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Governance

Surge pricing in railways is Suresh Prabhu's deliberate self-goal

Union railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s latest move of “surge pricing fare system” is a gambit to reduce finance minister Arun Jaitley’s pain, who looks all set to soon adopt country’s messy public transport behemoth. If everything goes by the plan, the 93-year old Rail Budget would cease to exist from the next financial year i.e. FY […]Read More »

Why Vajpayee stands taller than Rao, Manmohan and Modi put together

In India, privatising a public sector company is perhaps a bigger challenge than contesting an electoral battle or even conducting a nuclear test. Don’t see it as an incongruous claim. This may well be a credible reality if one looks at the 25-year-long history of India’s economic liberalisation. In two-and-a-half decades of economic reforms, despite […]Read More »

Modi's war on black money is a let-down, amnesty schemes cheat honest taxpayers

If one pays his or her taxes honestly and does not expect any favours from the government, he or she has every right to show angst over this never-ending business of amnesties to tax swindlers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi repudiated history when he, during his last Mann Ki Baat, reminded people of the September 30 […]Read More »

Special Category for Andhra will remain elusive

In February 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu that he would consider conferring the special category status to his state. Apart from this privilege, Naidu has been demanding a special package for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh after it was carved out from the erstwhile composite […]Read More »

India needs a water-sensitive food trade policy

If one lists the nations most suited to produce wheat, sugarcane, cotton and soybean, China and Egypt will definitely stand atop on historical, geographical and climatic counts. World’s largest river Nile flows in Egypt which every year collects fertile soil from different countries in Africa and deposits it in its delta. On the other side […]Read More »

Modi sarkar and telcos have both hung up on the consumers

Do you get full signal on your mobile? Is your data speed fast enough? Have mobile companies started compensating you for call drops? If your answers are a resounding “no” (naturally, they would!) then, more than the government, we ourselves are responsible. We Indians, afflicted with a strange kind of amnesia, tend to forget the […]Read More »

Modi's foreign trips can wait. Indian trade needs emergency landing

Howsoever spectacular Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic campaign might have been, the fact remains the void in the trade diplomacy has grown faster than ever. If the government’s own Economic Survey is to be believed, India’s foreign trade has gained momentum over the last decade with a flurry of free and preferential trade agreements signed […]Read More »

Modi sarkar should bet on services for dream growth

If one observes the samurais of growth driving the GDP rate above seven per cent, one wouldn’t find them in the swanky corporate offices of Mumbai and Delhi, but in the markets close to one’s home. These growth warriors make our lives easier by running eateries, repairing shops and providing dozens of similar services and […]Read More »

Don’t make India a circus of cartels and monopolies

Facebook’s Free Basics trial was so legendary that one Ganesh could double the yield from his fields with the knowledge FB-patented internet facilitated. While, advertisements are notorious for making lofty claims, this one goes beyond limit. Considering the state of agriculture in India, this can’t even be an exception let alone a norm. As it […]Read More »

Let’s fix the system instead of opting out

Allahabad High Court passed an interesting order last month, directing the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that from the academic year beginning 2016, children of all officials serving with the government, including judiciary, local bodies and representatives of people, must send their children to study only in government primary schools, failing which the […]Read More »

That is retrograde, Mr Jaitley

An important step in clearing our institutional financial system of the cobwebs it has gathered over the years has now been reversed, with Mr. Arun Jaitley announcing deferment of his plan to set up an independent public debt management authority, which he had promised in the budget presented earlier this year. Till now, Reserve Bank […]Read More »

Coalgate Revisited

  The auction of 33 of the 204 coal mines, whose allocations were cancelled by the Sup¬re¬me Court, has just been completed. The auction has brought the government a ‘windfall gain’ of Rs 2.07 lakh crore for 19 operational blocks and 13 about-to-open blocks which were put under the hammer, against Rs 1.86 lakh crore […]Read More »

Will Federalism at Work Let Populism Thrive ?

The just released recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission’s will have far- reaching consequences for the states of the Indian Union, with 42 percent of the central divisible pool of resources now going to them, as compared to the existing 32 percent provided by the Thirteenth Finance Commission. In terms of resources now available to […]Read More »

What does Cabinet reshuffle say about Modi fulfilling missions before 2019?


Beyond demotions and elevations, what does the third Cabinet reshuffle tell us about the Narendra Modi government? PM Modi has trimmed the length of his dress (his big missions) given the shortage of cloth (talent).

The crux of the reshuffle story does not lie in the juggling of ministerial portfolios or in the new sign-ins that we saw.

This reshuffle, which is a sombre appraisal of the big Modi missions, may change the course of the government’s priorities in the coming months.

Curious case of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India)

Uma Bharati will now hold the baton of PM’s flagship Clean Indian mission.

