Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be assessed by the success or failure of his major decisions that have been taken since he assumed power in May 2014.
Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be assessed by the success or failure of his major decisions that his government took since he assumed power in May 2014. The scrapping of Article 370, outlawing of Triple Talaq, Swachh Bharat mission, Make in India, Smart Cities, Demonetisation, GST (Goods and Services Tax), controlling the country’s judiciary by passing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, etc. are the major milestones, along with numerous minor ones, of the Modi government.
Taking a close look at each of the decisions, one fact glares out. While all the decisions generated a lot of political capital, most of them lacked a sound logical process of decision making. The absence of elements of thinking-through while weighing the pros and cons of the decision and its long-term consequences or fall out, is one of the prominent hallmarks of the Modi government. Yet at the same time, the Prime Minister should be credited for his quality of taking quick and swift decisions.
One of the latest big decisions taken by the Modi 2.0 government is the scrapping of the Article 370 along with the article 35A on 5 August this year, which has added a lot of political feathers in the Prime Minister’s cap but whether it is a well thought out policy or not, begs lot of analysis. Questions like whether an assessment has been made about the outcomes of the decision in short, medium and long-term perspective or not, remains to be examined.
It is over a month and still there is no clarity as to how long it will take for the situation to normalise in the Kashmir Valley. Restrictions on inflow and outflow of information are in place with mobile and internet services being cut off. Over 400 political leaders are either in detention or under house arrest.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is the most important input provider on all security related issues and not only Kashmir, is expected to take a holistic view of any decision before giving his advice to the Prime Minister. He informed the media on 7 September that “easing of restrictions from all parts of Jammu and Kashmir depends on how Pakistan behaves.”
“Pakistan is trying to create a situation of instability so that it can take advantage and people can’t come out and then it will say people are themselves are observing civil curfew,” Doval told the media, who, as part of his professional career, was an operative in Pakistan.
Did the National Security Advisor of the Government of India not know or did he not take into account how Pakistan was going to behave, while advising Prime Minister Modi to take the big decision of scrapping Article 370 and dividing the state into two Union Territories? Did Doval think that Islamabad would not take advantage of the situation?
Anyone with little knowledge or understanding of Pakistan’s ruling elite would have said that Pakistan would not sit idle on an issue that has been its core issue since 1947. Doval’s observation or his assessment after little over a month does not betray anything that has not already been known to the informed people for decades.
In any case uncertainty is visible in the Modi government’s Kashmir policy which has added another crisis to a host of problems that required urgent attention of the ruling dispensation.
Learning a lesson from one’s own mistakes is not an attribute which distinguishes the BJP-led government that came to power in 2014 and is now in its second term. One of the major decisions was the demonetisation of currency notes of ₹500 and ₹1,000 denomination, which was trumpeted as a big step to unearth black money, fighting menace of fake currency, eliminating terror financing etc. Subsequent developments proved that none of the stated objectives were achieved, though it negatively impacted the economic growth while heaping misery and trouble upon the common man.
Another classic decision was about ushering in judicial reforms when the Modi government, almost immediately coming to power on a huge popular mandate, pushed for the enactment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), replacing the present system of collegium that decides the appointment and transfer of judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The enactment of the NJAC Act sowed seeds of conflict between the executive and judiciary whose after-effects the country continues to suffer.
Taking a close look at the way the GST was rushed through and came to be implemented is hugely disappointing because a good measure was turned into a nightmare for the small and medium business community. Creating so many tax slabs at the first instance and then adjusting them in response to demands of sections of the trading and business community resulted in confusion for both tax payers as well as those who collected the GST. Was there any rationale for five slabs in the GST that began with 0% and ended with 28% with 5%, 12% and 18% in between? Firefighting has been the norm of the Modi government and it is amply evident in its GST policy. In the backdrop of the economic slowdown, demand from the automobile sector to reduce the GST from 28% is a case in point.
The Modi government has a passion for taking quick decisions that are often impulsive in nature but lack sound reasoning. Big announcements with lots of fanfare and publicity create lots of sound and fury but often enough it signify very little. Opening up newer fronts results in dissipation of energies and resources and that is precisely what seems to be ailing the Modi government, resulting in an economic slowdown and falling of GDP growth.
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Satish Misra was Senior Fellow at ORF. He has been a journalist for many years. He has a PhD in International Affairs from Humboldt University ...Read More +