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Impatient India wants delivery In the weeks and months before May 16, 2014, when the Narendra Modi juggernaut was rolling relentlessly across India and whipping up electoral passion unseen in the country in a long time, some wise men would resort to levity to try and provide some perspective to the "wave".
It is as if he will win the election on May 16 and these fellows chanting "Modi, Modi" in rally after mega rally will get jobs in their email on May 17, they would guffaw. Of course he won on May 16, and indeed there was no job in the email the next day. If there ever was a new government in India whose back was already bent by the weight of expectations it was carrying on arrival on Raisina Hill, it louis vuitton purses new york was this. Also read: A year after his coronation, Modi garners mixed response in Varanasi But leaders who aspire to change the course of history and leave a personal imprint rarely allow themselves to be weighed down by the burden of expectations, let alone be ruffled by the levity of the learned. Certainly not one who sees a half empty glass as full saying the empty part is filled with air. Or as Amit Shah, BJP president and Modi 's man for all days, told this magazine last week, "Expectations are expectations. We have to fulfil them." It could be as spectacularly simple as that. Transitions, however, cannot be simple, leave alone transformation. Especially if it involves breaking policy walls and shaking up the steel frame of the nation and changing its mindset from the word go; building frameworks and, more importantly, drawing red lines for a ministry whose first name was inexperience; centralising decision making and trying to control not just the medium but also the message; and dipping into the campaign goody bag of phrases and abbreviations and assembling schemes and programmes that needed to convey action: Jan Dhan, Namami Gange, Make in India, Skill India, Beti Bachao. If intention was the sole benchmark of measuring the success of the first year of a new government, Modi and his fellow mountaineers would score high marks for wanting to sprint from the base camp to the summit. And it is not as if the intention has not been followed by action. As the following pages show, NDA 2 has checked several critical boxes India was staring at with hope and longing from inflation and higher FDI to lower interest rates, newer fighter jets, decisiveness, transparency, and significantly, the pragmatism to reverse its own bull headed positions on contentious issues. Of course, some of these were helped by global tailwinds. But when a wave changes a narrative and the narrative rides that wave, a tailwind is a well deserved stroke of good fortune. Read: Modi has successfully used social media to shape his image: Study The balance sheet at the end of the first year in business is, therefore, in black and bold. A story of scandal, povertarianism and policy paralysis has been replaced by ambition, competition and action. But it has also brought with it impatience, a greed for speed. When a nation of 1.25 billion people begins to move, it can have little regard for the laws of physics, let alone those of politics and governance. And the digital native that Modi has become would well know and understand this need for haste, having stepped out of the box and seen the way forward. It is in the same mould that India remains alive to the promise of Modi. Economy shaping up Prime Minister Narendra Modi. First year, Four stars The lowest GDP growth in a decade, stubborn inflation, a falling rupee, negative industrial growth, infrastructure bottlenecks, inconsistent tax policies, slow clearances, unemployment it was as terrifying as economic indicators could get for any party assuming power and taking control of Asia's third largest economy. Cut to 12 months later. Both wholesale and consumer price inflation have fallen consistently, the RBI has cut rates by 50 basis points, growth rates are back on the upswing, spending has been kept under tight control, plans made to revive the railways, lay more roads, change labour laws and implement the goods and service tax. Yet, the smiles are muted. Big ticket reforms that can pump up individual spending, boost investment and growth, is the new mantra. Charitable business leaders and economy experts feel that it is unfair to judge a government just by the very first year. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki. "For decades, manufacturing has been non competitive and industrial activity has not grown. It takes time to set it right." Analysts laud the firm steps taken by the government but add that they will bear fruit only in the long term. Meanwhile, the logjam over the land acquisition bill has taken the sheen off those steps. And what seems to have disappointed many is the lack of a clear road map for the future, even in some of its high decibel campaigns such as 'Make in India' or the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. "The government is failing on sharing the next stage of its grand vision, perhaps because it does not have it," says Laveesh Bhandari, chief economist at Indicus Analytics. Whether it is Smart City or Swachh Bharat, there is limited clarity, he says. "If this can be corrected, we will have a very exciting four years ahead." Amid such diverging views, what are the measures the government needs to take to truly herald "achche din"? For one, it has to learn to work better with other parties on important legislations. It should also engage with the states better if it needs to get projects off the ground. The more important changes required are in laws governing land, energy, labour, trade and infrastructure. And then there is the need to avoid missteps such as taxing investors for transactions done years ago. The indicators may have changed from May 2014, but the challenges have not. Defence more muscle One of the NDA's biggest achievements in the past year has been to fire up the defence ministry's stalled decision making engine. Antony, decision making had sputtered to a halt. Critical decisions to buy warships and fighter jets were in limbo. Gaps in existing ammunition inventories had begun to widen. Anonymous complaints were used by business rivals to sabotage arms contracts and blacklists, Antony's weapon of choice, further reduced the armed forces' options. A struggling decade old contract to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France was euthanised under Parrikar. A fresh one to buy 36 Rafales off the shelf will be inked soon. