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UPA Versus Modi Rule: Fact-Checking 16 Viral ‘Achhe Din’ Claims

Are all villages in India electrified? Are there no transaction charges on debit cards? We find out these and more. 

Updated
India
7 min read
An image that is going viral on social media compares certain sectors under the Manmohan Singh government and the Narendra Modi regime.
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It’s Congress versus BJP again. An image that is going viral on social media compares certain sectors under the Manmohan Singh government and the Narendra Modi regime.

While some of the numbers are correct, some are dubious and others are based on data that can’t be compared.

We ran a fact-check to find out how much of these are true.

UPA Versus Modi Rule: Fact-Checking 16 Viral ‘Achhe Din’ Claims

Home Loan Interest Rates

CLAIM

The post claims that the interest rates were 11.5 percent in 2014 and they reduced to 9 percent in 2018.

This is hard to verify for various reasons. For starters, different government banks as well as private players offer home loans at different rates. Also, the interest rates are decided based on the loan slabs. The rates are different for women customers and others.

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The starting home loan interest rate for State Bank Of India in 2018 is 8.80 percent. In 2014, it was 10 percent, not 11.50 percent as has been claimed. So the data doesn’t hold true for the biggest public sector bank in India.

The claim is FALSE.

Tax On Restaurant Bill, Home Appliances, Beverages, Grains and Pulses

CLAIM

The tax on restaurant bill went down from 18 percent in 2014 to 5 percent in 2018, the tax on home appliances was slashed to 18 percent from 26.5 percent and for beverages, it came down to 5 percent from 12 percent.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) came into effect on 27 July, 2017. With this, as many as 13 other cesses were abolished. As a result, the taxes on eating out, home appliances and a lot of other products did come down.

The claim is TRUE.

Rate of 1 GB Data/Call Rate per Minute

CLAIM

The post claims that the rate of 1 GB went down to Rs 3 in 2018 from Rs 120 in 2014, and call rate per minute from 60 paise in 2014 to 0 in 2018.

Yes, the prices have come down but because of the entry of a private company – Reliance Jio – in the telecommunication sector. So the claim is true. But does the Modi government deserve credit for it? Not quite.

Number Of IT Returns Filed

CLAIM

The number went up from 3.79 crore in 2014 to 6.84 crore in 2018.

Technically, the data is right. During FY 2017-18, 6.84 crore Income Tax Returns (ITRs) were filed with the Income Tax Department, according to data provided by the Press Information Bureau.

The figure was 3.79 crore ITRs filed in F.Y. 2013-14.

But the truth is a bit complicated. A report in The Wire says that the government “redefined the terms ‘tax base’, ‘tax payers’ and ‘new tax payer added’ which adds the ‘number of persons from whom the TDS/TCS deductions are made’ to the ‘number of returns’ received in a year.”

The article concludes that any amount of increase, even the marginal 5.4 lakh new tax assesses or 1 percent of the total income tax base presented in Economic Survey of the government will further shrink to just 1.4 lakh tax payers, if it is corroborated with FY 2014-15, wherein 76.04 lakh new tax payers were added to the tax base.

Solar Power Generation

CLAIM

The solar energy capacity has increased to 20,000 MW in 2018 from 2,650 MW in 2014.

According to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, solar energy capacity has increased by over 8 times from 2.63 GW (2,630 MW) in 2014 to 22 GW (22,000 MW).

The claim is TRUE.

Number Of Operational Airports

CLAIM

The number of operational airports is 106 in 2018 compared to 75 in 2014.

The prime minister tweeted in September that India now had 100 airports and 35 of these had been completed in the past four years.

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According to the DGCA website, as of 31 March 2018, the figure of domestic airports is 101, of which 27 are non operational. The 2015 data on the DGCA website says that there were 95 airports out of which 31 were non-operational. The numbers have clearly been exaggerated.

The claim is FALSE.

Domestic Money Transfer Fee

CLAIM

The fee was Rs 5 in 2014 and Rs 0 in 2018.

The fact is that different banks levy different charges depending on the amount and the type of transfer (NEFT, RTGS). State Bank Of India charges Rs 2.5 for cash transfers upto Rs 10,000 through bank branch, and Re 1 through mobile/net banking.

The claim is FALSE.

Transaction Charges on Payment Through Cards

CLAIM

The charge levied in 2014 was 1 percent and in 2018, it is 0.

When you swipe your debit card at a store, you will be charged 1 percent for transactions above Rs 2,000 on debit cards. For transactions below Rs 2,000, the amount has been waived till 31 December, 2019.

The claim is FALSE.

Rural Sanitation Coverage

CLAIM

The coverage expanded to 85 percent in 2018 from 35 percent in 2014.

A Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation report from April 2018 said sanitation coverage has expanded from about 40 percent in 2014 to about 80 percent in 2018.

