Four Years Of Modi’s BJP And Missed Opportunities

1. Getting The Sarkar Out Of Business

Earlier this week, State Bank of India reported its largest ever loss in a quarter. It was the fifth successive public sector bank to report a loss, a rise in provisions and a higher level of bad loans. PSBs account for the bulk of bad loans worth over Rs 9 lakh crore in the system. At least five defaulters of the Nirav Modi kind have absconded in the past four years. In every debate, the BJP strains its sloganeering sinew to assert that the state of the public sector banks has been the result of corrupt practices of the previous regime. Manifest in the argument is the reality of systemic issues. Every third public sector undertaking or 75 of the 244 PSUs are in the red, losing over Rs 25,000 crore. In the past five years, PSU losses add up to over Rs 1.06 lakh crore. The issue is about government ownership, but more about political management of government enterprises.

2. Enabling Farming To Be A Business

Farmers in Ahmednagar, Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur are giving away milk for free, in protest. Some weeks ago, farmers were dumping tomatoes on the highway. Elsewhere those who grew tur dal at the exhortation of the government find no takers or poor remuneration for their crop. Parties, regional and national, are promising farmers loan waivers at every assembly election — at last count, over Rs 1 lakh crore has been paid up.

3. The Idea Of Team India

One of the issues haunting India’s economy is centralisation of ideas and lack of decentralisation of initiative, funds, functions and functionaries. Given the diversity and diverse aspiration, the BJP in its 2014 manifesto identified the need for Centre and States to work together. It said “Team India shall not be limited to the Prime Minister-led team sitting in Delhi, but will also include chief ministers and other functionaries as equal partners.”

4. Administrative And Civil Service Reforms

There are good reasons why three decades after the British show Yes Minister was wound up, the line “Paperwork is the religion of civil service” is widely and wildly popular in India. Principally the humour, the inherited legacy, and then there is continuity.

5. The Promise Of 100 New Cities

If there was one item on the 2014 manifesto that had omnipotence — social, political and economic — it was the promise to “initiate building 100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure adhering to concepts like sustainability, walk to work etc, and focused on specialised domains.” Urbanisation is well established as a growth multiplier. The many failings of governance owe their genesis to access — education, healthcare and the shifting of farm workers to factories and services. By 2015 the idea of ‘100 new cities’ became 100 smart cities.

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Shankkar Aiyar

Shankkar Aiyar

42 Followers

Journalist-Analyst. Author of ‘Accidental India, ‘Áadhaar: A Biometric History’ and ‘The Gated Republic’. Studying how politics rules the economics of people!