Wednesday, July 12, 2017

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,

With July ushering, monsoon would have truly arrived. June that just went away, did have fair amount of rain in most parts of the country.
Surely coastal region did have copious rain, though intermittently. It is true Maharashtra, Mumbai, Pune included, did not have it as yet. It is hoped clouds may go burst early July. Hope it does. Met men have been optimistic that overall it will be a normal monsoon.
Month that went by saw the World Environment Day on 6th. Symbolism is the name of the game. Usual tree planting and speeches kept the print media filled with pictures, showing the apparent concern without truly understanding the significance of the day. Mumbaikar’s are privy to the scene of massive deforestation/tree cutting making way for Metro. This is how the so-called development is destroying the existing green cover. Story is same all over. Donald Trump, refusing to accept the Paris climate accord is only going to make things worse for the world.
1st July is expected to usher the new GST for the entire country. The reaction to the newest tax regime is at best mixed for different reasons. It certainly had many positives, like no excise, no vat only GST, so only one return. No more different forms for interstate trade. This will make life far easier for all traders. However the different rates from 0% to 28%, the gap is quite huge. There are some mass consumed items which are in 0% slab, but some are in 12% bracket which include footwear above Rs 500/-, included in the same bracket are Umbrella, sewing machines, note books, etc. All rail travel and air travel are in 12% bracket, which include even unreserved ticket and sleeper berths. At least unreserved could be at 0% and sleeper seats may be at 5%. The list of anomalies could go on. But there is certainly room for rationalization.
Come July 17, the new incumbent will be hoisted on the viceregal palace on the Raisina Hill. The current occupant Pranab Mukherjee would have completed his full 5 years term by then. In an unexpected move NDA surprised every Indian, including the candidate himself, by announcing the candidacy of Shri Ram Nath Kovind. From the information available, post the announcement, Shri Kovind appears to be an educated gentleman with legal background and a fair political exposure without any controversy. For an opposition leader to make a statement that Shri Kovind’s presidential candidacy is a matter of “personal happiness” is a kind of certificate that has put a stamp of approval. Hope with the numbers available, Shri Kovind is likely to be the 1st citizen of India and the Supreme Commander of India’s armed forces from 18th July 2017.
Month-in-Perspective, as usual, has covered some of the happening of the month with our take on it.
The just completed 3 years of Modi government has been a subject of debate in the public space. We at I&C thought of dwelling into the subject with views from a cross section of citizens. In Focus, we have dealt with the subject of Prime Minister Modi’s maiden journey as the Chief Executive of world’s largest democracy. Hope readers will find it worth their time. Rest of the issues are as usual. Do revert with your inputs.

J. Shriyan

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

Kashmir: “Police officer beaten to death outside mosque” is to-day’s (24/6/2017) headline in most newspapers across India. It happened in the problem state of Jammu&Kashmir.
Deputy Suptt of Police Mohd Ayub was reportedly stripped and stoned to death by a mob of slogan shouting group of people.
The officer was reportedly clicking pictures near Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid, and those who attacked him were mostly worshippers who had come for the night long prayer- Shab-e-Qadr. What a thing to do in the holy month of Ramadan! He was on security brief and was only doing his duty. At the most his camera could have been snatched from his hand, which too is illegal anyway. But unfortunately crowd thought he is a non-Muslim. An eye witness reportedly had said “Everyone believed that he was a non-Muslim intelligence officer who intended to capture the faces of protesters. His clothes were ripped apart. He was beaten to death.”
So, if you are non-Muslim you can be killed in Srinagar! Doesn’t matter the Ramadan month!
This unfortunately is the crux of the Kashmir imbroglio. Which neither the media nor the international community recognize. Ever since the Kashmir issue took the centre stage in media and in political discourse of India, it is the Muslim character of the issue that had stalled any resolution of the issue of Kashmir impasse. Even article 370 cannot solve this problem. It is the Kashmiris Muslim mindset, which do not want to be ruled by a Hindu majority India. Pakistani militants, Pakistani terrorists and Pakistani politicians have done enough harm to the so-called Kashmiriat and none in Kashmir protested when POK’s Gilgit-Baltistan was declared as a Pakistani state, when POK is a part of Kashmir grabbed by Pakistani army in 1947 itself.
Thus, our media, the international media and of course international community besides likes of Amnesty International must revisit the issue of Kashmir, honestly without any agenda. Then they will appreciate the true picture of the ground realities. Of course this is not to suggest that governments in India are blemishless, far from it. But none of the governments in India from 1947 to this day have ever looked at Kashmir as a Muslim majority state. It looked at it as just another state like all other states. In fact all central governments have done more for J&K than any other state of India. Indian governments in Delhi can be accused of some lack of imagination, at times, in dealing with J&K issues than being bigoted. That is the truth to be recognized.

New Delhi: That the nexus between babus and politicians in plundering national wealth is well known, is never in doubt. Instances of Disproportionate Asset among both politicians and IAS officers are innumerable, and therefore it has been the practice of successive governments at both centre and state to make it mandatory for all M.Ps and MLA/MLCs and bureaucrats to file every year their assets details with the government.
However, it is also very well known that many MPs MLA/MLC and babus play hide & seek in submitting their net worth to the authorities.
And comes this news, datelined New Delhi “Over 1800 IAS officers fail to disclose asset details”. Topping the list of defaulters is UP with 255 IAS officers having failed to submit their details of net worth. Following them are 153 from Rajasthan, 118 from M.P, 109 from West Bengal, 82 from Karnataka, 81 from Andhra Pradesh, 74 from Bihar, 72 each from Odisha, Assam & Meghalaya, 70 from Punjab, 67 from Maharashtra, 64 from Manipur, 64 from Tripura, 60 from Himachal Pradesh and 104 in Arunachal/ Goa & Mizoram from Union Territories Cadre.
Thus it is clear that all states in India have IAS officers who have failed to submit their IPR or Immovable Property Returns. Clearly they have reasons, why they have not submitted their IP Returns to the Deptt of Personnel & Training. Law of the land must be initiated and action taken against all those who have not submitted to the demands of the governance as required, and explanations sought for their increasing assets which they are hiding from the public security.

Issue of alleged financial skull drudgery involving NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika and the CBI raid on their premises appears to be little wonky, to say the least.
Of course, it is all very well for Union Minister Venkaiyya Naidu to say “Law is taking its own course and there is no witch hunt”, is unlikely to wash.
It is true that there have been big money issue involving the husband wife duo and ICICI bank. It is also true that some `48 crores was written off from its interest income by ICICI bank. A share holder of ICICI has reported this matter and asked for its investigation.
Reportedly, SEBI, which is the regulating authority for share trading, was not informed, when NDTV promoters borrowed `375 crores by pledging their entire shares holding in NDTV as collateral.
So prima facie there is some financial irregularity in this whole case. But was that enough to raid a news channel, especially when there are any number of smart alecs in corporate sector who have unjustly benefitted from the banking sector?!
It is fairly known that NDTV has not been a ‘friend’ of the present govt. at the centre. So, it is largely believed it to be vengeful on the part of the central government to have CBI raid the residential premises of Mr.&Mrs. Roy.
Although the response of NDTV and its supporters including Arun Shourie that this is an attack on Freedom of Press, is a bit of over-reaction. Of course for Shourie, it is a case of sour grapes, that his talent and expertise was not used by Narendra Modi, despite Shourie being in BJP in the past and was a minister in NDA II, the Vajpayee government. He was very venomous against the central government, particularly union minister Venkaiyya Naidu.
The truth is there is a financial angle to the episode which is not above board, but the response of the authorities, has also not been overboard. There are any numbers of cases CBI and other regulatory bodies can investigate in this country, but nothing seem to be happening to them. Under the circumstances for CBI to investigate NDTV, is certainly uncalled for. While on the subject, it may not be out of place to refer to the episode, when NDTV lady interlocutor had asked the BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra to leave the debate when he had accused the channel of having on agenda. Wasn’t this an attack on Patra’s freedom of speech?!

