Dr.Sharad Vasudeo Khare
Director, VISSR, Pune
‘Rome was not built in one day’, the saying goes!
26th May 2014, the Indian political electoral quake replaced Central political power station and the Gujarat’s successful Chief Minister was saddled on the horse-back in New Delhi with unprecedented fanfare as the disillusioned enraged electorate turned round the wheels with high voltage expectations from the new master.
On way to restructuring the Indian polity
The new Indian Prime Minister seems sincerely on way to restructuring the Indian polity in theory and substance in its entirety. The study of a society, a State, a government is not matter of serious analysis by media anywhere in the world in general and in India in particular. Poverty, affluence, dearth, abundance and plenty, paucity etc are stages in any economy especially in the developing societies. All such descriptions are so much subjected to its scrutiny and contexts. The overall situations in which they exist are required to be studied in the time perspective. All these stages are in fact all-time features of the societies and it is States all over the world. Poverty and wealth are not and cannot be permanent or eternal features of the societies and the individual. They are the results of the public policy decisions of the governments taken from time to time. India after political independence in 1947, from UK ‘s colonial rule for over a century, came under the rule of Indian National Congress in accordance with the British colonial West Ministerial model of parliamentary democracy. This model had been in vogue for several centuries earlier to Indian experience of 1947 in UK. The Britons in UK had evolved the system with rigorous stress and strains and experiments during the period of Royal democracy. The text of the tenets of parliamentary democracy were scripted with rigor and vigor in the process of formation of the parliamentary practices in UK ---which were later handed over to the Indians and other colonial areas.
The original text remained with UK and the ‘guide’ rolled down to the colonies for imitation. The ‘text’, which was apparently foreign to the respective societies in the colonies, was imposed on the Indian society disregarding the native traits in the Indian society. In no way I propose to state that the followers were secondary or inferior to the original text writers. Of course, Indians had a far more enriched heritage. However, the Indian National Congress inherently acquired all the colonial political traits, which typically represented western way of understanding ‘a society’. Governance in India is a problem in the Indian society; it is not a political problem. Leadership in India stems from the society and therefore it inherits all its traits.
Congress’s uninterrupted and monolithic rule of half a century
Almost uninterrupted and monolithic rule of half a century over the Indian mainland of the Indian National Congress, its public policy function was a mixed bag of half-hazard capitalism, socialism, mixed economy that led to a confused and direction-less growth process. The process of political authority of the political party featured a single-family dynastic reign, which in fact was a death-nail to the spirit of parliamentary democracy. It will not be an exaggeration if argued that till 1947 INC was a national political party which was a powerful principal partner in the freedom struggle and unfortunately after 1947---a little later it became a family affair, why so, nobody understands about it. Particularly, post-emergency period characterizes political party management as a big political hypocrisy, an example of hypocritical management. It is a glaring example of autocratic family leadership without caring for its intra-democratic structure or process. Several people are aware of this situation. This was not true of INC alone, several regional political outfits and satraps too followed the INC example.
Most of the political parties owed their origin to INC except Communist Party of India and Bharatiya Jan Sangh (present Bharatiya Janata Party ).Most of these political parties and their leaders realized that none of them had any political future in the INC structure. Therefore at different points of time they fell apart from the INC as well as from amongst each other. Politically ambitious as each of them was, had sought their own path. Regional leadership of the Uttar Pradesh , Odessa , Maharashtra , J & K , Andhra Pradesh , Tamil Nadu , Bihar even Madhya Pradesh are some glaring examples of locally powerful satraps who later have been found to have held the Central Governments to ransom through coalitions rendering the political barometers uncertain and bleak.
It is interesting to note that the economic policies of the national parties and even the regional parties are not very different from one another in policy and substance. Economics sciences have remained almost unchanged with small modifications therefore political parties and governments cannot transgress the canvases of planning process and programmers for economic progress. In fact the learned citizenry has to realize that , growth or development is a phenomena which depends on several interdependent factors . There is no one time solution or panacea.