The “underperformer” Uma has lost the ambitious Namami Gange project (River Ganga cleaning mission) to the all-powerful Nitin Gadkari.

Nevertheless, as a Cabinet minister, Uma will be leading two erstwhile departments of the ministry of rural development. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan falls under the department of drinking water and sanitation and operates under the direct command of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The department has been promoted to a full Cabinet-level ministry to make space for Uma Bharati.

However, in just three years, the Swachh Bharat mission has found itself at the crossroads. The mission had been launched with much fanfare, with the aim of urban sanitation.

To reap from the massive enthusiasm for the mission, in 2015, the government had also levied a Swachh Bharat cess of 0.5 per cent on all services liable for service tax.

Eventually, the mission subsumed under an already running programme of building toilets in villages to target open defecation, while the urban component programme is more or less confined to an annual cleanliness ranking of the cities.

Uma Bharati has to now lead a mission that is losing its momentum due to challenges of design, strategy and lack of participation from states and local bodies.

As Swachh Bharat cess stands merged with GST, the funds allocated to the Swachh Bharat mission in the next Budget will be worth watching out for.

Way to go: The government must create a synergised architecture for the Clean India mission encompassing various stakeholders – states, local bodies and village administration.

Conundrum of employment and skill

Dharmendra Pradhan was rewarded with chaos for his super-performance. Pradhan, desperately aiming at the chief minister’s house of Orissa, set to go to the polls, has to carry the derailed mission of Skill India on his shoulders along with petroleum ministry.

Marred by corruption and structural bottlenecks, the Skill India mission was caught up in the whirlwind of economic disruptions and slowdown. Skill India couldn’t take off despite enough support – and the establishment of a new (cadre) bureaucracy.

Because the informal sector, the biggest recruiter of skilled manpower, is shrinking owing to an economic slide and disruptions – GST and demonetisation – the revival of the Skill India mission seems unlikely in the near future.

Way to go: The ministry of skill development could be merged with ministry of labour and employment to put synergised employment strategy into action.

Cleaning rivers to linking rivers

The Clean Ganga mission or Namami Gange is all set to take a backseat. Nitin Gadkari, a heavyweight of Team Modi, already has a host of unfinished tasks at hand before he takes on the ambitious mission of cleaning the Ganga.

It is highly unlikely that the Modi government will exhibit tangible results on this front before the sounding of the election bugle.

Under Gadkari’s leadership, the government is all set to shift the goalposts on water management from cleaning rivers to linking rivers. As the Ken-Betwa river-linking project tops PM Modi’s new to-do list, Gadkari may take charge of Rs 5.57 lakh crore ambitious river-linking mission instead of meddling in the messy business of river cleaning.

Way to go: As half the Indian rivers are polluted, it is high time for the government to make an all-inclusive river cleaning mission linked with the projects of urban cleaning.

Prabhu of falling investment

It is unfair to blame the finance ministry entirely for economic downslide. The ministry of commerce and industry, the former responsibility of new defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, shares a fair amount of discredit – with falling investment, sliding exports, a jammed Make in India and dwindling start-ups.

However, while Nirmala Sitharaman embraces the political zenith, Suresh Prabhu will have to deal with her unfinished tasks of investment facilitation and ease of doing business. Dumping blues?

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari and the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the newly inducted Ministers after a Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on July 05, 2016.

 

Way to go: As Make in India, the private and foreign promotion drive of Modi government, is likely to remain stuck until economic revival, Suresh Prabhu may fast-track lingering free trade agreements (FTAs) to improve his scores in the reckoning.

The rail-coal knot

It is neither defence nor Ganga, but the railways will put the political will of Modi government through the toughest test.

The beleaguered public transport behemoth requires an urgent structural surgery to arrest its dangerous slide.

Piyush Goyal deserves our compassion as he has been tasked with two of the most challenging ministries – railways and coal – which have public sector monopoly and strongest trade unions.

In July 2016, before the Cabinet reshuffle, PM Modi had said that for him success meant that people could feel the difference and that he would not recognise a putative success that is falsely claimed.

One year on, the recent reshuffle confirms that the task of making a tangible difference to the people has become even more complicated.

Will the Cabinet reshuffle be followed by a shake-up in government programmes?

The countdown has begun for last mile delivery.

