30/05/2015 8:38 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Martians, Modi And A Challenge For The PM

PUNIT PARANJPE via Getty Images
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during the inauguration of a conference on Financial Inclusion in Mumbai on April 2, 2015. The conference was organised on the occasion of completion of 80 years of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). AFP PHOTO/PUNIT PARANJPE (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)


For the fear of being left behind I thought it imperative to opine on my Prime Minister (for whom I voted). I also wanted to write a non-economic, easily comprehensible, data-free article that anyone can understand, in India or elsewhere.

I haven't been as amused lately as I am now, looking at the various marketing machineries for Modi, creating an aura of invincibility and humbling even the achievements of Mangalyaan in comparison of what the Ironman has achieved in the last one year.

Let's ignore the following few things to give Modi and his government the benefit of doubt, and let's just imagine that aliens from Mars are responsible for them:

  • Rate of increase of farmer suicides, especially in Maharashtra.
  • Slowdown in industrial production.
  • The growing lack of tolerance towards Christians and Muslims in this past year.
  • Real Interest rates still high because of a high spread retained by the banks and government having no real control over anything.
  • Unemployment rates going up by a few hundred basis points.
  • Not a single big infrastructure project having taken off the ground with hundreds of billions of dollars stuck in stalled projects.

And now let's safely assume that a few of these amazing global tailwinds were all because of Modi's charm that he spread as he travelled the world:

  • Crude oil prices dropping from110 to55.
  • Inflation is well within the comfort levels of the Central Bank.
  • Dollar inflows into India that took our forex reserves to record high of US350 billion.
  • Easing of tensions with Iran thereby making the Middle East a bit more stable.

While the captains of the industry cannot praise Modi enough for what he has done for the country and its economy, since no one dare displease him, my report card for my Prime Minister is as follows.

I am a common man -- very middle class -- and simple things matter to me.

Each day, as I read about the plan for 100 smart cities in India, I only look towards the skies and ask God, "Are you kidding me?!"

I keep looking for the 'acchhe din' or good days that were to come with Modi.

So much talk about a corruption-free country. But just recently a policeman in Bangalore fined me in cash and even gave me a discount upon negotiation. I was fined because I went on the wrong side of the road. A pertinent point to be mentioned here -- Bangalore is the only city where, on a few roads, one must drive on the right side instead of left and those new to the city are supposed to know this from birth!

It's all a big sham!

Governments have only marginal utility.

For a commoner, it's like selecting an outsourced security guard for one's premises at minimum wages with minimum expectations, and hoping that when one day the real need arises this fellow isn't sleeping.

While a lot of columnists and senior journalists are busy writing the government's scorecard, discussing his performance in incomprehensible semantics, I want to give Modi a simple task...

India approximately has an area of 3.2 million sq km. Mr. Modi, please pick up any 100 sq km (.03%) area of your choice anywhere across the length or the breadth of this country and convert it into a place where:

  • An hour of rain doesn't inundate the area and choke it.
  • Where an innocent pedestrian can walk without tripping over.
  • Where a person on a wheelchair can move about without cursing every single day of his existence.
  • Where a tourist can drag his suitcase without a hassle, between roads and footpaths.
  • Where traffic lights work and roads have adequate lane markers.
  • Where a pedestrian has more respect (like everywhere else in the world) than the speed-defying typical Indian driver.
  • Where a lady can walk without feeling uneasy or being visually stripped naked by passersby.
  • Where a criminal is punished, and an indefinite deferral of justice not blamed on the 10 million pending cases in Indian judicial system.

Just maintain it for one year for the world and your voter to see.

And then we will do the Swachh Bharat and talk of 100 Smart Cities.

In the meantime, it would help to spend some time in your country rather than making innumerable trips abroad unless you want to cover it all before the oil prices start going up.

You are a good man Mr. Modi and I think you've got the vision right. But vision must be followed by strategy, which must be followed by execution and metrics. You still have a very, very long way to go. In my report card, you get at best a B-minus.

Manu's Blog

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