Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rahul Gandhi must realize that Narendra Modi is doing exactly what he wanted.

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference: 
In one of his speeches, Rahul Gandhi thundered thus - “The time has come to question the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of decision making in governance, administration and politics....The answer is to completely transform the system".
He delivered this powerful critic of our governance model in the year, wait for it, 2013! Yep – at the fag end of his own party’s rule for ~9 years (then), he has told us that “the time has come to question…
I think Narendra Modi took this speech to his heart. He took it so seriously, that he even realized that not only has “the time come to question”, but the time has also come to answer! Now, why do I think Narendra Modi took this speech to heart?
In one of his early speeches in the Lok Sabha – Prime Minister Modi gave us a sterling example of “centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems”. The railways and surface transport departments are always at loggerheads in granting permissions for railway/road over-bridges. Both are central government departments, but hundreds of half-finished projects in the country are stalled because they fight too much with each other! Modi has instructed that all these projects be cleared. In fact, the Prime Minister has now a monthly “Pragati” meeting to keep track of all such age-old projects across various departments and has been largely successful in reviving them!
Many of us are familiar with how difficult it was to get a passport. The current process is simply a breeze. In fact, so breezy that all one has to do is tweet to Sushma Swaraj or any of MEA handles. I don’t need to dwell much into this, since there is near unanimity that the system has become more responsive. The twitter responses of MEA is not an exception in this government. Many departments receive complaints directly and resolve them in a time bound manner. It is very easy to approach a minister now, to get your grievances resolved. I need not remind you that such a thing was unimaginable before May 2014.
Remember the Independence Day speech when Prime Minister announced that for any job below Class-II, the only criteria will be written tests and interviews will be done away with? Interviews were the principal source of “unaccountable systems of decision making” and of course corruption.
When the Government of India was awarded a Guinness record certificate for opening the maximum number of bank accounts in record time, P. Chidambaram told us that the UPA opened ~13 crore accounts from 2004 to 2014. Perhaps he missed out on the statistics of the Guinness record – 11.5 crore accounts opened in 3 months! If this does not amount to “completely transforming the system”, then what does?
The government is well on track to achieve its goal of electrification of ~18000 villages that haven’t seen electricity yet! Information on this is available in a fully transparent manner – one doesn’t even have to go through the pain of filing an RTI to know the status! A fully transparent auction of coal mines have raked in ~3.5 lakh crores to various state governments. Both these measures have torn to pieces Rahul Gandhi’s “centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of governance”.
GST was first proposed in 2006. And could not even materialize by 2014. In about 3 years since then, the country is now ready to implement its biggest tax reform ever. And it was not an easy task to accomplish, because this involved getting 29 state governments on board too! The speed at which this process was finished has shattered to pieces Rahul Gandhi’s frustration with “the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems”.
The North-Eastern region of the country is not well connected – one of the reasons is they still have narrow gauge railway lines! We are now well on track (literally!) to convert these to broad gauge. One Rank One Pension was a demand that was pending from 40 years. This has been resolved to a large extent in 2 years. Accountability and transparency in political funding was a key demand from many years. Yesterday a great beginning was made with the introduction of new rules (No cash donation >2000 and introduction of electoral bonds).  
Or the repeal of about 1000 old laws that were the reason behind the “unresponsive systems”. Or the removal of the rule for the need of a signature of any gazetted officer to verify documents. And the biggest transformation of all – how the demonetization was announced, implemented and is being followed up! I can cite more examples the various measures Modi government has taken to make the system more responsible and responsive, but I think the point has been made!
The paradox that Rahul Gandhi represents is very confusing. He was angry at his government for being unresponsive. He is angry at this government for being the exact opposite of that. Or maybe these actions of Narendra Modi are what are prompting him to resort to meaningless and sometimes mindless criticism of the Prime Minister. Don’t trust me?
He criticized the Prime Minister for doing Yoga but not being capable of doing the padmaasana (twitter users quickly rebutted this, but it didn’t matter to the congress ecosystem). One wonders what kind of menial thought process is going through the minds of the congress folks. He then had the gall to say that while he wears a torn kurta, the PM is spending lakhs on his wardrobe. One is not even sure where to begin with, to counter this fallacious and cheap argument from the man who takes foreign vacations every year.
Rahul Gandhi must realize that Narendra Modi is doing exactly what he wanted. The limitations of his job may pressurize him to resort to mindless criticism, but I am sure that he is very happy from inside.


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