Monday 22 October 2018, 12:24 AM
The Modi Government and Year 2019 Resolution
By Air Chief Marshal PV Naik (Veteran) | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 10/10/2018 2:10:03 PM
The Modi Government and Year 2019 Resolution

What is so great about 2019? Ask about any other year and one would get hundreds of answers. This year there appears to be a solemn conformity in the replies. The sole winner is,”General Elections”. There is a dear friend of mine who we fondly call Pinkus. When we meet, it seems to me that his main job is to keep me off balance by asking tricky questions. He does it by phone  and he does it by e mail. The other day, however, I beat him to it. I asked him,” Tiger, tell me the one action we need to take to ensure a happy 2019”. He tried a lot of escape & evasion tactics but I refused to let him off the hook. Just one, dammit. Not ‘so as to’ or ‘from where we will…..’ etc.

Just the most important action. Finally, after he had thought long and hard about it, I said to Pinkus,” Bro, we must ensure that Narendra Modi continues as the Prime Minister. ”He thought it over  for a long time, then said ‘Perhaps’ and melted away into the shrubbery. I know I shall be ostracized by some inhabitants of Lutyens Delhi for this heresy, excommunicated by some of my golfing buddies and sent to Coventry by the entire- what may- loosely- be- called Opposition. I would sincerely urge you not to throw this away as trash but read on why I say so and what, in my humble opinion, needs to be done.

Let me unequivocally state here that this is not a political statement. I am far from being a political animal. I have no ambition to be nominated a Governor or an ambassador. This is a pragmatic assessment of the future based on an analysis of the last 70 years since Independence. There is so much exposure on TV, print and social media about this period that I feel a broad brush would suffice.

The Nehruvian era was a difficult period starting with action in Kashmir. It was also a period of socialist fervour when all our PSUs came up. As a country we were formulating our priorities and policies. We saw through three wars with China & Pakistan, ’62, ’65 & ’71. The next major event I recall was Indira Gandhi’s Emergency for 21 months from ’75 to 77.A major event, the cause, possibly, seen through the lens of hindsight, was Allahabad High Court declaring Indira’s election to the Lok Sabha void due to malpractice. I was a young Flt Lt doing good flying but a lot of Ty Duties. Involved lots of travelling. Despite what our intelligentsia and the Shah Commission said, I, personally liked that period. All systems worked. Public servants behaved like public servants. The empire of petty bribery had gone underground. People were more disciplined due to fear of reprisals.

This period  saw the now well known formulation of ‘Hindu rate of growth’ coined by Prof Raj Krishna. Years passed . We came to Narsimha Rao’s liberalisation of the economy and the reforms. This opened up and gave a fillip to the economy. This period also saw the rise of BJP as a major opposition party. These reforms were continued by subsequent PMs Rajiv Gandhi and Bajpai. There were many signature events & occurrences. We had IPKF in Srilanka, Babri Masjid demolition and Kargil, we had Pokharan, which redefined all paradigms of our internal as well as external relationships.

The result of the 2014 general elections is well known to all. BJP won a brute majority in Lok Sabha after about 30 years. Also noteworthy was the fact that it ended an era of coalition politics and its attendant disabilities at least temporarily. What BJP inherited was a bureaucracy suffering from inaction and almost empty coffers ailing from scandals and scams. There existed an atmosphere of frustration and disappointment throughout the country. Perhaps that is why the BJP under Narendra Modi in the 2014 general elections received an unprecedented mandate. Many believed that the mandate was for Modi the man rather than the party. Major challenges before the Govt demanded instant attention. Manufacturing was at an all time low of 14 % of GDP. Land acquisition norms made it difficult to set up new factories. Cheap Chinese imports adversely affected domestic production. Scandals and scams abounded. Corruption was hidden but rampant while the bureaucracy silently watched from the side lines.

BJP won this massive mandate on Narendra Modi’s shoulders. It was his charisma,  his personality that found massive acceptance with the Indian voter. The opposition, too, was conscious of this chemistry. From Day 1 the opposition targeted Modi personally. He was the outsider and was attacked  both for his action and inaction.  Part of the media, Lutyen’s Media, bayed for his blood from day 1. Many worthies of his own party suffered from acute ‘Foot and Mouth disease’ embarrassing the Govt further. Despite these obstacles it is to his credit that many revolutionary changes were initiated on high priority. There was no policy paralysis like in 10 years of UPA rule. In fact he is criticised for taking decisions. He has made serious efforts to curb black money. Narendra Modi has been responsible for projecting a more positive and dynamic image of India to the world. He has tried to initiate Aadhar based and pro poor economic reforms  at faster speed. He has tried to change the basic mind set by initiating Swachh Bharat and anti open- defecation schemes.

