It's two years since Narendra Modi won the historic Lok Sabha election on May 16, 2014. The government of Modi took oath on May 26 and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will launch an eight-hour talk show titled 'Zara Muskura Do' (Give a smile please) on that day to highlight the government's success stories.
Is the latest slogan a step back for the Modi government, who had promised Achhe Din (good days are here) during the days of the leader's ascent?
The government is likely to rope in big stars of Bollywood at event which will see the main panel discussion at India Gate and live telecast across the country. It will also feature videos showing the common man's understanding and what he has gained from the Modi government's flagship programmes like Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG, One Rank One Pension and Jan Dhan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and others. The success stories will also be promoted on the social media with #TransformingIndia.
The journey to Achhe Din too long?
But is the ground reality in sync with the promises that Modi made before winning the election? Some in Varanasi, one of the two constituencies that Modi won in the general election (he gave up the other in his home state Gujarat --- Vadodara later) feel that though Modi's words have been realistic, his achievement so far has been limited.
They feel Modi's vision is "perfectly okay" but its implementation hasn't been fast.
The religious side
Besides the governance side, many had also been apprehensive that the Modi era would see imposition of religious majaoritarianism and issues like the killing of Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri in UP over alleged consumption of beef have also been a concern after two years. The intrusion in JNU University and the making a hero out of Kanhaiya Kumar and stoking the nationalistic sentiments has also been seen to be a step which the Modi government could have avoided.
Besides the routine criticism from the Opposition Congress, even former BJP Union minister Arun Shourie has expressed displeasure with the Modi government's functioning so far.
More than religion or foreign policy---Modi govt's economic reforms have been targeted the most
But more than reasons related to religion or foreign policy, it is Modi government's inability to push through economic reforms which has caught the maximum criticism.
While Sourie said Modi's idea of development is "a few large, shining and conspicuous projects", former Union finance minister P Chidambaram asked where the jobs are. Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha, son of former Union finance minister Yaswant Sinha---one of the old-school members of the party who also spoke his mind against the Modi government on various issues---said the Indian authorities are "fundamentally changing the nature of Indian capitalism" to help entrepreuners. But that remark is unlikely to get much backing.
But the work towards building of roads, improving the functioning of the railways, opening accounts for more than 200 million Indians who had no accounts previously---are certainly some positive steps that the Modi regime has taken. But the Goods and Services Tax initiative has continued to hit the wall and Modi's failure in building a political consensus for an important economic purpose has been glaring.
Foreign policy has been PM Modi's high point
One if Modi's high points is of course his foreign policy initiatives so far. His government has made efforts to reach out to corners of the planet that not many had thought of in the last few decades, only to win more friends on the diplomatic front.
However, the media of the country, which is more obsessed with Pakistan and China---has targeted the Modi government for "failing" to pursue a consistent policy vis-a-vis Pakistan and take a strong stand on China (cancellation of visa issued to Chinese dissident Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa to avert face-off with Beijing). But there is no denying the fact that under Modi, India's foreign policy orientation has witnessed a shift towards pragmatism.