Weeding out corruption, leveraging tech & rejigged schemes yielded benefits to the needy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that leakage of public funds has been plugged 100 per cent is significant for more one reason. Modi articulated his views at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the three-day jamboree of non-resident Indians and those with Indian connection living in around 100 countries. Phasing out corruption almost completely in higher echelons of the political power apparatus in the last four-odd years has been cited as a prime reason by the Prime Minister. And, very shrewdly, he banked on a 1985 remark of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who stated that only 15 paise of every rupee spent by the government reaches people.

In his bid to sell India as destination of their dreams, Prime Minister Modi claimed that 85 per cent leakage in funds was effectively curbed. This was showcased as the biggest achievement of the NDA government he has been heading from 2014.

While ‘branding India as a roaring tiger to take a leap’, Modi effectively used the forum to sell to his constituency that 85 paise in every rupee spent earlier was siphoned off by Congress leaders that were hitherto in power. Modi may have been correct to a large extent. But, it’s also a fact that systemically funds were pilfered not just due to corruption but mismanagement of scarce resources and schemes that ultimately benefited ‘unintended’ people.

Leaving out the needy, suppressed and depressed sections in most schemes was the hallmark of previous governments, irrespective of the party in power.  The Modi government seems to have leveraged technology, connectivity and outreach to phase out bogus beneficiaries of several schemes like cooking gas, farm loans, subsidies in food and fertilisers, cash dole out, etc.

There’s no denying that a lot of clean-up act has led to making these schemes effective and inclusive. Otherwise, how can the government take electricity to virtually every village, if not every family? How can cooking gas be provided to over six crore beneficiaries under ‘Ujjwala’ scheme? Over six crore such ‘bogus’ beneficiaries of about 100-odd government schemes have apparently been taken out, thanks to Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts, Aadhar and mobile linkages, apart from electronic payment platforms. This does not mean that beneficiaries have not been bullied physically by the ‘high and mighty’ at different levels to deny them monetary benefits and emancipation.

Prime Minister Modi’s statement of government transferring over Rs 5.85 lakh crore into bank accounts of different beneficiaries in the last four and a half years seems to be politically loaded, too. One, his contention seems to be that over Rs 4.5 lakh crore would have vanished if schemes were not streamlined and 85 per cent pilferage continued as in the past.

He also seems to have attempted at taking the wind out of opposition parties campaign that no cash has been credited as promised in BJP’s Lok Sabha campaign of 2014.

The Prime Minister’s outreach with Indian diaspora through scores of public interactions seems to have begun to yield results. Huge convergence at Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas that included lawmakers, corporate honchos to community leaders and heads of states with Indian connection also reflects the country’s growing stature internationally. Leveraging the diaspora’s strength methodically throws up both an opportunity and challenge. Bringing about cohesiveness in different Indian groups globally is bound to be tricky. At the same time, leveraging their strengths through a coherent and dynamic engagement could yield huge benefits to the country.

Once non-resident Indians and people with Indian connection begin to invest in manufacturing industry, there’s no reason Indian companies would look elsewhere for opportunities.