Those who called Modi a mascot of Right Wing Hindu Fringe had to eat crow in 2014 because of his massive victory. Fringe doesn’t get absolute majority and over 31% vote share. No one calls him that anymore. Soon after he took over, he launched the massive J.A.M. (Jan Dhan Aadhar Mobile) initiative for direct inclusion of the common and poor people in government’s subsidy, support, development programs. As of March 9, 2016 there are over 21 Crore Jan Dhan accounts with over Rs 34,200 Crore balance and accounts with zero balance were under just 29% . More than a third of these accounts are linked through Aadhar (source: Wikipedia ) Modi continued with MNREGA. The Left chose to ignore this massive grassroots welfare thrust and the Right said that Modi has no vision and that he was continuing where the Congress left. The Left decided to play up ‘intolerance’ and ‘divisiveness’
The ‘great’ Arun Shourie famously snarled that ‘NDA is nothing but Congress plus Cow’
Take this year’s budget. Massive hikes in allocations for rural and farm sectors, rural connectivity, and MNREGA, and affordable housing on one hand, and extra 10% dividend tax for those getting more than Rs 10 Lakh dividend (Tata, Ambani’s and Adani and some others less famous will pay more), refusal to remove retrospective taxation from the books on other hand, have confounded both the Right Wing and Left Wing. Modi Sarkar has gone a step further by getting the Aadhar Law passed for enabling direct transfer of a wide ranging subsidies. Supreme Court had restricted Aadhar due to lack of legislative sanction.
The Rahul Gandhi, Congress, Commies and other on the Left have have to eat crow again for calling Modi Right Wing leader and his government a Suit-Boot ki Sarkar. Even the Communist leaders, when asked, mutter “nothing in the Budget for the corporate sector” . Some people on the Right continued to sulk because they did not find ‘big bang reforms’ of their type.
Congress has two reactions: A) The Budget Copies Congress Ideas B) The Budget Lacks Vision! This eloquently showcases Congress’ intellectual prowess!
India doesn’t have real Right Wingers. Those who oppose the Left on any subject automatically become Right Wingers, Reactionaries, Bigots, Fascists, or Fanatics. There are some who insist on calling themselves Right Wing because they oppose MNREGA, other subsidies, and they insist on privatization. They also follow Harvard and Forbes economic prescriptions. They prefer MNCs more than Desi corporations. They favor Desi Corporations more than MSME companies. And they favor any business over consumers. But even they aren’t in favor of markets deciding everything.
The X Factor
But we, at least most of us, are neither Left Wingers nor Right Wingers. So far we have been stuck between these two fringes. What does the PM Modi mean for us?
We have to take into account that there is this huge X factor, called PM Modi. Why? When you were not reading TOI \ IE\ Hindu made-to-order headlines and when you were not watching scripted histrionics of TV anchors, did you notice that the previous summer went without so much of load shedding? Now our Power Minister tells us that there is enough power in the grid to meet demand from any state. Have you noticed that railways have shown improvements in cleanliness and ticketing (Oh their web site actually responds in real time!)? Have you noticed that pace of highway construction has accelerated from 11 km to 16 kms a day? (target 30!) Do you know that rural electrification is ahead of its targets? Aren’t you getting LPG refills just by a phone call? Aren’t you getting IT refunds faster? Even the eternally sick Air India is likely to make cash profits by next year.
Both the Left and the Right have missed these ‘small’ improvements like revival of Coal India, Railways, NHAI, Oil Marketing Companies and Income Tax Department-all in Public Sector or in Government sector. You know why. The track record of the Left suggests that it is just not interested in any improvements. It’s agenda is to create unrest somehow and exploit it. The Right ideologically opposes any government involvement and the public sector.
The Right has been saying that ‘ease of doing business’ is just a slogan and has been asking questions like ‘show me the GST?’ and ‘How about withdrawal of retrospective taxation?’ Consider this. There is a lawyer with a major law firm who writes, “The Finance Bill, 2016, ushers in an unparalleled effort to simplify and rationalize some of the cumbersome requirements in the existing direct tax regime. The thrust of these changes has been to provide relief to small taxpayers and to reduce tax disputes.” Lawyers usually issue disclaimers. But this is an unambiguous message. Full text is here
The hardworking Modi and his cabinet is the X factor that confounds the Left and the Right. Here is what we can expect under Modi Sarkar.
- Better irrigation, rural and national road connectivity, rural electrification, crop insurance, 1000’s of fertilizer retail outlets with soil testing facilities and national agricultural market platform will result in higher agricultural growth and farmer income on which still majority of us depend
- Ease of doing business, Start up India, and special scheme for SC \ ST entrepreneurs will create more jobs. The idea is not to depend on just big manufacturing. Skill training boost will help these.
- Continued thrust on Make in India will increase jobs and increase economic activity leading to multiplier effects
- Pace of black money detection and recovery will increase. See my article
There are many other initiatives to support above, but these are too many to list here. During the Congress regime the massive allocations mentioned above would be bad news because it would have meant more money in pockets of netas and middlemen. The X factor crosses that out.
Making the Government and Public Sector Work
Modi Sarkar still has a lot do. But PM Modi has shown that the government machinery and Public Sector behemoths can be made to work better and faster. States have more financial space and and a supportive working Central Government with many outstanding schemes. State Governments are even more crucial now.
If you keep looking for only big ticket privatization, tax benefits, and high profile arrests and raids, you will continue to miss the massive transformation underway. The Right has been missing this. PM Modi has gone ahead and launched massive grassroots transformation. Update: UPI based person to person mobile payment system that is bank-agnostic has been launched http://www.digit.in/general/npci-launches-unified-payments-interface-the-future-of-banking-29741.html by National Payments Corporation (NPCI) . This will do to all money transfers what Aadhar is doing to subsidies.
RBI Governor Rajan recently said “India is on a cusp of a revolution” (end of update)
Both the Left and the Right have missed these real changes.
Neither the Left, nor the Right have worked out a framework that our Bharat needs. Both have copied their ideologies from the West. Karl Marx, like Adam Smith, was a Westerner.
As PM Modi shapes Bharat’s progress, the Left and the Right Imports from the West are moving to fringes.
Let us Elect State Governments Wisely
But why should we care about the Left or the Right? For the first time since independence, we have a government which doesn’t follow anything blindly. It takes time to work things out. This government may make mistakes. But its intent is right. It is competent too. Let us now elect our state governments wisely.