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Plentiful Advice

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Those who were routed in the elections are thinking the next best thing would be to ‘advise’ Prime Minister Modi on how to ‘mature’ and run the country during his second term. So, a large number of people are offering prescriptions of various kinds that would, essentially, see a return to UPA style political governance. The very same reasons are being given as were used as propaganda against him during the election campaign – agrarian distress, joblessness, feeling of insecurity among minorities, etc. They have few solutions to offer and, if one were to go by the Congress manifesto, this involves simply promising palliatives in the form of doles.
These are just symptoms of deeper problems. Another lot of economists and development experts want the government to push for deeper structural reforms, which they believe Modi was prevented from implementing by cautious bureaucrats and status-quoists. A lot also depends on how the performance of the previous five years is viewed. If it is believed that it was good, then the initiatives need to be speeded up. If it was not – what needs to be changed?
It is difficult to fault Modi on his international policy. He succeeded greatly in isolating Pakistan, globally, and countering its proxy war. It is an ongoing process and one of the reasons why he won the elections so emphatically. He has also promoted Brand India with the few cards he had in his hand. The world’s leaders, including the unpredictable Donald Trump, understand what he represents and are eager to cultivate better relationships. After the Doklam stand-off, China trimmed its sails accordingly and is eager to strike deals. More nuanced cooperation in strategic and economic terms would not only be good for both countries, but also for the world.
While there is a lot of work to be done in India, the government is constrained to pare its priorities because of funds and human resource shortages. Every rupee spent has to carry out two functions – fix a problem and generate wealth, directly or indirectly. The building of roads, for instance, is among the initiatives that does both. Good road connectivity boosts the economy, but funds are needed and have to be used cost-effectively to maximise the effect. This was done pretty well in the past five years.
People have to be made to pay their taxes and not burden the GDP with destructive behaviour. The fire tragedy in Surat was totally avoidable. It caused human and economic loss to the nation simply because of the stupidity and negligence of a few. The nation cannot bear such losses, which are unacceptably frequent and caused by blind, mindless greed. They should be in jail, along with other ‘anti-national’ elements. People must abide by the laws, and taxes paid, so that surpluses can be created for investment purposes. The regime needs to get a lot tougher so that India becomes a disciplined nation. There is absolutely no room for second-term mellowness.