It’s about time and it’s been rumoured for a while now. It should happen. But how?
There is a lot of speculation doing the rounds in social as well as mainstream media. Names are being dropped. Let us stay away from that. And focus on two very important facts:
- The reshuffle needs to happen
- Right people need to be brought in.
Why do we think a reshuffle has to happen? Frankly because not all ministers have been doing as good a job as they should have. Plus there is too much talent, even for BJPs rather depleted bench, waiting in the wings for the right chance. Plus there is just about enough time for them to make a difference before the battle for 2024 starts.
This question is tied to the central question in everyone’s mind - how is Modi going to steer the country towards recovery and prosperity even as the pandemic rages on perhaps in a smaller and manageable scale? One can assume that latest by next March, perhaps by December 2021 if we are lucky, the COVID will become like one of the numerous problems in India that wounds but doesn’t kill. May be 5,000 or so cases a day perhaps less. Something we can live with even as we wait for the magic cure that kills it forever. Which vaccines surely are not as Israel, UK and others can tell us.
What follows from that is how can Modi steer the economy towards a V shaped recovery and then on a launching pad for real growth in next two years? How can he implement the lessons learnt from this pandemic and India’s systematic neglect of health infrastructure?
Logically this should mean going back to what he originally promised - less government, more governance. IMHO, the central pillars of this strategy should be
- Faster de-babuisation of economy. Modi’s track record has been rather pathetic on this front as MCA, GST, CBDT and other such fiefdoms of 50s style babus have been making things worse, not better.
- Massive push for public health infra - visible change in two years. May be a big, well equipped hospital in every district. It is do-able. Print money and throw at the problem. It will yield returns like nothing else can. Barring education perhaps.
- Investments is the one & only way to create jobs - and sell this to the public so they can identify the saboteurs that keep us poor. Businessmen and entrepreneurs, in a well regulated economy, are not clas enemies. They are out biggest assets. Justify each reform move around jobs for India’s youth. They will listen.
- Direct targeted welfare and transfer of money to poorest of poor so they can live decent lives and have the means to move up in life.
All of this means, we need Health, Finance, Industry ministries to be in better hands. I personally cringe whenever I listen to N. Sitharaman talk because she sounds exactly like a babu from 1950s. The “COVID compliance form” launched by MCA in early 2020 is a shining example of her track record. Dr. Harsh Vardhan, a well meaning and honest man clearly is not the right person to wage a full fledged war on health infra shortcomings.
We need a dedicated minister for de-bureaucratisation. My earnest hope is that I-anything-S will be abholished totally before 2024 and we have a babudom that is not colonial, arrogant, irresponsible and unaccountable. It is a colonial curse we have to get rid of.
- Answering questions on Tipu Sultan and other such useless topics in some “GK” test doesn’t give them any God given right to rule over crores of people deciding on everything from science, business, economics even arts and music.
- Yes, there have been exceptions but we cannot rule with such exceptions when the vast majority is incompetent and a drag on the nation.
- Even the titles given to them - District “magistrate” or “collector” reeks of colonial rule.
- They have to serve, not rule and be accountable for results. Not expect citizens to carry them on palanquin and bow and scrape before them, afraid of their moods, whims and pandering to their fancies.
- They should not be “visiting” or “inspecting”. They should be doing. And sent packing when they dont.
Who are the right people that can bring some fresh thinking and action?
Names that come to our mind are Baijayanth Panda, Jyotiradiya Scindia, Sonowal. These young leaders have the right age, skills and outlook. As a businessman that must have seen the worst of India’s babudom, Panda can be the right person to helm the ministry responsible for reforms in governance. Sonowal’s track record in Assam has been credible. After all, people have rewarded BJP with another term. He can fit in anywhere. Scindia is talented too. Check what any “independent, fearless journalist” said until he moved to BJP!
But beyond these names, unfortunately no known public figure comes to mind.
Modi can tap from India’s enormous talent in the private sector. Many have borne the brunt of India’s retarded and parasitic babus and their shenanigans even as they established companies, grew markets, prdouced goods and services and sold it locally and abroad. It must have been a daily struggle against odds stacked against them by a system that suited loot and plunder by corrupt dynasties.
Get a few of them and put them in charge of “less government”. Call it whatever ministry, we don’t care!
Attracting men of integrity and intelligence, especially those with fresh thoughts and passion is going to make a difference to Modi’s next two years in government. And to India. Needless to say, to BJP’s chances of coming back for record 3rd term in 2024.
Will he do it? Or will it be a reshuffle in the usual sense of the term? Just move a few netas around?
Time will tell.
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