Monday, June 9, 2014


After completion of electoral process to constitute the 16th Loksabha,  the new government  has taken charge in Delhi as per constitutional norms.    NaMo has naturally progressed in status from PM-nominee  to  PM-real.   If there was one ideally prescribed way to start with a bang,  NaMo's swearing in ceremony was  one of it.   
No one knows better than our new PM  to make  best use of any occasion by taking  pro-actively strategic initiatives, though symbolic in nature.    Even his political adversaries will admit that  inviting SAARC heads of state for the swearing-in ceremony was a masterstroke in diplomacy, as well as publicity.     The ceremony, which  was essentially a domestic political event,  was beamed live in all our neighbouring countries because of the presence of many heads of state.     India needs to assert its own status in the world by balancing  mutual co-operation and legitimate level of hegemony.    Logically, this process should start from our own region.    We have heard  political initiatives  like  NAM (non-aligned movement)  by earlier governments but we  can hardly recall any influence  of such initiatives in enhancing India's  regional or global status.   We remained one of the so-called  third-world countries.    NaMo realises that  we need to shift gears and also think and act differently.     On a larger perspective,    an undeclared  but inspiring goal for our new PM could be working on constructive regional co-operation  which can ultimately lead to a unified currency for Asia on the lines of Euro,  in not very distant future.  Well begun is half done   aur achche din zaroor ayenge
The new cabinet  has pan-Indian representation  from Kanyakumari to Jammu, from Kutch to Arunachal Pradesh.  
Comfortable majority in the parliament has given the new PM much needed leeway to  select his own team.   He should consider himself lucky because similar   "prerogative" had eluded many other PM's in the past for various reasons.     
The new ministry can be considered to  be as close to the word "dream team" as it can practically get.     NaMo has stuck to  the  proven formula of  a compact ministry (minimum government) to ensure maximum governance enroute to the   final  mission of    "Ek Bharat shresht Bharat".   
Practical considerations may have forced a few states like Himachal, Uttarakhand and  West Bengal getting a raw deal  inspite of having  elected MPs from those states.   Possibly,  they are left out for future  expansion or re-grouping after the 100 day honeymoon  period.    Induction of sizeable  number of women MPs into the cabinet and conscious focus on blending youth with  experience appears to be   highlight of the new ministry. 
Ruling out veterans above age of 75 years and also sons/daughters of political dynasty  in the party for ministerial berths are really  very healthy  decisions from long term perspective.  
Some of the seniors who remained loyal to the party  may soon find themselves accommodated as governors  of  states where the slots fall  vacant in near future.    
Soon after taking charge,  key ministers have  made the right noises.   The new minorities affairs' minister  Najma Heftullah's statement that muslims are not a minority in our country anymore, was  such a pleasant departure from the established routine of the past.       At close to 20% of India's population,  muslims  are numerically  equal to the  total population of  USA !  However, our netas   have practised  appeasement as a tool to win their votes.   If India has to find a place of her justified  honour in the world,   it is important for every citizen  to be committed to the national cause,  contribute  positively and be counted  through competitive merit  rather than reservation.   Who could have been   more qualified than the suave Najma Heftullah to convince muslim fraternity  to join the mainstream of society  instead of remaining at the fringes seeking benevolence  for ever ?
While the entire election campaign was filled with  fireworks and heroics of NaMo,   country witnessed  his  surprising soft side  during the recent speech to  BJP's elected members of  parliament.  Fortunately,  the soft side silently and safely co-exists with his tough demeanor.    He will definitely continue his style of a no-nonsense administrator who means business when it comes to chasing  set goals.    Crores of precious  rupees  must have gone down the drain in government projects so far  due to bad implementation, lack of monitoring,  corruption etc.,.   
It is such a greatly relieving  coincidence that   NaMo carries  a  unique distinction of being the first PM with  a 12 year long successful track record  as CM of a relatively large state.  This will make a lot of difference in getting the best out of our monumentally lethargic bureaucracy.   BJP's sympathisers  would not have forgotten how a wily (and possibly  a section of   bureaucracy always loyal to congress party)  managed to manipulate prices of onion during an important season  which ultimately cost BJP their next election in Delhi assembly.   That was caused by administrative inexperience of a party in  power for the first time and NaMo  is unlikely to allow repetition of such experiences.   As per reports, NaMo   has  chosen officers known for integrity as well as efficiency for all the key posts.   
  Knowing NaMo's style of working,  we can definitely hope to see many  symbolic and strategically important initiatives  similar to  the Sardar statue project he took up last year.   Aur
Ganga maa bahut jaldi saaf ho jayegi.     