What are the credentials on which author Ramachandra Guha was taken into the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of BCCI, is not clear in the public domain. However, what he says, as he quits his position in the CoA, appears eminently sensible and valid. As usual BCCI top brass has its own agenda. Despite his persistent observations on the happenings, not in conformity with the principles of natural justice, BCCI acted dumb & deaf.
According to media reports, he took up 3 issues of conflict of interest, superstar syndrome and vacillating / ill timing of leaks.
It is true, Anil Kumble, as Chief Coach of India was not available for any IPL teams as mentor, Rahul Dravid was allowed by giving a two months break in his India coaching ‘under 19’, assignment to take up IPL role. Was it to save money for two months when he was needed in Bengalooru for the camp beginning on March 11 for young players?
Then, despite MS Dhoni being categorical in his decision not to play tests, why was he given ‘A’ contract?! Again the issue of Captain/Coach ‘differences’, if any, was allowed to fester, when it could have been nipped in the bud, especially when there is Champions Trophy round the corner? Guha has raised other issues as well. But, then Indian managers, at least most of them are not known to be professionals or rather lack professionalism, will take their call mostly under duress. If Indian cricket suffers, so be it!

BIHAR: Mohammed Shababuddin, a notorious criminal, who is also an MP, courtesy Lalu Prasad Yadav is reportedly refusing to undergo lie detector test.
This criminal, who is currently lodged in Tihar jail, after being shifted from Siwan, is a 4 time M.P., has many cases of both extortion and murder. He is being tried by CBI for the murder of journo Rajdeo Ranjan, a bureau chief of a Hindi daily. According to reports: CBI has accused the criminal, of non-co-operation and is refusing for a lie detector test. Reportedly, he is ‘lying and concealing facts’ related to the case, CBI has said.
It is certainly not surprising that a criminal with a crooked mind, like this Shabhabuddin, will not be co-operative with the investigating agencies. He is also not expected to tell the truth. Then only way open to investigators is to subject him to lie detector tests. And Supreme Court has put a spanner in making it voluntary, by stating that ‘it has to be with the concurrence of the accused.’
Now this is incredulous. Not sure if it can be called a joke, since it makes investigating agencies helpless. Apex court may be entertaining demands for freedom of choice but in every exercise of fundamental right, the right to safety of individuals should be over riding everything else. It is time Supreme Court reconsider this aspect of lie detector test to fix criminals who have played nonchalantly with the lives of law abiding citizens. Hope apex court takes the call to make amends.

Maharashtra: Thinking out of the box has always been the precursors for a paradigm shift in development initiative anywhere in the world. India is no different.
And comes this news from temple town Shirdi. The Shirdi Trust, which manages the affairs of famous Saibaba shrine, is planning an innovative move to generate green power devoid of carbon monoxide.
Waves, whether from water or from air have always inspired the power generation, as is already known. Now comes the continuous foot falls of humans, as a possible newer way of harnessing power. Shirdi Saibaba temple attracts some 50,000 devotees every day, and the trust wants to exploit these foot falls of these seekers of Sai Baba. They are planning to install energy pedals, which opens and closes as people walk on it. This movement is expected to produce energy which in turn could be converted as power, the temple managers feel. According to trust sources, they plan to use this power to energise fans and bulbs in the temple area.
This is a commendable initiative coming from a temple authority, to not only generate power from nowhere but also help environment in its dependence on green energy.
While on the subject, it is important to note that Trust has plans to generate power by recycling the daily solid waste that is generated by both the temple and its thousands of devotes every day of the week.
Come this October, the Trust is having plans to start daily blood donation camp from its devotees, so also planning to start an IAS training institute for Tribal and underprivileged children and a cancer hospital .
It also has plans to help the families of farmers who have committed suicide, by providing them self employment opportunities for their women folks and help children pursue their education. These are truly path breaking initiatives and quite commendable. Hope they become model to all places of worship.

Agrarian crisis in different parts of India is clearly visible. Protest rallies, demonstrations and farmers suicides has been in news for many months now. Financial dimension appears to be the sole reason for this crisis, whether as loan or support prices or failed crops.
This issue of agrarian suffering has been there for many decades. Somehow, no government has come forward with some lasting solution. Problem festered, either due to the unimaginative official responses, or farmers’ lack of seriousness in managing their finance. Clearly there appeared to be leadership lacunae at both political level and among farmers. Hence issue persisted.
And comes this Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor, a brain child of CM Fadanavis. Tom-tomed as a game changer, this stretch of over 850kms industrial thoroughfare is likely to need thousands of acres of land, most of which could be crop yielding fertile agricultural landmass. If this dream project has to see the light of the day land has to be acquired on large scale. And CM Fadnavis is on record claiming that “96% of the land has been measured”.
If the statement of the Chief Minister is true then not only land has been identified but also cleared for acquisition. But in reality, according to likely land losers and their leaders, this is not true. Political hype of success is something we all need to take with a fist full of salt rather than a pinch of salt.
Reportedly, organizations opposing this Industry & Commerce Corridor have threatened mass suicide if this ambitious state project is not shelved immediately, indicating the seriousness of the issues involved. According to media reports from the Suburb of North-Eastern Mumbai, like Kalyan, Bhivandi and Shahapur, there is large scale opposition to acquire land. Farmers, dependent on agricultural land for their living are clearly worried and have joined outfits who have opposed to the project while admitting to awareness of the possible devastation that this corridor can cause, farmers debunk the claim of Fadanavis of having measured 96% land needed for the project. Of course, people like Sharad Pawar, who have only tried to fish in the troubled waters most of their life, may be causing trouble to the govt. by inciting farmers. But the truth is people’s participation seems to have been given a go by that needs to be urgently addressed.        

Here is a story of Afroz Shah, a 36 year old lawyer from Mumbai, who led a team of volunteers to work on the beach of Versova in Andheri, a suburb of Mumbai. For months to-gather he toiled along with so many men and women. The infamous beach was transformed into a clean and beautiful place.
Swatch Bhaarath Abhiyan (SBA) was the brain child of Prime Minister Modi. It is true even UPA had a vision of Nirmal Bhaarath. But sadly not many have heard of it. But Modi, no sooner he announced it on 15th Aug 2014, he followed it up on 2nd Oct, the Gandhi Jayanthi Day, to get down to the street to clean the street. It may be even a photo-op, but it appeared in the public space. And it is around -visible and noisy,- all through these past 3 years. He even spoke about it in all his radio talk, the Mann-ki-baath. That is where he referred to the work of Afroz Shah. There are many unsung Afroz Shahs all over India, doing this SBA.
This makes an ordinary unbiased person to take note of the different man that Modi is, always upfront decisive and leading. His open praise has greatly bucked this Afroz Shah. An elated Afroz has reportedly told PTI, that “This recognition has encouraged me to expand my mission, of cleaning beaches across the country.” That’s the connectivity that Modi creates, whether those professional haters of Modi like it or not.
Here it is interesting to recount that Narendra Modi, during his speech at London’s Wembley Stadium in Nov 2015 had said “In Rajasthan’s Alwar there is a man called Imran Khan. He made 50 mobile apps and dedicated those apps to the students for free. My India is in that Imran Khan from Alwar”. Imran is a maths teacher in a government school.
Yes, Modi, in his inimitable style has catapulted these two men from nowhere to public space to be well known as selflessly working for the general good without any publicity. Surely, for the rest of their life, both Afroz Shah and Imran Khan would remember Prime Minister Modi for all their life. That’s being a model leader of men, which shows he is not only well informed but concerned as well.    

