of transportation. With fuel prices increasing, the price of everything goes up. Petrol prices can still be tolerated but price hike of diesel hurts a lot because mainly trucks run on diesel, and they carry everyday consumables, namely vegetables and fruits etc. A common man can opt for public transport instead of his own vehicle to save money, but there is no replacement for food. The Delhi government’s economic policy is a good example of how a budget should be made. They have focused on health and education primarily, which any economist would approve of. This in my opinion is the right long- term solution for the nation’s economy. Quota Politics in an Election Year The Supreme Court had put a cap on reservation and stated that reservation should not be more than 50 percent. Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the reservation in jobs for the people in General Category and as per reports though the Supreme Court has not stayed the decision, it will be examining the decision. I think the EWS quota is just a populist measure to garner votes from the upper castes. To me the truth is pretty apparent. The government is well aware of the fact that that Supreme Court will strike down this constitutional amendment. But the Modi government has brought about the amendment in an election year because the SC will take some time to give its verdict. I feel a decision will be taken only after the elections. But even if SC announces its verdict early, BJP will very smartly blame the Apex Court for playing spoilt sport. This is just another way of making fools out of us. Opposition also can’t openly challenge it because it would hamper their upper-caste vote bank. No Strong Opposition The Opposition led by Congress needs to raise issues such as price rise, farmer distress from the very beginning. These issues strike a chord with the common man. They have talked about Rafale deal case, is difficult for a layman to connect to. Alas! Because of lack of a strong opposition, I think Modi will be elected again. We have seen many a khichdi sarkars earlier. These governments were always constrained by the demands of smaller regional parties in the coalition. All opposition parties are trying to form a ‘grand alliance’ only at the fag end of Modi’s term. Thus, it is easier for Modi to brand them as a ‘coalition of opportunists’. Also it is very unlikely that a coalition government will work in harmony.]]>