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Hard Line

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In his approximately ninety minute speech on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an accounting of what he believed to be his government’s achievements since being re-elected. He also outlined his vision on what needed to be done in the future. Note was taken by analysts, particularly, of his focus on curbing population growth, because it is obvious that despite the so-called ‘demographic dividend’, there is a serious resource constraint in India that cannot provide the desired standard of living to all. The present growth rates need to be more speedily reduced. So far, the emphasis has been on raising social consciousness and the standard of living so that people themselves make the choice. Some improvement has been seen across the board but it is clearly not enough, particularly among the poor. So, while the Prime Minister, as usual, has urged the people to themselves take the initiative on the issue, going by his past record, it is almost certainly a precursor to a coming pro-active approach. The central core of his political philosophy, however, was his declaration, ‘Naa paleinge, na taalenge’. In other words the much delayed tasks of the past would not be allowed to fester further, while at the same time the hard steps necessary for the country’s well-being would not be postponed for a lack of political will. This procrastination has been the bane of many past governments, who placed political niceties as well as vote-banks above national interest. So, instead of looking to the future, India has had to be dealing with merely keeping an overburdened system going. Much of what the NDA has done in its past tenure has been fixing and re-programming the system the best it can. From dumping archaic laws going back to the colonial days, to concentrating on building an infrastructure more in tune with the present day requirements, as well as focusing on the coming crises such as water shortages, it will need a Herculean effort, as also the involvement of every single citizen. It is a hard task that will require many more tough decisions. Those who cannot see the vital importance of adopting this approach should, at least, make the effort of not getting in the way. Fortunately, the PM has the ability to make his case before the people and is not dependent on the goodwill of the entrenched classes and the media – who often represent vested interests – to influence public opinion. This should make it a little easier to get the job done.