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Fish, Mutton Campaign for Modi, Only to Duck Mention of His 10-Year Record?

Why the prime minister is fighting shy of the real record of his government in ten years.
A garbage van being used by sanitation workers to ferry the dead bodies of COVID-19 patients in Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon. Photo: Twitter/@DEEPAK_SAHU_CG.

New Delhi: A Lokniti-CSDS survey has pointed out that the people surveyed are most concerned about unemployment and price rise. Their material well-being is severely impacted, which is a matter of concern to them. In response to the question, “If you compare today with the last five years, do you think it is much easier to get jobs or has it become more difficult?” 62% said it was more difficult.

On price rise, to the question, “And what about price rise? Has it increased or decreased in the last five years?” A whopping 71% said it had increased.

Going into campaign with hopes to get re-elected after a long ten-year stay, Modi should talk about jobs, price rise, savings rates and lives of the ‘1.4 billion’ people or at least the 970 million that are set to vote?

Here are reasons why it is understandable there is a genuine desire to speak of anything but the record of the past ten years:


Unemployment rate in India, among persons aged 15 years and above, rose to 8% in the fiscal year 2023-24 from 7.5-7.7% in the preceding two years, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The number of unemployed persons actively looking for employment has touched nearly 37 million, according to CMIE data. Over the past seven years, the unemployment rate exceeded the 8% mark only once, during the pandemic in 2020-21.

Additionally, the labour participation rate, a key indicator of the labour market’s health, appears to be struggling to recover to its pre-pandemic levels.

India’s LPR in 2016-17 stood at 46.2%. The metric fell to about 42-44% in the subsequent three years.

It dropped to below 40% in 2020-21, and has remained impaired since. At 40.4%, India’s LPR in 2023-24 was about 5.8 percentage points lower than in 2016-17.

Unemployment hit a 45-year high, per the labour ministry. However, this data wasn’t published by the Modi government.

Price rise

Rising inflation is taking a toll on Indians, particularly in rural areas, due to a combination of factors, including stagnant incomes and increasing living costs.

As we can see in the chart below, inflation was higher in 2012-13 as compared to 2023-24. However, the unemployment rate was not as high as it is now. That could be one of the reasons why inflation – which is a common phenomenon in any economy – is pinching hard this time.

The impact of rising prices is visible in the rural distress echoed by major FMCG firms and the increase in demand for MGNREGA jobs.

In addition, consumer sentiment in urban India has crashed to a four-month low.

Also read: In Charts: How Govt and Private Sector Investments Have Fared in Recent Years


In FY23, household savings fell to a five-decade low. At the same time, debt levels remain elevated.

Personal loan growth has spiked. Journalist Tamal Bandyopadhyay had pointed out, in November 2023, citing RBI deputy governor Swaminathan J., that unsecured loans have been growing at 23% in the past two years. Other segments such as loans to corporations and small and medium enterprises have been growing at 12-14%.

Fuel prices

According to data, it appears that the excise duty on petrol and diesel have been steadily increasing since 2013-14, with a drop in the last two years. However, the excise duty is still higher than November 2014.

Democratic credibility

Multiple global indices studying democracy for decades have all noted India’s dramatic backslide on democracy. Freedom House, V-Dem, IDEA, The Economist’s index all speak of India as the fastest autocratiser. It is now not counted in democracies, it is classified as an ‘electoral autocracy.’


Inequality has risen sharply. It is now more unequal than under British colonial rule. The World Inequality Lab notes that the top 1% now own over 22% of the country’s resources. It has termed it The Rise of the Billionaire Raj.

COVID mishandling

WHO estimated 4.7 million COVID-19-linked deaths in India. The number is nearly 10 times that of the government’s official count for 2020, 2021. India continued to counter it, the only country to challenge WHO statistics on it.

(With inputs from Seema Chishti)

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