This India's Chief Coach (ICC) is in the midst of silly but completely avoidable controversy. Talking about the alleged differences between the captain Kohli and coach Kumble, a former legend Sunil Gavaskar has reportedly stated that “Captain-coach need not be on the same page”. How true! Differences is the hall mark of all relationships, organizational or personal. Relation, if it’s meaningful, must survive such minor irritants.
Indians and the cricketing world are privy to the success of Indian team during the 2016/17 season. Hence any complaint about the coach is completely misplaced. Besides, Kumble has played for long time to understand the management skill, on and off the coaching arena. If anything, it is Kohli, who needs to be sermoned about his on and off field behaviour, as was visible with the visiting Aussie Team. His performance in IPL too had left lot to be desired. Hence any last minute attempt at rupture by vested interest that Kumble was ‘overbearing’ is not only sinister but also motivated.
Gavaskar is on record having said “Kumble has done a very good job as coach”. Thus for those who are on some fishing expedition, should be told of their place. And those who call shots in BCCI should not be distracted by this ‘ill timed’ bomb. Or else, Indian cricket will lose the committed service of googly man from Karnataka. He may not allow himself to be humiliated by another interview for the job of Chief Coach of India. Take it or leave it.

KARNATAKA: BCCI is a powerful cricket board by any reckoning for its sheer money power. Anybody would be more than happy to be associated with this organization, but not Ramachandra  Guha, the Bengalooru based historian.
What prompted the Supreme Court to appoint this writer of repute is not known. But, if values and integrity are the consideration then Guha has come out with flying colours. Referring to “unaddressed conflicts of interest”, “Super Star culture of BCCI” and their “insensitive handling of chief coach Anil Kumble issue”, Bangalore based Ramachandra Guha has resigned from the Committee of Administrators (CoA). This CoA was appointed by the Apex Court, to look after the overall affairs of BCCI.
He has, rightly raised the issues of conflicts of interest on the part of Sunil Gavaskar, Saurav Ganguli and Rahul Dravid, the greats of yester years. We all know Gavaskar has business interest in Professional Management group, which takes care of Indian Cricket players endorsements but he is also in the BCCI panel of commentators who comment on very same cricketers. That’s a clear case of conflicts of interest, whether Gavaskar agrees or not. Similarly Rahul Dravid is in contract with BCCI as a coach of ‘India A’ so also mentor to IPL franchisee Delhi DareDevils. Both are making money for Dravid, which is true but wrong. Similarly R Sridhar, the India fielding coach is also having contract with IPL’s Kings XI Punjab. Ganguli who is President of Bengal Cricket Association is also a T.V. panelist. Clearly all these former legends have been allowed due to their influence in the BCCI corridors. MS Dhoni, being given ‘A’ contract despite him being out of main format of Test, that is clearly a case of Super Star influence. Guha was very critical of Captn. Virat Kohli for his interfering with appointment of coach, so also commentators. Reportedly, it was at the insistence of Kohli, Harsha Bhogle was dropped as a commentator. In an earlier occasion Bhogle was reportedly critical of Kohli while on the air.
He blasts both Rahul Johri, the CEO and Secretary Amitabh Chaudhry, for insensitively and casually handling of Anil Kumble affair.
Thus it is very clear that all is not well with BCCI. However it is in the interest of transparency that persons like Ramachandra Guha are retained in CoA. Hope Apex Court shall take the call and ask him to reconsider his decision to quit and continue.

N.R Narayana Murthy, is a person who walks the talk. I was reading a 3 weeks old news paper from Mumbai, Free Press Journal. I do get Deccan Herald and The Hindu, in Surathkal Mangalore. But do not remember to have read this particular piece of news in any news paper.
Hence when I read this report in FPJ, I felt nice and thought I should pen this and possibly mail it to Mr. Murthy. There is no doubt that NRNM is an iconic personality in his own right. Media savvy public is fully aware of his child Infosys and the model corporate culture that he practiced and sustained within his company.
Employee stock option that Infosys practiced had few peers in corporate sector. He was very liberal. Hence, when I read this report “Murthy asks his senior executives to take pay cuts to stop IT layoffs” was not surprising at all. That is typical Narayan Murthy, always upfront in reaching out.
Market upheaval is an accepted phenomenon that comes and goes. But job cuts, especially at lower level can certainly be better managed as NR says. While stating that industry has dealt with the issue of layoff several times in the past he is reported to have said, “I have a feeling that it is possible for us to protect the jobs of youngsters if the senior management people were to make some minor adjustments- adjustment of taking salary cuts”.
Surely he was speaking from his own experience of having practiced what he preaches. This statement of NR needs to be publicized in media and other forums for the larger good of those who are affected, not just in IT industry, but across the employment generating sector. His tribe should necessarily grow.

One Narayan Swamy, an administrative officer (AO) at the Directorate of Prosecution, Bengalooru was arrested, reportedly, by the Karnataka Lokayukta police some months ago. He is in judicial custody for over 60days. But our government in Bengalooru is strangely sitting over the grant of PSO (Prosecution Sanction Order) to go ahead with his prosecution, so informs the print media.
According to the press, this person, Narayana Swamy was involved in the recruitment of 197 Assistant Public Prosecutors (APPs). There appears to be serious irregularities in the recruitment, and as AO, Swamy is suspected to be deeply involved.
Reportedly Lokayuktha has completed the investigation and have confirmed the role of Narayana Swamy, in fudging answer sheets. Reportedly, police have sent some 75 answer sheets, possibly manipulated after the examination and that Swamy also has forged the signature of a senior judicial officer.
The written examination and subsequent recruitment took place sometime during 2012 & 2013. The investigation by Lokayuktha was started in 2014 and Narayana Swamy was arrested in March 2017.
Sometime in early May 2017, Lokayuktha Police sent a request to the government in Bengalooru asking for PSO. However, until 15 days ago, the Deptt of Home Affairs, Govt of Karnataka, reportedly has not acted. There is every chance that the accused may be released on bail, since police could not file a charge sheet within the stipulated 60 days, in the absence of PSO.
Surely lot of money must have changed hands in this recruitment of APPs. It could run into crores of rupees. It is very clear that this Narayana Swamy, has got connection in the right place to stymie the ongoing investigation. It could be, as is well known, both politicians and babus eat from the same plate. And those who have eaten the ill gotten money will try to save the accused.
It does not matter to the political class that those who deserved, but could not bribe their way, failed to be recruited. But then, it has always happened in this Mera Bharath Mahaan, where imaan (honesty) is at a discount and be-imaam (dishonesty/cheating) is at a premium. Isn’t it a case of CRY MY BELOVED COUNTRY! Oh, Poor Mother India.

World: A Minor earthquake shattered the uneasy peace in the Middle East. In a sudden development five of the Arab nations have severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar. That was unthinkable under all kinds of circumstances. But then sometime things of this nature can happen in a dynamic world order.
Reportedly Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain have decided to call back their envoys from Qatar. Reportedly even Yemen, Libya and Maldives have followed the suit. The reason ostensibly is Qatar’s support of terror groups.
World is privy to the fact that there is no love lost between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two major powers in the Middle-East. It is true that both groups, one led Saudi and the other led by Iran are sympathetic to terror groups. One is Sunni backed and the other Shia backed. But, world is also privy to the fact that it is Sunni led terror groups causing larger and widespread mayhem than Shia led terror groups. But then in a world, where might is right it is the stronger one who shall dictate terms and call shots.
That this latest rupture was caused immediately after U.S. President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and signed some $ 120 billion arms deal with them is only proving the point. Trump was harsh and tough on Iran, while in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi has only taken it further by breaking relationship with Qatar, an ally of Iran.
Of course, war of words between the two sides have already started. Some of the other members of Islamic organization are trying to play mediator which is essential to cool ruffled temper.
India has relationship with most mid-east countries, which is generally warm. India can play a meaningful role. After all the fight is against a common enemy, the terrorism. Hope doors to dialogue opens among these disturbed groups for a larger cause of global peace and war against terrorism.  