Audit of Modi Regime on four parameters
Development process comprises response from the ( I ) enlightened beneficiaries/consumers i.e. the citizenry , ( ii ) the planning process , ( iii ) administrators of the programmes and ( iv ) visionary and missionary political leadership.
A nation requires leadership with a national outlook in the context of a global perspective. Can we audit the unprecedented Modi regime of a year in the context of these four parameters?
Prime Minister has initiated a subtle dialogue with the citizenry unprecedented in its character, ignored so far however unavoidable, and what is the score on that count?
He was the first Prime Minister to have made a mention of the importance and relevance of ‘family factor’ from his first Independence speech at Red Fort on 15th August last. He aggressively inquired with the parents, if the daughters are accountable to the family traditions, why not the sons if they return home late in the nights? The expression was sincere and far-reaching concern, reaching out to the parental society. It was not politics. It relates to the indigenous social fabric. It was a strong signal of escaping from the clutches of the Macaulay effect of neo-social thinking-- a pseudo –liberalism attitude. Modi signaled as if a family is not merely a get together of a biological inclusive culmination , it is essentially a family-group in cultural continuity . It has a special role to play in the functioning of the society. We have witnessed the phenomenon eternally.
Swachha Bharat Abhiyan too has a social and societal concern, which in fact is a pre-condition to the growth process. The Abhiyan is not merely a physical cleaning event , it is also supportive of psychological state of mind which is conducive to growth process. The status of a nation in the international arena depends on the strength of its socio-cultural foundation. Disciplined individual citizen is the key factor in the formation of a State and the nation.
Modi has this disciplined individual citizen in view and ‘Swachha Abhiyan’ is aimed at grooming the individual towards making him effective in the nation building process. Modi’s other inputs like ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Smart Cities Programme ‘, ‘Mann ki Baat’, ‘Digital India’, are important initiatives aimed at building the individual more self sufficient. Modi has been insisting more on internally systematizing applicant-friendly procedures and disciplining the concerned bureaucracy removing any scope for nepotism and corruption. Liberal political class and strict administrative class are pivotal in the process of public administration. He started the process himself initiating the long journey towards the transformation by taking the groom his own hands bridging the gap between the elitists and the commoners. It was a signal of bringing to an end the aura of the ruling class’, which represented and reminded the colonial memories.
One has to take note of the widely entrenched psyche of ‘service at gratis’ under the garb of ‘welfare measures’, of the people after Indian independence, had been a detrimental factor. It required an overhaul. Modi seems to have dealt with priority this pragmatism.The undercurrent dissatisfaction owes itself to the surfacing to the ‘priority’ mission. ‘Welfare State’, principles which is a post World War 2 phenomenon need not be underrated and therefore cannot be ignored , the fact remains that the ‘principles’ were essentially meant for the war-ravaged countries where the war affected people were in need of the State help to rebuild the entire economic system there.
However, the welfare principles of economic development were adopted by the poor nations elsewhere too for the betterment of their societies. The State became an inescapable active partner in the development process, which relegated the individual initiative secondary in the name of ‘social security measures’. Therefore as at present densely populated States like India find planning and its administration unmanageable . However, poverty is an excusable factor. Economic systems may reduce its severity to a certain extent but the system has its own limitations, moreover, it is a factor, which cannot be experienced unless it befalls oneself.
Narendra Modi had all such academic experiences in his personal past life. Despite such experiences he has rationalized his poverty and not allowed himself to be bogged down by its sting and maintained his cultural unity.
The Western social scientists many a time fail to assess the roots of the Indian society in its truest sense and wrongly compare it with the parameters of the Western societies. The parameters of research designs in social sciences of Western societies do not all the time apply to the oriental in general and Indian society in particular. The language and the gestures of Modi do point at these very contradicting tenets.
