100 days of Modi Sarkar – Day 15
President Pranab Mukherjee today addressed the joint session of the Parliament unveiling the blue print of the government for the next 60 months. Most of the points were part of the BJP’s election manifesto but now that the Modi sarkar has officially promised them they will be critically judged by their execution. In a curious coincidence today two top officials from USA and China crisscrossed the capital meeting important dignitaries, a sign of India’s multi-pronged approach in foreign policy.
Highlights of President’s speech:
A cautious mix of populism with reforms seems to be the primary agenda of Modi Sarkar. There has been a perception that this government will primarily cater to the rich and the middle class. The speech sought to allay that notion with President saying the government is for the poor. Poverty elimination not ‘poverty alleviation’ has been made the goal. Government plans to provide basic amenity to all Indians by 2022, a hugely ambitious project.
President tried to address the concern of food inflation and fledging growth. Government has announced that it is in favour of FDI where it will generate jobs. Tax structure will be made non adversarial so that investments returns to Indian shores. To promote agriculture, a national land use policy will be adopted by Modi Sarkar. In education sector, government today pledged to set up an IIT and IIM in each state, a move which has been vehemently opposed by sections of the intelligentsia. Stress will be given on setting up virtual classroom in large scale.
Modi has been known as a stickler for cleanliness. Thus for the first time President’s speech mentioned the point of stopping the practice of littering public spaces. “Swach Bharat Mission” will be started as an ode to Mahatma Gandhi. In health sector, decision to roll out a new health policy was announced.
Interestingly Modi government has special plans for minorities, a section deemed to be largely hostile to them. National Madarsa Modernization Programme is slated to start soon. In a series of firsts, people with special needs got a separate mention in the speech. Institutional support for them to provide dignity in life has been pledged by the Modi sarkar.
In wake of violence against women, government has pledged for a policy of zero tolerance in all such crimes.
Mirroring on Modi’s speech during elections the government plans to boost infrastructure in eastern part of the country to bring it at par with the western part. Telengana and Andhra Pradesh have also been assured of continuous support so as the Kashmiri Pandits for safe return to homeland.
To clamp down on corruption and slow work, decision to digitize government records have been taken. Modi throughout his entire campaign had given immense importance to social media. Now he wants it to use it for ‘participatory democracy’. Modi sarkar has ambitious plan of joining all villages through broadband highways to facilitate e- governance.
Government has also pledged to bring the entire labour force under health and pension benefit, a colossal task in a country where 90% works in unorganized sector. In a break from tradition, Modi sarkar is looking for port led development model. It also harbours hope to set up a diamond quadrilateral of high speed train.
To boost infrastructure 100 smart cities have been planned. For tourism, Modi government hopes to build 50 dedicated circuits.
The government today announced that it will set up a national war memorial, a long standing demand of the armed forces. FDI in defence will also be a reality, something reckoned as a taboo not so long ago.
President Mukherjee mentioned the names of China, Japan, Russia and USA as countries with whom India is primarily looking to forge stronger ties. Interestingly name of Israel wasn’t mentioned separately, a country many experts thought would be a natural ally to the Modi sarkar.
Finally President said Brand India will be based on ‘5 T’s: Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology’ and with ‘Democracy, Demography and demand’ on its side, country can fulfill hopes of its citizens.
All these projects looks fantastic on paper, but the challenge will be to implement them on ground. How funds will be generated to invest on such huge projects is not known. But at least the government can be held accountable if it fails to live up to the promises.
Congress has expectedly slammed the speech. According to Kamal Nath no definite roadmap has been provided, merely dreams have been packaged with fancy words. According to CPIM’s Sitaram Yechury, this is just a ‘rehash of BJP’s manifesto’.
BJP has hailed the speech deeming it path breaking. It was beauty of Indian democracy on display today when a career politician Pranab Mukherjee denounced many steps taken by him to set goals for the current regime.
Taking cue from President’s speech both Sensex and Nifty breached past records to set new highs. The government has given a message that it is looking to be investor friendly. Green lighting participation of private sector in coal mining and also announcing that government is not averse to FDI as a whole has been taken as extremely positive signs by Dalal Street. Some dampener in future may be the news that monsoon is likely to fall short of its usual amount by around 7%. This may adversely affect agriculture, in turn setting a domino effect into action hiking prices etc.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi today met Narendra Modi and delivered a note from President Xi Jinping. The note hopes that India attains great heights under Modi’s rule. The meeting today lasted for around 45 minutes where Modi expressed desire of some constructive dialogue to bolster ties. Earlier Yi met President Pranab Mukherjee. A trivia has now slipped into the public domain that Sushma Swaraj had surprised Yi yesterday by talking few words in Mandarin!!
On the other hand, US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal on Monday said that they are excited to collaborate with such a popular leader like Narendra Modi. She said that Obama is extremely keen on meeting the Indian Prime Minister. Biswal, an Indian American is trying to establish some ground works for the summit level talks in September.
Sri Lanka has decided that it will release all the 78 Indian fisherman nabbed by their navy on Saturday. Earlier Jayalalithaa had written a letter to Modi asking for his intervention in the matter.
While Foreign policy of Modi sarkar is sort of an extension of the past regime, its policy to counter Maoist menace is likely to be starkly different. The fact became evident today when Home Minister Rajnath Singh in principle agreed to the use of helicopters in Naxal infested areas not for strikes but for sending troops and rescue operations. Decision has also been taken that 2,000 highly skilled men will be deployed in Chhattisgarh which has faced the maximum brunt of Maoist terror.
Rajnath Singh also gave order to tighten security in all airports in the wake of tragic attack by militants on Karachi airport.
India is still coming in terms with sudden death of engineering students from Hyderabad, holidaying in Himachal. Owing to alleged laxity of some officials, these students got swept away in river Mandi when water was discharged from a dam without prior notice. HRD Minister Smriti Irani has gone to the area to oversee rescue job. So far 5 bodies have been recovered.
The more some things changes, the more it remains the same. Parliament started after President’s speech and soon it was adjourned owing to protest of MP’s raising different issues!! Hard to usher in Achche din as long as mentalities remain the same.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…