There was this news datelined London “Italian Court upholds ban on Sikhs carrying Kirpans”. Personally, as a plain human being, I think it is perfectly in order and nothing wrong about this court order.
Kirpan is a dagger. It is considered sacred by Sikhs, the followers of Saint Guru Nanak. An unnamed Sikh living in Gaito, Northern Italy was caught leaving his home with a 20cm knife and was fined Euro 2000 by the local court and had the knife impounded. He reportedly appealed against the fine imposed on him for carrying the dagger, which according to him, ‘is his religious obligation’.
The Italian Supreme Court, while dismissing his appeal had reportedly remarked
“The multi-ethnic society is a necessity, but it can’t lead to the formation of conflicting cultural groups of islands according to the ethnicities they are made up of, precluding the unity of the cultural and judicial fabric of our country, which identifies public safety as an asset to defend and as such bans carrying weapons and objects aimed at injury,” while observing that migrants who choose to live in the western world have an obligation to conform to the values of the society they have chosen to settle in, even if values differ from their own.
It was very clear that, while they accepted the multi-ethnicity in societies as a necessity, court insisted that it should happen within the concept of public safety as an asset to defend.
It was indeed very balanced, matured and a fair judgment. In a multi-ethnic society, any violation of safety norms has to be firmly dealt with. Besides, all migrants, who want to opt to stay in their chosen country should, prima facie, has to accept the law of the land, period.
Yes, Sikh community along with other ethnic groups who insist on their so-called sacred practices or matters of faith, in a foreign land, has to, perforce; accept such verdicts on its face value in the larger interest of a bigger picture of social harmony, by either merging with the main stream or come as close as possible to live a life of peace and stability for all stake holders.

Judgements involving minorities in Pakistan is a bit of joke. There was this news tit-bit in the press “Hindu teen can stay with Muslim Husband: Court”. The single judge judgement of Sindh High Court in Karachi couldn’t have been otherwise. Even if the judge was convinced that girl was indeed kidnapped, as complained by the parents of the teenage girl, he wouldn’t dare to go against the Muslim majority in Pakistan.
Kidnapping good looking Hindu women has been the order, for all the 70 years, since the creation of Pakistan.
According to the parents of the girl, the teenager was kidnapped in the dead of the night from their residence, and was forcibly converted  to Islam and married off. She was forced to state publicly that she has married the Muslim man, of her own free will.
Thus, for the record before the court there is no illegality. An innocent girl was made to succumb to the lust of a man. This is the norm. This is the story of how over 30%, Hindus and Christian in the Pakistan of 1947, are now around 3% only. What happened to the 27%?

J.Shriyan 

What They Said

I have been a subscriber of your publication “Issues & Concerns”, for the last several years. I must complement you for maintaining its standard, continuously, for the last 17 years. I have never missed your Critique “Month-in-Perspective”, Dr. Hegde’s free and frank speak-out on Medicine and medical practitioners, and Late M.V. Kamath’s tit-bits.
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Your Focus “The 14th president of India” (I&C May), has been a good write up with half-a-dozen photographs. Your proposal regarding the Wipro Chief Azim Premji was good and worth considering by the powers that be. However, PM Modi, being a politician that he is, has played his card deftly. Clearly he is thinking of 2019 and UP can make all the difference with more than 70 Loksabha seats. Hence selected a Dalit from U.P to be the NDA candidate to occupy the Raisina Hill’s presidential palace.
Coming to your Focus (I&C June) the write up “From one for the Road to none for the Road” did not have its usual punch, may be because there was 'none for the road'. However it is true that Supreme Court had no business to make a law which is clearly the job of parliament. Anyway this is Yeh Mera India, where all kinds of things keep happening.

-SM Suvarna, Udupi

I&C June editorial I feel the word ‘reign’ should have been rein. – Raghunath Kodical, Bengalooru, Via SMS

Thanks for the correction, in the 4th paragraph, last but one line, on page no4. I&C is largely a one man affair and internal issues are multiple and date with readers too has to be kept, many of whom have failed to renew their subscription. Proof reading, in excess, at times, becomes unproductive.  Alert readers like you do help us. Thanks once again.                                             Editor

I am living in Mangalore- Karnataka. And as per the Law of the Land- Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976, I have an opportunity to express my grievances (problems) in my Area Sabha meetings and get it solved through ward committee. There are several govt. orders to implement and conduct Area Sabhas and form ward committees. In addition the Solid Waste Management Rules 2000 directs the civic body to arrange Area Sabha meetings to discuss and solve solid waste problems periodically.
But, till today civic body local administration has ignored the Law, including rules & orders. Before election, we the public are VIPs. But afterwards I feel that we are reduced to beggars. The elected leaders are not interested to conduct Area Sabha meets and to form ward committees, for their selfish reasons. 
Now that the Karnataka High Court, reacting to a writ petition, has ordered the BBMP to conduct Area Sabhas and form ward committees within one month, I do hope things will improve.                                                            -Padmanabha Ullal, Mangalooru



FOCUS

Hamaari “MANN KI BAATH” 3 years of Modi Govt

J.Shriyan

An aged political warhorse from the Congress stable fighting his political irrelevance of his twilight years had reportedly remarked, reacting to the first radio programme of PM Modi, ‘Mann ki Baath’, as ‘Monkey Baath’.
It was almost 3 years ago. Now that, this octogenarian is, kind of, lost in the political wilderness and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is busy rewriting the electoral relevance by spreading his party the BJP across most parts of India. Whatever those who suffer from pathological hatred of Narendra Modi, it is a fact that this is indeed a ‘Social Revolution on Radio’. The programme has been well received by the target audience, especially the urban masses in metropolitan cities across India. Even rural folks have taken a liking to it that they can hear the Prime Minister of the country first hand on various initiatives and thoughts of the central government. This was clearly a unique way that Narendra Modi thought of reaching out to the masses of the entire nation. According to a survey conducted in some 6 major Indian cities, some 67% of the population had tuned in to listen to the Prime Minister’s talk and had found it good. Without doubt they felt connected with the Prime Minister of the country, something that never happened during all the earlier 67 years.
If ‘Mann ki baath’ was a unique initiative so is Swatch Baarath Abhiyan (SBA). A country dreaming of becoming a Super Power cannot simply allow its half the population helplessly or otherwise defecating in public. Littering garbage all over is our national trait, at least for a vast section of Indians. Urinating in public was never felt to be bad and uncivil. Spitting in public, with or without paan chewing, was a norm. Cleanliness was hardly considered essential as a civil behaviour. Thus on 15th Aug 2014, from the rampart of Red Fort, when Prime Minister Modi talked about the SBA, the nation listened to him with rapt attention. He formally launched SBA on 2nd Oct 2014, on Gandhi Jayanthi Day, and neither he nor the country has looked back since then. Swatch Bhaarath is in the national consciousness and has become a matter of concern to all. Of course for a population, who has been indulging in unclean practices for all their life, it’s been a long call. But, it is to be accepted that since last 3 years change has come about, may be slowly, and it is only improving every day.
 Of course giving an account of past 3 years, shall have many positives and negatives. Among the positives are the many initiatives which NDA III has taken which can still be classified as Work-in-Progress. Like a journalist puts it ‘3 years of PM Modi, ‘A’ for efforts,’ which is largely true. In our attempt to broad base the report card, we have asked some of our eminent readers to come up with their thoughts. Following pages have their stories on this journey of NDA III sofar.

