Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Year That Went By - My Reflections

Modi creates history
Hello Friends,

It has been a year now that we rejoiced at the sight of a "Chai-wala" sweeping the country's polls and forming the government without really the need of an ally. There have been a lot of media scorecards on the performance of the government and we know the "Prince" has given a 0 out of 10.
Here is my take on the government:

India and Germany - Key Partnership
Brand India: India desperately needed a Brand make-over as the previous government was mired in a lot of controversies over corruption and inefficiency. The world was trying to gauge how a rookie will develop the foreign policy without distancing from the traditional friends like Russia. This year saw the Prime minister embark and to a large extent succeed in building the "investment friendly", "culture of welcome" and "we are here to change" perceptions across the globe. India now has a chance to become the permanent member of UN Security Council, staying close to Russia, yet receiving investments from US, talk (for now) openly about the border dispute with China, head the BRICS bank and finally pitch the "Make In India" for the global investors. I would give a 9 out of 10 for this segment.

Flagship Programs: This year alone saw an unprecedented initiatives being launched in India. Starting off with "Swachh Bharat", we saw a lot of new programs like "Jan-Dhan", "Skill India",
Isn't it funny to see each one pushing the dirt to the next?
"Make In India", "Digital India" and so on. We have to admit that all these have noble intent along with the fact that the party had come to power after a long time and trying to play to the necessary section of voters. It is not enough just have an intent, the content/execution is equally important - this is where the government will be tested in the coming years. As a foundation, these programs will serve a purpose if executed well and not add many more for the sake of names/numbers. There are instances like the "Swachh Bharat" is just a Photo-Op for "celebrities" of the country which makes me give this about 7 this year and will either move up or down based on execution.

Facing challenges in passing legislation
Economics: The government has not done too badly in this sector. This alone is a cause of concern as with the global crude prices being at an all time low, the CAD (Current Account Deficit) did come down presenting an opportunity to kick-start the economy. However, the government was timid in the first budget and by the time the second one came along had to encounter an arrogant opposition bent upon blocking all the legislation. Key bills like GST, Land Acquisition are still languishing without any clear line of sight - no bold decision of convening a joint parliamentary meeting to pass these is mooted. The contradictions of "We will allow FDI in all sectors but not in Retail" will not move us too forward. The MAT tax issues and others have made the FIIs worried and halted the bull run on BSE. The net FDI in this year has not matched to the expectations of the government. Though the growth rate of the country is the fastest in the world, it could have been much better. I would rate about 6 primarily as the reforms have not yet seen the light of the day.

Governance: The government when sworn in gave us all a hope with the nice slogan "Minimum Government, Maximum Governance". It lived up to it's promise by only having 45 ministers and focusing on governance. The initial media reports also covered the fact that the Babus were made to
People voted for this - yet to see this in action
come to work on time and their file turn around times were measured. PMO watching the time each department took to clear the files added to the feeling that we are moving fast. But certain things don't change, we now have 66 ministers and some of who face criminal charges showing us how thin we are on leadership material! The projects in Railways for example needs a professional management team to oversee the progress as we have a backlog that costs us lakhs of crores. So, on the governance factor, I would be inclined to give it a 5.

Controversies certainly didn't help the Govt.
Out of turn speakers: This government had to face a lot of embarrassments with several of it's ministers, MPs and party members speak out of turn. In the current 24X7 world of media and sensational journalism, these senseless acts get magnified and take the eye of the core issues. Be it Sushma's choice of National Book, "Haaramzaada" comment, color of Sonia deciding her role in Congress, MPs wondering if smoking kills etc. are all bad and shows how poorly the leadership handles the "moment seekers". I would rate about 2 on this segment.

 Finally, with all the things concerned coupled with the fact that we really don't have an alternative, we will need to put the trust in this government. We will need to watch how it performs and delivers on the programs that it announced. All in all, my scorecard for the PM gives him a 6 out of 10. Here's wishing that he takes this as a reprimand and moves closer to 10!

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a good, balanced review - it just depends on how the initial promises are met in the next few years.