In the melee of the swearing-in ceremony,  one small but important point got lost.   It deserves a  special mention.  While the guest list for the ceremony included who-is-who of the country and Asia, NaMo's closest family members chose not to attend.      It is such a relief that they   consciously did so because of their  sensitivity  to the cause of   protecting NaMo's  clean image.  We will realise the significance of this gesture  when we contrast the ever enthusiastic foster family of Vajpayee which made news for all wrong reasons during NDA-I.     It is also clear that   the Iyers, Singhvis, Sibals, Diggys and  Tiwarys will be waiting for the simplest  opportunity to corner the new government  on  corruption or nepotism.     As per reports, the new PM  has issued an important   instruction to all party MPs against the practice of  making political appointments of personal staff from close family.   
  Shashi Taroor issued a rare  complimentary statement by referring to the new PM as   Modi2.0, in a reference to his behavioural change in the role as premier of the country.    While NaMo's style of governance  was always certified  to be "inclusive" by even muslims of the state he ruled earlier as CM,  congress party had  not acknowledged it officially for political reasons.   To give Shashi Taroor some benefit of doubt,   we can  definitely see NaMo's   actions and gestures are more reconciliatory, in his new role as PM.    
Visiting Dr. Man Mohan Singh  in his new house could have been a political necessity to collect  inputs from erstwhile PM on burning priorities and left over urgent tasks but it was as much a rare courtesy.
    In any case,     far reaching changes to the administrative process can be expected -   big changes always start with small shift in attitude to work.   This obviously requires motivating and taking all babus together as a team.   Lots of pep talk  also seems to be going on in the corridors of power to the people who matter.    Great emphasis to "cleanliness" in NaMo scheme of things will be welcome change.   We should not be surprised if we get to see a  more hygienic and clean place when we  visit any government office next time.    We may not have to struggle for a glimpse of a big, fat babu  normally lost behind a huge pile of dirty official files on the desk.  Much work related data may get compressed and sit in "soft" form inside the office computers.    This could be a "top driven" exercise  of change but we are sure to see some real positive changes  in real.    NaMo will most certainly  execute his assignment  as if he is the CEO  of India Inc.  rather than stereotypical political head of  India.   NaMo has the ability to harness the collective imagination, skills and efforts of the people of this country to march ahead.     His  style is authoritative rather than  authoritarian.    We need an authoritative PM as much as we need democracy.                 
NaMo will be definitely  keen to show some positive results within the 100 day honeymoon period.   We are unlikely to see repetition of a brave act like Pokhran nuclear blast that was undertaken within a very short period of 
Vajpayee government  assuming office.  While Pokharan blast had its own relevance in the context of that period,   NDA-II under NaMo is likely to take actions that can prepare itself for a longer haul in power.  
Getting back black money parked abroad,  revocation of article 370, construction of a grand Ram temple will  be in the agenda.  But top on priority list would be containing inflation, boosting investor confidence,  kick-starting struggling economy etc.,  Light house projects  with far reaching implications like inter-linking of rivers will be high on agenda.   Varanasi will surely receive special attention and will be a site in the world map  for spiritual tourism.  If  NaMo had managed to rescue Gujarat   from a physically and emotionally devastating earthquake within a short time of taking over as CM, we can trust  him to repeat  the same for India.   
NaMo is quick to gauge  pulse of the people and adapt himself to the need of the hour.    Tech-savvy PM's official website got  launched in the cyberspace, the very moment   NaMo was administered the oath of office.    He has a huge followership of over 4 million through  his cyber accounts  which will only swell  as he settles down in   his throne.   That is a great way to sustain a personalised communication with the masses that will prove to be so crucial in winning elections in future.    Main opposition party as well as AAP are  in shambles  and going by the affairs of the party, we can expect to see exodus of many loyal  supporters of these parties to BJP.    "Traditional politics" is likely to take a back seat and efficiency/delivery will receive  well deserved primary focus in the governance process of new India.    
All sympathisers of right wing political philosophy would like   2014 to be marked as the beginning of  NaMo-yug.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Decoding verdict 2014

"The  mother-son government in Delhi is on its way out.  Please make sure that you vote for stable alternative to ensure development..." 
"This wave of support in favour of  BJP will soon convert itself into a tsunami as election progresses..."
" Congress will not open account in many states and in  many others,  its tally  will not touch double digits..."  
These often repeated statements by NaMo in his rallies may have sounded like mere rhetoric at the time of election campaign.  But when the election results were declared,   these words   turned out to be so prophetic.      NaMo  not only won a decisive  verdict  from  the people but also managed to rise much higher in stature than all  others in the party  -  which  includes many veterans and erstwhile peers.   He  stands way  beyond competition now.   In addition,  the margin  of  victory gives him much needed authority which  was the main handicap for Vajpayee  when he was the PM.      