Three Years of Modi Government: Retrospect and Prospect

P.N Singh, 
A Retired Teacher
It is difficult, and sometimes even impossible to decline a request from a good friend to pen down an article, which one would not like ever to venture. Especially, when a person is from Bihar’s rural background, whose parents were illiterates and poor farmers owning land, less than an acre, and whose first teacher is blind from birth and cannot teach his students how to read or write, yet as a common man I felt, I should express my opinion on the topic. I spent my childhood as a cowherd boy. I gave this background, because when someone writes on a topic, which has a great bearing on commoners’ welfare, the background of that person always leaves an imprint on what he or she attempts to convey.
I firmly believe in the dictum “It is said, he who would live, must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to exist”. India in its size is the second largest populous and in demography the youngest country in the world, and India is moving quickly to its rightful place on the world stage under the stewardship of Narendra Modi as P.M.
But, when one judges someone’s performance, he/she has to consider the legacy to succeed or to draw inspirations from the works of their elders. We all have inherited from the Hon’ble first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru two gifts (?). The first is J&K issue with Pakistan and the second is on Tibet with China. These gifts are pricks for generations to come. Probably Pt. Nehru had his own reasons to create these problems on his own accord or by some ill advice. As we learn from elders that Pt. Nehru had his own belief or ego and always assessed himself best to deal with foreign policy. We also hear that he (Pt. Nehru) rarely sought for others’ advice on important subjects of this nature. No politician of present days could start his/her political inning without investing all his acumen and energy on these two problems. Modi took step to soothe the impact of the first gift by inviting all neighboring countries’ Executive Heads on May 26, 2014 including the Prime Minister of Pakistan, when he  (Modi) took the oath as PM. Modi made an unscheduled stopover in Pakistan in December 2015 to reduce or find a way to live peacefully with our western neighbor. But one cannot shake hand with clenched fist. Desire of friendship should be from both sides whatever might be the internal dynamics of a country. Only option is left to create a situation, when adversary has no option other than to come to negotiating table. Mrs. Indira Gandhi did create that situation after Bangladesh liberation war. It is a wise move to cut iron by iron. Modi also had several meetings with Chinese President. His comments that despite differences with China “not a single bullet has been fired at common border with China” has been well appreciated and received by the Chinese bosses. Yet the ties with Pakistan and China remain icy. Relations with other neighbors are very cordial and reasonably good and manageable. Modi has developed a good rapport with all other world leaders. Unlike in the past, world communities have acknowledged the existence of India as a country of some substance.
Impact of any government, these days, is measured by its performance in economic front. Before Modi came to power economy had policy paralysis. Reviving the economy was high on the agenda of the Modi Government. Containing inflation was given high priority. Planning on conditions of poor while sitting in AC room was abandoned. Delay in formulating and planning welfare schemes has been reducing. Single window decision making is being encouraged. Advancing annual budget presentation in parliament is a positive step. Merging railway budget with the general budget is better for fund management, while autonomy of railway remaining intact. Direct remittance of money to their respective accounts of the beneficiary is another good step. Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachavo and Beti Padhao Scheme, Skill Development Program, Make in India, Digital India, Smart City Launch, etc. are all in right direction provided these schemes are properly executed and implemented. Here Modi needs the assistance of every individual. This is possible if only Indians change their mindset. ‘Willingness and determination to work for the common benefits and upliftment of poor in the country’ is the only demand of Modi (Sab ka Saath and Sab ka Vikas). Media can play a major role in this context.
Modi took the rein from UPA II (mainly led by the Congress). They left the country reeling under scams. 2G, 3G, 4G, CWG, Coal G, below the Earth, on the Earth, above the Earth, Sky and Space; no place was left without scams. This was possible without proper vigilance. The Congress party ruled the country for almost sixty years since independence, and hence the party cannot find an excuse in the lack of experience or lack of understanding the problems. Such callousness and irresponsible attitude on the part of the Congress party paved the way for NDA to come to power with overwhelming majority. Modi came to power with promises that his government will root out corruption from the society, bring back black money stashed in foreign banks, remove unemployment, provide remunerative prices to farmers for agricultural products so that farmers do not resort to committing suicide, health and education to all, and development for all with the participation of all (inclusive growth).
After assuming the charge as PM, his Government’s first decision was to constitute SIT to take care of corruption from within. Within a few months in central administration, he realized that bringing black money deposited abroad is time consuming and in some cases even impossible. Modi switched  his focus to unearth black money stashed within the country. Black money within the country is invested in real states, bullion markets, hawala and shares and some as hidden money in cash. He started working on these soon after he realized, it will not be that easy without some ground works. He launched Jan Dhan Yojna and saw crores of bank accounts were opened by commoners and poor farmers and villagers. Simultaneously, law on Benami property was brought in. Several other steps were taken to minimize corruption in the society. And finally a tough decision was taken to the demonetization of currency notes of `500 and `1000 denomination. Demonetisation is seen as the biggest political gamble in the history of modern India. It showed the political resolve of PM Modi to take a high risk decision leading to a large ramification of political gamble. No other leader would have dared such gamble. All opposition parties barring a few were against the decision. The Congress took the lead in attacking this decision. Crying for miseries of the people standing long time in queue to get some cash from bank, many persons dying in the queues; poor persons standing without food and by losing daily wages, etc., all these were claimed by shouting from roof top. The common men had known Congress leaders for seventy years for their misleading comments and hence did not heed. In fact more the Congress and a few other leaders cried, more support it lost. UP and Uttarakhand poll results are ample testimony of the old party’s crocodile tear. In fact even before demonitisation rural folks had to stand in queue for hours. Congress never felt necessary to talk about.  In village I always had and have to stand in queue at least for one and half hours before demonetisation. The move of demonetisation has brought the right result or not could still be debated, but one thing is certain that if there is a need to take tough and harsh decision for the good of the people, Modi will not hesitate. In my personal comment, I support the decision of demonetization. Its impact has started showing results. More people have brought under tax payers net. Over a few lakh people, who deposited over `Two and half lakh and more are under taxmen’s lense. A fear psychosis has been created not to indulge in creating and hoarding black money. Many law abiding persons will support these steps. Many more steps are likely to be announced to curb black money generation within the country. However diehard offenders may not still see writing on the wall, but intention of the government will prevail sooner or later.
This government is going to introduce Goods and Service Tax (GST) from July 1, 2017 to avoid multi taxing system prevailing in the country. It is hoped GST will ease to do business. It will attract multinational companies to invest in India. To invite foreign investments, many steps have been taken including opening of some manufacturing activities, which were meant for public sector units only. 
Major failures of Modi have been not fulfilling farmers’ demand for offering them prices of farm products keeping in view the input cost, which has ever been rocketing high. Loan waivers or relief from governments impacts the overall payment culture by other sections in the long run. Loan waiver is not a right solution for farmers. Bankers   have an impression that farmers willfully default on loans in the hope of a waiver. National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data collected for a study shows that the 2008 national level debt waiver announced by the UPA-I government did not lead to any material increase in the overall consumption level of farming households nor it decreased the suicide rate from the farming community. It is also found in the survey that the expenditure of the full waiver beneficiaries on education and health is lowered by 34%. Definitely loan waiver leads to moral hazard problem and send wrong signal to all types of borrowers. A better support price based on inflation and input costs might be a right solution, but such step might lead to an unstable market ambience and push further inflation. Ever increasing labour cost, seed cost, agricultural machineries cost, fertilizer and pesticides costs, damage by wild and wandering animals, weather vagaries, etc., are some the factors which have great bearing on the cost of farm products. If farming profession is made remunerative that might reduce unemployment to a large extent. Youths are more inclined to go for white color jobs. It is time to change this mindset. Farming sector has huge potential to create jobs for youths. The government has set an ambitious goal to double farm incomes by 2022. The policy on farm has to move away from the historical focus on only increasing production. Many schemes formulated by the governments are not reaching farmers. There is no proper marketing of these welfare schemes for the farmers. How many farmers know the new crop insurance scheme? I have personally approached banks to help farmers under the government schemes, but you hear one reason or the other to refuse the help. These days I spend three to four months of my time every year amidst farmers and raise their problems with banks, without any result. Short-term crop loans at 4% announced by the government will only remain on paper. It will be used only by rich farmers, not available to those who are actually in need. Minimum support price for farm products is in vogue for years. FCI officers sit in town. Unknown farmers when approach these officers for selling the farm products, the officers would turn away the farmers on some pretext or the other. Even if the farmer is able to sell the products, the officer will direct them to collect cost of sale after a month or two when fund is available. Poor farmers are left with no option but to sell the farm outputs at throw away prices. Unless a comprehensive plan is formulated and implemented with accountability on person in-charge of implementing the program farmers will continue to suffer. There should also be some rules formulated for perishable items such as seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Employment for youths has not been generated as promised in the party manifesto. Growth in GDP is not a right indicator for employment generation. Reliable jobs data and a robust analysis of job creation by GDP growth might help India to overcome its jobless growth problem. GDP growth may not lead to employment growth, but employment growth will lead to a better and sustainable GDP growth. Recent announcement that PM Modi will oversee a review of job creation and data collection on employment is a welcome step and it shows the seriousness of the government to meet the commitment made in its manifesto. With my scant knowledge on statistics, I believe in statistical predictions with great amount of suspicion. Statistics conceal many facts and reveals only some aspects. As there is no other simple way to predict some information, government agencies take recourse to statistics. To please a master, one could collect data to suit the result. Hence, employment generation data should be collected for each sector, which helps employment creation and check the reliability of data from mass. Managing the employment and labour markets is an important strategy to ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth.
Social reform is another area, which needs the government attention. A country, which has 1.25 billion people having multi languages, multi ethnics, multi beliefs, multi-culture, multi food habits and tastes, is not easy to administer. The government needs to bring common civil codes, which by and large followed by the majority of the world community and countries. Abandon some rigid laws and rules. Educate people to change some of the customs followed by them for their own good. Enforce laws with iron hand if required, but take the people into confidence.
It is necessary that the government should be imbued with the spirit of Achchhe din and Sab ka saath and Sab ka vikas in favour of the common welfare. In my personal assessment Modi government is on right track. Narendra Bhai Modi has determination and will power to solve some of the perennial problems of the country. He has receptive ears. He shares some of the suggestions made by people in his monthly broadcast “Mann ki Baat”. He has his own vision for this country. Detraction from opposition must not be taken as an excuse. Constructive criticism must be welcomed. I wish Modi to lead the country into the future to build this country, a country of our dream.
(Prof Singh is so simple, his credentials, he had shown as a retired teacher. He has been teaching for close to four decades in the then REC, Surathkal. Retired as Director, National Institute of Technology, Surathkal. He was also the Chairman of Board of Governors, National Institute of Technology, Agarthala.- Editor)

