Modi’s governance makeover is real

Modi’s governance makeover is real

By M.D. Nalapat | 19 March, 2016
Despite naysayers, the next two years will show transformation due to his governance.

Despite the less than adulatory commentary in the media about the overall performance of his government, Narendra Modi’s government is miles different from that of his predecessor. However, whether intentionally or accidently, the transmission of information about the changes being effected by the chaiwalla-turned-pracharak from Gujarat has gotten refracted through perception prisms that shrink the actual gains, much as trick mirrors convert tall people into short. An error was the initial economic survey of the new government, which gave an upbeat report card on the performance of the last government. This was clearly because both were written by the same set of bureaucrats, who naturally did not want to admit that the measures they adopted during the last six “disaster years” of the UPA drove the economy very close to what had been the case in 1991 when P.V. Narasimha Rao took over the job presently being held by Modi.

Certainly, fiscal and monetary policy needs to better serve the indispensable objective of generating enough additional jobs each year in India to prevent an “Arab Spring” (i.e., a descent into populist chaos) taking place in cities across India even before the next Lok Sabha elections fall due in 2019.

North Block babus have long been conditioned to view each budget in single year terms, rather than design tax structures that may suffer a notional loss in revenue over the first year or two, but which would subsequently more than compensate through higher growth. Lower taxes, gentler compliance, and the CBI desisting from arrogating to itself the role of an Anna Hazare-style all-powerful Lokayukta of the banking system would improve investor confidence sufficient to make companies sitting on huge piles of cash spend once again, besides sending share prices higher so that any dilution of equity by the state would garner much higher returns than taxes lost for a short while by lower rates. Had the Black Money Bill, for example, adopted lower tax rates and penalties, it would have raked in many times more than the revenue it has. In the case of direct taxes, a penalty of 300% will usually result in the bankruptcy of an individual or a company.

Destroying a company, as took place in the case of Nokia in Tamil Nadu, or sending a businessperson to prison, helps the people not at all.

What does, would be an injection of money through disclosure made easier by a climate of trust and lesser penalties.

Those who have watched the manner in which Narendra Modi ensured steady growth and stability in Gujarat will be hoping that the Prime Minister moves ahead with speed on doing away with irksome administrative procedures, whose sole function is to generate bribes for corrupt officers. They will be looking to a chopping off of the thicket of colonial laws (including several introduced since 1947) that are each suffused with colonial contempt and mistrust of the citizen. When a citizen comes face to face with an official, the silent message too often conveyed in the latter’s manner is that the citizen is either a fool or a knave, and therefore undeserving of discretion and consideration. Each layer of anti-corruption legislation and consequent agencies has generated more, not less, graft, and such filth will get reduced only when procedures get introduced that are fair and transparent. Unless a process generates product, unless systems generate an outcome of value to the people, they are useless. In India, many, if not most, processes block product and outcomes rather than facilitate them, and voters are looking to Modi to examine and implement ways by which the present colonial system of governance gets replaced by a 21st century construct that recognises the right of individuals to freedoms and autonomy of action that are commonplace in many of the countries the Prime Minister has visited over the past year.

India is also expecting a foreign policy attuned to the need of the country for growth and security than an adherence to cosmic principles that deflect attention away from the former two objectives. In this context, the Prime Minister appears to be fine-tuning a balance between the two largest economies on the globe, the US and China. In the case of the first, Delhi needs to make Washington its primary partner in matters of security, and a good start would be to sign the three Defense Foundation Agreements that have been delayed for far too long by bureaucrats and politicians seeking to atone for sending sons and daughters to the US by deciding against necessary linkages with that country in specific fields. Where China is concerned, that country has the potential over the next five years of emerging as the largest investor in this country, both through FDI as well as by providing our corporates with loans. Certainly, Beijing will look askance on a close security relationship between the US and India, but just as India’s unease has not prevented China from continuing to shower Pakistan with sensitive technologies, nor should its displeasure stop India from closer military to military ties with the US. When ISIS attacks India, this country will need to respond via attacks on locations controlled by it, and in such circumstances, entering into mutually beneficial pacts with the US would greatly increase this country’s options for retaliation. At the same time, earlier barriers on Chinese investment and tourism into India need to be dismantled so as to transfer jobs to India rather than keep them overseas.

Despite the naysayers and the admirers-turned-critics of the Prime Minister, it would be safe to predict that the next two years will make obvious the transformation which the unique governance style of Modi is making in our country, a change that will become obvious by the time he enters into his mega electoral test in 2019, even if his party loses every state election till then. What counts most of all to take transformation forward is victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

There are 10 Comments

Right.Modi and BJP have seen the uselessness of pandering to Delhi based commentariat.JAM, DBT,Crop insurance, highly improved railways, improved road infra, improved irrigation..... will enhance voter perception that this govt has worked hard and smart.Add to this the stupidity of Congress party in blocking all govt initiatives in RS.Party will face electorate with very clean image minus those scams of UPA I & II.MSM and Delhi based liberals have lost the plot.

I don't agree with you ,This Govt came to power with host of promises and guarntees , But in the last two years this govt has messed up with the excellent opportunity to serve the nation with compelete majority . Modi and his ministers are too much interested in raking up controversies after controversies. I dont think the way this govt functions is going to do any better for the future of this nation.

mr. prakash, so far no scams. that itself is BIG BIG achievement to start with. MODI haters are always finding reasons. what can we do. democracy if people vote by BLOCK , even thugs idiots can also become leaders and we have such leaders for last 60 yrs.

One thing what Modi should do is to give publicity to his achievements and toJan Dhan, MuDRA, Crop Insurance, Women Centric Schemes etc by actively engaging the Regional Media. The BJP office bearers at different states also should be asked to spread the awareness of the achievements and the schemes so that beneficiaries are aware.

Modi is doing his best to clean up the big mess the UPA has left. It is not easy to change the attitude of babus to new governance style. Modi is good at getting work done, as he himself never quits. The ministers of the govt. are also working day and night to get work done properly. MEA, Defence, Finance, Railways are some of the departments which has had a great transition. Other departments are moving to the same level. I hope it is too early to comment that Modi has not fulfilled the promises. Lets wait, as we waited and wasted 6 decades. Considering that, this wait is nothing. I'm ready to wait for even next term. After that I will choose. I think you too would think the same way.

One sentence from Mr. Nalapat is most crucial that led to poor perception about Modi government - "error was the initial economic survey of the new government, which gave an upbeat report card on the performance of the last government." Even if bureaucrats were same, FM was different. Or was he? Why couldnt he see that he was overturning his own criticism before elections about UPAs profligacy and bad economics

Meager advertisements to media,advt.only onContracted rate,etc,has modi a thorn in the eyes of media.This media and media wale are creating all perception. Road,railways,foreign,waterways,health,defense,aviation,power,all doing good job.Inertia has been broken, results have started coming.after 3 crop failure drought the prices have not sky rocketed,is an example of success.Wait and see after 2 years results will make us proud.

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