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THE VICTORY LAPS ARE OVER

It is time to get down to business. The victory parades are over, the Ganga aarti has been done, and the swearing-in ceremony has been completed. It is now time for the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his team to get down to business and shape the fortunes of 1.2 billion people for the next five years.

Modi must have already realized that governing India will be a different ball game from governing Gujarat, which has 60 million citizens and a party that he has dominated for years. India has 28 states, and 1.2 billion people. Three states have very strong regional parties, and a few large states are still under the control of parties which fought a bitter campaign against Modi before the general elections. Fortunately, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won a majority in Parliament all on its own. The National Democratic Alliance as a whole has won 336 seats, giving it brute strength in the Lok Sabha. This has not only given Modi a free hand in choosing his council of ministers, but has also enabled him to push through bills and vital changes to the Constitution if he so wishes.

It is time for the new government to deliver on its promises effectively; the process of fulfilling those promises and achieving results must be carefully monitored instead of allowing fake statistics to be created. The babus in various ministries and other ‘specialists’ in the Planning Commission, for example, are very good at making policies but often fail miserably in getting results.

Close watch

At the delivery end, what starts out as a delegation of responsibilities often turns into a gross dereliction of duty. The results achieved after implementing policy are seldom monitored at the grassroot level, least of all by those who have had a hand in framing the policy. It is said that the famous caliph, Harun-al-Rashid, would walk around the streets of Baghdad at night in disguise in order to gauge whether the common people were happy or not. Modi may not have to go to such lengths, but he may need to create competent channels of communication to get fair, honest feedback from the masses about his government’s performance.

After the euphoria of the landslide victory in the elections and the excitement of a new cabinet of ministers taking over the reins of government have abated, Modi will have to get down to producing some meaningful results, especially in the vital creation of jobs. Millions of jobs are needed every year, and their creation should be tracked as often as once a month. The information does not have to be procured from the employment exchange data; it can be obtained independently from other, verifiable sources. Even a strong economy such as the United States of America finds it important to keep track of newly-created jobs on a regular basis. There can be no better indicator of a nation’s economic health.

Now that Modi has won a mandate for providing clean, efficient and effective governance in the pursuit of inclusive growth, every move he makes will be keenly watched. A leader should always remember the saying, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” The clock had already started ticking from the day that the poll results were announced, and before long, Modi’s five-year term will be over. Other parties, including the battered (but not invisible) Congress, and the BJP’s own allies, will be carefully observing Modi, ready to pounce on him the moment he falters. The new prime minister has no choice but to get it right on the first attempt.