Monday, December 28, 2015

Instal A Genuine Modi Government... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ December 27, 2015

Instal a Genuine Modi Government to Restore Your Image as Vikas Purush

If wishes were horses, the best wishes of millions of Indians, including mine, would be with you to seize the reins of a happy and productive 2016. You surprised the world by signing off 2015 with a unique Modi stamp, landing in Lahore to greet your newly acquired “friend” Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. Your creative diplomacy and perseverance have paid dividends abroad. In 2015, you also broke many records in setting the agenda for India’s social, economic and political discourse. You launched many new schemes and shook the bureaucracy out of its deep slumber. You may be disappointed with the limited success your government has achieved in legislative business, but disruptive politics is now an unfortunately unavoidable ingredient of the Indian democratic narrative. You will have to deal with an even more vicious and confrontationist Opposition in 2016.

Your government and politics will come under greater public scrutiny than in 2015. Every gesture and move of yours will be questioned both inside and outside Parliament. Emboldened by their success in Bihar, Delhi, and successful verdicts in several byelections and local body polls, the non-BJP opposition will target you personally as the father of failure. They will try to erase your image of a Vikas and Loh Purush. After all, in the demolition of the Modi icon lies the hope for the revival and survival of leaders without a message, mantra or mission. Even some of your colleagues, including a few trusted ones, are waiting in the wings for you to slip so that they can strike and bargain for more powers and crumbs. Despite political reverses in a few regions, your popularity is intact. Your admirers swear by your ability to deliver. So, you will be judged in 2016 by your ability to deliver on the initiatives you had announced in the past 20 months. For a new government, its first year is considered the year of understanding the system and setting new goals. The second is of delivery. The third is for consolidation, the fourth for expansion and the fifth for setting new targets to be included in the election manifesto. For your government, 2016 is a combination of the second and third year, and hence will be more demanding. Since the Opposition is itching to remind you of your myriad poll promises, you need to draw a feasible and credible road map for delivery on the following fronts:
• Black money: There is no doubt that the generators of black money fear the government is almost stealthily invisible in its investigations. The finance ministry, however, has met with limited success in bringing back black money. Even at home, little of the parallel economy has been revealed. Your detractors do not leave any opportunity to remind voters about the failure of your strong pitch against black money. Your stance against black money and corruption was one of the key factors which moved young voters in your favour. Most of them, however, are aghast with the meagre amount unearthed by agencies. The Congress is sure to exploit in every Assembly election this paltry action as one of the most visible signs of electoral betrayal. Your fight against corruption should assume a decisive turn in 2016.
• Make in India: Your call to foreign investors to open shop in India and make goods to be exported was one of the most innovative ideas to spur the manufacturing sector. According to statistics, FDI has shown a spectacular rise in 2015. But the MNCs are hesitating to invest in core manufacturing sectors. Barring e-commerce and services ventures, they have shown little interest in setting up new units, because their focus is on quick profits. You have magnanimously offered a flexible and attractive tax regime, but they are only interested in taking out more money from the country than they bring in. From 2009 onwards, foreign companies have repatriated more money out of India in the name of brand royalty fees, technology transfers, research and development support, expert advice etc. than they have invested in their Indian subsidiaries. Your colleagues in other ministries must ensure that all MOUs signed during your visits abroad are converted into production licences. Otherwise, your foes will use the same statistics to run your government down.
• Swachh Bharat: Never before has any national leader put so much emphasis on keeping India clean as you. You realised it is urgently needed to promote tourism and create a healthy nation. You rightly thought that a variety of iconic personalities and institutions would charge the mindset of ordinary citizens when used as ambassadors for your mission. The time has come to review their contributions to check whether all of them actually took part in spreading the message or just used the idea as an instrument of self-promotion. Most of them have vanished after their photo-ops. Your detractors are likely to use its less-than-expected success to mock what they call your adventurist ideas.
• Construction of toilets: If the numbers, which are being touted by various agencies, are any indication, your directive to construct toilets in villages has been a resounding success. But a reality check is required post-haste. Government agencies have spent the allotted funds to complete their targets in many districts. But a large number of toilets are either non-functional or have disappeared, since no accountability was fixed for maintenance. Already, visuals of newly constructed but filthy toilets are being shown on TV channels. Since they are facilities, which influence the voter directly, you will need the power of your authority to make this scheme work.
• Housing for all: Providing affordable housing was one of your initial promises. As you are aware, the real estate sector is going through its worst-ever crisis since Independence, with demand having nosedived to abysmal depths. Various government agencies have not taken enough initiatives to construct new houses under Centrally sponsored schemes. Over 700,000 residential units constructed by private companies remain unsold, since the ability of buyers to pay has been considerably eroded.
There are many such areas, which need your personal attention. As you know, politics is about perception. Success has many fathers, but failures have none. Those who voted for you would like you to lead from the front in 2016. You were given the mandate to rule with a mind of your own. So far, you have been depending on a team, which are assets for themselves than for the nation. Time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instal a genuine Modi government, which would complete all work under construction in an effective manner.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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