INC since 1947 , in the initial period was sincerely making efforts under the sober but massive leadership of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to sow the seeds of agro-industrial growth. During Pt. Nehru’s tenure, it went well. However , after his death in 1964 the direction waivered and deviated from politics of decency to politics of manipulation and power under the leadership of Smt. Indira Gandhi. She was a person with strong convictions, which led the country to the ill-fame ‘emergency era’. Since then, the course of Indian politics became vulnerable to instability. A strange combination of growth and leaderless chaotic conditions prevailed for quite some time. Post Pt.Nehru era witnessed the weakening of constitutional and political institutions in the country , at times deliberate attempts were seen to have been made.
Most affected political institution, I for one feel, is the ‘executive’. The ‘Government’ was made motionless. The authority of the ‘executive’ was eroded. Decision of the Government was under constant threat of judicial arrogance and legislative disapproval. The past decade witnessed a chaotic legislative uncertainty. The chaos was coupled with corruption charges and accusations leveled by both the ‘executive’ and ‘legislature’ against each other. The irresponsible print and electronic media was not behind in the race of maligning every player in the ‘you too’ game. The past decade witnessed a near breakdown of the constitutional machinery all over.
Rising prices and increasing cost of living became unbearable to the common average person. His unease and anguish erupted in May 2014 and the ‘alleged culprits’ were blown off. The ruling family clique in INC was raised to dust and after several decades in Indian politics , an alternative was discovered—a single party stable rule instead of experimental coalitional chaos at the federal level. However , the new ruling party won an absolute majority in the Lok Sabah but are in hopeless minority in the Upper House—Rajya Sabha, which has unleashed a terrible chain of hurdles blocking the political managerial plans of the mandate of the majority party. The number game in the parliament has assumed an ugly drawing raising new constitutional questions which need long term solutions lest the federal structure is under threat.
Here arises a new question—clarifying the definition of the role of the ‘opposition’ in a parliamentary democracy. There are no rules but are practices and customs in vogue elsewhere in the world. In the Indian context , the opposition in its expression through its words and actions has failed to understand that it was routed in general elections hardly a few months earlier and now claim to have popular support more than the ruling majority party. . Is it not a state of absurdity?
The country watches the proceedings of both the Houses during the sessions with dismay. The class of political leadership there in the Houses , their behavior , level of debates defeats the very purpose of the parliamentary democracy as contemplated by the Constitution makers esp. Like Dr.Ambedkar. Interruptions , cat-calling, usages of unparliamentarily words , marching towards the well encircling it and shouting slogans as if they are on the streets these and several other ways and means are invented to block the proceedings of the Houses. This cannot be taken very lightly as this is a mockery of democracy and undermining the legitimate authority of the mandate of the majority. No party escapes blame from this charge—even the BJP during its own opposition regime played the same tactics to undermine the authority of the then Government in power.
The need is to make rules enforceable—the rules of the business of the Houses. Debate, and not politics, is parliament. We need enlightened parliamentarians for a better functional House. The majority party has to lay down an ideal example of ‘an effective Executive’ in the House , but the present majority in the Lower House does not foot the bill for reasons best known to themselves. Does the ruling parliamentary party suffer from effective but smooth internal coordination? It is certainly important to take a note that internal democratic mechanism is required to be evolved for smooth and satisfactory functioning of the party which of course it is very much there and yet a sense of belonging needs to be cherished within. There is a misunderstanding of the meaning of internal democracy within the party and therefore every ground and second line party worker thinks about himself as if being next to the Prime Minister in the party hierarchy.
That is why Modi once advised the parliamentary board members, ‘don’t address the Nation, (and avoid the press personnel!). The party workers tend to forget that the strength of the party depends on the internal discipline at every level on the part of every worker. It is also important to take note that in every party there exists a certain amount of autocracy, including INC, BJP, CPI, CPI (M) Shiv Sena, AIADMK, DMK, AITC, SAD, and others. This is not in any way undermining the relevance of internal democracy within the party. My point is emphasis on party discipline. Those who undermine discipline divide and break the party. There are several examples all parties have suffered vertical divisions except the BJP. The credibility of the BJP is of high standard. Modi is merely maintaining the standard.
