Millennium Post

One hundred days of stately fortitude

Walking the tightrope of a fraught national politics and balancing it with fiscal consolidation in merely three months is something that everyone except Narendra Modi himself expected from the Prime Minister of India. The first 100 days, although celebrated and decried as a milestone in the promising stint that Modi government claims it will eventually have, are therefore a mixed bag of quite a few hits and some misses with long-term implications. Of these, the highly lauded features of Modi government have been several. What takes the cake is a tremendously increased work ethic, bureaucratic efficiency and a purported elimination of red tape from the system.

However, it has come with a caveat – there’s a centralisation of power in the hands of the PM, one not seen since the time of Emergency under late former prime minister Indira Gandhi. In his inaugural Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi batted for the poor once again and announced the Jan Dhan Yojana, which promised bank accounts for all. Earlier, Modi had emphasised sanitation for women, education and financial welfare for minorities, women and others from economically weaker sections, thus underscoring his pro-people leanings in continuation of his electoral promises.

Evidently, Modi has moved away from doctrinaire notions of who’s a right-winger and is trying to establish himself as a centrist, who is both at the helm of affairs and at home in the world. His government has announced new super-specialty hospitals, new central universities, IITs, IIMs as well as other economic incentives for the lower classes, thereby emboldening his image as the leader who can not only steer the nation towards greater and holistic growth and development, but also win over his people again and again.

The other startling achievement has been Modi’s stupendous feat on the dais of foreign policy. Starting from his swearing-in ceremony where he swept the leaders of SAARC nations off their feet, the PM has continued his symbolic conquest of Nepal, Bhutan and now Japan. His one-billion-dollar gift to Nepal, his assurance of sovereignty to Bhutan and his sealing a 35-billion-dollar investment deal with Japan and upping strategic relationship in each instance – all indicate a proactive and creative diplomacy to foster more dynamism in the international arena. His natural sense of impromptu theatricality adds performance to the product that he generates by the dint of his political acumen, making firm alliances with powers that had receded from our immediate cultural memory.

Business indicators such as sensex, stock exchanges and other invaluable pointers have underlined that Modi has reinjected life into a sagging economy, and the 10 July Union Budget gave a moderate credence to both to entrepreneurial spirit as well as to the aspirational mindset of the country. Yet, if there’s one sphere where Modi has faltered and massively happens to be his apathy towards ensuring better social cohesion. A communally sensitive country could do with better guidance on that front, Modi must understand.    

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