The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) is an NGO which was formed in 1999 by professors of the Indian Institutes of Management. Today, it is arguably the most important political organisation that works for citizens.

ADR runs ‘Election Watch’, which provides background reports on candidates and winners of both the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies elections. Also, a ‘Political Parties Watch’ run by it analyses donations above Rs. 20,000 that the parties receive.

ADR’s last and latest survey was carried out between October and December 2018 and released in 2019 with the election approaching. According to ADR, it is likely that this is the largest-ever voter survey conducted in any country and covers 2,73,487 respondents from 534 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies.

While the survey has several parts, the headline question asked citizens what their top priorities are when it comes to government performance. The answer had to be selected from 31 items, which included drinking water, electricity, food and roads. It further included items like law and order, terrorism, strong defence/military, and others. An ‘other’ option was also available.

On these parameters, citizens had to rate government performance. Each respondent had to pick two areas where the government’s performance was ‘good’, two areas where it was ‘average’ and two areas where it was ‘poor’. The scores that were assigned were five for ‘good’, three for ‘average’, and one for ‘poor’.

What did the survey reveal?

The results, however, turned out to be quite shocking as across urban and rural voters, for all 31 categories, the government’s performance was rated ‘below average’, reported Firstpost

Citizens’ top two priorities turned out to be Better Employment Opportunities and Better Hospitals/Primary Healthcare Centers, as they were in a similar survey conducted in 2017.

The dead last priority was the encroachment of public land and lakes, with strong defence and terrorism just above it. Citizens ranked government performance on strong defence and terrorism possibly because the survey was conducted before the Indian Air Force airstrikes on Balakot in Pakistan, which was a great achievement on the part of the Indian Army. While terrorism received the second-lowest score of 1.15, the defence received the fourth-lowest score of 1.22.

The top ten priorities, which are arranged in order of importance, are what the government should seriously look into. These priorities include better employment opportunities, better healthcare, drinking water, better roads, better public transport, availability of water for agriculture, agricultural loan availability, Higher price realization for farm products, agricultural subsidies for seeds and fertilizers, and better law and order and policing. The next two items are related to electricity for agriculture and electricity for domestic use.

Although electricity and roads have been important aspects of the ruling party’s propaganda, satisfaction levels for roads are below average at 2.41 according to the survey. Electricity for domestic use and agriculture were given below average scores of 2.14 and 2.53 respectively. The all-India score for better law and order and policing stands at 2.26.

This survey serves as an indictment of the entire political class of the country. Good governance must include good prioritisation, and the determination and willingness to tackle and solve issues that citizens are facing. 

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