A bit over-stretched narration of the known events and details has been provided to the readers with a view to acquainting them with the genesis of the problems in the Indian society. I for one feel that the repetitive analysis of the economic conditions prevalent in the country has become very much familiar with every citizen and every intellectual in the field. The solution lies somewhere else.
It was maintained in the beginning of the present essay, that Modi is on way to restructuring the Indian polity. Audit is required to be carried out in that regard. Modi’s target group is : Legislative business , strengthening ‘executive’ , reforming judicial structure, reforming planning process, changing parameters of public relations , citizen-centric schemes, simplifying administrative procedures for financial assistance, production oriented economy, and most of all bringing about change in the mind-set of the individual, revamping and motivating public administration goading it towards nation building.
Those who think, have ideas. Those who think of the nation, have dreams of a better nation. Modi has since his childhood been associated with such an organization which exists for the very purpose of ‘nation building’. Modi has made it amply clear that his life exists for his nation i.e. ‘Bharat Mata’ .He is not apologetic about it; on the contrary, he has always been proud about it. Politics and power is an effective, handy and useful instrument in hand, Modi argues. Modi has advanced ideas; his colleagues seem to be lagging behind however for no fault of theirs. Political leaders are required to create newer ideas on nation and nation building. A Prime Minister must float novel plans and ideas for the society and his ministerial colleagues and their respective ministries and Departments must translate them into programmes and actions. The ‘Executives’ must exercise their executive prerogatives in the governance without fear and favour. Does this happen in India? Seldom has it happened.
There seems to be no good performance of the executives. The reasons are several. A little exaggerated observation may be made that a dishonest , incompetent , educated but unenlightened, undisciplined, unskilled , aimless , showy, lethargic individual is the root cause of such a situation. The point needs to be realized that most of the individual citizens are not very particular about anything. Most of them are used to ‘get gratis’ psyche.
As discussed earlier , a glance at the ‘debates’ conducted by ordinary pugnacious anchors ,who themselves make long meaningless speeches in exceedingly irritating media trial like postures as if it were , on irrelevant issues rather than asking small searching decent questions, assuming themselves to be great scholars in the subjects. Those so called expert without any academic training in them while at the same time equally incompetent novice immature political leaders in the ‘address to the nation’ mode, are seen dig out non-issues and unauthorizedly malign the civil service and political governance.
Audit is required of that of the opposition psyche. Let us assume that Modi’s governance is very good ( or not so good) as against that of the opposition viewers’ crocodile’s tears . Opposition in the parliament Houses , in the State legislative Houses, all time inimical media houses and its ‘smart’ personnel rewarded (paid for maligning the image) monitors, tailored surveys, after the electoral debacle, the ‘issue-stripped ’ political leaders are in search of new issues.
In short , one may surmise that the entire attack by the opposition leaders is aimed at Modi personally and not against the Party or its ideological or programmatic follies . The opposition parties or leaders are not bothered about the truths or facts of the matter , their only aim is to malign the Prime Minister of India. Another feature of the opposition leaders is that every one of them is convinced about his own prime ministerial candidacy. The entire behavior of all these who have not digested the fact that Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister of India , do not leave any opportunity or an occasion to smell the rat. There is an increasing sense of cynicism, hypocrisy , mendacity , liars’ attitudes and increasing number of misleading signalers in the society and at the individual level.
Therefore, the audit of Modi governance means , not a mere review and examination of statistics , financial figures, profit and loss, statement of accounts, economic policies, circulars and orders and rulings , even though it is essential and important. But in the national context , Modi’s governance is considered as a representative reformist’s version wherein he owes his ideas to a particular set of ideology and thought. Modi’s audit means the tremendous task of refreshing the national context and the society thereby the kingpin of the system i.e. the individual. The question is whether there is any change in the individual at the ground level.
The individual is shaped by the system around him. The outrage of the Indian electorate in May 2014 was not merely defeating the government in power , it was also a mandate for revolutionizing the entire system which generated sources of corruption and nepotism. Modi was saddled in power with all those expectations leading to cleansing the waste. Modi was expected to recover India from the wasted 60 years of the polity since 1947* as fast as possible. Modi cannot afford to make any haste despite popular impetuous zest lest he falls prey to the preceding regime. Modi has a thinker in him who has some ideas about the problems and solutions , systems and programmes, priorities to be adopted in it coupled with courage and convictions. He is prepared to wait. Self-less and spot-less character that he has, is his strength.
