By Vivek Pattanyak in Bhubaneswar, November 28, 2018: In 2014,a new government came to power in India in the background of ‘scams’, stagnant economy and somber mood in the country. After a frenetic election campaign accompanied by gigantic rallies, electrifying speeches and with dazzling agenda of elimination of black money, promise of jobs for the youth,and fight to finish cross-border terrorism engineered by the neighbouring ‘failed state’, the new government launched many eye catching programs like Make in India, Digital India, Start Up India, Stand Up India, Swatch Bharat, Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao, Clean Ganga etc.

There was projection of India abroad with rallies of NRIs, along with some muscular diplomacy to show India under new leadership as a rising power with the ideas of Blue Economy, Act East, Look West etc.

A review of these are necessary almost at the end of the tenure of the Government.

Make in India program started with great fanfare.It was nothing but giving greater emphasis to manufacturing sector to raise it from 16% to 25% of GDP.This was also the aim of Manmohan Singh.For ‘this old wine in new bottle’, enormous amount of resources were deployed through publicity, hoardings, newspaper display advertisements,foreign visits by Modi and his ministers,civil servants,and top level and mid-level executives of PSUs.

Modi addressed any number of rallies of people of the Indian origin, congregations of corporate honchos and eminent politicians.Even policy changes were done making FDI in many sectors more liberal including 100% FDI in aviation sector .What has been the achievement? Is it not dismal notwithstanding Index of Ease of Doing Business having improved? Some even question its veracity. It is alleged that lobbying at WB and twitching of some procedures have allowed India to gain in the index ranking. Even domestic businessmen have not made any visible investments. POSCO left after a decade of effort.

Demonetization was done purportedly for taking out black money but without much preparation.Results were long line ups at ATMs for days together causing deaths of people,disruptions of small business bringing enormous losses for fledgling entrepreneurs. GDP was reduced by at least by 1.5% confirmed by IMF and World Bank and rating agencies.It is now stated that all the money, or more money has come back to the banks.Cost of printing of new notes was in terms of thousands of crores. Main objective, it is alleged, was to paralyze the money power of political opponents.During the said period, sixty times procedures were modified.Explanation was given at that time that demonetization was intended also to bring in cashless society and even to philip digitization.

‘After thoughts’ exposed to what extent the decision was ill-conceived.It is getting clearer now that RBI was not fully involved in decision-making process.Some doubt if senior leaders of the Government were consulted.

GST, a reform measure conceived by Manmohan Singh implemented without adequate preparation in a big tearing hurry caused incalculable damage to small business.The main purpose was to take credit for introducing a new scheme with a midnight drama of reenactment of “When world sleeps.. India wakes up to freedom…”.It was to show people that the new leader was another Nehru.Subsequent conduct during the Karnataka election revealed the true picture when the Indian history was falsified to vilify Nehru.

The Planning Commission renamed as” Niti Ayog” ,after lofty speeches to establish a national level think-tank , with same huge Secretariat ( much to the glory of the slogan “minimum government and maximum governance”) but abolition of planning process and using the renamed behemoth to get occasional consultations of projects of the States.How is the staff being used? On Air India’s rehabilitation and subsequent privatization, NITIAYOG was used as think-tank.We all know that AI has not been rehabilitated nor privatised. Government has taken steps to pump in more money.

There was talk of cooperative federalism.The States like Odisha,Kerala and West Bengal continuously allege that the Central Government is giving them step-motherly treatment.Even ally in Andhra was so disappointed that its leader has withdrawn freedom of the Central agency to investigate into cases.

We heard of Ganga cleaning,again not a new scheme,conceived during Rajiv Gandhi’s time.Enormous amount of money earmarked for this glorious program remained either unutilized or misutilized. The Supreme Court has expressed unhappiness about its tardy implementation.

Swatcha Bharat started with all alacrity involving icons of films,sports and politics including one from the Opposition.A study revealed it was more a hype than anything.Toilets were constructed without water.

Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao was conveyed to the public as a novel program although the laws had become tighter since a long time to prevent sex determination.Since Manmohan Singh’s time following Nirvay case ,IPC had been amended to make heinous rape like Nirbhay punishable with death.

In last four and half year, s the rate of rape and sexual harassment have reached the zenith mostly in UP, Haryana and Jammu with Kathua beating all levels of barbarity, with sepulchral silence at the top level.

Lynching of the members of minority community and members of depressed caste are shown on prime time TV show. There is similar reticence much to the glory of the dictum “Sabke sath sabke vikas”.

Start Up India and Stand Up India, another big ‘talk program’ was intended to improve the lot of young entrepreneurs and women. Start Up has hardly started while Stand Up is yet to be on its feet.

In four and half years, the country’s deficit finance is a cause of concern,trade deficit and current account deficit are increasing, GDP growth is nowhere near double digits figure although method of calibration has been changed.During Manmohan Singh’s first tenure the growth almost reached double digit.Rupee has reached all time low.

Decline in FE reserve due to heavy selling of dollars to keep rupee artificially high reflects a policy of window dressing to seek popular support. RBI, an autonomous body,is being pressured to reduce interest rate.Viral Acharya’s statement became viral exposing the government’s malafide intention to take a bigger share of reserves of RBI to augment its own resources on the eve of election to distribute pre-election freebies. Modi’s recent announcement of Rs 6000 crore program to support MSME (sanction of funds within 59 minutes) is a gimmick. MUDRA seems to have not produced any effect.Less said about PSU banks is better.There is hardly any institutional infrastructure to implement this.

NPAs have practically parlayzed banking. Much talked about ‘bail out’ is by way of PSU banks buying Government bonds to increase their capital base will perhaps still fall short of BASEL III norms.The Bank Board Bureau was established with former CAG, Vinod Rai as Chairman (one who used to hit headlines for ‘exposing’ scams).How has the Board performed to improve banking system needs an independent review.As the Economist magazine has stated the shadow banking has taken a lot of capital with suspicion of hidden time-bombs and with failure of ILFS , India is facing the moment of Lehman Brothers.

In the background of this there is money to construct the world’s tallest statue with Rs 3000 crores.There may be competition to construct even taller statues, one for Shivaji and other for
Ram.Interestingly the advertisements given to media for full length displays of Modi have costed thousands of crores.Taking cue from that other chiefs are not falling behind in projecting themselves. Where is the CAG? Once he wanted to audit Padma Award.

Much talk was made about India’s policy towards neighbours. At the time of installation,top leaders of neighbourhood were invited including from Pakistan. A surprise visit was made to Lahore to attend the wedding ceremony of Pakistan PM’s grand-daughter. It was followed by attack on Pathankote. Pakistan military including perhaps some agents of ISI visited sensitive areas to enquire into the attack. This was followed by deadly militant attack on Uri martyring young and brave soldiers.Then came so-called ‘surgical strike’. Many claimed that it was not new.Such kinds of strikes had taken place in the past.Militancy across the border has remained unabated.There is almost an undeclared war with daily casualties on both sides even involving civilians.

Our relationship with USA in spite all the personal equations developed by Modi are not that spectacular as may be made out by some sections of the electronic media. Relationship with China deteriorated very badly. Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal are not that warm as they should have been after all the demonstrative visits. Secheylles snubbed us when our efforts to establish a naval presence was cold shouldered.Malaysia has given a safe haven to someone who was hounded out . China is having strong presence in the south Pacific in spite of our much publicized visit to Fiji.

Meanwhile,there was acquittal of all in 2G scam.Scandal in defense deal now is in the media.There is again talk of crony capitalism.

In addition there is mention of interference in appointment of judges ignoring collegium. Autonomy of statutory bodies like CVC, CBI, RBI and constitutional body like Election Commission are being compromised, it is alleged in the media.Even media is being coerced, it is very widely talked about.
After all this one wonders how is the time of the accidental Prime Minister different from the time of paradoxical Prime Minister?

Have the good days(Acche din)come ?

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