First Anniversary – a guest post by Dr. Vidyasagar

As we come upon the first anniversary of the supposedly momentous 2014 election, some people are wondering why Mr. Modi has not ushered in major changes, given the “sweeping mandate” he has been given. But was he really given such a sweeping mandate?

Let us make a list of some of the major things that were wrong with India until May 2014. I would say:

The Lok Sabha
The Rajya Sabha
The bureaucracy
The judiciary
The media
The industrialists

Out of this list, ONLY THE FIRST was fixed by the election. The Rajya Sabha remains a mockery of democracy, consisting of the unelected and the unelectable. The manner in which the current Rajya Sabha has gone about thwarting the will of the people shows beyond any question that it is an outmoded institution that needs to be disbanded. But that requires a constitutional amendment and so may not happen. So I think Modi is doing the right thing by trying to get whatever he can passed through the RS in a normal fashion, and using the joint sitting as a last resort. He could of course score lots of debating points by passing lots of bills in the LS and watch them sink in the RS. I think it is good that he is NOT doing that. Those who accuse him of not using his “massive” mandate need to realize the ground realities.

I was in government service when the BJP came to power the first time, and can vouch from firsthand knowledge that many of the bureaucrats felt that the BJP government was an aberration. All they had to do was to bide their time, and things would be back to “normal,” i.e. a Congress sarkar. In the event, they were proved right. I would expect that the same attitude prevails today. Vajpayee did not have the guts to hand-pick his bureaucrats. Modi on the other hand seems to have no hesitation in hand-picking his bureaucrats, but his choices seem to be limited to those who had earlier worked with him in Gujarat. That can lead to its own problems. For one thing, his talent pool would be very small. He has to learn how to judge people and shunt them out ruthlessly if they don’t deliver. But trusting and empowering persons whom he has not known for a very long time seems to be difficult for him.

Fifteen of twenty years ago most people would have said that at least the judiciary in India is not corrupt. Recent events such as the “telephone bail” to Teesta Setalvad, the out of turn bail hearing of Salman Khan etc. would have put paid to that idea. The collegium system whereby the judges chose their own successors has led to this pass. The NJAC is an attempt to remedy the situation, but the shameless manner in which the CJI has tried to sabotage the actual implementation of the NJAC shows that the judiciary won’t give up its corrupt and nepotistic ways without a fight.

The media in India has now descended below whatever depths one could have imagined for them a year ago. They have gone from spinning the news to outright fabrication. One has only to read the daily list of horrors on Opindia to find out that there is not a single news outlet that is worth reading. Paradoxically I now get my news from the tweets of a few respectable people.

And finally we come to industry. You (he is referring to this blogger) and others have rightly pointed out that Indian industry does not WANT a level playing field. What they want is a titled playing field but without paying any bribes. One would have expected them to welcome a government that is trying to put in place a rules-based regime. Instead they just complain and complain.

Any assessment of what the Modi sarkar has achieved during one year has to be judged against the feebleness of the so-called mandate that we the people have given him.

Of course, some of the negative impressions are self-inflicted, such as the retro-tax terrorism. Jaitley has to be held solely responsible for that. The sooner Modi clips his wings (dumping him might not be practical), the better it would be all-around.


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