Point to Ponder 09 July 2014
After months of talk, it’s go time for new PM
Narendra Modi has now been prime minister for six weeks and it is abundantly clear that this is a “Modi Sarkar”. He has established direct contact with secretaries at the head of government departments, encouraging them to take decisions and get in touch with him if things go sour. Ministers have an ambiguous place in this setup, which is probably a good thing considering the mediocre level of his cabinet. Ministers could not be happy-they have been forbidden to hire relatives or introduce personal considerations in their decisions.
Otherwise, this has been a period of welcome silence and calm after the din and clatter of election. Now we need to see some action after months of talk. In one respect Modi should not be silent. He should learn from his predecessor’s mistake and insistently make a compelling political case for economic reform. He must keep educating Indians about the link between reforms, jobs, opportunities and prosperity. He needs to explain that only the competitive market (not giveaways) can deliver a middle-class society and that a rules-based capitalism leads to dignity, not crony capitalism. Unfortunately, he frittered away a golden opportunity to do this in the disappointing address of the President.
Modi has spoken about “tough” decisions that are urgently needed to enforce financial discipline, and they risk losing popular goodwill. With this warning he has set the stage for a hard-nosed budget on Thursday. When it comes to price increases, he would do well to follow TN Ninan’s advice-take price increases in small bites and frequently, and avoid the fiasco over the increase in railway fares.
Achche din anne wale hain (Good days are coming), was Modi’s response to his victory. Those few words carry a massive burden of aspirations but with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and supremacy in his own party, he is the first Indian leader in a long time to have the freedom to act on his convictions.
Extract of an article by Gurcharan Das TOI 6 July 2014