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An appropriate stocktaking and appraisal

Friday, April 14, 2017
By Ranajoy Sen

The completion of three years in power at the central government by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)–led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is an occasion for contemplation and stocktaking; both, for the NDA constituents as well as for the citizenry of this country. Administering at the centre is tantamount to setting the tone of national issues and determining the trajectory of national progress. Despite the federal nature of the country’s polity, it is the centre which substantially determines the national narrative. Certain crucial areas as policy making in defence, railways, ports, atomic and nuclear matters, communications, and civil aviation are the exclusive preserve of the central government; which in other words refers to the political dispensation in power there, at any given point in time.  

It is an occasion for contemplation, providing an opportunity for an earnest appraisal. The Narendra Modi dispensation at the centre seems to be keen for an appropriate stocktaking, along with all alliance partners, as they prepare for the days ahead and also for the general elections, scheduled to be held in the summer of 2019. What might the balance sheet of the Modi government reflect at this juncture?  

Successes and also rooms for improvement
The one surety is that the balance sheet of this government, figuratively speaking, displays plenty of records of significant import. If they display ample rhetoric, they also record work of substance. Apart from the intransigent fringe, no objective viewpoint would possibly insist that there have not been appreciative entries into it, notwithstanding the scope for a full review, where rooms for improvement and avoidable issues turn up as well. Ever since this government has assumed power in 2014, umpteen issues in this vast country, where ordeals are aplenty, have been taken up and work in many of notable sectors have been undertaken in earnest.

Politically, the signal achievement of this government has been that it has provided political stability in this country, at the centre, the likes of which was last seen from the outcome of the general election in 1984. Despite the administration being formed by a political alliance, the largest constituent, the BJP, has a majority in the lower house of Parliament; even within coalition partners there is a visible coherence. Without political stability, appropriate policy making has often been absent, to the dismay of the polity. Therefore, securing and maintaining political stability, while trying to avoid policy paralysis in government, has been no mean achievement of this government.

Even in subsequent state elections, the BJP has won most of them, while not winning in some. Notably the Uttar Pradesh victory has been a major achievement for the party. Despite allegations of polarisations by the BJP, it has also been discernible that in states where the BJP rode to power, the emphasis in their manifestoes of work, economic opportunities and efficacy, possibly eclipsed those of its political opponents.

Economically, there has been more challenges than not. Economic attributes and determinants need to be very carefully observed, policy made with keen knowledge of available resources and with a realistic estimation of possible accruing of further resources, while creating necessary cushions to withstand economic shocks – foreseen and unforeseen. Additionally, while engaging in international economic interactions undoubtedly brings about a measure of dynamism and benefits to a country, an alert observation of trends and situations in the global economic square as well as of notable economically advanced and developing countries is an imperative.

Striking the correct balance between fiscal (government) and monetary (Reserve Bank of India) authorities is another important task. One could infer that, on net, both institutions have done more laudable tasks than not to make sure that the economic equanimity of the country remains, despite the fluctuating values of its credit and debit sum totals.

To be sure there have been certain differences of opinion between authorities of the RBI and the union finance ministries regarding the method of bringing about greater reforms in the country. The RBI has stated that accruing foreign exchange reserves and preventing inflation would be to the greater benefit for the country in the days ahead, while the government has insisted for greater borrowing facilities at that time. Till a particular time the RBI prevailed. Then with a change of guard at the country’s central bank, the new Governor of RBI seemed more receptive but, his predecessor’s wise decisions could not be said to be wrong. Sooner than later, greater compatibility was arrived at, and creating more demand, while checking inflation was formulated as a policy.  

Nourish strengths, starve weaknesses
In infrastructure creation, further lessening of needless bottlenecks and emphasis on efficacy and performance has been principal objectives of this government. Similarly, the attack on and prevention of corrupt practices has also been spoken of repeatedly by the government, and the people are bound to be appreciative of it.

In diplomacy and defence, putting India’s interest on the world stage has not been found lacking, although challenges remain and possibly certain tasks might have been done better to achieve better results than what has been achieved.

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the NDA government’s rule, marking out areas of inadequacy and venturing for a corrective would be an imperative. Identifying areas of strengths and successes and building upon them further are bound to be beneficial. Feeding the strength and starving the weaknesses in bona fide is the determinant for success for any individual, groups, organization and political dispensations.   

The challenges for this country are still of no meagre proportion. A constructive, productive approach would surely relegate the difficulties of the country increasingly and lead to a path for comprehensive amelioration. That could well be the highest priority for the BJP-led NDA government at the centre, as it completes three years in power, next month.

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