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not shied away from slashing the previous government's half baked decisions not backed by financial resources. A gigantic Rs 64,000 crore proposal for a Mountain Strike Corps comprising 90,000 soldiers was pared by half. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), long seen as an armed forces bugbear for skipping deadlines, has been put on notice. The government has levelled the playing field between private industry and the public sector by imposing excise duty on public sector enterprises. The NDA has correctly identified defence industry as the heart of its flagship 'Make in India' programme. A robust 'Make in India' in defence could reverse a crippling 60 per cent dependence on imported weaponry. Studies have shown that a 20 25 per cent reduction in imports could create over 100,000 highly skilled jobs within the louis vuitton shoes in burlesque the movie country. Internal security being on the guard It has also been smooth sailing thus far for the home ministry which pilots the ship of internal security. No major terrorist attack has hit the country, the first major incident free year in close to a decade. Peaceful elections in Jammu and Kashmir last November installed a popularly elected PDP BJP government in Srinagar. Talks with the pro talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) resumed on May 15 this year after an 18 month break, holding out fresh hope of resolving the three decade old insurgency. Talks with the NSCN(IM) faction of the Nagas underway since 1997 have now rekindled expectations of a conclusion to an insurgency as old as independent India. Yet, one of d-ring louis vuitton bags the inexplicable disappointments has been the home ministry's inability to move ahead on one of its key manifesto promises modernisation of India's colonial era police force. The NDA's new Naxal policy announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh last year is yet to materialise on the ground, even as Prime Minister Modi visited Chhattisgarh and promised to weed out Maoists. The insurgency affecting four North eastern states has simmered out of sight of New Delhi, hence increasing he threat of a deadly new phase of insurgency. Foreign policy embrace all On his early visits abroad to Brazil, Japan and the US Narendra Modi was so conscious of impressing his hosts he would practise his speech before a bunch of IFS officers. The man from Vadnagar, Gujarat, was so determined to learn how to hold his own with the world's most powerful leaders that he didn't mind letting his guard down in front of sophisticated diplomats. But they warmed to him, believing his mannerisms to be completely authentic. Modi was lucky; he had some of the best diplomats to guide him through the tortuous bylanes of international diplomacy. For instance, in Nepal in August 2014, he made all the right noises, advising the country's parliament to get its act together and formulate a Constitution. It is when he didn't listen and cancelled the foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan on a whim because its High Commissioner Abdul Basit had met a Hurriyat leader that Modi put his first foot wrong. That decision to not engage with Pakistan is now being slowly reversed. Modi called Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif after the Peshawar school attack in December 2014 and two months later, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar visited Islamabad. Now, the two countries have decided to play cricket again, albeit in the UAE. Some would call it unfair to hold the misstep on Pakistan over Modi's head given the decision was shaped by his and the RSS's generally anti Pakistan mindset rather than realpolitik. But then, what would one make of his recent near disaster on the boundary agreement with Bangladesh before he overruled himself? Modi was apparently ready to hold party interest over national interest the BJP had persuaded him that Assam should be kept out of the agreement or it would suffer in the 2016 state polls but eventually pragmatism prevailed and he did not hesitate to roll it back. Still, fact is that Modi has brought an incredible energy to the foreign office. By announcing e visas to the Chinese, for example, louis vuitton neverfull diaper bag he dismissed in one stroke the nonsensical concerns of the security establishment that had bullied Manmohan Singh into buying into its fears.
Modi has taken a leaf out of the US policy on China embracing Beijing and believing the benefits of the embrace will persuade it to tread more carefully on Delhi's toes. Modi is sharp enough to realise his public bonhomie with "good friend Barack" (Obama) will hold him in good stead with that other great Asian power. He knows there is nothing the Chinese respect more than strength.
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