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Opinions9 decisions by Modi as PM that have worked so far

9 decisions by Modi as PM that have worked so far

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9 decisions by Modi as PM that have worked so far

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

Despite reservations of critics, his tactics have worked.

Every political leader and statesman must be confident about decisions taken but simultaneously remember that the line between being self-assured and delusional is a thin one.

Despite being a parliamentary democracy, Indian elections always were presidential in nature or centred on individuals and verdicts have either been endorsements of a charismatic leader or rejection of another.

Nine representative decisions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are indicative of his individualism.

If one tracks his statements and speeches since he assumed office, the recurring phrase to describe the government is “my government” or “Modi sarkar”.

This is a government whose schemes and programmes are propelled by the power of one.

Demonetisation

A day after Modi returned from Japan, by when people's woes at the decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes had already surfaced, he hit back by saying that critics were against him and were out to destroy him.

Charges that the decision resembles another “Tughalqi farman” will not do much to propel the campaign against the government but only enable Modi to publicise his claim that in his crusade against corruption, people have to bear some collateral damage – in this case, standing endlessly in queues, cutting corners in the household expenses and occasionally collapsing either physically or emotionally.

In time, people will let it be known if the Modi gamble paid off, but till then there is no rescinding the decision because like all his important policies and programmes, Modi has again staked his image.

Make in

Signs of what was to come was evident even during the campaign in 2014 but the invitation to foreign companies to “come to India” and make the country a global manufacturing hub was part of the first clutch of announcements made in his first Independence Day speech.

The idea sounded spectacular but enthusiasm, limited since then, is now likely to get further tepid given the wave of populism now gripping the First .

Swachh Bharat

The first part of PM Modi's I-Day speech in 2014 was a pep-talk for the people of India while the second segment was an elaboration of the to-do list.

From this part of his speech, which dwelled on issues ranging from improving value system in families to combat female foeticide and sexual crimes to clean toilets, the Swachh Bharat campaign was conceptualised.

It was a brilliant idea and urgently required but very poorly designed. Inadequate understanding of what cleanliness must comprise, served a reminder when Delhi and several other cities of India were choking with smog.

More than two years later, the programme's lasting image remains of Modi and other celebrities sweeping streets with brooms in their hands while the emphasis should have been on structural changes and municipal reforms to evolve comprehensive plans to make India a cleaner country.

Jan Dhan Yojana

Financial inclusion was and remains a necessity and in terms of numbers is one of the major achievements of PM Modi.

The success of this programme began during the UPA regime, though given a greater thrust and pushed in mission mode, underscores that Modi's strength is in energising moribund government systems.

Yet, the excessive zero-balance accounts display the propensity of the regime to focus on quantity and not quality of the product. Given the abysmal banking network, the Jan Dhan Yojana accounts remain barely functional because of inadequate access to banks.

Smart Cities and Digital India

The two plans were part of the Modi manifesto and they reflect his viewpoint that his political base is urban-centric.

The vision for India is a highly urbanised and industrialised country, almost modelled on the lines of Singapore and its first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has been a role model for Modi.

But every idea has a time and place but the two schemes reflect Modi's preference for grandiose ideas.

Bullet trains and Give-It-Up

On his recent trip to Japan, the picture of Modi sitting in the “driver's seat” inside the bullet train with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe standing alongside, epitomised the child in him.

The photo also underscored his impatience and desire to leapfrog several decades, take India from its limited industrial base to the world of gadgets and gizmos.

The push to bullet trains, much against conventional wisdom of what requires priority, has to be seen in conjunction with his assumption that is the panacea for everything, just as Jawaharlal Nehru considered that science had an answer to every issue.

Coupled with his propensity for alliterations and slogans, Give-It-Up symbolises the attempt to convert government policy into an ad-copy.

Mann ki Baat

One of the crucial reasons for Modi's success has been his capacity to project an alternative narrative that has negated mainstream media.

Among the first political users of social media in India, Modi has little need for newspapers and television to publicise his speeches, actions and programmes.

The radio programme started in October 2014 and which completed 25 episodes last month represents the parallel structures of communication that he has created with platforms like narendramodi.in, MyGov.in and, of course, his Twitter handles.

These publicity tools ensure that the message he wishes to broadcast reaches people instantaneously.

Despite reservations of critics, Modi's tactics have worked. But for how long, this remains to be seen.

 

Writer and journalist based in Delhi. His most recent books are Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984 and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times.

 

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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