This week, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government will present its last budget before the country’s national elections, and it is under pressure to address Indians’ most pressing concerns.
These concerns include jobs and women’s safety, according to a recent survey by data analytics company YouGov, which collected responses from 1,020 people in India between Jan. 22 and Jan. 25. Of this group, 69% identified job creation as the top area the government should pay attention to in the budget, while women’s safety came second with 68%. Health care and addressing farmer distress were also high on the list.
The results reflect growing concerns over a deepening crisis in India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, where the employment rate declined to 40.6% in March 2018, from 43.5% in January 2016. Despite high-profile moves such as implementing job reservations for economically weaker sections and announcing 230,000 vacancies with Indian Railways, the Modi government faces heavy criticism for failing to fulfill its 2014 campaign promises.
And over six years after a brutal gang rape in New Delhi sparked national outrage over the state of women’s safety in India, not much has actually changed on the ground. In the past year alone, several brutal cases of rape and sexual assault were recorded across the country, and most women still face hurdles in seeking out justice. Late last year, India’s #MeToo movement exposed the staggering extent of sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace, taking down several big names, including a minister in the Modi government. So there’s a clear need for more action to improve women’s safety.
Beyond these concerns, the respondents in the YouGov survey are also looking for changes in taxation and a universal basic income support for farmers, who have taken to the streets repeatedly in recent years to protest government apathy in the face of rural distress.