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Tuesday November 19, 2019

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Modi Magic Waning?

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After a hyperactive itinerary of international travel and building bonds with powerful and influential leaders, the month of May witnesses the milestone of ONE YEAR in office of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. In accordance with the traditions of previous governments over the years, (when they have managed to survive the churning of Indian politics – the iconic AtalBihari Vajpayee’s first coalition government lasted just 13 days) there will very likely be mega celebrations and a splurge on advertisements in print and electronic media. Despite the hype and ballyhoo, the prevailing perception is that his government has not been able to live up to the expectations of an aspirational India.

His government is facing the consequences of a dual-track policy of talking inclusive politics but hunting with packs of what have come to be described by the media as the fringe elements. The Modi government’s flagship mission ‘Make In India’ suffered a grievous psychological body blow when it became known that the logos for the 25 selected sectors were designed by an American firm. It is appalling that in a population of more than 127 crore Indians, the Modi government could not find a team creative enough to design the required logos within the country!

With Modi at the helm, India had been expecting a paradigm shift in the general work culture and with palpable evidences of promises made in the Vision Document by the BJP-led coalition, the assumed metamorphosis from where the Congress-led UPA government left the nation is still inconspicuous. There are signs of an alarming stagnation, Moody’s and Obama’s certifications notwithstanding. Although there has been a flood of pronouncements on every national endeavour, we will concentrate our critique only on Defence, Security and International Relations.

‘Make In India’ has been a very multi-dimensional vision of Prime Minister Modi, right from the formation of the government. His mesmerising (bamboozling?) speaking skills contrived every Indian to start believing in the poll time chant of Achchhe din aane waale hain (Good days are coming). His emphasis was on the following points:

  • His reign will be the pride of the country
  • It will make India self-sufficient in 25 selected sectors
  • It will generate millions of jobs for the Indian youth
  • It will boost exports and generate huge foreign exchange
  • It will increase per capita income

‘Make In India’ in the Defence and Security sector is an imperative that can no longer be ignored. Concomitantly, the decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in a government-to-government deal from France has once again left the nation open to escalation clauses in maintenance support with absolutely no assurance that third party contributions in the avionics suites installed in the aircraft will not cause delays and original equipment manufacturer embargos. Progress in the joint development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft with Russia has also been very tardy.

In the geopolitical scenario, notwithstanding the frequent perambulations of a very outward bound Prime Minister, Modi has not been able to express clarity on his deportment on Pakistan and his equation with this infestive neighbour has been an inexplicable see-saw game. No talks one day and sudden negotiations the next has left Indians wondering as to what exactly is happening. A massive skeptical intrusion across the Line of Actual Control in the Chumar sector of Ladakh during President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi is dreadfully baffling with speculations of Chinese gimmicks during Modi’s visit to China in May 2015.

I am sure that dissertations in this edition from conscientious experts will surely ALERT the Modi government on shortcomings, negative perceptions, urgent needs of the country and the way ahead, especially in the fields of Defence, Security, International Relations and other thrust areas.

Jai Hind

 


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