rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » 6 months of Modi govt: Six biggest strengths

6 months of Modi govt: Six biggest strengths

November 25, 2014 10:02 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph, courtesy: PM’s website
 

The Narendra Modi government is poised to complete six months.

Take a look at the 6 biggest strengths of the govt:  

Communication

Narendra Modi now has 25 million fans on Facebook and eight million followers on Twitter.

His frequent tweets and Facebook posts, handled by his hand-picked OSDs as well as the Press Information Bureau, have lent Modi a persona that no other Indian PM had so far.

Image: US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com
 

As predecessor Manmohan Singh was not known for being commu­ni­cative, Modi’s networking skills are being seen as a welcome change. His extempore speeches add to his charisma.

His radio show, Man Ki Baat, also showcases the PM’s oratory. It’s another matter though that the current government has drawn criticism for its one-way communication and clamping up when questions are asked by the media. 

 

Top of mind

Mo­di has caught the pu­b­lic im­agination with his fiery spee­c­h­es, ch­a­m­pioning of unli­k­­ely ca­u­ses, hon­o­u­­ring of for­g­o­tten icons and co­m­m­u­n­i­c­a­t­i­on skills.

The PM tops all of this by his clever use of surprise as a po­l­itical we­a­p­on.

Modi was painted as in­d­u­s­t­ry-friendly but reached out to the po­or with the Jan-Dhan Yojana, co­n­n­e­c­ted with Dalits by picking up a bro­om for Swachh Bharat Abhi­y­an, engaged with students on Tea­c­hers’ Day, spent Diwali with flood devastated Kashmiris, enamoured the dias­p­o­ra during his visits to the US and Australia and floored jour­n­­alists at a Diwali get-together in Delhi.

Mo­di, for the present, can do no wro­ng. It is resonant of 40 years back.

“Indira is India, India is In­d­i­ra,” was said of Indira Gandhi in 1976. It was the turn of a young and hand­s­o­me Rajiv Gandhi to infat­u­a­te pu­b­lic opinion 10 years hence. Both phases were short-lived. 

Photograph: Reuters
 

Purposeful rule

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was an alliance government. Yet it to­ok some aston­i­s­h­i­n­gly bold and ra­d­i­c­al steps.

The Na­­r­e­­n­dra Modi gover­n­ment is on­ly nominally an allia­n­ce. Yet it has been inexplicably tentative. The answer to this paradox lies possibly in the way the Prime Minister explained the way he works.

“I am a small man, who believes in doing small things,” he said.

The effort has been to cash in on oppor­t­u­n­i­t­i­es (leve­r­a­ging low commodity pri­c­es to dis­m­antle diesel subsidy, us­i­ng the judicial stand-off in the coal sector to intro­duce reform through an or­di­na­nce) rather than force the pace (by not touching fertiliser su­b­­s­i­d­i­es).

So far, government seems to be dedicated to painless, win-win reforms. But whether such  agility will be available when the going gets tough remains to  be seen.

 

Energy pricing

The gover­n­m­e­nt has undertaken a ser­i­­es of measures to sort out the supply-side is­s­ues in the power sec­t­or.

On the de-allo­c­a­t­i­on of coal bl­o­cks, the government has come out with an ordinance to allow commercial mining and also paving the way for auctions to be held in the next few months.

The gas pricing issue, which has stymied production, has also be­en partly dealt with.

Al­t­h­ough experts argue the revised price will fail to incen­t­i­vise output, the Centre has resolved the issue of diff­e­r­e­n­t­i­al pricing for onshore, offshore gas pro­d­­u­c­tion and made pro­v­i­s­i­on of a premium for deep and ultra-deep water blocks on a case- by-case ba­s­i­s.

Photograph: Reuters
 
 

Subsidy reform

Steps taken by the government over the past few months sig­n­al a determined eff­o­rt to reform the subsidy regime.

The moderate rise in Minimum Support Prices (MSP), putting pressure on  states not to an­nounce bonuses on top of MSPs and the decision to offload foodgrains from its stocks should help contain food subsidy bill.

Die­s­el prices deco­n­trol  should help cut fuel subsidy burden.

Also, the govern­m­ent’s renewed com­mi­t­m­e­nt to Aadhaar, coupled with the recently launched Jan Dhan Yojana, should create a platform that will enable a shift towards cash transfers, leading to substantial savings.

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents a bouquet to China's President Xi Jinping during their recent meeting in Ahemedabad. Photograph: PIB
 
 

Foreign policy

The government followed the “Don’t mend if it ain’t brok­en” rule whi­le going ahead with ame­n­dments where neces­s­ary in dea­l­­ing with the global community.

The invita­t­i­on to the leaders of the neighbo­u­r­hood - especially Pakistan - was an invitation to restart the relation­s­hips with a clean sl­a­te. But geo­po­l­i­tical re­a­l­i­ties dogged the ef­f­o­rts.

The ne­­g­o­t­i­a­t­i­ons with Paki­s­t­an were mat­t­er of fact till the PM was forc­ed to br­e­ak off a dialogue due to repe­a­t­ed ceasefire violat­i­o­ns on the bo­r­d­er. In Nepal, Modi was a hit. With Ch­i­na, as with the US, he was mea­s­u­red.

Modi used the du­al appeal of nostalgia and na­t­i­o­n­a­l­i­sm with the Indian diaspora but what it yi­e­lds remains to be se­­­en.

The real breakthrough was with Japan, wh­­ich could fund the bulk of In­d­ia’s infrastructure de­v­e­lop­m­ent, especially in the rai­l­w­a­ys.

Source: