Lack of grip on economic management most serious

K R Sudhaman

Prime Minister Narendra Modi coined a new phrase ‘Minimum Government; Maximum Governance’ in 2014. Recently in his ‘mann ki baat’ radio address, he said good governance is the birthright of every Indian citizen like swaraj (independence) and we should have it.
Nearly four and a half years after Modi came to power, has his government delivered on good governance or is it just a hype? Has Modi delivered on his promise of good governance or has he just been a good event manager? The growing perception is he has failed to deliver. The reality is a few good things have happened but many things have gone wrong in fulfilling the promises that he had made in 2014.
During his 2014 election campaign, BJP patriarch L K Advani described Narendra Modi as ‘brilliant event manager’. As the 2019 elections approach, the same question is asked and the government has nothing much to show, except to reel out some hackneyed statistics, which make no sense to common man.
As 2019 elections approach, it is worth pondering over his achievements and failure. Even his skeptics cannot deny the fact that Modi is a great communicator. But there were other prime ministers as well who had great communication skills. It included Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and so on. Even Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai and BJP leader Advani were good communicators.
Modi’s great oratory skill is certainly a plus point in a democracy but his ability to shift goal posts to justify his mistakes and failures can fool the people sometimes through his communication skills but certainly not all the time.
His polarization politics might have worked well initially and brought him great success in state hustings, particularly in the cow-belt. This helped BJP capture power quite convincingly in the assembly elections in 20 odd states. But as people started taking law into their hands under the garb of gau rakshaks, polarizing politics began to boomerang and the reactions started getting louder as the general elections approached. This is not a welcome development as this has the potential to trigger violence during the polls.
Modi won the 2014 elections on his promise to root out corruption and even promised to bring back Rs 80-90 lakh crore stashed abroad and put Rs 15 lakh in everybody’s bank account. Modi by himself may not be personally corrupt like his predecessor Manmohan Singh, but he has certainly underperformed on this front.
Some of his measures like demonetization have had a disastrous effect on the economy. Manmohan Singh, a renowned economist, has been proved right that demonetization was a monumental mistake and has really pushed down GDP growth by more than two percentage points. It has also virtually destroyed India’s informal and MSME sector, which provided 80 per cent of the jobs in the country. This also contributed to his underachievement in job creation promise.
While the government continues to deliver the people a continuous supply of spectacles -- the visuals of stashes of currency notes being seized and 'black money hoarders' arrested or a gigantic statue of Shivaji in Mumbai -- a scrutiny of the PM's statements in the last 12 weeks lays bare a stunning lack of homework for a policy that has affected each of the 1.34 billion people of India.
Shourie went to the extent of saying demonetizing of high value currency was the “largest money-laundering scheme ever” conceived and implemented entirely by the government. It was an idiotic jolt in which “everyone who had black money” converted it into white money.
There has been serious concern over concentration of power in PMO. Shourie described this phenomenon as “… a government of two-and-a-half persons,” that is, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and one in-house lawyer.”
The Economic Survey, the RBI surveys, the SBI’s report indicate that GDP has collapsed to 3.7% as per the old series.
Several analysts say that while Prime Minister has events in perhaps every state each week, there’s hardly any grip on economic management. India is back to high inflation – high interest rates regime, high fuel prices and no respite from taxation authorities. Viciousness and suspicion with which every other company or individual is seen. Rural economy and farming are sore areas where system collapse has been reported day in and day out especially post-demonetization. Virtually, majority states have experienced the farm distress of some variety or other at a time when both Centre and states are run by BJP, Prime Minister’s events continue to happen. Virtually every scheme currently run by Modi government was either conceived or begun by the previous regimes.
Overall, Modi has managed events well and his four and a half years of governance and performance seem that of a showman than substance. (IPA)

Saturday, 25 August, 2018