Article first appeared on dailyo.in

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Finance

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4 disastrous effects of demonetisation that Modi ignored

In spite of several inefficiencies, fortunately, India never witnessed a bank-run or monetary crisis parallel to the scale in Europe or America. However, the chaos and long queues that engulfed banks across India now perfectly mirror the plight the Greeks faced last year, albeit for different reasons. Demonetisation is a rudimentary monetary instrument of the […]Read More »

Modi's historic move against black money brings chaos now, gains later

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unprecedented move to temporary demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes is expected to bring in a host of positives, it will also set off major administrative and logistical challenges at the outset, not to mention the plight of common people. The government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will […]Read More »

Diwali or not, India can't boycott Chinese goods

Last fortnight, close on the heels of the rise of firecracker nationalism against Chinese goods on social media, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was busy making adjustments for yuan’s entry into India’s foreign exchange reserves. Not only RBI, most of the global central bankers too had to alter metrics of their forex reserves after yuan’s […]Read More »

Despite $10 billion in tax net, Modi sarkar's amnesty is a colossal failure

Despite the long history of failed tax amnesty schemes, the Narendra Modi government tried its luck with tax pardons, but to no avail. Howsoever pliable the statistics might be, the fact remains that declarations of Rs 65,250 crore under the black money disclosure scheme could attract just a moderate success for the NDA government. However, […]Read More »

Modi must walk the talk on GST

Even if one doesn’t buy everything that Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed in his Parliament speech on Goods and Services Tax (GST), one should acknowledge that this is one of the most crucial structural indirect tax reforms in the last 25 years of liberalisation. This may not effectively clamp down on inspector raj, or turn […]Read More »

GST Bill an example of half-baked and vague reform

Contrary to the euphoria and costlier-cheaper headlines, the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill 2014 doesn’t spell out even the outline of the GST that India is expected to get in the future. The passing of the GST Bill is just the beginning of a tedious political and operational voyage that should ultimately result in the implementation […]Read More »

Raghuram Rajan, darling of Dalal Street, ‘devil’ for Delhi Durbar

  Sometimes words speak louder than actions. If nowhere, then at least in India. RBI chief Raghuram Rajan has fallen victim to his own candid words (read speeches) on issues of political import. However, his legacy doesn’t lie in his articulations as a blunt economist but as a top-class, innovative and professional central banker. And here […]Read More »

5.80 lakh crore in bad loans: Let's pray for India's bleeding banks

The Rs 13 lakh-crore pile of bad loans of India’s public sector banks now amounts to more than the GDP of countries like New Zealand, Kenya, Oman and Uruguay. A new IMF report states Indian banks are in a poor state compared to the notoriously messy banking of China.The financial results of major public sector […]Read More »

Modi government has actually worked hard to deliver on black money

  After facing severe criticism for its lofty electoral promises on bringing black money to India, Modi sarkar appears to have stuck its neck out on dealing with the issue. The Modi-led government, running past the two-year mark in office, has taken some calculated risks to go ahead on curbing black money. To promote transparency, the government […]Read More »

How India's wealthy are milking billions off subsidy

Do you think the politics of subsidy is only confined around lower and middle economic classes? If yes, then you would wonder how subsidies worth rupees one crore go into the pockets of the rich every year, and that too via merely seven products and services. The subsidy bill may notch up if one takes […]Read More »

India’s three-tiered economy needs bottoms-up approach

Has finance minister Arun Jaitley got it right? If one looks at the economy at hand, the answer would possibly be “Yes”. India is now a three-speed economy.  Double-digit growth is confined to a section that comprises sectors such as e-commerce, travel and stock markets and accounts for 30 per cent of the GDP. Another […]Read More »

India’s Trade Gloom

  Not many years have ended with gloomier prospects for Indian trade. The gloom is not just because of the contraction in exports for 12 months in a row. It is also because India’s role and participation in global trade is becoming increasingly insignificant. The insignificance was evident from the approach to the Nairobi Ministerial. […]Read More »

Budget 2016: Modernising rural economy must be Modi's mission

Last fortnight, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned crop insurance in his Maan ki Baat programme, people well aware of the state of agriculture justifiably grew anxious. This was not because government’s efforts do not inspire or encourage, but because in spite of three crop failures, Indian politicians are still handling farming with a mindset […]Read More »

Can India finally see a Modi Budget in 2016?

When existing steel companies are already reeling under distress owing to falling demand, why is the Union government going to establish new steel companies in the public sector? What is the need for forming new banks (monetary banks) to provide loans to small companies when several financial institutions of the government are already doing this? […]Read More »

How many more taxes do we need to pay?

Public memory is usually short but the memory of taxation is even shorter. Benchmark brent crude might have tested an unprecedented low of $37 per barrel, but domestic petrol and diesel prices are still ruling higher thanks to heavy taxes. If only the debate on goods and services tax (GST) revolved around explaining this dichotomy, […]Read More »

Is weak rupee still a national shame for PM?

Whether India draws an economic advantage from the ongoing global turbulence or not, a substantial political advantage can definitely be churned out at the moment. It is time for our leaders to rid themselves of their unfounded misconception on the exchange value of the domestic currency, that is, the rupee. In India, the BJP and […]Read More »

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