Thursday, 26 May, 2022
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Dear Narendra Modi, please suspend your PR for just two years and focus on India

We need to think beyond post-Covid recovery and ask the larger question: how do we get back to 7-8% GDP growth?

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The year 2020 has been wasted by Covid. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will no doubt be focusing his energies in 2023 to win the 2024 Lok Sabha election with an even bigger majority. That leaves us with 2021 and 2022. Here is a radical suggestion for the Prime Minister. Give these two years to India. Suspend your non-stop PR, and spend all your time on what India really needs.

Dear Prime Minister, what India really needs may often not be in tune with your PR needs. What India really needs to revive growth and get back its mojo may not fit with the grand plans and schemes you could advertise with slogans and hashtags. What India really needs may even cost you some political capital — but don’t you think you have far too much of it?

Much of the world economy will recover from the scourge of Covid. Once the pandemic is over, the recovery could be very quick for most countries. India, however, will likely have a much harder time.

It is bad enough that under Modi’s leadership, India’s growth has been falling consistently since the disaster of demonetisation in 2016. It makes things much worse that Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown have hurt the Indian economy much more than any other economy in the world. Social media misinformation can fool some people into thinking that the United States has been hit harder than India — no, it has not.

The question we need to ask today is not merely about post-Covid recovery — we have hit such a rock bottom that we can only go up from here. The question we need to ask is, ‘what can India do to get back to 7-8% GDP growth rate in the next few years’? And that’s where Narendra Modi needs to make India his first priority, his own ratings second. At least until 2022.  

Also read: Jolted by Q1 slump, economists rush to further lower GDP forecast for fiscal 2020-21

1. Financial sector mess: Lowering interest rates isn’t driving loans and investment because India’s financial sector has its back broken with bad loans. If the Modi government is done blaming UPA-2 for this, it is time for radical ideas such as a bad bank. Fixing the mess in the Indian banking system will be painful but we need to go through this pain rather than pretend it isn’t there and make it worse. 

If the prime minister really means his word on exploiting opportunities amid a calamity, he will take the bold step of privatising some public sector banks. It is the sort of thing that won’t earn him votes and only earn the wrath of banking unions. But one would like to think that if Modi can use his political capital to abrogate Article 370 in Kashmir, build Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, and threaten millions of Muslims with a citizenship test — then he can also take on a few bank unions. 

Privatising a few public sector banks will send the right message that the government wants the financial sector to become more autonomous. We have enough data to show that private sector banks have fewer NPAs because they do better due diligence when giving out loans. This is the only way to create a robust financial sector.

2. Appoint an Ajit Doval for the economy: It is well known that real decision-making on the economy happens in the Prime Minister’s Office. It is the PMO bureaucrats who are running the show, not the finance minister. This is not to be unkind to Nirmala Sitharaman, because this was true of her predecessor as well. The government’s lack of economic talent thus needs to be fixed within the PMO. The NITI Aayog is an embarrassment and may continue to come up with its meaningless reports. 

The PMO needs an Ajit Doval for the economy — someone who is a domain specialist and not a career bureaucrat, and at the same time enjoys the prime minister’s trust. It doesn’t have to be the best economist India has, but at least someone with a vision, someone who knows what s/he is doing and is allowed to do his/her job without political compulsions coming in the way.

Also read: Why growth of India’s forex reserves is set to slow after new RBI measures

3. How to spend the New Deal money: It is a no-brainer that the Modi government will have to spend a lot of money to revive the economy. Greater government spending could help revive both consumption and private sector investment. The question is, what should the government spend its money on? 

Considering the imminent need to revive the economy and create millions of jobs, the government must spend money on things that can quickly get going. A lot of big infrastructure ideas — highways, railways — are important but the land acquisition process alone will take too long for us to be able to wait. Big ideas, like the bullet train, have been a flop show in the Modi era. A small idea is to focus on urban renewal. How about the government spending money to build massive low-cost housing for the urban poor? Some of the excess land with public sector units could be easily used for this. Some of this housing could be used for migrant labourers, solving a problem that shamed us this year.

4. Focus on real estate: There is nothing like real estate to quickly create jobs that unskilled rural workers can take up. Fixing real estate demand is key. The Modi government must take up a number of measures to get builders to lower prices and sell unused inventories — such as forcing them to repay loans. Now is the time for the real estate bubble to burst.

