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So what changed about India in the five years of Modi?

From a nation that was used to scams to a nation that is demanding savings!

The other day I was reading an article in one of these leftist propaganda rags on the internet. It was an article ‘debunking’ the ‘propaganda’ regarding the scale of toilet construction in the country and the ‘reality’ of places that had been officially declared as ‘open defecation free.’

You had to give it to the author of that article. He/she had done a lot of research, dug deep into the data and pointed out discrepancies in the data collected from three rounds of surveys done by state governments on open defecation. To show that the decrease in open defecation was actually less than what the Central Government was claiming.

But what I really learned from that article is that the government had done multiple rounds of detailed surveys on open defecation. It tells you just how seriously the government has taken up the issue. Has it happened in India before that open defecation has been such a big talking point?

Governance in India is notoriously inefficient. At every level, we have lazy and greedy officials, local politicians, corrupt contractors, all looking to make excuses and make a buck. It’s not a surprise that real numbers are less than what is being claimed.

But the very fact that leftist propaganda rags have to do such deep research, sweating to find the smallest discrepancy in data to somehow make the government look bad, shows you how wildly successful the Modi government has been.

It shows you that Modi has not only improved the performance. He has raised the bar itself.

In 2014, India’s toilet coverage was around 39%. That’s a shade below the 40% ‘pass mark’ in most schools. That’s the report card of 60+ years of independence and multiple Bharat Ratna Prime Ministers.

And Modi decided, suddenly and aggressively, to raise the bar. A mission to go from 40% to 100% in just 5 years.

No wonder you have leftist propaganda rags nipping at his heels, trying desperately to prove that Modi is likely to fall a few % short of his 100% target. They have no idea how pathetic they sound when they try to tear him down like this.

Indeed, what if he stops far short of 100%? What if he has only reached 80% by May 2019? Modi will still have achieved more in 60 months than others managed in 60 years put together!!

Similar observations apply to what he has done with electricity and gas connections. We have intense reporting from the ‘ground’ by leftist propaganda rags showing that Modi has ‘fallen short.’

Modi set a target for 100% village electrification, then a target for 100% household electrification within each village and finally 24 x 7 power to every household. All of this to be done in 5 years.

He’s completed the first target and about 90% of the second target. ‘Fact Checkers’ are busy trying to prove that it’s not 90%. It might be 89.9%!

You’re right. He’s fallen “short”. Of what? Of a target that would not have been achieved in the next 100 years at the Congress pace of doing things!!!

So this is what has changed in five years. The bar has been raised to 100% in everything. There is intense public interest and public scrutiny in how things are going: how many toilets built, how many gas and electricity connections given, how many villages declared open defecation free and all that!

It’s like those India vs Australia cricket matches of old where India has to score 300+ runs in 50 overs. Steep climb. You can’t breathe for even a moment without looking at the required run rate. One day goes by without a few hundred toilets being built or electricity and gas connections given. It’s like a dot ball in a high-pressure cricket chase. The required run rate climbs immediately.

Tell me, when was India ever like this before?

Why are we fighting this uphill battle? This extremely high required run rate? Because we gave away too many runs in the first 50 overs while we were fielding. The world passed us by and we were sleeping. Every American got a car. More than half of Indians still didn’t have toilets.

The same applies to economic indicators. The country has become obsessed with maintaining its status as the world’s ‘fastest growing economy’. This from a country that was once mocked for its ‘Hindu rate of growth’.

And no place for excuses either, no matter how genuine. So what if the Modi government had to overhaul the entire taxation system and bring in GST? This is a transition so difficult that advanced economies like Australia and Canada, with just 2-3 crore people each, almost went into recession while implementing it. No such excuses allowed in India. The country went from ‘fastest growing’ to ‘2nd fastest growing’ for about six months. People came down on the government like a ton of bricks.

As individuals, we Indians have always demanded the best from ourselves and our own. The jokes about Indian parents abound. About “Sharma ji ka betaa” and the  Indian kid who gets a scolding at home for scoring “just 90%”.

But when it came to our government, we were always the opposite. The passing grade of 40% was considered a big distinction, even a rare one. 60% was truly ‘first class’.

Modi changed all that. He brought out the ‘Indian parent’ in all of us in our attitude towards the government. As long there is a “Sharma ji ka beta” somewhere in the world, some country doing better than us, we know no peace.

Tell me, when was India like this before.

Same goes for scams. The recent round of outrage from the opposition is that CAG report shows a savings of just 2.86% in the Rafale Deal! India demands: shouldn’t the savings have been at least 10%?

From a nation that was used to scams to a nation that is demanding savings!

Tell me, when was India like this before.

There is, of course, the old political class that cannot believe how much India has changed. There is Akhilesh, who has to suddenly justify why he took away tiles and tap fittings when he left his official bungalow. An angry Akhilesh asked how officers who used to pick up “cup plates” for him until yesterday, could dare to ask him questions.

Yeah, they cannot believe how much India has changed.

Tejaswi had been Deputy CM of Bihar for just under 2 years. In this time, he converted his official bungalow into a 7-star royal palace. This month, he lost a battle in the Supreme Court to keep that bungalow for life.

This was the old way of doing things. Of politicians taking anything, they could lay their hands upon. Do you know that when Dr Manmohan Singh left the PMO in 2014, he took with him 101 different items that he had received as gifts from foreign governments in his capacity as India’s Prime Minister? Among them, a ladies wrist watch and a music system.

Probably not very expensive items when you compare with the size of India’s economy. But the really cheap thing here is the underlying attitude.

As Prime Minister of India, Modi also gets lots of gifts. He auctions them off and deposits the money with government schemes.

Tell me, when was India like this before.

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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