NaMo's  articulation of BJP's victory is very significant  -  he interpreted  this victory as strongly
pro-BJP rather than anti-congress.  He highlighted the fact that victory was  not by default but a hard earned one.  This is important in view of what a few others in his party  have been trying to project,  in a veiled  effort to deny due credit to party's  campaign chief.  NaMo  also reminded everyone of the responsibility to deliver on the promises  which he assured by  presenting  report cards of the government periodically.    Innocuous it may seem, the statement was aimed at claiming full control on selection of his team members in the government.     Finally, s
tatistics on vote share shows that BJP got approximately 6.5 crore votes more than Congress, resulting in  close to  240 additional seats in its favour.    This is a massive turn around with respect to the earlier  difference of abut 85 lac votes between winner congress and BJP in 2009 when congress won about 100 more seats compared to BJP.     
Equally noteworthy part of the electoral story is the   total decimation of  congress.  Rout is so devastating that  it is now deprived of even the status of an official  opposition party, having failed to win min 10% of the seats in Loksabha.   Congress team will not be able to come to terms with  the fact that its countrywide tally is half of what Amit Shah won for  BJP in a single  state of UP alone !   
All  ministers of UPA who had made NaMo bashing a part of their daily routine  (Ajay Maken, Salman Khurshid,  P.K.Bansal,  Sri Prakash Jaiswal, Farooq Abdullah, Praful Patel)  lost.    Many even lost their deposits.     A few like Shashi Taroor were lucky to scrape  through.  
Some   UPA veterans like Chidambaram and Sharad Pawar were wise to read the writing on the wall and stayed away  from the contest  which saved them  huge humiliation in the final stage of their active political career.    
Only 2 congress ministers who survived the BJP juggernaut  – Kharge and Moily.   Incidentally, they are both from  Karnataka -  a  state which gave congress party relatively respectable  tally.    It appears,    destiny of mother India is now finally free  from the clutches of a desi dynasty.   Brain storming sessions seem to be already on within congress party.   This debacle will definitely shake up all those young leaders who may have entered politics as a full time profession.   All   these young leaders  are likely to  see a very bleak future  for themselves,  with  RaGa at the helm.   Going by the current trend of the party where   RaGa's leadership style is coming under scrutiny as well as open criticism (for the first time history of the grand old party),   it will not be a surprise  if congress leaders silently shift loyalty to BJP in near future.        
AAP, the other omni-present  contender in the fray,  ended up with a big flop show.  Countrywide total votes polled by  AAP was less than those polled under NOTA !  This fact confirmed the views expressed by  many  political analysts  that AAP hype was basically a glorified creation of the media.   There were a few  scandalous theories regarding AAP's very emergence on the scene.    Their inexplicable  hurry to relinquish power in Delhi assembly followed by  the decision to put up candidates in over 400 seats all over the country were reason enough to substantiate the theory that purpose of AAP was to keep NaMo away from power by splitting anti-congress votes.      The party which was  solely dependent on anti-corruption sentiments,  appears to have thoroughly mis-judged  pulse of the people.     Without any  defined   agenda for  general governance or for any woes of the nation,  AAP was also strongly speculated to be a B team of congress.   Such negativity has been rejected by the electorate.  NaMo deserves full credit for showing exemplary  smartness to  judge  AAP's abilities very early.  He  treated AAP  dismissively  and did not even mention about them even once in his entire campaign, thus denying any undue publicity to their  outfit.    
NaMo, the PM-in-waiting :
With an official letter of appointment from  Rashtrapati's office,  NaMo is now the PM-in-waiting.     It is reported that  NaMo carries the  distinction of being the first citizen born in independent India to become the PM.  This is also symbolic in the sense that aspirations of the new generations needs to be seen in the context of  current scenario, while  keeping old values still intact.   NaMo fits this requirement very well.   Another uniqueness to NaMo is that  he is   going to be the first PM to  bring  with him a long and creditable  administrative  experience of 12 years as CM of Gujarat.      Speculations are strong regarding the future cabinet.     NaMo will surely continue to    implement   his slogan "m
inimum government, maximum governance"    by having a  compact cabinet.   Strategies like  merging different ministries to make this possible are already being talked about.  Although 81 ministers are allowed  in the central government as per constitutional provisions,  size of cabinet is  expected to be limited  to less than 50% of allowed size.  
