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June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019

MODI VICTORY

Fresh term to leave a legacy

S. Narendra

NDA Parliamentary Board meeting at Parliament's Central Hall

In countries where heads of governments have constitutionally their terms limited to two, the incumbent government head attempts to use the second term to leave behind a legacy.The first term is a tenure of experiment, learning and undoing the predecessors acts of commission and omission.

In India, most incumbents at both the centre and states tend to perpetuate themselves or members of their dynasties and generate an inheritance that could last for a dozen generation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has won a resounding second term, does not have the dynasty baggage. After a gap of 24 years, Delhi welcomed a single party majority government under him in 2014. He is the fourth prime minister to last beyond the first term. And, prime minister Narendra Modi, now has a unique chance to work for leaving behind a legacy,a chance squandered by both Dr. Manmohan Singh and Indira Gandhi.

The messages coming from M o d i - ‘Sabka Saath’, political reconciliation, Justice for all- are heartening, much needed.

His first term also started very promisingly with his call for ‘ Sabka Vikas-sabka Saath’. The foremost challenge before the Prime Minister is to demonstrate that his call is working on the ground.Contrary political behaviour by party members and supporters is damaging the Prime Minister’s image, that needs to be demonstrably curbed. If one may dare to suggest, it is important to-unveil a soft touch that does not go to eclipse the Prime Minister’s image as decisive.

Problems galore ,internal and external, stare India.The immediate bag of problems includes : the distress in farms and rural areas.The steps to address them such as loan wavers, Direct Benefit Transfer, electoral promises to give cash subsidy, increased MSP, have not gone to ease the small and marginal farmers woes. Rural population is emptying into crowded urban sprawls.Climate change is wrecking havoc in farms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have the dynasty baggage. After a gap of 24 years, Delhi welcomed a single party majority government under him in 2014. He is the fourth prime minister to last beyond the first term. Modi, now has a unique chance to work for leaving behind a legacy.

The entire economy has become a gamble in monsoon, not just agriculture.There is no single silver bullet to reengineer agriculture growth. The priority task is to reduce government control on the sector and put the states in a mission mode to deploy the central programmes with local adaptations. The Panchayat institutions have to be geared up for this task.The sector is crying for a political leader like C.Subramaniam.

The manufacturing sector has not recovered after the international financial crisis of 2017-18. It has also dragged down the banking industry with humongous unpaid loans. Most of the India growth story is authored by public investment with borrowed money.The model of consumption led growth pursued depends upon its success creating employment in healthy industrial and agriculture sectors as well as in services supporting the two growth pillars.

The manufacturing sector has not recovered after the international financial crisis of 2017-18. It has also dragged down the banking industry with humongous unpaid loans.

The ongoing international trade wars, rising oil prices caused by US sanctions against Iran are making the external environment hostile.While increasing exports for a balanced balance of payments position is critical, manufacturing sector has to depend largely upon domestic consumption for turning a profit. The hype in the stock market papers over the deep problems of this sector.

The prime minister has unveiled a lot of new signature schemes, - Make in India, Swach Bharat, Health Insurance, Inclusive banking and reshaped and reinvigorated old ones like Beti Padao, Job Skill and many others. But the perennial hurdle of effective implementation continues. So also leakages of benefits. A workaholic Narendra Modi needs mission driven and able colleagues and foot soldiers to build his legacy, not clever, technology savvy publicists.

The latest election was remarkable for its lack of discussion of the economic challenges facing the country. While the manifestos referred to address the problems of poverty, farm distress and joblessness, a notable omission was any reference to growing economic and financial inequality. If this growing income disparity is ignored,it would eventually threaten the stability of Indian democracy that put a tea- seller in the prime minister’s seat.

Another notable feature was that there was no reference to the technological disruption that is changing the structure of the economy and growth due to such disruption. It is upending jobs, demanding human resource with new skills and tools. This is a critical, imminent as well as long term problem for a country that produces an additional million or more job seeking youth every month. The political leadership at both the Union and the states have to be woken up to this emerging challenge that is likely to become more complicated. The central Human Resource, Labour and Employment, will have to be repurposed for dealing with the effects of technological disruption.It may be necessary to create a think tank and a task force for dealing with the disruption distress before it hits sectors and workforce in them.

One does not know how soon the US would sign a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and draw down its troops. Striking a working relationship with Pakistan’s Imran Khan well before that should be a priority.

Imran Khan An area needing urgent attention is India’s relations with neighbours, especially with Pakistan. One does not know how soon the US would sign a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and draw down its troops. Striking a working relationship with Pakistan’s Imran Khan well before that should be another priority.As shrewdly observed by Khan,the present Indian leader is uniquely positioned to ease the temperature prevailing between the two countries.It would add stature to Narendra Modi’s stature.
The first 100 days of the second term are but number in a calendar. What is more important is not how things unfold initially but where they go and to what effect.