Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Open for business

Reading Time: 3 minutesHow well is the Modi-fication of India really working?

Narendra Modi and his government have now been at helm of affairs in India for over six months. Political pundits and media outlets across India have been busy dissecting the performance of India’s incumbent government following its first six months in office. Every second day opinion pieces appear in leading publications with such appraisals.

The first six months have seen Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, jet-setting around the globe – visiting prominent global economies and the so called “super-powers” of the world. The message behind all these frantic overseas trips has been clear, loud, and consistent. The Indian Prime Minister has been doing the “sell job” on India as an economy to invest in and do business with. The economic development of India is the centrepiece of these endeavours. And, it seems nations and political leaders across the world have taken note of this message.

Not many of Modi’s predecessors, in recent times, have taken it upon themselves to be the face India or have campaigned to promote and portray India as an economy with potential for investment and growth for foreign nations and businesses. That’s a big tick for this government. And for Modi as the leader of the current government.

Seldom is a Prime Minister nicknamed a “rockstar” by the media fraternity of an entire nation. It is not often a train full of people undertake an overnight journey to meet a political leader. The ‘Modi Express’ as they called it. Politicians often make headlines. But, it is not every day that a politician visiting another nation is treated like a celebrity. That is exactly what happened when Modi visited Australia last month.

Modi, as we all know by now, is a proficient orator. He craves centre stage. Absolutely relishes it. Give him an audience and he will leave them spell-bound. Be it Madison Square Garden or the All-Phones Arena, or a rally somewhere in remote India. Not many global leaders of today command such oratory prowess. And for most of the Indian people I know, it is such a refreshing change from Manmohan Singh.

India, and Indians across the globe, seem to have found a voice in Narendra Modi. He is a savvy public speaker. Keeps his messages simple. Adorns them with the choicest of words. Mixes them with an adequate dose of wit and humour. And in doing so connects with young and old alike.

A clever mention about ‘shirt-fronting’ while addressing the Australian Parliament, was one such example of Modi’s flair for engaging the audience.

It appears Modi and his government have spent the first six months of their tenure spreading the word about India at a global level, informing the world about the economic and development opportunities that India presents. To use an Australian analogy, Modi has indicated to the world that “India is open for business”.

The focus for Indiashould now be turned inwards. The “sell-job” to the world has been done. And done well. It’s time now for India to prepare itself to deliver on these development opportunities when they come its way.

Modi and his team of leaders must now ensure, India has the internal capability, integrity, and agility to live up to the promises that they have made to the world;to make sure foreign investors who come to India are not let down.

India, regrettably, is oft associated with an inflexible political and social system. Allegations of corruption within its political and official ranks make frequent headlines. And this is the image that needs resurrection. The world, prior to lining up with their investment buckets on Indian door-steps, will seek evidence of a ‘clean-up’ of the administrative, bureaucratic, and political channels in India. Modi and his government must therefore demonstrate total commitment to a cultural overhaul within India.

They must ensure that India is not yet again tainted by mega scams at the hands of corrupt individuals and businesses.

The most important aspect will be to ensure that all benefits and prosperity from this economic development are not restricted to the top tier of select business and political leaders. Instead, profits must flow to improve the lifestyle of every citizen of India.

As the world invests in India, India must start investing in its own frameworks and citizens. Modi must ensure that India is not yet again tainted by mega scams at the hands of corrupt individuals and businesses. Such transparency and stern governance will determine the appraisal of this government for the remaining four and half years of their tenure.

The world will be eagerly watching the “Indian story” unfold. And the onus is on Modi and his government to live up to their word.

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Sanam Sharma
A typical middle class guy who is abundantly opinionated, moderately flawed, and adequately grounded

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