The Modi sarkar’s 100-day report card indicated that the PM has to work much harder at the process of integration of state governments with the Centre so local issues see quicker resolution. This can very well happen in states with NDA rule; states such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have been quick to leverage this advantage. The assembly poll drubbing has effectively warned Team Modi that there is no margin for error or complacency. Here are some observations on his 130-plus days in the driver’s seat:
- The government administration is working: The mood is ‘get work done’ than ‘who cares?’. Ministers, bureaucrats and government officers are being pulled up for dragging their feet.
- Crony capitalism is out: Touts are barred at ministries and ministers hesitate to meet businessmen unnecessarily. Most processes are being laid out transparently.
- Transparency is being encouraged: All processes are up on websites. Online updates of information are being encouraged. Even tracking files for clearances is a click away.
- Core issues are being dealt with head on:
- Coal, the biggest bane for power, is being addressed to enhance production and resolve fuel-starved plants.
- Women’s safety is being addressed by enhancing the availability of toilets.
- Rather than gloat over indications of Chinese interests in investing, President Xi Jinping was asked to prioritise the resolution of the border dispute.
- Railway productivity is being improved by enhancing speed of trains from current levels—from 50 km per hour to over 160 km per hour for express trains and from the abysmal current levels of 25 km per hour for goods trains
- Improvement in India’s international image: Modi’s visits from Bhutan, South America, Japan and now the US, not to mention the visit by the Chinese president, have enhanced India’s image and standing in the minds of international investors. Japan has committed $ 35 billion and China $ 20 billion over the next five years. International investors are eyeing infrastructure projects in India and several funds have already formed JVs with Indian companies and banks.
- Divestment plans on the anvil: The Government is all set to cash out after liquidating its holdings on the stock market, thereby giving its kitty a boost.
- Jandhan scheme launched to provide for social security and financial inclusion: Banks have opened 4 crore accounts so far and mobilised about Rs 3,700 crore as deposits in these accounts. Under the scheme, account holders will get an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000. They will also be provided RuPay debit cards and Rs 1 lakh accident insurance cover.
- Expediting projects: Anil Swarup, who heads the Project Monitoring Group (PMG), has an expanded role & now tasked with following up on timelines set for ministries and states. The PMG had been set up to clear Rs 2.20 lakh crore worth of 463 projects. While 176 proposals have been approved so far, only 60 have begun construction.
- Improving ease of business conditions: India ranked 134 of 189 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2013 index. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, which is driving the campaign, has set up an eight-member expert panel for quick grievance redress and to answer queries. The team will try to resolve issues within 48 hours. And in case they are unable to do so, the matter will go to a designated officer of the department concerned who will try to respond within 72 hours.
- Focused approach: The Government is targeting investment in nearly two dozen sectors, including electronics, automobiles, civil aviation, defence, railways, tourism, hospitality and wellness. Special emphasis is being given to FDI, manufacturing policy, industrial corridors and intellectual property rights.
Evidently, the current PM believes in action, discipline and accountability, all of which were overlooked during the previous regime. But there is an inevitable time lag for the results to show. We must first awaken the system and then build confidence—assuring the system and all of us that we are ready to take on the world.