The 68th Republic Day of the Union of India was juxtaposed with a report that our country shared a slot with China and Brazil as being among the most corrupt countries on the globe. A few days previously, statistics showed that the growth rate had slowed to around 6% as compared to the 9% that was the case during the first term of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister of India. As yet, the effects of the demonetisation of 86% of the currency of India have not been accurately estimated. Hopefully, the move will ensure the faster, cleaner economy promised to the people by Government of India. However, the fear in the minds of several citizens is that the rusty and indeed ramshackle administrative structure of the Republic has the unfailing ability to convert even a brilliant idea into a disaster. While a start has been made in the matter of administrative transformation, for example by the forced retirement of two Indian Police Service officials for unsatisfactory performance, much more needs to get accomplished before the people will get confidence in the governance mechanism. It was his success in Gujarat that persuaded several tens of millions of voters across India to place their confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, and citizens are awaiting with anticipation the Prime Minister repeating his success in the state on an all-India scale. The country has long been held back by indifferent administration. Indeed, the governance mechanism in India has the global reputation of being the worst among the major economies. Hence the imperative of a thorough-going administrative changeover and reform so that the policies of government get implemented in a manner satisfactory to the people.
Although appeals to caste, region and community continue to be made, sometimes in a form not obvious to the uninitiated, increasing numbers of citizens are voting their pocketbooks. They are voting for the party or leader most likely to ensure economic growth. Hence the imperative of the NDA government boosting the rate of growth from 6% to 9% in the first instance and to double digit figures before the next Lok Sabha elections roll by in March 2019. Such a performance would assure the people that Prime Minister Modi is the leader in whose hands the nation is most confident of ensuring rapid growth. On 11 March results of the state Assembly elections taking place in a week’s time will begin to get displayed on television screens. In Uttar Pradesh in particular, the BJP has a lot invested in its performance, for the state returned no fewer than 72 Lok Sabha MPs to the BJP’s 2014 tally, thereby ensuring a Lok Sabha majority for the party, and indeed any party since the 1984 elections returned Prime Minister Rajiv Ratna Birjees Gandhi to office in a landslide. The experience of that government is a lesson in what happens when high expectations get dashed to the ground by indifferent performance. The BJP has placed its fate in the success of the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes (old variety), and it speaks of the courage and confidence of the party and of Prime Minister Modi that it went ahead with a move affecting each citizen of India despite the political risks inherent in such a scheme. Indeed, India under Prime Minister Modi has carried out a policy that a much stronger economy, the US, has never once attempted, despite the US dollar being the most heavily counterfeited currency ever, and this speaks of the boldness of the Prime Minister. Hopefully, the results will meet his expectations, something that will become clear within the next few months, even as voters are being given the chance to give their judgement on the measure that the BJP has staked its political future on. Looking to the future, the vibrancy of the population and the increasing level of awareness of the citizen give hope that the future will be brighter than the past, and that in coming years, India will escape the dismal poverty into which it has been condemned for centuries of mismanagement by rulers of a quality and type that the people of India certainly did not deserve. In Prime Minister Modi’s hands rests not simply the future of himself and his party, but that of India. We wish him success.