But according to Down to Earth, a fortnightly by Centre for Science and Environment, usage of toilets was very low because of wrong design of toilets and absence of water connection, and many houses do not have a formal arrangement to dispose solid wastes. This means the objective of sanitation coverage has not been achieved.

The claim is FALSE.

LPG Connection Coverage

CLAIM

The coverage grew to 89 percent in 2018 from 55 percent in 2014.

While the percentage hike might be true, the reality is not as simple as that. The claim is the result of inflated data.

According to The Wire, “As on 31 March, 2014, India had 16,932 LPG distributors inclusive of 3,036 distributors under RGGLVY (Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana) and another nearly 2,000 distributors under the same scheme were in the pipeline after approval of their applications.”

After 1 April, 2017, the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas stopped publishing the segregated numbers of RGGLVY and all these schemes were subsumed by PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana) and those numbers are now counted under PMUY.

The PPAC report also shows the anomalies in the reporting system. In many states like Goa, Delhi and Punjab, the subscription base is more than the estimated number of households. Goa has 3.41 lakh households but 4.7 lakh active domestic LPG connections.

So, not only are the numbers exaggerated, the coverage cannot be credited to the Modi government alone.

Un-Electrified Villages

CLAIM

In 2014, there were 30 percent unelectrified villages while in 2018, it came down to 0.

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On 29 April, 2018 Narendra Modi tweeted that every single village in India has access to electricity.

But again, the truth cannot be farther.

According to the current rural electrification policy, a village is declared electrified if 10 percent of its households have electric power. The Standing Committee on Energy (2013) had said that according to this definition, a village would be called electrified even if up to 90 percent of households in it do not have the basic electricity connection.

According to the government’s rural electrification website, Grameen Vidyutikaran, only 1,301 villages have 100 percent household connectivity, which is 0.21 percent of 600,000 villages, reported FirstPost.

According to an Indiaspend report in May 2017, the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government electrified about 4,600 villages every year – less than half the UPA’s average of 12,000 villages – over four years to April 2018.

The claim is FALSE.

Banking System Coverage

CLAIM

The percentage of people covered by the banking system rose to 90 percent in 2018 from 50 in 2014.

The Global Findex Report released by World Bank shows that the total number of Jan Dhan account holders has risen to 31.44 crore in March 2018. This means up to 80 percent of Indians now have a bank account.

But around 48 percent of the country’s bank accounts have seen no transactions in the last one year, the World Bank says in its Global Findex database report released in April 2018. India has the world’s highest share of inactive accounts, about twice the average of 25 percent for developing economies.

Not only is the figure wrong, the ground reality is far from the claim as well.

The claim is FALSE.

Foreign Direct Investment

CLAIM

The FDI climbed up to $60 billion in 2018 from $36 billion in 2014.

FDI increased from $36 billion in 2013-14 to $60 billion in 2016-17, according to data from the department of industrial policy and promotion, which is a division of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. But that increase does not look that good when FDI is considered as a proportion of GDP, which increased 7.35 percent, on average, over three years to 2017, according to a report in BloombergQuint in June 2018.

The claim is FALSE.

India’s Forex Reserves

CLAIM

The reserves stand at 420 bn USD in 2018 as compared to 300 bn in 2014.

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According to a report in The Economic Times, an analysis of the RBI data shows that India’s foreign reserves have grown $63 billion between 24 May, 2014 and 5 May, 2017, outstripping the $52 billion increase between 22 May, 2009 and 23 May, 2014, under the rule of UPA. India's foreign exchange reserves reached a peak of $426.08 billion on 13 April 2018.

But it fell to $394.46 billion in the week ending 12 October, 2018, as per weekly data from the Reserve Bank of India, reported Business Today in October.

The claim is FALSE.

Speed Of Railway Network Expansion

CLAIM

In 2014, it was 4.1 km/day while it spiked to 6.53 km/day in 2018.

There has been a 59 percent increase in the average pace of commissioning new lines from 4.1 km (2009-14) to 6.53 Kms per day (2014-18), according to data from Ministry of Railways.

The claim is TRUE

Speed Of Highway Construction/National Highway Network

CLAIM

12 km/day was built in 2014 and 27 km/day was built in 2018. The length of the national highway network increased from 92,851 km in 2014 to 120,543 km in 2018.

A press release by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways stated that 9,829 km of national highways were constructed in 2017-18. This implies 27 km of national highways have been constructed per day in 2017-18.

According to Factly.in, data taken from an answer provided in the Lok Sabha shows that the length of national highways constructed in the year 2013-14 is 4,260 km, which corroborates the 12 km/day claim.

According to the annual report (2013-14) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the length of national highways/expressways was 92,851 km by the end of 2013-14. The annual report (2017-18) states that the length of national highways/expressways is 1,20,543 km.

Both claims are TRUE.

(Compiled with inputs from Tahira Noor Khan.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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