A decisive majority has given  much needed freedom to the PM-in-waiting to select his team, without undue pressure from party and allies.   Cabinet is likely to have fresh faces and  specialised technocrats in key portfolios.   Fortunately, there is a big talent pool to choose from.   While Gen .K.Singh can add immense value as  a minister of state in defense ministry,  a huge list of able personalities  like   Arun Shourie,    Subramanian Swamy,  M.J.Akbar  and many others  with  clean image, professional experience in various fields and fresh ideas to governance can enormously enhance image and efficiency of the new government.    In any case,  we can expect to see the dawn of 
a new  era of  fresh,  "professionally   inclusive" governance which will  certainly  dump   the established practice of  skull-cap secularism.  
NaMo has definitely perfected the art of communication through speeches as well as his symbolic gestures.    His unprecedented act of bowing down to kiss the ground before his maiden  entry to central hall of Parliament (as a member and  a proposed  leader of the house) grabbed due  headlines. It also made  him deservedly stand out as someone with strong  commitment to   the cause of  democracy.    In the subsequent address to the elected members of his party in the presence of party's entire elite leadership,   he displayed his soft side with tears and choked voice while referring to party veteran Vajpayee and again  while trying to be  humble about his personal contribution to party's  victory.   It was remarkable  how  he carried himself by not trying to hide his sincere emotions and also managing it admirably without losing his  composure  for long.     NaMo  swayed  his politically astute audience with the same ease with which he  connected  with general public during election rallies.    In the end, his soft side came out strongly in the full glare of cameras for everyone to see without harming his image as a tough and no-nonsense leader.   NaMo deserves credit for showing that a soft heart is not necessarily a weakness but it can  co-exist without diluting  decisiveness of a person.   
Media has been dissecting NaMo in minute details all these years.   Most commonly heard comment  about  NaMo was  abut his  arrogance.   Chchanulal Mishra, the Hindustani vocalist who was one of the proposers of NaMo's candidature  from Varanasi,  recounted the experience of  his encounter  with NaMo.   He described the NaMo's behaviour as  self esteem and sense of pride rather than arrogance.    Many other interpretations and observations about NaMo are likely to be re-written, as he comes under much intensive media glare from now on.      
"Mein kuch banne ka nahi, kuch   karne ka sochta hoon...",     NaMo reportedly said in one of the   recent interviews.       Finally,  India is going to have  a PM who has the presence of mind to coin such inspiring lines instantly.  More importantly, his track record gives us re-assurance that  he   means what he says.    Jai Hind  !

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gujarat model

Gujarat model of development is being  hotly debated these days.   It  is  neither a  new topic  nor unexpected at this time though.   As NaMo gained prominence politically,  everything related to him also got  hitched automatically.    Predictably,  his detractors cannot be tired of finding fault with everything that is remotely connected to him.     Gujarat was formed in 1960 in its  current geographical extent.  The state   was ruled by Congress party uninterruptedly until 1995.    Although the fact remains that people of Gujarat are entrepreneurial  by nature,  the rate and nature of growth for the 2 periods for the first 48 years (from 1947  to 1995)  and  the subsequent 18 years (from 1995 till date) can throw some insightful data.     The latest 12 years starting   from 2002 come to be  universally and popularly  recognised as  NaMo's  Gujarat model of governance.             
All kinds of numbers are being dished out by NaMo's political detractors  comparing  the state of affairs in Gujarat vis-à-vis other states of India, intended to deny any  possible credit going his way.   It is sad if statistical numbers are used to  fool or mislead people.    There is something more to the process of development than mere statistics.  First,  the  feel good factor by general public  which is more than amply demonstrated by 3 consecutive victories by NaMo and his party.    For quite long period since  independence,  entrepreneurs from Gujarat preferred to shift to Mumbai  or areas within Maharashtra adjacent to Gujarat  to set up  their  business.  Better infrastructure in the neighbouring state was the main attraction.   12 years under NaMo, Gujarat is not the state it used to be  - which  is  demonstrated by the reverse-migration of entrepreneurs from Maharashtra to Gujarat.    In the final analysis,  clarity of purpose,  sincere commitment to the goals  are much more important than degrees from IIT or Harward.           
It is well documented how Gujarat runs on a well oiled  administration machinery.   NaMo not only coined  the slogan "minimum government, maximum governance" but  also implemented it in reality.  For a relatively large state with 33 districts and a  population of   about 60 million, there are only 26 ministers, which must be one of the lowest sized cabinets in India.   Many  of the social initiatives of Gujarat government are quite novel and have won awards even from Rajiv Gandhi foundation.    Here is a summary of the different activities under which Gujarat model can be analysed, if anyone cares to do it in a non-partisan way.                      
