Through a dedicated booklet (100 Days of Bold Initiatives and Decisive Actions) and press conferences across the country, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a publicity blitz celebrating its achievements in the first 100 days of its return to power. But are the BJP’s claims and promises grounded in reality?
Answering this definitively just 100 days into a new government is difficult but data can at least provide useful context.
Claim 1: Automobile slowdown partly driven by changing millennial preferences
The biggest issue facing the government is India’s slowing economy. And at the heart of India’s economic slowdown has been a slump in the automobile sector. Passenger vehicle sales, which are an important indicator of domestic demand, have plummeted in recent months. In a press conference on Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam suggested that part of the auto sector’s malaise comes from changing millennial preferences. “The automobile and components industry has been affected by BS6 and the mindsets of millennial, who now prefer to have Ola and Uber rather than committing to buying an automobile,” said Sitharaman.
But there is no evidence to support her contention. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary.
Most millennials would like to own a car with only a small proportion happy with Ola/Uber
% responses to “Are you planning to buy a new vehicle in the next one year?”
More than 80% of all millennials (aged 22 to 37) in urban India yearn for a personal vehicle, shows data from the first round of the YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey, a survey of 5,000 online Indians across 180 cities conducted in July 2018. There was virtually no difference in the propensity to buy cars between older millennials (aged 29-37) and the Gen X (38-53) generation, the survey showed. The propensity to buy cars was slightly lower among younger millennials but that has perhaps more to do with their lower incomes and savings than a disenchantment with cars.
Besides, the auto slowdown has now extended to commercial vehicle sales, indicating that firms which buy such vehicles to transport goods are expecting subdued sales in the near future. Ridership in car-hailing services such as Uber and Ola have also stagnated. Beyond automobile sales, several other indicators of economic activity have also lost momentum in recent months, as Mint’s Macro Tracker has regularly highlighted. Beyond automobile sales, several other indicators of economic activity have also lost momentum in recent months, as Mint’s Macro Tracker has regularly highlighted.
Claim 2: Building 1.95 crore homes by 2021-22
In its previous term, the BJP-led government invested significantly in rural welfare programs and has doubled down on such spending, setting a target of 1.95 crore homes by 2021-22.
Despite failing to meet previous targets, the BJP government has raised targets for rural house construction
Houses in million
But this target could be unrealistic. Between 2016-17 to 2018-19, a total of 84 lakh houses were constructed against the target of 1 crore houses. To meet the target of 1.95 crores in three years, around 65 lakh homes need to be constructed every year. This would mean construction would have to be 2.3 times faster in the coming years to meet the target even if one takes the official numbers at face value.
Claim 3: Connected 8 crore homes with LPG
Similarly, on LPG, the government has claimed that it has now connected 8 crores homes to LPG and has targeted delivering LPG to all rural households by 2022. According to official data, this target may be more realistic. Data from the petroleum ministry reveals that the government has ramped up LPG connections after returning to power (70 lakh households added just in the last quarter).
Since coming into power again, the BJP has continued rolling out PMUY quickly
PMUY beneficiaries in lakhs
Despite increased LPG connectivity, usage could remain an issue. A 2018 survey in six states had revealed that, though PMUY had improved access, 92% of all rural households with LPG connections did not use it as a primary fuel because of the cost of refills.