An irrational debate is going on about the achievements of the Narendra Modi led government in the one month that it has been in office. Such impatience on the part of the political parties and the media owes it to the past governments who were feeding their achievements in one month or 100 days etc. through full page advertisements in most newspapers. But then those achievements were merely on paper. The time to scrutinize, evaluate and judge the new government will come very soon if they are allowed a few months’ time to work. But for those who want to know the achievements without waiting, here are some important achievements from the point of view of an ordinary citizen of India:-
- Narendra Modi has severely dented the solid structure of corruption in India, which had assumed the status of an institution. The operators, fixers, wheeler dealers are hiding for the present;
- The extra constitutional centre of power stands demolished. There is no remote controlling the Prime Minister or proxies for ministers;
- The game of capturing the new members of parliament by crooks’ syndicates at the railway station or even before they leave their constituencies for Delhi by volunteering their services as private secretary or personal assistant has suddenly ended. The newcomers to the megapolis Delhi can find themselves in utter wilderness without somebody organizing their reception and lodging etc, which is officially arranged by the parliament office. The crooks’ syndicate had perfected the art and craft of finding chinks in this arrangement to cover, capture or kidnap (metaphorically) the innocent members of parliament yet to be formally administered the oath of office. These activities helped promote the business of corruption and influenced even voting pattern in the parliament on critical matters like the vote of confidence. The dent in the corruption architecture has impacted these operations too.
- A strong link in the chain of organized corruption in the country has been the role of the PS (Private Secretary) to the minister. These guys are officers from the public services (mostly from the IAS or the Indian Administrative Service). They were exceeding their official brief and acting as the real minister in most cases. Since the ministers were openly practicing corruption and favouritism, the PS gained advantage from a decadent system by doing all illegal things the minister wanted and also helped themselves to the extent possible. Several ambitious PS had become members of parliament and even ministers. As a career officer they would have risen to the rank of a Secretary to the Government of India, who reports to the minister! Prime Minister Narendra Modi has injected discipline in this particular link. The ministers can’t appoint their relatives as PS- in fact, they can’t appoint their PS these days since it is the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) that clears appointments of PS to ministers. So one really strong and functional link in the corruption chain has been neutralized. The contribution of the PS to corruption has been greater than that of the minister as any honest civil servant would admit without fear. No mean achievement: if the foundation laid down is solid and sturdy, the structure over it is bound to be sturdy too.
- The fear haunting the civil servants has been removed by PM Narendra Modi, who has directed them to contribute without fear towards healthy and fair decision making in public interest. They have also been directed to do their duty and not act as merely signing machines. When officers are allowed to function as per the law, there is no policy paralysis or procrastination in decision making or execution. That is how a government functions. The last 10 years of dysfunctional government bring out the contrast in the functioning of the government in the last one month. What is important is the smooth functioning of the government, a strong system and healthy democratic institutions. This perceptible change in the administrative climate is of immense value as it has already set the tone for the coming days. It can reasonably be expected that there is not going to be repeat of the last 10 years anymore.
- Emphasis on the observance of the rules of financial propriety is going to seal the leaks of public money.
- As the party (BJP or the Bhartiya Janata Party) was not sure of even getting a majority in the election, it was not prepared to form a government on its own. It had, therefore, no agenda ready to govern. Its last experiment was based on a common minimum programme, whjch in practice is a silly way to govern a democratic republic like India. It would have been very comfortable with a CMP. However, the unexpected rise of Naredra Modi led BJP and NDA (National Democratic Front) has thrown the party in a new kind of situation it was not really prepared for. So it has one minister for Finance and Defence , only a minister of state for Commerce and Industry or Petroleum and many other ministries. It is genuinely short of qualified hands who could be entrusted the responsibility of crucial ministries without landing up in any difficult situation like the 2G or CWG etc. It has to fill this gap soon as the opposition is desperate to shoot at it. The media is suffering the famine of negative news for a month now and is devoting hours to non news items like celebrity couples throwing tantrums in public and going to the police.
- One reason for this lack of talent is the absence of tested economic, industrial, trade, foreign, defence, science, technology, farming etc. policies of the party. It has lived on negative ideas of criticizing others for their policies, programmes and schemes. It has left the party changing its course too fast, be it Gandhi, Pakistan, BanglaDesh, America, China or inflation, price rise etc. It has been mislead into announcing rail fare hike before the budget session. It forgot that the mass anger against the Congress Party was largely due to uncontrolled price rise for which the voter punished the Congress so severely that today it is not qualified to be even given the official position of the LoP (Leader of opposition). By announcing such an unwelcome decision of the UPA-II government, the government unnecessarily took all the flak for the damage done to the economy by the previous government. It learnt its lessons rather fast and deferred another such unwelcome hike of petrol and cooking gas. People expect this government to check the leak of the revenue first before even thinking of any price rise of any commodity whose prices are administered or controlled by the government. The system stands so badly damaged by corruption that more than 60% revenues are eaten away by the corrupt.
- The neo-liberals have inflicted great damage to the economy and all the infrastructure. Most public services, built on heavy investment in infrastructure, have been “retired” to vacate the space for commercialization by private entities, both domestic and foreign. Health, education, energy etc. are just illustrations. Had the country suffered the misfortune of returning the UPA back to power, India would have been thrown into the conditions prevailing till 1984. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to understand this profound truth if he dreams of making the country prosperous and strong once again. His cadres need intense training to appreciate the complexities of policies and governance so that they act more mature in matters like Art 370 of the Constitution etc.
- The previous dispensation had outsourced governance in day to day matters also. So far, the new government has not followed them. Is it some mean achievement?
Let them work before we assess their achievements. It is great that they have not failed as their opponents have been taunting them while saying that electioneering is one thing and governing another.