The unappreciated supercomputer Prime Minister
By Vishal V. Sharma
[Words: 2,134, Reading time: 11 to 14 minutes @150 to 200 words/minute]
Narendra Modi hasn’t taken a single day’s vacation in the past 15 years, since 7th October 2001 – the day he 1st took oath of office from a pandal erected at the Gandhinagar helipad ground. In this context, the work started on that day from Gandhinagar continues unabated even in his Prime Ministership. In the past 10 to 11 months, his government has done more in revenue generation for India than any other government. Narendra Modi personally has been called “India’s Reformer-in-Chief” by none other than the U.S. President Barack Obama. Narendra Modi has almost single handedly increased India’s international stature as a nation on the growth path. Just as Ratan Tata had said all those years ago during a Vibrant Gujarat program, “Its stupid if you are not in Gujarat”, Narendra Modi’s reach to the international community has sent a clear message to the leading companies of the world, “Its stupid if you are not in India”. And yet Narendra Modi remains, perhaps the most unappreciated Prime Minister. What is the reason for this?
A right analogy would be that Narendra Modi is a supercomputer having to work on an outdated motherboard that is the Indian bureaucratic system. Many feel that Narendra Modi doesn’t have the right team of people who can deliver as fast as the genius in him works. One can also say that Narendra Modi functions @ the speed of light, but his team works at the speed of a steam engine. Neither the government nor the bureaucratic setup appears geared up to generate the kind of velocity, that a leader of the Narendra Modi’s stature deserves. Modi is vibrant, but the system is defunct. Modi is a Ferrari race-car engine, but the tyres are of Maruti 800. Modi is like an Amitabh Bacchan having to work with Devika Rani (no offense to the great actress of the yester years).
The “Make-In-India” campaign aimed at boosting India’s manufacturing sector is a brilliant extension of the Vibrant Gujarat campaign and Modi has personally marketed it well overseas, but the parallel work needed to ensure the success of the campaign has not taken place. For example, labour reforms have almost stagnated. Minor corrections here or there are taking place, but there is no dare-devil push, no pro-active communication and interactions with the labour unions, no major campaign to install industry specific electric plants to promote industrialization of specific geographical locations. Why not identify specific industrial areas under various state industrial corporations and ear-mark them for internationalization? That is, provide power, infrastructure, labour laws and dispute resolution law of an international level to boost the “Make-In-India” campaign. Why is there less publicity of this “Make-In-India” campaign to educate the Indian villages that industrialization will improve their lives?
India remains a country with the largest backlog of cases and yet judicial reforms are moving at a snail’s pace. Why is the system not correcting this? Why not put a time-frame for all types of cases to be judged? Alternatively, why not strengthen the dispute resolution mechanism in India by strengthening the Arbitration Act and push more and more cases towards Arbitration. If more cases are sent for time-bound arbitration, then it shall reduce cases numbers from courts. Property laws in India are horribly slow and irrational. A large number of cases are pending in lower courts only on the issue of jurisdiction, that is, courts do not know if they have the power to adjudicate the case or not. And this takes years to resolve. Why not simplify this process? Similarly, the Leave & License eviction process wherein a tenant who is refusing to vacate a premise be made time-bound. All property records are computerized in urban cities likes Mumbai, Delhi and other metros. Therefore, if a property owner demands that his property be vacated, why should he approach a court and file a case? Afterall, it is his or her property, why not make an online application to the local police station and the online application will have the relevant property documents, share certificates, etc. and once ownership is proved by the system, within 7 days the local police should send 2 constables and get the property vacated within 15 minutes. Just make the laws work. But why has the system not done this earlier? If at all a case has to go to court, why not enact a new and single law, “Property vacation act”, wherein the courts have to pass an order within 24 hours of an online application being made. This would drastically bring down the number of pending cases and make the Indian system more international. Certainly exceptions can be incorporated, wherein old tenants living since the past 40 years or so are protected. Another field of law where action is needed is JAPS (judicial appeal process simplification). In developed nations, there is a trial court to pass judgments. Thereafter there is an appellate authority wherein a person can file an appeal for review. This appellate authority has the final say. However, in India above the appellate authority is the yet another appellate authority the Supreme Court. But the story does not stop here. Once the Supreme Court has decided, one can go to the lower court, which is High Court in the same matter but on a different issue. And then go to the Supreme Court again. And then file a review petition with the Supreme Court again, and then file a curative petition again. In this way the process keeps going on and on. Why not put a stop to this and make the process linear?
