Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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Truth Beyond Rhetoric - A Reality Check for Modi Govt.


It was not long ago that the country got a new government with the promise of transforming the way we are governed. Hue and cry was made to change the basic system of ruling the country and the nation as a whole trusted the promise of one single individual – Narendra Modi - when they forgot their party loyalties, their individual sect identities and their economic backgrounds to vote in huge numbers for this person to be the Prime Minister of India. Now a lot of water has passed under the bridges from the day he took office on May 26th amongst an august audience of SAARC leaders among others. On this blog itself many of us have read on the good things this government has been doing over the months and many of its laurels. However, now as the year is ending, it is also time for a reality check. While the so called “honey-moon period” of a government is soon getting over, the people of the country need to understand of what they got beyond rhetoric and media campaigns.

A lot happened after this new government came in and many of those were wonderful news. But what a curious mind asks is how much of it was contributed by the present regime and how much of it was reaping of what was previously sown. We heard the PM laud Mangalyaan however the shuttle was launched much before this government started campaigning. Inflation indices came down but only on paper and marginal reduction in prices can be explained by seasonality. Fuel prices may have come down, but it is like the story of a monkey who benefited from the cat fight (US-Russia tensions helping us out). Well our international sovereign ratings did improve amongst the hype but the foundation for those is still unexplained. Our Prime Minister has visited the world and though one may agree that we are building our brand, but the results have been abstract at best.

Ummm new path for Kailash Mansarovar is not an achievement to really boast of!!

For most part of the tenure until now, we did not have a dedicated defense minister. For a country like us, with more foes than friends, surrounded by those ready to pounce on us at hint of an opportunity and with security forces suffering from dearth of equipment, we definitely need overtime Defense Minister rather than a part-time one. Though to give credit the one put up on the post comes with strong credentials so there is hope for sure. But then we also have a finance minister, with the responsibility to take our economy out of shambles – the major Poll promise of the government, who has been indisposed for all this while.

A number of campaigns have been launched with most serving as media drives rather than impacting on the ground. There is a cleanliness drive where the white-clothed, glove clad, chauffer driven select few flash brooms for the camera and then leave their bottle water litter back for others to clean up. We have to understand that it is difficult to change the human mentality and initial push can only come from fear more than urging the conscience of convoluted human mind. While this has been good in theory, effective fine system may go a longer way in helping the cause. Then we have an impetus on Make in India which in itself is laudatory step. India is well in need to boost its manufacturing industry and we need to Make in India for India (in words of our RBI Governor).However, big announcements made seem to be mostly on paper. Labor laws should have been the first of the legislations if we have to seriously look at Indian manufacturing industry. We need huge infrastructure push and though government would have loved to show great progress, the budget did not provide a specific direction. A large number of small mugful allotments to a number of areas for planning do not fall in any particular bucket.

And if all this wasn’t enough to mar the image of government, there are a whole lot of right wing stakeholders who have suddenly come to believe that they have a free-for-them reign over the country. They are ready to get into and in process drag the government into likes of love-jihad, forceful conversions; Religion based ruckus and what not. Though it may not truly be government’s fault, it did derail the agenda of development, if it really was. Rajya Sabha did not work for the entire winter session with the opposition united against one common theme of so-called-secularity.

So, has it all been downhill with nothing to show as achievements. Not really!!

Corruption was one of the prime reasons was for fall of the previous government. This one seems to have taken a note of it. E-Governance is a seeing a major push and action on ground seems visible. One of the proud achievements that can be truly seen is in the area of administrative improvements. One can easily find officials hurrying up to the offices right at 9 which is against their longstanding habit. Another key area which sees progress is emphasis on policy based decision making and reducing the level of discretionary powers to the extent possible. Though this may slightly reduce the flexibility, if handled correctly, it would prove to be a fruitful check. Though there would be inherent challenge in this area. Coal block allocation has itself thrown a new challenge along with alarm bells on how to handle such issues and assuage investor concerns of such retroactive decisions for their investments.

Then there have been instances where the government has shown a keenness to act rather than stay adamant with a stand. This has been especially evident in foreign policy. The long stuck WTO deal finally went through after we had third-party understanding with US to secure our food securities. Once could say that this is all that WTO was built to avoid but then who said world is a fair place to live in. We had signed Nuclear Deal with US long back but it couldn’t be operationalized with just a single issue of liability ownership proving to be the roadblock. This government has come up with a work around of developing an insurance pool which would acquire the liability in case of an accident.

I am sure there would be many things that are in progress and we ought to wait before we see an impact on ground. But then as a voter I do keep logic aside while making my decisions – right!! We voted for a hope when most of us knew things would hardly change by large extent. And once we voted we do want that 5 lakh in our bank accounts on day 1. This is how we are and will be and it is for the government to realize that they need to move beyond rhetoric and show real impact else it wouldn't take much time for this popular support to slide from below their feet.

This is probably the last post for this year and I would now be busy giving this blog a new look to welcome the New Year with a fresh feel. So, friends, Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year 2015 !!
And do not forget to give your feedback and views – for or against :-)

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