THREE YEARS OF NARENDRA MODI GOVERNMENT

V.K Talithaya
The three years of Narendra Modi government have been eventful. Evaluation of the government's performance at this juncture is not an easy task. Firstly, what could be the criteria for an evaluation? Could it be how this government performed as compared to the UPA government? Or could it be based on what this government set itself to achieve as against what is achieved at the end of these three years?  Secondly, this government has taken a long term view of many of the issues. Results will take many years to show. Even for issues which may not be long term, evaluation can be done not so much on the basis on what has been accomplished as on the direction the policies have taken and the progress towards the goal. With these caveats let me take stock of what this government achieved and failed to achieve in its three years in office.
The Narendra Modi government’s performance is, indeed, a mixed bag. On the one hand there are refreshing departures from the last sixty years of governance, and a new breath of hope and expectation is palpable all around. Yet, on the other hand an uneasy feeling of unsettling the polity, divisive agenda taking centre-stage, intolerance of pluralism in some quarters are equally palpable. What has been happening in the last three years is a quantum jump; a qualitative departure from the past. Modi appears to be adopting the Blue Ocean strategy – that is creating uncontested political space hitherto not occupied by any of the players. This involves focusing on the big picture, reaching beyond the existing political space and getting the strategic sequence right . Reams of papers will be used writing about the Modi government’s achievements and failures with generous sprinkling of numbers such as GDP growth, employment stagnation and so on. But the performance of this government needs to be seen from the big picture perspective. Therefore, I will be focusing long term direction this government’s policies will give both positively and negatively.
Let me first look at the positives.
1. The sense of purpose: The most important aspect of this government is the sense of purpose that pervades its functioning. This is in stark contrast to the rudderless UPA ship drifting aimlessly from scandal to scandal and crisis to crisis, particularly in its second term. Once the scams broke out, the UPA government was bogged down by managing damage control. Governance took back seat. On the other hand, take any sphere of activity or policy formulation of the Modi government - its purposefulness is clear. Notwithstanding the criticisms, the Jandhan Yojana brought millions of Indians to the fold of the banking system. It ignited a process of inclusion. The determined, objective-oriented drive is visible. In the management of the economy, in the areas of social transformation like Swatch Bharat, in implementing digital India, make in India etc. this commitment is clearly visible. Take a small example, Swach Bharat. As a programme the previous government's Nirmal Bharat was not much different. But whoever heard of it except when the Prime Minister announced it. The way Swach Bharat is followed up by awards for cleanest cities, targets of OD free villages etc., shows the action-oriented approach of the government. Similarly, the government's foreign policy looks more proactive. Critics may fault the PM for pandering to Pakistan. But the PM's repeated attempts to open dialogues, his surprise visit to Pakistan etc. provided the visibility to India's intentions of pursuing all means for a peaceful resolution of our problems with Pakistan. The message is clear that while we pursue peace we are not doing so from a position of weakness. There is a transformation in the way the world looks at India's intentions with regard to Pakistan, and that changed view-point of the world matters. This is action governed by purpose.
2. Clean image: After the UPA's gargantuan scandals, to see a government which has not been caught up in messy corruption scandals is refreshing. The last three years have been years of keeping the flock clean. And, now the cleaning operations are spreading its wings out and even touching some of the holiest cows of Indian politics like Lau Prasad Yadav, Mamata Bannerjee, P Chidambaram etc. Any government can go after corrupt politicians only so long as it keeps its own flocks clean. The day it gets enmeshed in corruption its moral authority to pursue others is lost. This was the sad story of the UPA government. In spite of what the critics say about the failure of demonetisation, it had the effect of bringing down big cash transactions. Black money hording, terrorist money laundering, are all in tatters. Some of the most vociferous opponents of demonetisation are clearly beneficiaries of scandals in which politicians in high places are involved. It is naive to expect demonetisation to shut corruption and black money once for all; but it has definitely set a process in motion. It has given the message that the government can act tough! That is what buffets the clean image. 
3. Foreign policy: This government has made the world take a note of India. As Churchill said, “You can agree with me or you can disagree with me, but you cannot ignore me”. Indeed, this government has succeeded in ensuring that India cannot be ignored. Agreeing with us or opposing is part of our relations with other countries. But India need not suffer the humiliation of being ignored. Take note. We cannot be heard and taken note of unless we reach out and communicate. This is what the Prime Minister has accomplished in the last three years.
4. A government which communicates: There is no doubt that PM Modi is a great communicator. The government is deploying its ministers to communicate on various issues from time to time. What is the difference this time around? In fact this is one area to which the previous government gave least importance. Those who communicated in the UPA government were either too equivocal, or too regal. It is not enough that big policies are conceived. It is not enough that policies are announced. Policies need to be articulated and communicated in such a way that the last person hears and understands what that policy means to him. This is the pivotal achievement of Prime Minister Modi in the last three years.    
5. The great lesson: The greatest achievement of this government will be, if it continues to maintain its clean image, is that future governments will learn the most important lesson - how crucial providing clean governance is for winning elections. That may do a lot of good for the people of India.
Do all these mean that there are no negatives? Far from it. This government has more than its share of negatives. Surprisingly, clever as the PM is, most of the blemishes - and many of them real - are self-inflicted. 
1. The Kanayya Kumar syndrome: In the last sixty odd years of its existence JNU had been at best a hotbed of so called liberalism and armchair revolutionaries. An aura has been created to sustain this image. However, JNU had been more of a debating society than a breeding pot of revolution. It is the naive handling of minor innocent events in JNU, Hyderabad University etc. that lionised those who spoke against the government or its ideology; and the result are the creation of phantoms the likes of Kanayya Kumar. Could not this government allow JNU and the likes of it to stew in their own juice and learn their lessons the hard way? After all learning the hard way is all about good universities! 
2. Silence is louder than voice: Like it or not, the rampage of fringe elements in shutting honest voices, the gaurakshaks killing people presumably to protect cows, the protectors of our sanskriti indulging in un-sanskritic behaviour, are creating an impression amongst honest intellectuals, that this civilization which allowed a hundred suns to shine, this open society of which we are all proud, this culture of a thousand hues is being subverted. We believe it is not the policy of the government so to do. But, when the most creative communicator of our generation, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, communicates with the silence of the grave, no wonder ordinary people shudder at the thought of the future of our society. The people are willing to give the benefit of doubt to the Modi government that the government is not pushing forward a policy inimical to the fundamental concepts of our open society. It is not the government which is tearing the idea of India that we know of. But the government’s deafening silence may be presumed as connivance by these elements, eventually closing the way for the government to rescue itself from the consequences of its silence. 
3. Vulnerability of democratic institutions: It is true that the democratic institutions of this country have always been vulnerable. It is also true that for too long liberalism and pluralism meant the availability of space for one particular type of ideology. So much so, we are persuaded by the likes of intellectuals like Jayaram Ramesh that he would not comment on Ms.Indira Gandhi’s attempts to throttle free speech because he was not aware of the circumstances which led her to do that. But he is sure of the Fascist tendency of this government though the government itself has not indulged in gagging but some fringe elements of the ruling party do. One expects the government to be aware of these decades of construction of ‘liberalism’ and mitigated it by its own heavy dose of real liberalism. This government’s failure is in making itself appear apologetic about its commitment to real liberalism. In that process our democratic institutions are vulnerable to both the pseudo liberals and the masquerading fringe.