At the same time, to boost construction activity, the government must reconsider really bad ideas such as 28 per cent GST on cement.

Also read: Narendra Modi is selling a failed Covid lockdown as a success

5. Support risk takers with policy certainty: The recent AGR issue, which involves telecom companies paying off dues comprising charges on government-owned spectrum and licence fee, has again left a bad taste in the mouth for India Inc. Once again, the Modi government did not come across as being pro-active enough in trying to save a whole sector from going down.

Since the Modi government came to power, risk-taking businesses and entrepreneurs (save a few) have only been given negative signals from the government. Risk-taking is an essential part of business but sadly, firms that want to take risk don’t feel the government will help them or stand by them if things go awry. But even if the government doesn’t help, it should at least ensure it doesn’t make life difficult for businesses. Demonetisation, GST, an unplanned lockdown —  the constant message to the businesses is that it is not worth taking risks in India. Unless this trust issue between business and government is resolved, the economy won’t regain its animal spirits.

6. Shut down lossmaking PSUs if you can’t sell them: If not now, then when? A historic economic crisis and a powerful government are the right cocktail for privatising public sector companies, or just shutting them down, and spending the money on the post-Covid New Deal. 

7. Fix GST: Three years after it was introduced, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) remains a mess. Small businesses complain about too many forms, too many rates. The informal sector feels it has been given a raw deal in the name of formalisation. It is time for someone to dirty their hands and fix GST to help growth, not be a hindrance.  

8. Forget the rankings, fix the real ease of doing business: The World Bank has raised concerns about its methodology in calculating its Ease of Doing Business rankings. The change in methodology helped improve India’s rankings, and the Modi government was rather smug about it. For the next two years, Modi should forget about the rankings and fix the real ease of doing business. This will need working closely with state governments and acting as a facilitator. Doing so may not bring Modi too many PR opportunities.

All business-related laws and procedures in central and state governments must be re-thought and re-looked for a tech-enabled 21st century. This includes labour laws, which need to be re-thought so that they actually work to protect labour while enabling ease of doing business. Currently, they do neither.

The author is contributing editor, ThePrint. Views are personal.

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  1. Hi Friends,
    India is a good country, I Love always. We don’t want bullet train, we don’t want anything, GST is big mistake tillnow you sacked so many ppl Raghuramraju, only his tenure Banking was good with his policy nd loan moment below 5%. TIRUPUR is one of the most Manchester of india more than 500 companies that export hub to world, Now Bangladesh took from in draught all , I’m saying 36% of wealth of Reliance gone up in 2020 even during lockdown no entertaiment, mall & market open till now. Adani got new Airport projects nd Solar project to started, as far you bought only AiRBus project to india nothing more than that.once Sahara Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, Jetairways, Rotomac all companies vanished etc.. we say looking beyond Vision, our Hospital nd schools are made money minded working for gov. where gov schools , hospitals are made free… Gov should not give permission 5km private schools, I have seen 8 -10 schools with in regions All private… if everything Gov wants sell Railways,BSNL Airindia, School nd college
    Lic, CII, sell private, why we want government.. please save India. many countries controlled their Corona , but still we are heading like targets.

  2. Perhaps the author has not seen a circus, and in circus what an individual is trained to do will do only that. He JUST can’t do anything else and if that item is deleted then he is useless. So when one is trained or taught or used to PR or giving Bhashan or Boudhhik then he will do that only. For change in performance you must replace the person nothing else which no one is capable of asking or foreseeing.

  3. Of course attention!! The people blaming you are most correct. You should learn From them how to follow our leaders. Even if he is blind. Haven’t you heard – A blind leads a blind and both shall fall in a ditch. It’s okay. Please follow them till you reach your destiny. God bless all

  4. This is the healthy criticism on government’s performance and challenges country faced due to such decisions. Especially the phrase “we need ajit doval for economy”. Bang on Analogy.
    Undoubtedly we are faring well in the previous dead sectors under UPA rule, post 2014 are exhumed under NDA which are Defence, Foriegn Diplomacy&Intelligence. Terror Attacks which used to happen in every city in India between 2004-2013 have decreased significantly.
    But in Finance and Banking sector, we miserably failed. Even the staunch supports of NDA government like me have to admit it.

