The Agony and The Ecstasy
Now that the nitty-gritty of formation of the government is over, the ecstasy has died down and the NDA under Modi has to come down to the nuts and bolts of running the affairs of the nation, it is time to see the challenges that they face. The huge build up and the great expectations that the voters of the nation have placed on the NDA under Modi, literally puts him under the microscope. The nay-sayers and Modi baiters will lose no opportunity to haul him over the coals for any lapses. In this direction, the government seems to have taken the right direction ahead, but the days to come will show how Modi tackles the problems.
The anti-corruption plank was the driving force of the entire campaign. This is one issue that Modi will have to take very seriously. The primary reason behind Congress’ massive defeat is the rampant corruption. The Manmohan Singh-led UPA government will be remembered as one of the most corrupt regimes in the history of independent India. Scams like 2G, CWG, Coalgate, V.VIP choppers etc not just spoiled the UPA’s reputation in its second tenure, but also hurt India’s image internationally. Modi will have to ensure that his pack of ministers, quite a few of whom are not exactly above board, do not succumb to lucre. It will be an uphill task to uproot corruption from the country. The NDA will have to enact anti-graft legislations and ensure their effective implementation.
The formation of the SIT, albeit under Supreme Court directions, is one step in the right direction. Modi’s election promise to constitute fast track courts to try MP’s with cases pending cases against them, within a time frame of just a year, will be neigh impossible. The BJP has the highest number of tainted men on its rank, how Modi will purge them will be interesting to see. The right direction has been taken on the foreign policy front with the invitation to the SAARC members for the swearing in ceremony. India has a tradition of successive governments largely carrying forward the policies of previous regimes in matters of external affairs. Modi will not be able to implement radical changes, even though India trade partners are watching with bated breath. Relations with our neighbours will have to be watched closely, and a fine balance will have to be maintained with Russia and the US. In spite of Sharif’s visit, Modi will have to adopt a hard stance towards China and Pakistan. He will also likely try to leverage Indo-US relationship against the global war against terror, and will exert American pressure on Pakistan and ensure uprooting of terror safe havens there. The prime case is the 26/11 trial, which is heading nowhere and top terrorists continue to roam freely inside Pakistan’s territory.
Internal security too will be another challenge. The intrusion of the BJP in India’s North-East spells badly, there will be renewed insurgency. The Naxals have carried out spectacular attacks during the elections and later. BJP-ruled states are badly affected. There will have to be a shift in the policy of tackling internal strife; the development card will have to be played judiciously. Another worrying factor is the emergence of the home-grown terror organisations. The NDA will have to modernise and bring in reforms within the paramilitary, police and investigating agencies in order to help them deal better with terrorists, who are armed with sophisticated weapons. The morale of the security wings of the government is at an low. The modernisation of the armed forces : the Army, Air Force and Navy is imminent. India has to prepare itself to face challenges posed by Pakistan and China in the changing global scenario. The recent air force and naval tragedies have already exposed India’s chinks and battle preparedness.
The plank of the bad state of the economy was used well during the election campaign. The NDA will have to act quickly and efficiently to bring around a turnaround in the economy. Under UPA’s tenure, the growth slipped from a high of near double-digit to a low of 4.6 per cent. For Modi, the challenge to revive the ‘India growth story’ will not be an easy task. Major infrastructure projects will have to be taken up in a big way to reinvigorate the flagging economy. Most of the delays in infra projects during the UPA tenure were due to issues like law and order problems, delay in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement problems, fund constraints, delay in green clearances etc. Modi will have to tackle these issues as he has done in Gujarat. Employment generation for India’s youth, the promise that was doled out richly in the elections will have to be fulfilled.
The minorities, especially Muslims, are looking up to Modi to prove that his government’s agenda is not pro-Hindutva. He will have to take special care of minorities, and alleviate the fears that have been impressed upon them by the Congress and other parties. The NDA government will have to give priority on making water and electricity increasingly accessible all over the country. To be effective, the probable priorities of the NDA government will require much more robust data gathering and analysis. All the first timers have been told that they are on trial for the first six months; a review committee will adjudge their performance every three months. The new pack was told to cut down wasteful expenditures, ensure transparency, and above all be accessible to the people. He told them that at the first whiff of any corruption or scam, they will have to pack their bags. There will be no corridors of power, the ministers will ensure that hanger-on’s, touts, middle men, relatives etc. will be kept away. All the prime ministers men have the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. We only hope that the hair does not snap over a few.
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