Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan releases “Marching with a Billion: Analysing Narendra Modi Government at Midterm a book by Uday Mahurkar

Report by Kamala Kanta Dash, Bhubaneswar: Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Govt. of India, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan released a book “Marching with a Billion: Analysing Narendra Modi Government at Midterm written by Uday Mahurkar, Deputy Editor with India Today magazine, an author and a political analyst today in Bhubaneswar. The release function was organised by Penguin Publisher in association with Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies (KIIPS).

The function began with the welcome address by Shri Netajee Abhinandan, Asst. Professor, Ravenshaw University was presided over by Justice A.S. Naidu, former Judge, Odisha High Court in the presence of Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Editor, The Sambad and Shri Devdas Chhotray, eminent litterateur and former Vice Chancellor, Ravenshaw University as Guests of Honour and Chitamani Mahapatra, Rector, JNU as Chief Speaker. Amongst others the author himself Mr. Uday Mahurkar and noted authors, litterateurs, intellectuals, political analysts were also present at this occasion.

“Marching with a Billion: analysing Narendra Modi Government at Midterm “is a book by leading Publishers Penguin on a trasformational Government under a leader who leads from the front and goes by the slogan of Team India and Nation First. It is written by long-term Narendra Modi watcher and senior journalist Uday Mahurkar who has covered the Prime Minister over the past three decades and one who has studied his Gujarat model of governance closely. His first book on his 13 year Gujarat tenure, titled “Centre-State Inside the Narendra Modi Model of Governance” was published in 2014. By marshalling credible evidence from multiple sources the book underlines how this Government through its Commitment, Transparency and innovations in Governance is laying a new order for the country when it comes to good and people-Centric Governance. It covers almost all the core sectors including agriculture.

This book contains some important things about the Narendra Modi Government.

1. Most Transparent Government in Delhi in 40 years:
The first thing is its unstinted commitment to attacking established ways of corruption and amassment of black money. Rooting out the middlemen culture is the core of this. Whether it is setting up of the SIT to track Black money soon after taking over or demonetisation, the Government’s drive against black money is almost unparalleled. After demonetisation 98 lakh new tax payers have been added. The drive is all encompassing. It starts with changing the procedures to select clean and performing bureaucrats at the Centre. It also aims at removing the role of corporate houses from policy making which has been the convention in this country over the past three decades. Today corporate houses have no role to play in Government’s policy-making.

2. A new model of poverty alleviation based on empowerment and not doles:
This model is that it’s poverty elimination path. It is an empowering and enabling model of development and not dole based. It takes the relationship between the Government and the poor from patronage to partnership. Jan Dhan bank accounts, Mudra, stand up India and the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha and Jeevan Jyoti insurance schemes are all about empowering the poor and the common people. Even the Ujwala scheme for giving LPG cylinder to the poor isn’t part of the dole culture. One LPG kit costs Rs 3200. The Government gives it 50 per cent subsidy at Rs 1600 per kit. Things are subsidised for the poor but nothing is free for the poor.

3. Digital techno revolution:
It is about use of the latest technology for facilitating governance and removing middlemen from the system. The intelligent use of Aadhaar Card for Direct benefit transfer is an assault on middlemen culture at subsidy distribution to the poor. The Government is using DBT in 84 schemes. The idea is to cover 500 schemes under DBT. This alone is saving around Rs. One lakh crore per annum, according to the author’s estimate.

4. A model based on pride
Modi Govt offers a new model based on pride. Most of the models in the past 67 years were based on keeping the injuries of the past alive with an eye on votes. This model was based on appeasement. The Modi model is about creating individual and national pride in every person based on ‘We can do it and India first ‘spirit with the aim of bringing out the latent energy of the people in the service of the nation. MyGov, a portal on which Ministries invite suggestions on governance, has created a new model of participatory governance. Hundreds of suggestions of common men have been implemented by the Government thus making common people a part of the process of development. Post office as payment bank, the starting Antyodaya Exp, the making of a Light kit for Rly gangmen were all suggestions that came from common men.

5. Infrastructure growth unparalled:
In infrastructure like roads, ports power, railways oil and gas and food processing India has taken strides that can be called giant. IN road building the speed has almost doubled. In ports the profit after tax has gone up by more than three and a half time. In power the turnaround is more than appreciable as India has moved from power deficit to power surplus country. There is a new approach to getting the state distribution companies out of the red. In new renewable energy India is almost set to meet its target of creating 1.75 lakh MW capacity by 2022 and emerge as one of the prime countries in the world its commitment to generating green energy. Transparency in Oil and Gas – 37 companies, mostly new bidders drawn by the level playing field, bided for 31 oil wells auctioned recently in what was a new. The chapter on infrastructure also vividly captures the style of functioning of each Minister.

6. Foreign policy – dynamic turnaround
The book is about how the Prime Minister has brought out of the Indian foreign policy from the Nehruvian Cocoon, almost completely. A diplomacy based on platitudes stands replaced with realpolitik which is rooted in protecting and furthering India’s core interests. The best example is of China. Compare Modi Government’s approach to China with approach of most previous Governments. The Prime Minister goes to Vietnam, China’s rival, signs defence deals with that country, and then goes to China to attend the G 20 summit in 2016 was a new in Indian diplomacy. This was unthinkable on India’s part till a couple of years ago. Indian approach under Modi is based on multiple factors and more than ever before. Tapping the diaspora and turning them into India’s brand ambassadors is one part of it. There is new importance to trade and cultural diplomacy in the Modi era. That India has surpassed China, the world’s FDI leader for years, in getting highest FDI in 2016 is the biggest proof of Modi’s multifaceted diplomacy as well as his economic vision“.

7. Great Fiscal management
The next aspect of the Modi Government is its great fiscal management. There is tell-stale proof that there is no stone left unturned to save money from pilferage and use it judiciously. On all the four major economic indicators the Government has done extremely well – fiscal deficit, inflation, current account balance (CAB). One indication of drastically improving financial health of the nation is the jump in budget size. It has grown by almost 30 per cent in three years from Rs. 16.55 lakh crore in 2013-2014 to Rs 21.50 lakh crore in 2017-2018.

8. Prime Minister’s Unique style of functioning
The book has interesting glimpses to Prime Minister’s style of functioning. Few know that when he had become the PM he had already visited 450 out of the 688 districts in the country and stayed overnight in one of them. No prime Minister of the past had seen India so closely at the grass root level before being elected to the august position. Then it gives a very interesting glimpse as how when Modi plans his first major move he has already planning the next five to ten moves in the same direction. For example I think when he brought Jan Dhan soon after taking over he had already through about demonetisation as his last step in that direction. I believe that the pain that one say following demonetistaion was deliberately induced by him to bring people on the digital path which would now go a long way to adding to the size of the digital economy.

The grey areas: Skilled Development and tourism, inability to tackle the problem of mobile phone call drops – whether he will become an institution builder, a prerequisite to becoming a nation builder.

It may be noted here that, it is the first book on PM’s core governance and his vision for India. The book’s Foreward is written by known economist Prof Klaus Schwab, founder of World Economic Forum and architect of the famous annual business meet held at Davos in Switzerland.