N.S. Venkataraman for BeyondHeadlines
As Modi government has completed one year in office, the opposition parties and his long term critics have waged a noisy campaign against his government and Modi in particular. The biggest disappointment for the opposition parties and the English print and TV media appear to be that Narendra Modi has not responded to the criticism and has largely remained silent, while pursuing the task of governance.
This silence on the part of Modi is again being criticised comparing him to Manmohan Singh who also largely remained silent. However, it has to be noted that similarity between Modi and Dr. Manmohan singh ends here.
Modi is clearly focusing on his economic and social development agenda and has repeatedly said in various forums that India’s problems in various spheres can be sorted out only by initiating purposive and appropriate industrial and economic betterment programmes.
Focus on development agenda :
Obviously, Modi is aware that there is no short cut solution and mere political management of the affairs of the nation cannot take the country or his government anywhere.
In the first year of his office, Modi has initiated certain schemes of far reaching significance and importance like clean India campaign, make in India programme, skill development scheme, opening bank accounts for economically depressed people to enable the direct transfer of subsidies to the poor, yoga movement and a few more. Obviously, these are all long gestation schemes and the results cannot be seen in a short period of one or two years. Test for Modi government lies in its dedication and commitment to implement such schemes efficiently with the help of the government machinery and cooperation of the people.
Lethargic government machinery :
The problem for Prime Minister Modi is that he is finding it difficult to make his ministers and top bureaucrats move with the same speed and sense of purpose that he has shown. The bureaucracy and government machinery in India , both at the central and state level , are known for lethargy, corruption and political interference. Even making the government officials attend office at right time and ensure that they would not leave office before time is a challenging task .
Poor quality of governance in states :
The ground reality is that while Modi is in charge of the central government, the regional administration and governance are under the control of several state governments ruled by different political parties and the overall efficiency level of state governments leave much to be desired. Most of the funds of the central government for various projects have to be routed through the state governments and several state leadership are known to be reckless in spending the resources and they waste significant share of the income in extending unnecessary free gifts for the poor people like television, mixie and grinders, to placate the poor people and get their votes. Without matching performance of state governments, the central government can not ensure big results.
Poor educational standards in government institutions :
One of the pre conditions for the success of Modi’s efforts is to improve the quality standards of educational institutions in India. With the subject of education largely under the control of state governments, the standard of education in several government run institutions are unsatisfactory. With 30% of national population remaining below poverty level , who cannot afford expensive education in private institutions , and keeping the fact in view the fact that providing quality education to the children from poor families is the best and positive way of empowering them, education sector is a matter of great importance in India. Modi government is dependent on the state governments for strengthening the educational sector , which is a vital need.
Criticism against Modi government, that appears to be sticking ,is that he has not been able to put down corruption in government machinery and bring back black money from abroad, which formed important part of his pre election promises. While Modi government has ensured that his central government remained largely corruption free in his one year of rule, which is in sharp contrast to Manmohan Singh government, it is a fact that the fear of punishment is not acting as deterrent amongst the corrupt officials and government staff at various levels all over India.
Again, the fact is that most of the corrupt practices are at the state level . In day today activities , people are more affected by the state administration in various functions such as policing, medical treatment, civil supplies etc. Modi government can do little about eradicating corruption at state level. His efforts to bring back black money from abroad is continuing and any delay in doing it may not be due to Modi government but in spite of it.
Modi government should be supported :
All said and done, there is no doubt that Modi is striving to provide sense of direction for the country and centering all his activities on achieving growth objectives .
In Indian democracy which now appear to be chaotic and noisy and with media increasingly coming under the control of business houses and political parties, Modi will continue to face constant attacks from critics for whatever he would do or he would not do.
What need to be recognised is that Modi is trying to bring about a visible change in the mindset of an average Indian by constantly giving targets , extending hopes and promising his commitments, which will go a long way in building resurgent India
While the under current of support for Modi as Prime Minister is there all over the country, the triumph card for Modi is his discipline in personal life, capacity for hard work and determination to do good, which have now become rare qualities amongst all those who are painted as political , religious , cultural or business leaders in India. Such personal qualities of Narendra Modi are really admired by both his friends and foes and this will stand him in good stead while discharging his functions as Prime Minister of India.
(N.S.Venkataraman is a Chemical Engineer from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu and Director of Nandini Consultancy Centre. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)