Amidst all the critiques and analysis of the Modi Government – one important thing is clear. The last 3 years have brought into spotlight a new work culture and ethic in Government. A hard charging, a hard-working culture that is slowly but surely dismantling the 6-decade old culture of corruption and apathy that had come to represent Government. Even the bitterest critic of PM Modi will admit to this change. In the light of the current momentum and determination shown by the Narendra Modi government, it is worth reviving the conversation around concrete and systemic policy solutions to address the challenges our nation is facing.
In 2010, the then BJP president Nitin Gadkari had formed a Study Group to prepare a document that would draw the contours of the BJP’s “vision” of national development. Among the group’s members were current Union Ministers J P Nadda, Piyush Goyal and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar. This document “Vision 2025: Transforming India” – the first of its type prepared by a national political party – had put forth the contours of BJP’s vision of national development with all its dimensions.
This document had set out fresh development and governance ideas that meet the rising aspirations of our people. It looked into the gaps in our development model and offered innovative, meaningful and outcome oriented solutions to the challenges our country faces.
The document says,
“We believe in enterprise and aspiration. We assure a radical change in the relationship between our people and Government. Individual aspiration should be set as high as humanly possible, with no barriers put in its way by the Government. People are creative and enterprising. They are capable of changing their lives, given an enabling environment. We believe the Government‟s job is to provide that enabling environment, without thwarting individual enterprise or subverting it with handouts. We believe that Government is a trustee of national assets, resources and money, and will always use transparent, equitable and prudent means, like auctions, when dealing with scarce, natural resources being given to private companies. We believe in responsibility. Government must be responsible with public money and national assets, and be fiscally prudent. Corporates must be responsible for ethical business and will not be allowed to make gains at the expense of the people they serve. Local communities must be responsible towards each other. Individuals must be responsible for their actions. Most important, we must be collectively responsible for enhancing and improving the lives of all those who are disadvantaged.”
The new approach introduced by the Government as part of its Maximum Governance – JAM, Mudra Bank, Make in India, Digital India, Startup India, Standup India along with insurance and pensioning for the poor – are programs which use a combination of capital, enterprise, direct benefits/subsidies and job creation, designed to decisively and sustainably tackle poverty. Many decisions taken in past 3 years will make their impact felt in the people’s lives in coming months and years. Nonetheless, there are many reforms still to be implemented and the Government should continue to take bold decisions.
Reform the banking sector
The Indian economy’s Achilles heel continues to be the public-sector banking (PSB) system and its high NPAs. The implementation of seven-pronged strategy of ‘Indradhanush’ to revive PSBs, covering appointments, bank board bureaus, capitalisation, de-stressing PSBs, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms needs to be speeded up. The revival of PSB banking system is critical to sustainable growth of our economy, especially given its important role in servicing underbanked sectors of our population.
Revive public private partnerships
One way to get private capital flows to restart is the PPP model. In the past, PPPs had become a camouflage for private profiteering. A new framework based on transparency and equitable returns to public and private players is needed soon. The Kelkar Committee report on reviving PPPs makes comprehensive recommendations to overhaul the PPP model and emphasises the need for strong and independent regulators. This needs to be finalised at the earliest so that PPPs can boom in a sounder, more transparent framework. A clear and transparent contractual framework is essential for genuine investors who do not need to face the risk of future reviews and pressures as governments change. The government must quickly implement the recommendations made in the Kelkar Committee report.
Strengthen independent regulatory institutions
If India aims to feature among the top 50 in the Ease of doing Business Ranking, this is an important signalling requirement for investors that seek to invest in projects that will have life spans across various government terms. New India cannot be realized with old corroded institutions. To allow a nation with majority of young citizens to truly tap into the vibrancy, deep changes in traditional highly opinionated, command and control regulation and administration is required. We need reasoned, high quality, consultative economic and technology regulation for entrepreneurship and Industry to thrive and for jobs to be created. It is understandable that building such institutions with powers, capability, and talent within the government sector is not easy but it’s a must.
PM Modi has been steadfast focused on transforming India, and the real transformation underway is the one from deal-based governance of old India to rule-based governance of “New India” – to create an Economy and people where transparency, competitiveness, efficiency, creativeness, innovation and merit thrive – creating opportunities and livelihoods for all.