  5. The print is always been biased in their reflection, because of covid 19 corona infection it is the same story globally. I’m from overseas the situation here is the same. I think Sekar Gupha and his fellow journalists must write the truth not talk nonsense, it was a wasteful 10 years governance of Manmohan Singh and his highly corrupt council of ministers who were remotely control by a foreigner and her eccentric useless children who destroyed India at first place. Please stop talking nonsense on Modi, atleast because of him we are able to say proudly that we are Indians.!!!

    • Dr. Rajesh I hope you are a more competent doctor than you are a political analyst. Get a clue on what’s happening in your ancestral country and stop drinking the kool aid.

  6. I think India is on the mind of our government today and is doing everything it can. There can be more done and I am sure these folks will do it. Only people who need to do their job correctly is the folks of this paper/media. I used to read/listen to them which I think I should stop. I am sure many will.

  7. The article is spot on. Good work. We need more voices like these to knock some sense into blind BJP supporters , for whom the victory of right wing ideology is more important than reviving the nation.

  8. The article is spot on. Good work. We need more voices like these to knock some sense into blind BJP supporters , for whom the victory of right wing ideology is more important than reviving the nation.

  9. Dear Friend,

    The concern expressed in the article about the situation of poor financial performance of country as a whole is well appreciated.

    While doing so one should not loose sight of the fact that the economic growth of a country as big and as diverse as India is not that a simplistic phenomenon that it can be quick fixed by the solutions and suggestions of few of us who are limited by our own understanding / level of understanding and sometimes misunderstanding also.

    It is quite obvious that we love our views, opinions and words very much than that if others. At the same time let us not forget that others in this country also are concerned and deploying their intelligence, wisdom, willingness and commitment for bettering the situation by all possible means at their disposal.

    We had been witness to a system Wich was gripped with policy paralysis and inertia when it came to need for taking action for almost a decade. We have got a government which has expressed its intent and resolve to drink in momentum into the whole process of administration and governance and has in fact acted to some extent in that direction too.

    This has of course raised the bar of expected performance by the incumbent govt beyond imagination. Fair enough. While expecting to perform let us be encouraging and supportive too.

    And, Sri Narendra Modi is our honorable Prime Minister who has assumed the office and working based on democratically delivered mandate of crores and crores of citizens of India. So be it The Print or anybody else. I feel there should be display of minimal respectful way of addressing the Prime Minister of this country as you try putting across your view. I find the caption of this article coined in a manner disrespectful to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Being a reader of The Print I did not expect this from you. You differ with my view. But please note I stand with my view and will not agree with your ways of addressing him.

    Dear The Print, please raise above your leanings and keep up your image….

    • Ahh you are the real dog of stupid modi. Respect is given to respectful people, why would someone give respect to a goon? Yes I m talking about modi he is an RSS’s goon and killer of the thousands of people. He doesn’t deserve

  10. Doing anything meaningful and concrete to improve the economy is beyond this government. For that the government has to get out of the way and shed it’s discretionary powers. It has to stop putting it’s finger in every pie and focus on core governance. But if it does that how will it be able to satisfy all it’s members, followers, donors, patrons etc.

  11. Hey you dumbass editor better shut your mouth and sit in your home or go lick the Congress leaders boots (in fact you are doing it allready so why do you require another job as an editor)

    • It’s okay to be stupid. Don’t be hard on yourself. It will take time for you to understand what is happening in the nation

    • Ms Lakshmi: Care to explain why you are so mean ? After all, you do not seem to have the wherewithal to refute what the author says and yet have the temerity to abuse him.

      Shame on you Ms Lakshmi.

  12. Shivam – This is not only your best article till date, but also a vary relevant article for todays India. Modi has focused on PR and Headlines mgmt. and NOT on any actual work. He has not only surrendered Indian land to China, but has also surrendered India’s economic rise and democratic values worldwide. Mahatma Gandhi & Sardar Patel would be ashamed of him. What a disaster of a leader

    • But did he or the body he represents have a role in the freedom Movement? No, those two have been appropriated all the same to spite Congress; another reason is they are from Gujarat.

  13. In the same vein, the author could perhaps take a break from stalking the PM, and focus his creativity elsewhere. Learn a trick or two from Shekhar Gupta, who can pontificate on anything under the sun. Wonder why you haven’t been offered a video spot? You aren’t THAT ugly.