Three years are long time in politics. But to bring about fundamental changes in governance three years are, indeed, a short time. One of the fundamental changes the Prime Minister promised was minimum government and maximum governance. Unshackling the bureaucracy, untangling the mess of redundant laws, freeing the common man from the menace of corruption and day-to-day irritations in securing his ordinary requirements, are what will change the quality of life of ordinary people. As long as ordinary citizens have to bribe every petty official for his house plan to be approved or his pension to be paid, for him there is no difference in governance. Indeed, a lot of these changes have to take place in the states. But a number of states have governments where Modi’s dictates will run. Therefore, by fulfilling the promise of minimum government and maximum governance if the Modi government makes lives of ordinary people more liveable, that will be the biggest contribution of this government.
The author is a former Sr. Vice President of Mangalore Refineries & Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL)

Three Year Modi Government: A Perception

Dr. K. Shivashankara Bhat
The historic electoral victory of NDA Government in 2014 election was a clear sign of hopes that people reposed in Modi with the anticipation of uprooting corruption and  set righting  the path of development. The mandate was unprecedented.  The last  three years have seen major breakthroughs and transformations.  Prime Minister NarendraModi completes 3 years in office.  As leader of government, Modi has certainly showed  a marked shift in leadership and style of governance compared to the earlier UPA govt.  He moves on holding his head high even while being abroad and visited more than 42 countries covering 5 continents and raised respect for India globally.  
The strategy adopted by the government “Minimum Govt. – Maximum Governance” focused not to run up the bills of tax payers – but to govern.  The best governance is when there is minimal government but,  of course, efficient in its work.  That is a matric by which evaluation of the government can be done.   Look at the matric – Modi Government has 65 ministers compared to Manmohan Singh’s ministry with 80.  That is 20% less.  This reduces burden on exchequer – the difference of 25 ministers would immediately relieve 375 government officials employed as personal staff of these ministers.
The estimated amount of money saved by each minister would be around Rs. 1 crore every year and this 25 ministers would save Rs. 25 crore every year compounding to Rs. 125 crore in 5 years.  This kind of economy measure is needed to minimize wastage of precious resources, which could be utilized for more productive uses.
The Modi Government appears to have made a dent in the working of the bureaucracy .  The strategy of ART (Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency)  aimed at good governance.  Junior officials too can send ideas for the PM through the mygov portal.  An officer remarks, “at times when we hesitate, wondering if there will be an adverse impact.  But there have been cases when ideas submitted have received a positive response”.  One of the secretaries remarked “Under Modi’s system of secretary level panels, ideas that may have remained on paper don’t just find traction but are even getting implemented.  If I can convince committee members, there is every chance the PM will give his go-ahead to implement a scheme”.  This is what is expected of from a good political leader so as to avoid poking of nose at a time when a bureaucrat is taking right decisions.
The Soviet style five – year plan has been done away with and 15 year vision and 3-year action plan has been introduced. NITI Ayog (National Institution for Transforming India) replaced Planning Commission. Unlike the earlier five-year plans which were generic in nature, the new three-year action plan focuses on priority areas across sectors  and set time frames to achieve the targets. This kind of targeted approach is required for bringing about visible changes in the economy.
The PradhanMantri Jan DhanYojan is a flagship scheme has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.  As many as 1.8 crore accounts were opened in different banks within a week between 23rd and 29thAugust 2014.  And by May this year, 38.84 crore accounts had been opened with a deposit of Rs. 57,874 crore through this scheme.  Apart from  this, a lot of fund leakage has been stopped in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and PDS.  More than 4 crore beneficiaries have been eliminated from subsidized LPG scheme.  This resulted in savings worth Rs. 18, 974 crore.
There are only five economic sectors that the center dominates – banking, railways, commercial mining of coal, defense production and nuclear energy.  Each needs structural reforms that are not that easy and will take time.  On banking, the refusal to recapitalize PSU banks shows a strong intent to reform.  People question why government entities like Air India gets allocation in the budget.  But no one question why PSU banks need to get Rs. 20000 crore every year.  If the banks were performing effectively, they should have been able to raise capital from the market.More than 50 million below poverty line families have been provided with cooking gas connections.  
The government had launched certain mindset changing programmes like Swacchh Bharath Abhiyan to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness.  Cashless economy got encouragement by introducing UPI (Unified Payment Interface) – a payment system that allows mobile –enabled money transfers between bank accounts and promotion of the Bharat Interface of Money (BHIM) for a less cash economy.  But, with the easing of cash crunch that followed the demonetization of high value bank notes resulted in a drop in digital payment transactions.
The Modi government has given due emphasis for the betterment of farm sector.  The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana launched in 2016 has helped to achieve record production in the Kharif season.  Focus has also been made for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the subsides in order to reduce the leakages and to weed out false beneficiaries.
Modi government had promised to create millions of jobs.  Unfortunately, the fact is that expected amount of jobs are not getting created.  But this is complicated economics.  For instance 20 years back, to lay a kilometer of road, you might have used say 100 people.  But today thanks to technology, you need only 25 to 35 people to do the same job.  In the last one year 2.3 lakh jobs are added in 8 key non-farm sectors of the economy.  These sectors are manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, hotel and restaurants, IT/BPO, education and health.  All together they employ over 2 crore workers.  So the addition of new jobs amount to a mere 1.1% of the total.  A mere 1% growth is virtually nothing for this massive sector.
As far as fiscal situation is concerned, the government has succeeded in getting the states on board to introduce GST, the biggest tax reform since independence.  There is a partial crackdown on black money leading to a surge in 2016-17 tax receipts, and number of return filers.  A radical step of merging of railway budget with Union budget has been adopted.  However, pending cases of retrospective taxation on past transactions still remained unresolved.  The high level of NPAs (Non Performing Assets) is a major challenge of the government.  Gross NPAs of public sector banks nearly doubled to Rs. 5.02 lakh crore at the end of March 2016, from Rs. 2.67 lakh crore at the end of March 2015.  The gross NPAs ratio of 13 public sector banks rose 143% in the two year period from March 2015 to March 2017.  MUDRA scheme has not yet been evolved fully which focuses on employment generation.
The decision of MODI government to allow 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in such strategic sectors of our country like defense, civil aviation, mining etc. is not justifiable and acceptable.  This will not only adversely impact the functioning of the public sector undertakings in the concerned sector but also compromise our national interests including national security.
The three years of the working of the Modi government is dotted with many bright spots and has propelled the nation to a higher growth trajectory. The use of digital infrastructure, Smart City Mission, Swatcchh Bharath, Make in India etc. have brought a sea change in India’s perception and economic strategy in the world. But the government has not been able to cure the problem of black money in full quantum, China’s mocking attitude, terrorist attack from Pakistan and corruption in electoral funding are bound to perturb the Modi government.  The massive problem of poverty, unemployment, poor health infrastructure and food security should be addressed by the government with war footing. The government is yet to do a lot over drought management, as the recent water crisis has hit the states badly.
It is a good government on its way to greatness.
The government has to strengthen social policy and institutionalize a new framework for delivery, which would serve India well in the long run.  By all accounts the 2017 budget is likely to respond to demonetization with a greater focus on the poor. It is not appropriate to state that Modi has not delivered on anything; he has delivered something in parts substantially, but he has also to deliver on a large number of his electoral promises.
( Author is a Professor and HOD of Economics, Govinda Dasa College, Surathkal, Mangalooru)
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FEATURE

