A review on Modi’s three years
Three years into office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has belied the expectations of his detractors as also of those who saw a post-Nehru leader in him.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he anti-Modi camp, which comprised almost the entire Left-liberal establishment, feared that he would send Muslims to concentration camps, introduce a uniform civil code to bait them, demolish mosques, implement some version of Manusmriti, tear the social fabric apart, ruin the economy, end the open society, and destroy the country as we know it. In a nutshell, Modi’s India would be the sum total of all dystopias.
Modi looked like a knight in the shining armor
Clearly, all this has not happened. The critics have been proved wrong.
This, however, doesn’t mean that those who supported Modi in 2014 have been vindicated. Many of them saw an Indian version of Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan in him. Modi’s disingenuous messaging gave that impression; his statements like ‘the business of government is not business’ and slogans like Maximum Governance, Minimum Government fooled many people. He appeared to be a leader committed to limited government and the free market, even if not to individual liberty.
What further stood him in good stead was his stewardship of Gujarat—or at least the image of statesmanship as the Chief Minister. Besides, in 2014, anybody with chances of successfully challenging the monumentally corrupt and incompetent Sonia Gandhi regime in New Delhi appeared good. For her and the NGO mob surrounding her were determined to destroy India; they were indeed doing it bit by bit, burdening the exchequer with unending entitlements, chafing business all the time, hobnobbing with jihadists and Maoists, and long is the list of their sins. In comparison, Modi looked like a knight in the shining armor.
Alas, the armor proved to be rusted and the knight often appeared to be a descendant of Don Quixote! Hence the quixotic moves like demonetization and price controls.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]ut, thankfully, everything he did was not quixotic. His government has given a big impetus to infrastructure. Highway construction has increased from the UPA’s maximum of 13 km per day to 23 km per day. Sagarmala and Bharatmala programmes are underway for the construction of new ports and expressways, respectively.
On the national security front, too, the Modi government has shown boldness and initiative. Surgical strikes are one instance
For the farm sector, a new crop insurance scheme has been introduced. Marketing reforms for “one nation, one market” are being carried out. Irrigation has also got higher funding. Recently, GM cotton has also got the green signal.
The government has also succeeded in creating the consensus for the introduction of goods and services tax (GST). Further, subsidies have become more targeted, thus increasing the number of the beneficiaries without increasing government expenditure.
On the national security front, too, the Modi government has shown boldness and initiative. Surgical strikes are one instance. A lot is being done to enhance defence preparedness both by way of procurements and involving the domestic private sector in production.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]owever, much more was expected of Modi. It was hoped that he would speed up liberalization and execute big-ticket reforms, but he has chosen to rely on an incremental approach. So, there is no privatization of public sector undertakings, not even of the white elephant called Air India. Then there are public sector banks; they continue to suffer high non-performing assets (NPAs) and gobble up taxpayer money by way of recapitalization (even though inadequate amounts are infused into them). The effect on the economy is bad.
Worse, Modi has little faith in the concept of limited government; the size and scope of state intervention have scarcely come down. Retrospective taxation has not been done away with; ministers like Ram Vilas Paswan are working to augment the incidence of Inspector Raj. GST will bring in its wake a body to check ‘profiteering,’ the very concept that reeks of socialism.
Similarly, little has been done to carry out other reforms—police and administrative. In fact, saffron Cowboys have made the matters worse by lynching and beating up people suspected of trading cattle or eating beef.
In other spheres, too, the Modi regime’s record is poor. Freedom of expression has been curtailed by characters like Pahlaj Nihalani. Rewriting of school textbooks has proved to be a ludicrous exercise. Apparently, saffron zealots are replacing Leftist academics’ mendacity not with the truth but with their own lies. For instance, they are saying that Rana Pratap defeated Akbar. So much for their faith in the Hindu civilization’s eternal value Satyamev Jayte!
On the whole, the Modi government has proved to be neither a disaster nor a grand success. To be sure, it is infinitely better than the predecessor. But it could have performed much better than it did in the last three years. Modi had the opportunity—perhaps still has it—to emerge as a genuine Rightwing statesman by jettisoning the Nehruvian Consensus. Unfortunately, he chose to become an efficient Nehruvian politician.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.