Are we looking too much in the invitation of SAARC leaders in the Modi’s swearing in ceremony?

by Barrister Harun ur Rashid | June 1, 2014 7:48 am

Prime Minister Narendra always thinks big and grandiose. That is why from a teacup seller he became the Prime Minister of India with a massive mandate. It is unique quality for a person who always thinks big and tries to implement it. He is ambitious, knows how to be popular with the mass and a good administrator with firm hand on every sectors of his administration in the Gujarat state.. He suffers no fools and inefficient people.

His life is like a monk and has followed Indian Swami Vivekananda. He is a vegetarian and leads a life on the pillar of Hindutva doctrine. He likes to call India “ Hindustan”, forgetting the 8% of Muslim people out of 1.2 billion people of India.

He also thought of the Statue of Unity which would be182 metres (597 ft) monument of late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel , former Deputy Prime Minister of India in the Gujarat state. On completion, it will be the tallest statue in the world. The Government of Gujarat has allotted Rs 100 crore for the project in the budget for 2012-13. Modi laid the foundation stone of statue on 31 October 2013, the 138th birth anniversary of Vallabhbhai Patel.

Given the background he thought of his swearing in ceremony on 26th May needed to be witnessed by a huge gathering including SAARC leaders and the leader of Mauritius, in which the majority are Indian origin nationals. The swearing in ceremony at the foreground of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was attended by 4,000 guests. I think he forgot to invite Fiji and Guyana leaders in which there are so many Indian origin nationals.

One fact came out is that although BJP under Modi has gained huge majority in the parliament its popular support was only 31% (Congress 19%) and the BJP’s massive majority is due to the first-past-the post electoral system and under proportional representation , BJP would have got a little more than 160 seats.

We may have looked into his invitation to SAARC leaders too much mega diplomacy for strengthening SAARC but it fits the pattern of Modi’s grandiose vision and action. It has to show to the world his gaining power as Prime Minister of India.

Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to New Delhi and had a talk with the Indian Prime Minister, there will be hardly any progress until the main issue of Kashmir dispute is addressed by India.

Kashmir has been much more than a territorial claim to India. As Kashmir is the only Muslim state within the Indian federal structure, it cannot afford to lose it because it fears that it will not be able to hold up evidence that India is a secular country without Kashmir. India thinks that if it concedes to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, it may encourage other separatists, in particular the tribes in the north eastern states to secede from India.

For Pakistan, the Kashmir is an integral part of its justification of its existence of “two-nations” theory and it cannot let it go to India.

Kashmir dispute has been a spoiler for more than 60 years in regional stability. Former US President Bill Clinton considered Kashmir as “potentially the most dangerous place in the world”.

Modi’s biggest challenge is to turn around a faltering economy of India, not its foreign policy.. Most analysts appear united in their view that fixing the economy will be his top priority in the first few months of his stint. Modi made “economic recovery” one of the main talking points of his campaign and many believe the time has come for him to deliver. Another campaign slogan was sectarianism which probably may be sidelined at present.

India is a vast country with regional parties and issues. The Gujarat mode which Modi has followed may not be suitable for the whole country. There is also a Kerala model which is better than the Gujarat model in terms of human development index, education, health and nutrition.

The young people voted for Modi on promises of jobs and if he does not fulfill his promises, they will be unforgiving and his popularity will gradually decline.

“The world will rediscover India if Narendra Modi can address the problems of slow growth and high inflation he inherits from the departing government,” economic analyst Ruchir Sharma writes in this Economic Times column.

His immediate challenge would be to take a call on the Congress’ populist programmes like the rural job guarantee scheme and the right to food. These schemes have provided jobs and food to millions, but have proven to be expensive.

Given the background, a decision by PM Narendra Modi to ask his ministers to set their tasks for the first 100 days in office is the top story in the country’s media. Many newspapers approve that the members of the cabinet have been instructed to focus on good governance, effective public services and speedy implementation of state programmes.

Some, however, wonder if the new administration has not set its aim too high. Modi has listed 10 priorities as a guide to his team. These include ensuring greater transparency, boosting infrastructure and investment and putting the emphasis on education, health, water, energy and roads.

The Hindustan Times, however, thinks that Modi’s 10 priorities “appeared lacking in detail as to what the government would grasp first given the scale of the country’s economic problems, including high prices, poor public finances and a waning of interest among investors”.

“The government must create a more welcoming climate for small businesses,” argues Gulzar Natarajan in The Indian Express. He points out that one of the biggest challenges for the new administration “is to reverse the declining trend in private investments”.

“Time to start selling”, the financial daily the Business Standard says in a headline. “The market expansion over the past month has revived all the retail interest that had been missing for years. Thus, it is a propitious moment to revive the privatisation project. And disinvestment of government shares in PSUs [public sector undertakings] will be a good start,” says the daily.

The daily warns that “expectations from Modi remain sky high” and that his government “must deliver fast on creating jobs and building infrastructure”.

The press is also highlighting the possibility of a “robust partnership” between Delhi and Beijing after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called to congratulate his new Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

There are too many unknowns about Modi and let us wait for 100 days to see whether he meets the challenges ahead of him.

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