Homo altruisticus- my anubhooti.

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

Vernon Smith and Daniel Kahneman, of the famous Chicago University, wrote an experimental study paper on their “scientific “study at the Chicago Stock Exchange of human honesty. They demonstrated that all humans are hardwired to be altruistic and basically very good. The Nobel Committee did not waste time to give them the Nobel Prize in 2002 for economics. John Little, a young but brilliant professor  of the same University, repeated the same experiment without daily watching what people did and showed that while not being watched, everyone cheated everyone. He wrote a paper in the same journal on Homo Economicus which demonstrated that greedy people threw honesty into the thin air when monetary benefit was involved. Truth is bitter and can only influence half a score of men in a century while falsehood and mystery will drag millions by the nose. Even the Nobel committee goes by falsehood and mystery! What one does when no one is watching is one’s culture. 
I make mistakes too often because of altruism. My recent experience (anubhooti) is worth recording here for others’ benefit. I was returning from my village yesterday after attending a funeral function in the family. It was an unusually hot afternoon at 2 PM. The village roads could be quite hostile too. En route in the middle of the jungle I noticed an elderly person waiting in a bus shelter to catch a bus that runs infrequently in that village road. By that time our taxi driver had crossed the bus stop. I asked to stop and go back to pick up the elderly person if he is going on our way so that his heat and anxiety could be relieved. Reluctantly, he obliged grumbling that it is not a good idea to help people in such situations. I get some pleasure in helping people in distress. Man was going to Manipal which was on my way anyway.  We made some room for him in the car and took him in the front seat all by himself. We even got the front seat pulled back for him to stretch his legs. Man seemed to be happy but did not look that he was obliged to us. That is fine.
The man was a retired employee of the Kirloskar’s factory for thirty years and now that he is retired and had lost his wife he came from North Karnataka to Manipal to stay with his nephew working here in Manipal. He had come to our village temple for a function and a midday meal.  By then we had reached the main Manipal road. Manipal was eight miles away. Let us call him Ram for short, not his name though, for our discussion here. Ram was very happy all through but never once told even by mistake that he was obliged to us for picking him up.
Three miles short of Manipal is this small hamlet called Parkala where my wife’s uncle lives alone. He is a good 93 years old and feels happy if I just stop over and wish him. He is very active and fit. When we reached the house on our road side I asked the driver to stop for five minutes for me to see the old man and wish him. I asked Ram for his permission and he said “of course, I am in no hurry”. I told the driver to keep the A/C on lest Ram should feel hot inside a stationary car; I hope that the driver did oblige. In our part of the world the roads go up and down always. The car had stopped on an incline facing down towards Manipal.
My uncle was happy and I came back in jiffy with some of his home grown excellent mangoes in my hand and wanted to share them with Ram. As I got in the car would not start with the AC on. The driver told me that it needs only a push. As I got down to push the car Ram from the front seat saw a Manipal city bus behind us. He quietly got down from the seat and closed the door telling that “this car might take time to start; I am going” and got into that bus to go to Manipal three miles away! Not even a western “Thank You” was thrown at us. The irony was that the car started soon after and we overtook the same bus much before it reached Manipal. Ram was in that bus.
I had to suffer a long lecture on my going out of the way to help strangers as this driver had warned me earlier also against it. I use the same company taxi to go out of Mangalore and all the boys are well aware of this bad habit of mine. I too understand that this bad habit of mine is risky but I just cannot resist it when I see someone in trouble. This has become a compulsion with me. I feel a special feeling of exhilaration when I do something for others and I cannot explain that happiness as I feel happiness is just giving. The driver was telling me that most, if not all, people in this world are our Ram’s close relatives and ingratitude is in their blood. How very true? Ram, having had the luxury of travelling ten miles in the hot sun on village roads in our AC car did not bat an eyelid to desert us when we seemed to be in trouble. It was just 2.30 pm and he was almost at Manipal by then. The man looked very nice outwardly; little did I realise that he was so blatantly ungrateful.
I have suffered so much of it in my life that I feel it is the rule rather than exception. I laugh it off when people become Rams in my life. If someone is grateful I feel s/he is not normal although Indian culture says gratitude is a virtue and ingratitude is the biggest sin! My anubhooti in this world says that ingratitude is the norm and gratitude an exception. When you learn from life you realise that you can comprehend a lot more than can you grasp in the backdrop of the quantum world view. Life is a school and we are all students all our life. Thank you Ram for fortifying my belief. Thank you Professor John Little for exposing the real truth. Yaksha prasna indeed! World is a drama, Maya- a worlichkiet.




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