Monday, 1 September 2014

Modi at 100: Not Out

The concept of "100 Days" was initiated in the United States of America when its President Delano Roosevelt borrowed the term "100 Days" from Napoleonic history to describe the workings of the 73rd US Congress which sat for 100 days from March 9, 1933 to June 17, 1933. Thus, the term came first to be used in a radio address on July 24 that same year. At this juncture, please note that 100 days does not refer to the then US President's tenure but the session of the Congress. 

Since then, 100 days has become an indicator of performance for all US Presidents and is now also being applied to an Indian Prime Minister. A period of 100 days in power is too short for anybody: more so, the Prime Minister of a country especially when Narendra Modi has sought five years to show some results in critical areas like power and the Ganga Clean Up project and ten years, in some areas like infrastructure. While I strongly believe that 100 days is too less a time for announcing major policy decisions or a complete overhaul a bureaucratic system, the least a 100 day stint could do is to set an agenda based on the immediate priorities a government would like to take. 

The country grappled with unprecedented levels of corruption, inflation and paralysis while people sought an escape route to break free from the shackles of the morass. It is, of course possible in the din and euphoria around the possibility of having a new government, we have tasted success in certain key areas. The return of nurses from Kerala who were stranded in Iraq, the refusal to engage with Pakistan for bilateral talks are some of the achievements under the reasonably new Modi Sarkaar. The Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech also urged investors to make in India, a call which was enough to revive India's sagging GDP growth rate. After nearly 15 years of ruling Gujarat, a challenge set before him was to manage the reigns of a multicultural India and the challenge was to ensure that he delivers within the first 100 days. Now the occasion has past proving both his admirers as well as critics wrong and successfully building a consensus that the incumbent Prime Minister has transitioned from being a chief minister to the most important person in the country smoothly. 

There is no doubt that India five years from now will be a different country from India from what we see today. How and the degree to which the transformation takes place is debatable but there is no doubt that a strong foundation has been laid as the Prime Minister addressed issues of cleanliness, hygiene and women safety. Sure, we are witnessing a new round of nation-building which can be successful only if there is a sense of belonging and individual participation. Summing up, the first 100 days of the Modi Sarkaar have established that Sri. Narendra Modi's focus is more on clearing up the current bottlenecks and expediting decision making rather than interference in major policies. What he will ultimately deliver five years from now is open for debate, but success or failure, it is India that will benefit. 

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