The construction industry is one of the largest employers in the country. However, the kind of corruption that construction companies have to endure is unimaginable. The main culprits are the Municipal Corporations of Mumbai, Delhi and other metros. The amount of money being made by local officers, engineers and their subordinate staff is astronomical. Even the 10th pass peon in such Municipal offices is a crorepati! It is not just the Municipal offices, but even authorities like MHADA, CIDCO and the Urban Development Departments of the state governments where this curse of corruption has taken over. Many of these lower ranked officials actually refuse to take bribes! But instead negotiate properties at very low rates so that their assets can increase eventually and no ‘bribe’ is taken. They have mastered the art of corruption. Some take money in running trains, whereas others seek sex with foreign prostitutes and overseas trips to Dubai, South Africa, Bahrain and Europe, while others seek to eat dishes imported from Africa made from the flesh of exotic animals. Some may say that this is “raakshashi pravritti” (evil), but it is the truth of the kind of moral degradation that has crept in our system. The IAS and the IPS officers do not interact directly with the people as often as these lower level Municipal officers interact, and hence action against them, will lift this scourge of evil on the people. Even Anna Hazare said that higher level corruption is not perceivable by the people. It is lower level corruption that is a cancer for the masses. The ways of evil are many, but the result is the same, corruption and loot of the people. Why can the Enforcement Directorate or the Bureau of Revenue Intelligence not make a database of all staff having worked in Municipal offices of the major metros and in offices of MHADA and CIDCO over the past 10 years, and seek the assets of their parents and children? And with the help of the Income Tax Department conduct focused scrutiny of such lower level bureaucracy. And pass a NDA law (Nationalisation of Disproportionate Assets’ Law) that would immediately nationalize any disproportionate asset found. The people of India are not interested in burdening courts with criminal cases prosecuting the corrupt and which run for years. The people of India want their money back in the government treasury. So if any Municipal staff has any disproportionate asset, then immediately nationalize it and auction it so that government can get the money. What is needed is a catharsis and cleaning of the system. The Swacch Bharat Abhiyan is an excellent initiative undertaken by the Prime Minister, but we need an immediate cleaning of the system. The malice of corruption is so deep in the Municipal, MHADA & CIDCO offices dealing with the construction industry that nobody really listens to the senior IAS officers or even to ministers. These lower ranked Municipal officers, engineers and their peons are a law onto themselves. Narendra Modi donated all that he earned as salary as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he is nothing short of a modern-day mahatma, but the people of India, the villagers and the city dwellers have to interact with the lower levels of bureaucracy and nothing really changes at the lower levels. Only a Robespierren reign of terror against the corrupt will have an impact to clean the system.
Per Capita electric consumption in India is 1/16th that of western European standards and yet when Narendra Modi became the 1st Indian Prime Minister to visit Canada in 42 years and managed to sign a deal permitting the export of 3,000 tonnes of Uranium to India over 5 years to power our nuclear reactors to produce electricity, the people on the ground are not aware of it.
Narendra Modi’s bold decision to go in for direct purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter jets to fulfill the minimum critical operational needs of the Indian Air Force should be applauded by one and all, but it is not happening. This decision has single-handedly ended the confusion in defence procurements afflicting the Indian decision making process since the time of Bofors in 1989. Narendra Modi could end the 36-year stagnation only because he is non-corrupt and straightforward.
The previous UPA government had given away India’s coal fields for almost nothing resulting in over `1,76,000 crores loss to the Indian exchequer. The Supreme Court of India cancelled the allocations made in this Coalgate Scam and ruled that not a single gram of coal would be permitted to be extracted, if the government failed to set in place an auction mechanism by 31st March 2015. Indian electricity production would be hit. But Narendra Modi got into action and moved the system. The government auctioned only about 20 of the 220 odd coalmines and will get over `2,20,000 crores over a period of time. Imagine what the total auction would generate? But are the people even aware of this? Is this information being discussed in talk shows?
The Modi government auctioned spectrum and further generated more than `1,00,000 crores. The media did not give adequate coverage to this much needed information that will bring happiness to industries and people alike. The media was more interested in covering the return of Rahul Gandhi after 57 days. Such are the strange ironies of our times.
An alternate media through websites and social media is present, but the penetration of the internet is not much and even in cities the download speed is not good so people cannot really check such information. Therefore, such information should have been collated and published in the form of Narendra Modi information pocket books and distributed in every of the 4,200 odds Vidhan Sabhas in the country, and a campaign undertaken to distribute them in every village specially to women! But it has not been done. Instead the opposition parties have been successful in misguiding the people over the much needed Land Acquisition Bill. Instead of appreciating Narendra Modi, his image has taken a beating and the best performing Prime Minister has become the most unappreciated Prime Minister. Instead of giving Narendra Modi a gold medal for the tremendous work that he has done in only 10-11 months, people are cracking jokes, misguiding the people and creating an atmosphere based on lies only because it is always easy to spread negative news than to spread good news.
There are many such sectors wherein faster reforms are urgently needed. But they go beyond the scope of this write-up. However, to summarize, the 3 issues that are hampering Narendra Modi are, firstly the lack of visible action against corruption at the lower levels, secondly the almost non-existent information dissemination at the village level to reach to people and bring the information about Narendra Modi’s achievements to them, neither are the party nor the government spokesperson doing justice to highlight the major achievements of the Modi government, and thirdly a talent deficit in the system and the team that supercomputer Narendra Modi has to work with. Narendra Modi is the best Prime Minister India could have got, alas! only if we could have had Narendra Modi as Prime Minister 20 years ago.
The writer has done his Program in Business Management from IIM-Calcutta & has served as OSD to Narendra Modi during his term as Gujarat’s Chief Minister. He is a Salzburg & IVLP Alumni and has served in the National training cell of the BJP. He has also been closely associated with the various election campaigns of Narendra Modi and has lectured as summer faculty in an international Swiss School in Switzerland.
Source: WHN Media Network