One year of Narendra Modi Govt: Some successes on foreign policy front

By Harihar Swarup

Time moves fast in Delhi; Narendra Modi completes one-year in office on May 26 this year. It is time to take stock of his government’s achievements and failures rather than fashionable credo of the first 100 days. Doubtless, he has brought decisiveness to decision-making, being recognized as the leader of his party and government in contrast to his predecessor. First seven months of his rule-from May 26 to December, 2014-demonstrated spectacular success on many fronts, raising the expectations of the people. But in the year 2015, his popularity graph appears to be dipping. With the euphoria of victory in the Lok Sabha elections getting over, he faces tough problems domestically.
Starting with his swearing-in, Modi began with inviting India’s neighbours, including Pakistan, for the event. He has organized well his travels abroad, to some nations close by and to the United States, to Australia, to Japan, to the island nations in the Indian ocean, to France, Germany and Canada and in getting President Barack Obama twice, the second time as the chief  guest for the last  Republic day celebrations. The Prime Minister, at the time of writing this column, is on a visit to China. His track record on foreign policy has been more-or-less satisfactory.
The overall message Modi was trying to send was that he was an activist in foreign policy and that India was seeking a place in the world not merely as a balancer but as an aspiring leading nation, given its attributes to size, population, technological expertise and intellectual resources.
The BJP made history in the 2014 Parliamentary elections by securing m 282 of the 543 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha, ending the coalition era and its compulsions. Modi’s was the first opposition government with an absolute majority. What was most significant was that the Indian electorate voted Narendra Modi’s BJP and not BJP’s Narendra Modi. Electorally, 2014 might have been a successful year with victories in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, but 2015 gave a rude shock to the ruling BJP with a humiliating defeat in Delhi. The coming election in Bihar is yet another big challenge for the BJP.
His record on domestic front is not that rosy. Much was expected of him in the economic sphere, with his emphasis on development and extolling the Gujarat model. Given the expectations, there was general feeling of disappointment among businessmen and entrepreneurs that there was no “big bang” in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s substantive budget although many agree on second thoughts that it was in the right direction.
It was in pursuance of the Land Bill that the government could not get its act together and the changes it made to the UPA version gave the Congress and the opposition parties the opportunity to unite to make Modi’s task difficult. In the process, the NDA has lost political capital with the farming community. The Government’s objective was to further industrialization by making land transactions speedier, but farming needs wholesale reforms, with low productivity, fragmented farms and too many people producing too little, despite rapidly increasing stocks.
It is in two other areas the Modi government’s record left much to be desired; education and inter-communal relations. Its failure has been has been its inability to give the country at least a hint of new policies in education and health care. The public health services so abysmal that even the poorest man prefer private doctors.
In the education field, the stakes were higher because it was a key area for the RSS in moulding young opinion and in placing sympathetic   men in key historical and research organizations. In the Sangh organization, mythology is history, a shining example being provided by doctored text books in Gujarat, to detriment of the education of the young.
However, it is in the field of inter-communal relations, with country’s large Muslim minority and the Christians, that the new dispensation must take a large share of blame. Statistics alone are of little help because, thanks to the flow of statements coming from the BJP’s rank and MPs, an atmosphere of distrust has been created among minorities which is construed by a section of the BJP supporters as license for desecrating churches and mosques at the slightest provocation.
The RSS has its own theories that all resident Indians are Hindus, whatever religion they profess, but spreading communal hatred is a dangerous proposition in a country as diverse as India. Modi seems unable to bring truants, if they are such, to books. Perhaps, his problem is that he himself has been reared in the RSS cradle.
As Prime Minister Modi has shown a measure of pragmatism, subordinating his instinctive belief to his onerous job of leader to all Indians. How he squares the circle remains to be seen but he has shown a capacity to learn. He has four more years to resolve his dilemmas. (IPA Service)

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