The Narendra Modi government has completed 100 days in power. Those people who wholeheartedly supported him to power are happy about the performance of his government so far. There are criticisms that it is a one man show by the PM as most of the other ministers are keeping silence on key issues. PM is going through important files from respective ministries making the ministers almost dummies.
The Good Move of Modi Government
In these hundred days the PM has extensively traveled inside the country for helping his party in its election campaign in the states where assembly elections were announced. In the by-elections in other states he could not get the desired result for his party. The PM has visited countries like Japan and USA as a guest and hosted the Chinese premier in India. He actively participated in the BRICS summit too, which witnessed the historical proclamation to form a new bank aimed at the development of its members and allied countries. All these events got widespread attention and coverage in media and public due to its significance.
After going through his plans and accomplishments in these 100 days, it is now the time to ask the important question – where the government is heading to in its policies?
The government has taken some hasty decisions which have been announced just before and after the foreign visits to please the Leaders of these countries, especially the US. The decision which was mostly criticized by the public as well as experts is the decontrolling of prices for more than 100 drugs which are used for the treatment of cancer, cardiac diseases, diabetes and HIV AIDS. Indian MNCs as well as the US and European majors were very much annoyed and concerned about the decision of the regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), to control prices of such lucrative medicines. Their turn over, profit, share prices, etc. were down once the said medicines were included in the NPPA list.
The government’s decision to limit the powers of NPPA in choosing the drugs for which the prices are to be controlled has drawn flak from NGOs and other people concerned with it. During his US visit, he signed a pact to form a joint body to discuss the patent related issues which will allow the multinational pharma giants to loot the poor Indians.
Development or Crony Capitalism?
So instead of controlling the market for helping the underprivileged people, NaMo government is heading towards controlling the regulators, who are creating hurdles in his developmental agenda, and open the market to crony capitalists. There are more examples to this:
1. Reducing the power of National Green Tribunal
Some of the decisions of the Green Tribunal have irritated the government in the notion that they are not in favour of development. The clearance that is required to be given by the regulator to any massive projects in forest and wet lands is a matter of concern and anxiety for Indian companies. So they are asking the government to help them by cutting the power of the Green Tribunal itself. The government is considering setting up a committee to review the National Green Tribunal Act and might turn the judicial tribunal into an administrative one under the ministry itself.
Supreme Court last week criticized the government for its inaction in producing reports to be submitted in the court in connection with the environmental clearance of two hydro power projects in Uttarakhand. The court used word like ‘Kumbhakarna Seva’ in connection with the idleness of the government.
Gadgil committee report which has been prepared for the protection of Western Ghats is also being sidelined against the will of state BJP leaders. The agricultural land in India is shrinking like never before. Thousands of acres of paddy fields are acquired for beginning industries. The act prepared by the Manmohan government for the protection and compensation of land owners will be amended by the NaMo government as per the latest report. The reason is that it is making hurdles to mega industrial projects. So protecting our environment is not the primary concern of the government. They are more interested in giving freebies to corporate houses to start industries which will indirectly deteriorate our forest and agriculture lands.
CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 6698 crores on cement manufacturers in cement price cartelization case. Then CCI slapped Rs. 2544 crores penalty on three car companies and asked the auto majors to make accessible the spare parts of vehicles manufactured by them in shops other than their exclusive service centers. Many of such service centers are charging big amount from the customers for the spares to get maximum profit.
The customers are forced to use their service as the spares are not available outside. The verdict made an end to such restrictive trade practices followed by the auto majors. They approached the government to control the competition commission to save them from such actions. Few pharma companies are also irritated by the verdict of the commission. They too are influencing the government to reduce the power of CCI.
3. Diesel price is on the verge of deregulation
It is another decision by the Government which is expected to come before Diwali. It will help Essar, Reliance, Shell, etc. to open their pumps and compete with the government-owned oil marketing companies. As the price of crude oil is down now this will not generate any problem. But it may go up any time if demand rises in certain regions or countries. Reducing the number of subsidized LPG cylinders to 9 is another controversial decision expected from the government.
4. Narendra Modi Government’s decision to abolish the planning commission of India
So the 60- year-old approach is changing and giving way to a new institution. We are not sure what is in his mind but one thing is clear, he wants to restructure the whole thing. The five year plans may be substituted by some other programmes which may suit the views of the Modi Government.
5. Decision on the Railways
The decision of the railways to charge more on Tatkal tickets, their decision to run premium (high tariff) special trains in holiday seasons using the same old coaches without adding any facilities, etc. are also criticized by the frequent travelers. Instead of spending money on modernization of coaches, doubling work, electrification, etc. the government is spending huge sum of money in premium projects like Bullet train. As air fares are cheaper due to the intense competition why the government is spending more than 9 lakh crores to such over ambitious projects?
6. The obliteration of collegiums system for appointing judges
The government introduced a bill in the parliament to abolish the existing system of judicial appointment.The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed by the Parliament has proposed the establishment of a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). The NJAC will replace the collegium of judges, which is currently responsible for appointments to the Supreme Court of India and the high courts. Even though all political parties supported the government, still questions are there as executives and government nominees are included in the selection panel. If collusion occurs within the panel, chances are, corrupt personnel may be appointed as judges.
If things are going like this, the powers of other regulatory bodies like Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Banking Ombudsman, Telecom Regulatory Authority, SEBI, etc. will also be trimmed down in the near future to help the crony capitalists to do their business as they wished. The Supreme Court’s decision not to grant bail to Mr. Subrata Roy of Sahara Group created havoc among corporate bodies. Birla group is facing severe action from Supreme Court on coal allocation case. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms. Jayalalitha is in jail because of a corruption case charged against her.
All these are creating troubles to the nexus of politicians and business people who are in fact controlling the government. In their view it is better to reduce the power of regulators and legal bodies instead of helping the poor Indian citizens to live a quality life. If the public doubt that the government is not concerned with their issues and is spending time, energy and money for helping the crony capitalists, we cannot blame them.
Still there are some positive moves like ‘Make in India’ which is campaigning for manufacturing quality products in India instead of importing cheaper goods from other countries. The decision to allow FDI in defense is another bold step which will reduce the corruption in connection with procurement of arms and defense technology. To reduce the government’s intervention, NaMo decided to abolish more than 100 laws which are obsolete and irrelevant now. This may save time and money of Government as well as the common public.
Let’s Wait and see whether ‘aanewale din achhe honge ya bure’.
By: Vinod Kuroor