Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Month of the Modi Sarkar: There is Hope

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Narendra Modi came to power promising "change for the better" or as he prematurely declared. Acche din agaye. (Good time have arrived, a parody of the Kingfisher tag line.) Cynics might say that there is nothing new in what Narendra Modi has done. Let me list out the new departures in just 30 days initiated by the Prime Minister:

1 Make the bureaucracy accountable. The round of meetings that Narendra Modi has had with senior secretaries underscores the fact that Modi expects the bureaucracy to monitor the policies and programmes initiated and report fearlessly. All too often in India, politician are able to suborn the bureaucracy for their own corrupt purposes and the fear of transfer or worse Enquiry makes the senor officers crawl when they are only asked to bend. Modi has taken a decisive step toward making the bureaucracy accountable for the policies of the Government. He met the senior bureaucrats, the Secretaries to Government without the presence of their departmental Ministers, and in this he has taken a leaf straight from the statecraft of Margret Thatcher. This move has been widely commended in India. Another innovation is that Narendra Modi has not permitted anyone associated with the earlier regime to be appointed on the personal staff of his ministers.

2 The emphasis on  Infrastructure and Investment is very clear and Narendra Modi is  expected to announce a series of measures to facilitate economic development. An Indian Sovereign Wealth Fund that will be traded in Wall Street is one measure that is bound to be a hit in the western world. Narendra Modi has already taken steps to bring in China as a partner  in India's Infrastructural development. China is expected to invest in at least four SEZs and that is really a huge step in the right direction. Again China is expected to partner with India in the development of high speed Railways.

3 The crisis in Iraq has been dealt with in a statesmanly manner. The envoys of all counties in the neighbourhood of Iraq have been requested to use their good offices in the speedy  repatriation of Indians stranded in Iraq. The fact that Narendra Modi has chosen to seek the support of West Asian powers suggests that he would like to seek regional solutions for regional problems. USA is the real cause of all the suffering in the region and cannot pretend that it is the solution to the problem it has created. Narendra Modi's trip to Bhutan, B2B, was a great success and if he follows this pattern, I am sure that Indian isolation in the South Asian region can be broken.

4 On the economic front, prices are still rising and food inflation is also high. Narendra Modi has instructed the Food and Agriculture Minister to crack down on hoarders and the State Governments have  been instructed to enforce the decision. There is the added challenge of a failed Monsoon. The Met Department has already said the the El Nino Effect would result in a 50% shortfall in the rains. The food security is being strengthened and imports will be done without fanfare in the press.

The Modi Sarkar inherited a broken economy and a wasteful government and there are signs of the situation turning around. 

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