(*An open letter to N.Modi by Dr. Ramesh Thakur published in Times of India,dt.21-5-15 p.12 )
Modi has the following agenda as he had set for himself during his election campaign. Of course, election speeches are always required to be taken with a pinch of salt, it is not an affidavit. He had emphasized the need for several changes and improvements in the systems focusing upon the ‘individual’ and his welfare.
The big aim he has before him is to systematize the system keeping the needy poor artisan and the farmer in view which is ultimately going to strengthen the parliamentary democracy. In other words, during his political career, he found that the debit side of the balance sheet shows tremendous losses and very weak side of the credit side in the audit. His strongest impetus to the submission to all , is his slogan ‘nation first’ and ‘team India’. These are the concepts very easy to say or hear, but most difficult to practice. Here is a Prime Minister who gives to the entire citizenry a uniting ‘mantra’ and it is here where the ‘audit’ begins. Nothing new is in this iconic message , only the fact remains that Modi was the first Prime Minister to have given a common agenda to the nation , perhaps next to late All Bahadur Shastri. Modi is emphasizing unity and oneness, which for him it is the pre-condition for a strong nation. This grand aim for him is more important than mere calculation of figures. Modi believes in this school of thought that Nations thrive on spiritual heritage also. Spiritual past of a nation is a powerful impetus for the growth of a nation. Modi is applying this psyche to India.
Modi, after he held the reins of power of the nation, ordinarily kept before him these priorities:
The future of India, according to Modi, lies in these reforms. Modi has plans of annulling outdated and redundant laws freeing the harassed citizenry from the ugly clutches of court matters. We all are aware that the country is ruled by around 2000 Legislative Acts enacted during the British colonial rule and post independence era. This certainly gave unnecessary rise to unending litigation wasting energy and wealth of both the State and the society. Modi is on the ‘job’.
The economic development mostly depends on the ‘administration’ so pivotal and instrumental in reaching the fruits of the policies to the ultimate beneficiaries of the development plans. In Gujarat Modi successfully carried out ‘karma-yogi Abhiyan’ for the entire ‘administration’ in the Gujarat government motivating them towards developmental attitudes inculcated in them. Modi is convinced that bureaucracy needs to have social commitment which alone would pave the way towards growth. Modi has plans to create social awareness among the staff by restructuring the organization everywhere. Modi is trying to create ‘work culture’.
Modi has new and dynamic ideas on education for all. He has his own ideas on ‘skill Development’. These ideas are aimed at making the individual as self-sufficient and Independent as possible.
Modi has an eye on the cost of living as well as cost of education. Therefore, skill development is linked to it. Modi is aware that to acquire education is a step towards growth. Modi is on the job.
Media and Congress are in unanimous voice are complaining that nothing has changed. Corruption, red tapes, nepotism, work Shirking, everything has remained as it was during UPA regime. Modi has failed to usher In ‘ache din’.
How much is the truth in it?
Is it not a fact that during the last year not a single incidence was unearthed of high level? Corruption? Is it not a fact that instances of terrorist attacks have been reduced ? Is it Not a fact that political stability has been evident? Is it not a fact that the image of India In the international arena is elevated. Is it not a fact that cost of living and price rise is Stable? Is it not a fact that regional cooperation among the SAARC countries is improved?
The cynicism , hypocrisy , falsehood , dishonesty has to be driven out from our routine life. In the Parliament, individual’s life, government and governance, and the society. It is not the Executive, but the dissent in every field of activity—politics, literature, social Media, academics, and several other areas besides the media has to learn a lot and improve its performance for the betterment of parliamentary democracy.
Prime Minister of India is on the job. Let us wait for a reasonable time. This is the ‘audit’ Report of the Modi governance of its first year.
Audit classification ‘A’.