For the fear of being left behind I thought it imperative to opine on my Prime Minister for whom I voted and also wanted to write a non economic, easily comprehensible, data-free article that anyone can understand especially my international audience.
I haven’t been as amused lately as I am now, looking at the various marketing machineries for Modi who has been creating an aura of invincibility and humbling the achievements of Mangalyaan in comparison of what the Ironman has achieved in the last 1 year.
Let’s ignore the following few things in the credit of Modi and imagine that aliens from Mars are responsible for these and not the government:
- Rate of increase of farmer suicides
- Slowdown in industrial production
- Lack of tolerance towards the Christian and Muslim communities that has exacerbated in the last 1 year
- Real Interest rates still high because of a high spread retained by the banks and government having no real control over anything
- Unemployment rates going up by a few hundred basis points
- And not a single big infrastructure project having taken off the ground with hundreds of billions of dollars stuck in stalled projects
Now let’s safely assume that a few of these amazing global tailwinds were all because of Modi’s charm that he spread, during his global sojourns:
- Crude oil prices dropping from $110 to $55
- Inflation is well within the comfort levels of the Central Bank
- Dollar inflows into India that took our forex reserves to USD 350 Billion
- Easing of tensions with Iran thereby making the Middle East a bit more stable.
While the captains of the industry aren’t getting enough opportunity to praise Modi for what he has done for the country or its economy, since no one dare displease him, my report card for my Prime Minister is as follows.
I am a common man – very middle class – simple things matter to me.
Each day, as I read about the plan for 100 smart cities in India, I only look towards the skies and musingly ask God – "Are you kidding me?!".
I keep looking for the ‘acchhe din’ or good days that were to come with Modi.
So much talk about a corruption free country. But just recently a policeman in Bangalore fined me in cash and even gave me a discount upon negotiation. Was fined because I went on the wrong side of the road. A pertinent point to be mentioned here - Bangalore is the only city where, on a few roads, one must drive on the right side instead of left and those new to the city are supposed to know this by birth!
It's all a big sham!
Governments have only marginal utility.
For a commoner, it's like selecting an outsourced security guard for your premises at minimum wages with minimum expectations and hoping that when one day the real need arises – this fellow isn’t sleeping. Otherwise most of the time – he's just half dead - although he's still there.
While a lot of columnists and senior journalists are busy writing the government’s scorecard, discussing his performance in incomprehensible semantics, I want to give Modi a simple task –
India approximately has an area of 3.2 million sq kilometres. Mr. Modi, please pick up any 100 only hundred sq kilometre (.03%) area of your choice anywhere across the length or the breadth of this country and convert it into a place where:
- An hour of rain doesn’t inundate the area and choke it
- Where an innocent pedestrian can walk without tripping over
- Where a person on a wheelchair can roam about without cursing every single day of his existence
- Where a tourist can drag his suitcase without a hassle, between roads and footpaths
- Where traffic lights work and roads have adequate lane markers
- Where a pedestrian has more respect (like everywhere else in the world) than the speed defying typical Indian driver on wheels
- Where a lady can walk without feeling uneasy or being visually stripped naked by passerbys
- Where someone who must be punished, is punished without blaming the 10 million pending cases in Indian judicial system
Just maintain it for one year for the world and your voter to see.
And then we will do the swachh bharat and talk of 100 smart cities – please.
In the meanwhile it would help to spend some time in your country rather than making innumerable trips abroad unless you want to cover it all before the oil prices start going up.
You are a good man Mr. Modi – and I think you've got the vision right. But vision must be followed by strategy, which must be followed by execution and metrics – and my Report Card says – you still have a very very long way to go. In the reportcard, at best, you get a Minus B.