The First Hundred Days of the New Government

A few thoughts that go out from India in the monsoon season. Well, the monsoon season is about to end and it has been an encouraging time as enough rainfall was received. It means India will have enough grain to feed its people and enough money in people’s pockets. India is primarily an agricultural country and as such if the farmer is happy the country is also happy.

The country has also seen the completion of Narendra Modi’s government’s hundred days. Modi made tall promises to be elected prime minister and now, naturally, people are evaluating his success/failure vis-a-vis those promises. A few things have changed. Government officers and staff who used to come to office around 10.30 a.m. are now rushing to the place of work at 9 a.m. This is a good thing and must be admired.

One of the policies announced is the Jan Dhan yojana in which poor people who don’t have bank accounts will get one. The idea is to transfer subsidies and other benefits directly to people’s banks, and, therefore, avoid the middle men. This is a good scheme from all outward appearances. But, if the accounts remain empty how will the banks administer around a billion accounts? Do they have the manpower, the resources?

The prime minister has also visited Japan and come away with investments totalling around USD 50 billion. The economic benefits of this will take time to show, however, this is a good sign of a developed nation’s interest in India. There’s a quid pro quo in this. Japan and India have a common enemy in China and this could be a case of “an enemy’s enemy is a friend.”

Terrorism, Maoism, economic disparity, these are issues the prime minister hasn’t dealt with yet. And, also communalism. The prime minister has asked for a ten year moratorium on communal violence (i.e. violence between religions and castes), but will this be possible at all to implement? Already there are rumblings of discontent which may grow into a groundswell, anytime. Afterall, Modi came to power on a communal agenda. Didn’t he?

Modi Takes over as New Prime Minister

narendra modi

As I had written earlier (see previous post), Narendra Modi has taken over as the new Prime Minister of India. Congrats! It’s a story of ambition and hardwork as he used to sell tea at a train station when he was young. From this humble beginning he has risen to the position of eminence, to guide the nation in a crucial phase. It is the phase of development which has been mired in a lot of corruption and ineptitude over several decades. Only a man with an impeccable record can change things and fill the void created by the greedy perpetrators of moral depravity.

Why is India such a corrupt country? One may ask. The answer is: because people who are corrupt can get away with it in this country.  Right from the clerk who asks for Rs 100 to pass an application for an identity card to the minister who asks for a bribe to pass a defence contract are the unscrupulous practitioners of corruption. It has become so endemic that government officials consider it their birthright to demand and be paid.

Modi has a clean record as far as corruption is concerned. He is an ascetic wedded to the cause of development. I hope development is one thing he can impart to the country which lacks in basic infrastructure and amenities. He may have his faults (remember the Gujarat progrom of 2002?) but on a national level it is unlikely that he will let something similar happen.

So let’s wait and watch.

Indian Elections

ballot box

India is now undergoing a massive election to its 16th parliament. The facts look humungous, when compared to other nations. India is the world’s largest democracy and there are nearly 814 million voters, of which 100 million are exercising their franchise for the first time.

To add to these, is the fact that there are 543 parliamentary constituencies, and nearly $ 573 million will be spent in conducting the elections. The money spent by the parties does not fall within the purview of this figure.

The election will be conducted using the latest technology. Electronic voting machines are being used throughout the country, which obviates the need for manual counting of votes, as before.

This time the incumbent centrist party Congress is facing the right-wing party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Congress has ruled the country for most of its six decades of existence of the country but is facing a big challenge from Bhartiya Janata Party. The latter party is led by the hard-line Hindu politician Narendra Modi who is expected to be the prime minister if the BJP comes to power. The Congress is being led by Rahul Gandhi the grandson of the former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Personal attacks and exposing of financial indiscretions of politicians is common during Indian elections. The parties and their spokespersons are therefore slinging mud at each other accusing each other of things such as infidelity, financial misappropriation, crime, etc.

The atmosphere is thick with accusation. Which makes Indian elections all the merrier!