Source | The Economist
NARENDRA MODI became India’s prime minister almost a year ago, on May 26th 2014. Since then he has made many detailed promises, to be kept by set deadlines. The Economist has collated as many of these as possible in the table below. Around half relate to tasks to be done by 2019, the likely date of the next general election. Some are strikingly ambitious, such as improving India’s position on the World Bank’s “Ease of doing business” ranking from a woeful 142nd today to the top 50 by 2017. One or two have already been achieved, or are likely to be soon. For example a plan to open 75m new bank accounts by the end of January 2015 has been surpassed: some 150m accounts have been opened. A goal to have one billion Indians enrolled in the Aadhaar “unique identity” biometric database this year looks doable. These goals also reveal Mr Modi’s mentality as a leader: he sees himself in the mould of a CEO, or a taskmaster who sets concrete targets for others to implement.
The 30-odd items constitute a checklist to assess whether Mr Modi’s government is living up to its promises. Critics might dispute whether all are worth pursuing, such as a proposal for massive river-linking projects to divert fresh water to drought-prone areas, or a hugely expensive plan for high-speed trains (fixing low-speed ones is a greater priority). Others could grumble that worthy goals are not connected to the right projects. Attempting to end the widespread practice of open defecation is laudable: bad public hygiene leads to ill-health, poor nutrition, child mortality and more. But this requires a broad, thoughtful plan, to do with education and changing cultural habits, not just the government building 100m new toilets. Critics could also point to the fact that many important ambitions are missing. Your correspondent once suggested to Mr Modi he should have a plan to get Indian universities ranked in the top 200 in the world, but so far he has very little to say about higher education. Nonetheless, it is useful to track official pledges and see what is achieved.