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Many misses and a few hits as Narendra Modi juggernaut rolls on Indian economy

New Delhi: The outsider has set the agenda at Raisina Hill. In his first six months, prime minister Narendra Modi has managed to average at least one big idea a month, restore a single power centre and signal his government’s determination to go ahead with reforms.

Many misses and a few hits as Narendra Modi juggernaut rolls on Indian economy

Less than four months ago, Modi had described himself as an outsider who came to Delhi and got an insider’s view. But, for a man who had experience of being chief minister for 12-13 years unlike his predecessor. He saw, learnt and took the reins in policy matters, international diplomacy and restoring institutional integrity, according to sources familiar with Modi’s functioning in Gujarat and PMO.

Not everything may have gone according to his government’s plans. The reforms timeline got disturbed with the Opposition creating obstacles in passage of legislations like insurance bill, which seeks to raise the FDI cap in the sector from 26% to 49%. The government intends to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the ongoing winter session but can take it up only in the next session.

However, with two master strokes — the clean India campaign and the village adoption scheme — Modi swept the public off its feet. While these may not be enough to impress the corporate world waiting for big ticket reforms, his political opponents would find it difficult to criticise the focus on toilets, cleanliness, e-governance, encouraging the underprivileged to open bank accounts and asking MPs to adopt villages.

“His politics is successful and he communicates well with the public. But, as far as change in economic climate filtering down to the people is concerned, it has not taken off yet. It is also not possible in six months.

Expectations from the government are high. This winter session will be crucial for pushing what he intended,” said Sudhir Panwar, a Lucknow-based political analyst.

The projection of a 6.3% growth rate next year by Morgan Stanley would have a calming effect on the economy. If the trend continued, then Modi, who has energised the investors, can further consolidate his position at the national level. The new government’s innovative Make in India campaign signals its commitment to transforming India into the manufacturing hub of the world. The revamping of the Planning Commission was one of its biggest announcements, though it is yet to take shape.

Bureaucrats say that files were moving faster and clearances were rapid, but have yet to translate into something big. Government revenue has been growing at less than half the projected 19%.

However, luck has been on his side. The international crude prices have fallen, the monsoon was not too bad and the Congress has been in the doldrums.

Sources said Modi understood the nitty gritty of governance having dealt with investors and foreign delegates in Gujarat and in six months had covered a lot of ground in external diplomacy finding his own voice. It began with his gesture of inviting SAARC leaders to the swearing in of his government in May, followed by visits to Bhutan, Japan, Brazil (BRICS summit), Nepal, UN, US, Myanmar (ASEAN summit), Australia (G20), Fiji and the ongoing Nepal visit for the SAARC summit. Almost everywhere, he struck a rapport with his counterparts.

At home, he did what he was good at, reaching out to people. Amidst his hectic schedule as prime minister, he campaigned tirelessly in Maharashtra and Haryana. He will now take out time to hold rallies in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand.

According to some MPs, Modi has inculcated a sense of caution and accountability in the political class. Unlike in the past, the MPs think twice while recommending someone for some post or writing a letter to an official, they said.

Modi Government’s 6 Big Ideas:
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: Envisages opening 15 crore bank accounts by January 26. Since the launch, the scheme has seen mass account opening by banks who have worked even on the weekends to meet the target. As of November 10, a total of 7.91 crore accounts have been opened and RuPay Cards have been issued in case of 3.97 crore accounts. However, as per the finance ministry, of the 7.91 crore accounts that have been opened, 5.94 crore have zero balance in them. The total balance in the remaining accounts is Rs 6,224 crore.

Black Money: One of the BJP’s pet slogans, the government is now facing Opposition charge of not fulfilling its promise on the black money issue. The same bilateral treaties, which do not permit disclosing the names unless prosecution is filed before a charging court, had bound the UPA. Immediately after coming to power, the government set up a SIT on black money under justice MB Shah, who has presented his first report.

Make in India: An initiative to facilitate industries to engage more proactively with the Indian government, by simplifying procedures and approvals. It is also a window of interaction for those who want to set up shops in India for the first time in the country. As of now, however, no major investment proposal has come to the Make in India cell. For now, the government has taken up all the projects on the Delhi – Mumbai Indsutrial corridor under the Make in India projects.

Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana: Under this, 402 of the 543 MPs in Lok Sabha and 123 of 245 members of Rajya Sabha have so far adopted gram panchayats to be developed as a model one by 2016. With a vision that to build a nation one has to start from villages, Modi said that if every MP transformed a village, there would be holistic development. He has requested all MPs to develop one model village by 2016 and two more by 2019.

Fast-tracking criminal cases against MPs and MLAs: Modi had asked the home and law ministries in July to work out a mechanism to settle cases against MPs and MLAs within a year, in a bid to clean politics. The Home Ministry has asked the state governments to expedite cases against legislators facing criminal charges and the Law ministry had written to state chief justices. The Supreme Court had earlier set a one-year deadline for completing the proceedings after framing of charges against lawmakers facing criminal charges.

100 Smart Cities: Another part of Modi’s promise of “acche din”, the government announced plans of building 100 smart cities. But, the urban Development Ministry is yet to come up with a definition of Indian smart cities. After several rounds of consultations with a cross section of stake holders, the ministry has come up with a draft guideline and has called for suggestions. The project has missed its first deadline. Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu has asked his office to prepare the final concept note and get financial approval by November 15. However, no such approval has been acquired so far.

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