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Modi 2.0 should address key issues in earnest

The BJP-led NDA rode on PM Narendra Modi’s combative nationalism to vanquish the Opposition in the Lok Sabha elections. Now that the new government has taken charge, the PM can’t keep harping on national security as a host of issues require immediate attention. The expectations are even higher this time as the NDA has had a stable five-year run, unencumbered by the whims of self-seeking allies. The failure to create enough jobs for the youth has been a huge let-down. India’s unemployment rate reached a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, according to the National Sample Survey Office’s periodic labour force survey. The desperate but futile attempt to keep this report under wraps in the run-up to the elections showed the powers that be in a poor light. An action plan should be readied at the earliest to tackle joblessness, with an eye on energising the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

The farming community — a key vote bank that ensures the nation’s food security — can’t be left to fend for itself. Farmers have been at the receiving end as the average food prices in 2018-19 were almost the same as these were in 2017-18, a trend not witnessed for almost three decades. Remunerative prices for their produce can help cultivators cope with agrarian distress. The direct income support of Rs 6,000 per year to small and marginal farmers, announced in the 2019-20 Interim Budget, should be hiked substantially.

Environmental issues were conspicuous by their absence from the electoral narrative, but these are too critical to be ignored for long. The government’s roadmap in this regard should go beyond the rejuvenation of Ganga and Yamuna rivers. India can’t afford to take climate change lightly anymore. As the PM and BJP president Amit Shah have on Thursday sworn in the name of God to uphold the Constitution, they should at the very outset take up the challenge of maintaining communal amity. A stable and strong government should be synonymous with peaceful co-existence of various communities, not with lynch mobs, self-styled vigilantes and hate-mongers.

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