- Extensive use of IT is the hallmark of NaMo administration.  A brief visit to Gujarat state government's website ( will make this point clear.    From whatever I  have seen so far,  this is  one of the finest websites officially uploaded by   a state government.   E-Governance is   NaMo's  key strategic initiative  to  control corruption.      Digitising the administrative  process  reduces manual interference in official work and also minimises    "discretionary powers" at different levels.   NaMo's approach to tackling   corruption is definitely very practical and sincere.  We will realise it when contrasted with Kejrival's approach which seemed more like  knee-jerk reactions and mere publicity stunts.                
- Road and buildings department, as it is called in Gujarat, can easily be a role model for all other states, if anyone cares for  efficient implementation of government's infrastructural  projects.   National & state highways in Gujarat  are by far the best in the country.   Endless other public amenities have also sprung up  all over the state due to sincere efforts of this key  government  department.   
- Balanced growth of the economy focusing on  3 areas – namely  agriculture, industry and service - have been highlighted  as NaMo government's mission.   NaMo's vision statements   are truly inspirational.   His hands on style of management is credited with successful implementation of many fast-track projects of importance to the state.          
- Revival of public sector : It is well documented how  GSFC (Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation),  a sick state government enterprise  when NaMo took over, was turned around  within a short period of time.   Announcement of   NaMo as PM candidate by BJP has brought hopes to several central PSUs  (not just  the Navratnas but all those which are sick).  They  can definitely  look forward to better days ahead. 
- Water resources management is not just one of those routine departments to float a few government tenders every year and keep blaming  monsoon failure for every other disaster.  In a state like Gujarat which receives scant rainfall  and  does not have the luxury of exclusive access to the captive water resource of  any big river  within its own territory,  it is important to have a clear policy to efficiently manage water as a critical   resource.   Canals carrying Gujarat's share of water from Narmada dam not only bring drinking water to different parts of the state but also fill up several natural ponds on their way, thus replenishing the ground water levels in the surroundings.     As per reports, solar panels were planned to be erected along  the long stretch of  canals.  If implemented,  this scheme  would help to  compensate   loss of ground space lost for construction of canals by allowing its parallel use for generating solar power.    In addition, solar panels will offer some shade to the running canals and minimise loss of water by evaporation.   Government schemes have rarely been so imaginative.   
- It is no secret that  congress party and some NGOs "fed" by that  party   have a very clear agenda to ensure that ghosts of 2002 riots keep haunting  NaMo.   For all practical purposes, it has lost steam.   However, it is surprising that even the media conveniently ignores  Gujarat's track record of  riot-free administration in more than a decade  since 2002.    It is sad that our media lacks even  basic courtesy to acknowledge  such rare religious harmony in a state that was witness to many riots at regular intervals, much before 2002.          
- Under NaMo administration, Gujarat   enjoys  the rare distinction of   24 hours power supply in all parts of the state.   Turning Gujarat into power surplus state is no mean achievement, considering the fact that NaMo managed to achieve this within his first term  in office.  
- NaMo demonstrates his vision when he articulates the theory of balanced growth.  According to him, Gujarat's development  model is based on equal focus to 3 areas of interest to state's GDP -   Agriculture,  Industry and Service sector.   Normally, development of one area comes at the cost of another because of inequitable attention.     He has been careful to nurture all important segments of the economy.
- Another  infrastructural initiative  unique to   Gujarat is the Mass Rapid Transport system in Ahmedabad.   This is the  local transport system using normal buses which runs as efficiently as a  Metro.   When we compare the cost and time involved in any metro project, we know why the system in Ahmedabad is so special.            
- Gujarat state is also known for its efficient public grievance redressal system.   Gujarat CM has a laid out a very efficient process to receive and solve public grievances.   It is unfortunate that such sincere  initiatives do not receive the publicity  they deserve, as compared to  the political gimmick of Rahul Gandhi  visiting a dalit household in a remote village.           
- NaMo administration is also credited with technological support to  its  fishermen  which allows them to be more efficient in their  daily efforts in the sea.    This is a small example of hoe a committed administration can bring positive changes in the daily lives of its citizens in many different ways.   
There are many more  unique  projects  initiated by NaMo government     -    Proposed statue of Vallabhai Patel,   Sabarmati purification,   Initiatives by Gujarat
Tourism etc.,   
More importantly,  whatever has been achieved  in Gujarat is inspite of a no-holds-barred hostility by central government ruled by UPA for most part of NaMo's tenure in office.   Some individuals flourish and shine under tough  challenges – NaMo is definitely one  such rare, inspiring leader of our times.