It is now more than four years since the last general election and the next election uncomfortably close. Let us glance at the report card of the BJP or Narendra Modi. First the positives. This is a hard working Govt. Nobody can doubt that. The idle Golf courses in NCR bear mute testimony. Narendra Modi himself has set the example and expects all to follow, including the bureaucracy. There have been no new scams and Modi himself projects a clean image. Development is the central theme. ‘Inclusive’ is the flavour of the moment. Start ups are encouraged, global defence deals signed and FDI encouraged across the spectrum.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code(IBC) was in 2016. Given good implementation and the interest shown by big companies like Tata, Mahindra, to buy bankrupt companies with large NPAs  but good assets, could restore the health of banks. Enabling them to lend to corporate sector to increase pvt investment. Rural electrification is a success story. Though last mile connectivity has slipped, the rate has been the fastest since independence. Construction of roads is another positive. Health insurance cover to low income Indians is another bold initiative. Effects of the Surgical strike on morale are well known. The Look East policy and the attention given to NE states are laudable initiatives. De-monetisation  has given mixed response. But the corruption level has been brought down. GST, on the other hand, is already yielding good results. 

We shall now see the flip side of Modi govt. The Make in India campaign has not taken off as well as expected. I think the main reason is the state of the world economy and the indifference of the pvt sector. Land acquisition and ease of doing business languished. Triple Talaq could not be pushed through in the monsoon session. Farmers’ woes continued despite robust measures initiated by the Modi Govt. We still ranked 100plus in world rankings in Ease of doing business.  Generation of Jobs is slow. Many effects of the sudden demonetisation are visible now, adversely affecting SMEs. The Internal security situation has not improved  significantly either with Naxals or Kashmir Valley.

The opposition appears to have put some sort of an act together and are stooping to abysmal levels to shout a failure of inclusiveness, a feeling of insecurity for the minorities and trying to show Narendra Modi as arrogant, insensitive and a follower of crony capitalism. Worst of all is the perceived antagonism towards the armed forces. A sentiment that the govt does not care for the military. This has been aided and abetted by some of the high handed actions  by sections of powers that be . Media coverage has been selective, depicting the military in poor light. BJP, who should have been enjoying the ‘Achchhe din’ , appears likely to require a helping hand from other parties for gaining a majority in the forthcoming elections.

The performance, you will agree, does not paint a rosy picture. Why then do I insist that we need to have Narendra Modi again at the helm. I am not a political analyst. The  information comes from media reports and word of mouth. The actuals may, perhaps, fall somewhere in between. I have met Narendra Modi once on a one on one. This was when He was CM Gujarat and I was the CAS. We interacted more than an hour and a half. The first impression I carried was of strength. A resolute man, clear in thought and action. Genuine concern about the country. No airs, at ease with himself, confident and forthright. Definitely a force to reckon with. Subsequent chance meetings have proved my first impression right in most aspects. See the way he interacts with foreign leaders. Pride in India is so obvious. It appears to a layman like me that he alone, aided by just a few good men and women close to him, are thinking of the country. All others appear to be vote gatherers. The opposition is in a dilapidated state. Absence of leadership makes any Gatbandhan a non issue. If India is to move forward and occupy its rightful place in the comity of nations, the single leader visible to me is Narendra Modi.

Like I said earlier, the elections are upon us. The only time available is before the Code of Conduct comes into effect. I feel Modi needs to do some election magic  at the earliest. In my humble opinion the best option is to implement basics of the Artha Kranti theory of Prof Bokil. Simplistically speaking, this involves converting all major transactions to cheque based or digital transactions charging a cess to either the payer or the payee. The funds thus generated to be used to reduce Income Tax to all and sundry. Everybody pays Income Tax , a minimal amount like 100 or 200 rupees and that’s it. This itself will ensure an absolute majority in the coming elections from the salaried class. The perceived ‘Exclusive’ approach in some quarters needs to be transformed to ‘inclusive’. Modi needs to regulate some of the regulators. What you eat and what you wear are not enterprises of “great pith and moment’. Let not semantics and syntax hijack national interest. If a lad wants to say Bharat Zindabad instead of Bharatmata ki Jay, so be it as long as he respects the flag and the constitution. The perceived arrogance needs moderation. A relook and a new approach towards the Armed Forces is of the essence. I hope everyone understands that these are the people who will never let you down. They are also seen by the public to be  the last bastion of honour, values and national pride.

A look at the political canvas today reveals that Narendra Modi is the only leader with the vision, verve, tenacity and public acceptance to lead India to a bright future. That is why he must be re elected. The entire country , not only the political class, must think India and not caste, creed or sex. National interest is vital for progress of any country. Only then can national power be optimally used to further the aspirations of the people. There are many things that need to be done urgently. Time, however, is at a premium. Narendra Modi needs to pull out at least one rabbit out of the proverbial hat. For heaven’s sake, pulling out one odd rabbit, accelerating one odd long pending reform and, above all, perception management, is not too much of an ask for setting India on the path of development, is it? 

ACM PV Naik (retd.)

 

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2019,year,political,nominated,winner,conformity,GDP,personally,acceptance,Manufacturing

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