New Year, New Resolutions
Everyone has bid farewell to 2015. As we move on to 2016, here are some resolutions and aspirations the nation hopes to fulfill through the government.
Notwithstanding the recent attacks in Pathankot, 2016 could witness a significant political change in Indo-Pak relations. On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impromptu visit to Lahore, where he met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. It was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian head of state in almost 12 years. Both leaders had also met on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference on December 1. Narendra Modi has presented a perfect pitch to Pakistan for better relations with India. From the Indian side, everything has been very positive in 2015. It remains to be seen what the response would be from the other side. Will both the nations embark on a new chapter? One certainly hopes so.
The people of India would also like to see a new political equation between the ruling and opposition parties. The Indian Parliament lost out many sessions in 2015 due to the erratic behaviour of the opposition. Moreover, the treasury bench had also failed to create a conducive atmosphere. The challenge persists for the NDA government as they get ready to present the budget in February-March. Time will tell us whether the New Year can produce better results.
In the past year, Modi’s colleagues and fellow party leaders had caused much embarrassment by making controversial, communal, and sexist remarks. Can the Modi government avoid such situations in the new year? Can he keep his colleagues from making irresponsible comments?
India’s social stability has seen many fluctuations in the past year. The nation’s growth story has witnessed the same recurring theme; that the pattern of economic growth is accentuating insecurities. However, the million dollar question remains: should the gains from economic growth be ploughed back to achieve social security for everyone?
Throughout the past year, the government was criticised for its policy measures directed to farmers and the poorer classes. Will the government succeed in taking the desired steps to improve their lot? The new year would like to see greater financial prosperity for labourers and a downward trend in farmer suicides.
There is hope among the people that they can afford essential commodities like pulses and onion this year. In the past year, the exorbitant hike in prices was an obstacle to the fulfillment of their daily basic needs.
Findings from the Global Economy Outlook 2016 state that India’s growth rate may see some improvement in the New Year. But questions surround its significance. Will inflation and price hike be kept at bay? Everything will depend upon the government’s new policy and how the Finance Minister plans to formulate a robust system in his Budget. Will the Finance Minister present some New Year gifts to the nation like relaxation in taxes and fringe benefits?
Prime Minister Modi had announced key initiatives like “Make in India” and “Digital India”, among others, to improve India’s global prospects. However, 2015 did not see any substantial progress in these initiatives. Suffice to say, many Indians are anxious to see whether any of these initiatives will yield concrete results in 2016.
Safety and Security
The NDA government had promised to revamp criminal laws surrounding rape and build indoor toilets for every household. Some laws have been amended. However, despite the promise of “zero tolerance” for violence against women, the nation has seen many brutal crimes against them in 2015. It remains to be seen if 2016 can see a downward trend in incidents of violence against women. The increasing threats of terrorism, civil unrest, and religious/ethnic conflict have also made headlines throughout 2015. Violent crimes, especially those committed against foreigners in 2015 have damaged India’s image.
Even after the arrival of a new government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Valley remains a hotbed for terror-related incidents and violent public unrest. The government’s efforts to tackle these incidents have been remarkable, if not adequate. Everyone wishes to see whether the government can provide better security, safety for women, tourists, and citizens at the border in 2016.
RoI on foreign policy
Modi’s foreign visits in 2015 have been discussed in all forums. Suffice to say, Modi’s foreign policy initiatives have been largely appreciated as well. There have been a lot of predictions by market ‘pundits’ that international funds will flow into India after Modi’s motivational addresses on foreign shores and the recent changes in FDI policy. Will the New Year be favourable for those sectors?
The nation has seen many tides and waves in 2015. The Prime Minister’s Office has also been criticised for centralising foreign policy-related decisions. Will the Prime Minister focus on domestic growth? Of course, nobody can predict how 2016 will turn out for political, economic, and social reformations. But, apparently there is nothing wrong with resolutions, even though year after year the cycle repeats itself.
(The author is a freelance journalist. Views expressed are strictly personal)