While I had some reservations about Narendra Modi, largely from the perspective of his not having followed "Raj Dharma" post the Gujarat riots, I was welcoming of his government coming to power, or more specifically the defeat of the corrupt and ineffective Congress government. My other apprehension was whether the government will pay enough attention to environmental issues in its pursuit of GDP growth, even while appreciating the fact that growth will necessarily impact the environment, the challenge essentially being to keep the damage to the minimum.
While it may be too early yet to pass judgements on these aspects, my assessment at this stage will allow for a 4 out of 10 rating for the government's performance.
But, what I had not quite bargained for is its sluggishness (may not be the best of words to describe it) with regard to economic issues, brought out in the following excerpts (with the latest being listed first, and in that order, and the emphasis addition being mine) from columns/ articles, published in news-papers of fair standing, which overall compelled me to start this blog, for whatever it's worth:
1) Article in Business Standard (for the full text, click here):
The Centre looks set to seek a compensation of around Rs 426 crore from Swiss food major Nestle over the alleged damages caused by Maggi noodles to Indian consumers.
At a time when Nestle India is awaiting a verdict from the Bombay High Court in its case against the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), it might now have to fight another legal battle.
- - - The development comes within days of Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan telling the media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked his Cabinet colleagues to "maintain decorum" on the Maggi issue. Also, some ministers in the government have been critical of FSSAI's Maggi recall order. While some have cited international investors' nervousness in the matter - without wanting to be named - Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has been more open. She had earlier said the Maggi incident had led to an environment of fear.
Most strange attitude, even as the government is supposedly going all out to attract fresh investment.
2) Column by Shankkar Aiyar in the New Indian Express (for the full text, cick here):
The citizens’ quest is not a romantic notion but a response to the parade of inefficiency in public services and wastage/theft witnessed and paid for by taxpayers.
On Wednesday, the Lok Sabha voted to allow government to spend an additional Rs 40,821 crore. Of this, Rs 11,116.76 crore—four times the amount allocated for crop insurance—will be used to write off losses of Prasar Bharati. Rs 12,721 crore will be used to recapitalise banks. The fact that profits of private banks are higher than all PSU banks and that the market cap of top five private banks is more than that of all PSU banks is evidence of the magnitude of malaise. Add Rs 800 crore for loss-making Air India. Over half of Rs 40,821 crore is for bailouts. Wednesday also saw the government clear the restructuring of BSNL—which has not reported profits since 2009—and of loss-making MTNL. On Thursday, the PM reviewed the power sector. Over Rs 75,000 crore of bank depositors’ money lent to companies is in jeopardy as nearly 45,000 MW of power is at risk as SEBs are losing Rs 232 crore a day in leakage and theft. A bailout for SEBs is inevitable.
The unstated question that taxpayers and citizens are agitated about is what about corrective measures, a stop loss on losses? In a nutshell, the Government of India borrows around $250 million a day or Rs 1,600 crore/day to fund the gap between income and expenditure. It also loses nearly $70 million a day to wastage, leakage and theft.
- - - Modi Sarkar came to power promising minimum government, maximum governance. India continues to be detained. On Independence Day, Modi must reboot his campaign for minimum government to deliver maximum governance.
The author goes on to spell out the way forward too. But, the question that arises is how come the government, with all the expertise at its command, is continuing to perpetuate the public sector inefficiency and mediocrity.
3) Column by Mihir S Sharma, in the Business Standard (for the full text, click here):
Mr Modi is solidly and intelligently putting into place the structures that will change the nature of India’s liberal democracy forever, and make it something that he, his organisation, and many of his voters will be more comfortable with.
Consider this: which are the only two major administrative or institutional reforms that Mr Modi’s government is pushing? I’ll tell you: the judicial accountability law and the monetary policy committee. In other words, things they see as disempowering that pesky and uncontrollable Raghuram Rajan, and disempowering those irritating Teesta Setalvad- and Greenpeace-loving judges. On any of the dozen institutional reforms more urgent than the monetary policy committee, there’s complete silence. No greater independence for regulators. No independence for public-sector companies, no privatisation of PSU banks.
Doesn't need much elaboration, I guess - worrisome from both economic and Socio-political angle.
I'll keep adding my observations, as we go along. May be other Prajagalu (open to everyone) would like to add their comments too.