100 Days of Modi Sarkar; ‘Finally, we have a PM in Charge’

Happenings

Expressing concern on energy and public sector banks, Dr Shankar Acharya asserted: “When the new government came to power, the economy was in bad shape”

As the Narendra Modi-led NDA government completed 100 days in office, many of the long-delayed economic reforms have finally begun taking shape. While the Modi government has been successful to an extent in putting the economy back on track, we still have a long way to go in executing key structural reforms.

The Ananta Aspen Centre organised an event on the first 100 days of the new government, which was led by an expert panel comprising Dr Shankar Acharya, honorary professor, ICRIER, G Parthasarathy, former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan, and Ashok Malik, senior columnist and author. Swapan Dasgupta, senior columnist and public policy analyst, steered the discussion.

In light of the ruling party’s election slogan—‘Achhe Din Aane Wale Hain’ (Good days are about to come), the panel assessed the government’s performance and reflected upon its future policy discourse.

Swapan Dasgupta succinctly put forward the agenda with his opening remarks, “A large section of power establishment in Delhi was completely unprepared for the election verdict. They were not only unfamiliar with the government that assumed office, but they were also reasonably unfamiliar with the details of the present prime minister although they had a definite view. They felt the need to actually know what the person who is likely to govern India for the next five years will be all about. It is a very preliminary and ad hoc assessment to talk about the first 100 days of Modi government.”

Ashok Malik opined, “When you look at the first 100 days of the current government, the first sentiment that you get is that somebody is in charge which was lacking in the previous regime. The authority of the prime minister and his office has been restored. Part of Mr Modi’s massive mandate was to make the PMO and PM authoritative, not authoritarian and he has tried to do that. People are glad that somebody is in charge. A lot of people expected, in cricketing terms, Modi to come and hit a few shots like Sehwag. Instead the government preferred a cautious and steady start. PM Modi took several key initiatives like banking for all, toilets for girls, sanitation etc. In some cases, Mr Modi’s decision making has been slower than expected. The restructuring of the planning commission was announced on August 15. It’s been almost a month, but we still don’t know what the new planning commission will be like. We have no idea what it means and about its members. The whole business of outsourcing ideas and inviting suggestion began after the August 15 announcement, which should have happened before. It is important because the way the new planning commission restructures and the way priority is given to the new body will tell us about Mr Modi’s economic vision and how he plans to involve the states.”

Expressing concern on energy and public sector banks, Dr Shankar Acharya asserted: “When the new government came to power, the economy was in bad shape. An enormous sense of confidence has now returned with the coming of the Modi government, but the July budget was a lost opportunity. People were looking for the practical economic vision of the new government that did not come through. This was a tactical error. The energy sector is an area that is crying out for some solution. The health of public sector banks is also a bit of a time bomb, which is more serious than the government thinks.”

“Foreign Policy is determined by leadership at the highest level. Mr Modi as the prime minister has surprised the world. In my view, Mr Modi should have invited Myanmar to his swearing-in as well. Foreign policy is also related to national security. We need 75 percent FDI in defence, and I hope the government will work towards this,” said Ambassador Parthasarathy.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election witnessed the emergence of BJP with a historic mandate under the leadership of Narendra Modi, who promised to script a glorious future for India.

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