  14. Before the troll descend on this let me highlight the real issue behind this state of affairs.
    The opposition is dead.
    The media has become an agent of government.
    Even celebrities are bending backwards to prove their loyalty by offering mangoes or posting videos of thaali beating.
    BJP is in an impregnable state.

    They started a powerful IT cell that enrolled possibly millions of followers creating and perpetuating non facts and hate speech against muslims and all worked like magic.
    Companies like FB were too act in their rush for appeasement. That was a master stroke and won them the elections.

    Now the real issue – there is no one left to criticize or correct. Everyone now is in “modi ji modi ji” club trying their best to prove their loyalty.
    No questions means no alternate opinion…the only voice left is troll-vani.
    When you hear only trolls and begin believe your own trolls you should be very worried about the future….
    God help us.

    • This article projects the ground reality without trying to appease the powerful politicians and also having dominating public support. Indian economy and job market might is heading for a disaster!
      Most of the big talks and plans of Modi have failed. It took 30 or 40 years for Indian majority to realize the Congress was corrupt, hope it does not take 10 or 20 years for the same Indian majority to realize that Modi Govt has been a great disaster for the Indian economy!
      I suspect Modi Govt has any experienced professional in his ministry to take practical and bold decision to revive economy , make substantial infrastructure investments to get economy back on track (study history on how China made huge infrastructure investments during great depression or whatever to revive its economy, whilst whole world was suffering). As rightly mentioned in the above article, jut slogans make in india, bla bla PRs, Advert will not work. Govt need to walk the talk, take action at ground level, not expect people to take action. Govt has all resources, tax money and power to act.
      Although China is our enemy, but there is lot to learn from them, how Chinese Govt directly invests, subsidy and supports business in a big way so that the can manufacture and sell it cheapest to gain foothold across the WORLD.
      Just having Mukesh Ambani as an Indian Eonomic Advisor will not work, doing Big Talks, fooling Indian public through strong Marketing, PR and Advert activities will not work.

  15. Fully agree, ModiJi must give top priority to take bold steps to kick start the economy.
    For this he must seek the advice of eminent economists of Indian origin including the likes of Raghurajan, Gita, Manmohan Singh by rising across the party ideologies.
    Foreign investors are still reluctant to invest sighting beurocratic hurdles . All inefficient PSUs like AI shud be handed over to companies like TATA, L&T, Mahindra …
    Laws must be amended to minimise strikes, industrial actions, street violence. State must be able to prevent road blocks in the path infrastructure projects introduced by vested interests stay orders from court. No harm in taking cue even from the Rouge state China.

  16. Wow, what a article. Seems that Article writer has a wand to clean all the mesh instantly.
    Dear writer, every coin has two sides. If you use the wand to clean up the mesh instantly, definitely you land in the other mesh.
    Everything takes time. Be calm and have patience.

  17. How about you stop writing and do what you seem best trained for? Human scavenging. Atleast you will have a reason for the stink you give off man

    • You are not worthy of cleaning the waste of the author. You are here reading his article and commenting, what have you created except your own human waste?

  18. I do agree with what should be done to revive the battered economy. My question is, what about the States? Can they also not contribute. It could be small infrastructure projects, water conservation works, promoting agro industries in association with the private sector ,last mile Fibre Optic connections to as many parts of the rural landscape etc. I am just thinking aloud, but I am sure with focus the states can also contribute.

  19. Modi haters please suspend your propaganda to blame Modi for two years.
    Instead spend two years
    – to clean the hatred of Modi and Hindus from your mind
    – to stop assuming that people are fool and stop conspiring to fool people
    – to stop thinking that you are more intelligent than the people
    – to telling lies, fabricating data and manufacturing fake stories to support your narrative foreign to people
    – to feed your mind with Hindu way of life that you have abandoned
    – to feel pride about India’s past and present
    – to develop confidence in India’s capabilities
    – to do some work for the poor

  20. Dear Shri Shivam Vij, please cut down on hatred towards Shri Narendra Modi and try to be a balanced journalist.

  21. To come up with something every day to throw at Modi is touch job right Vij? Is it frustrating to know that you are insignificant, microscopic? 🙂

  22. All very good points detailing what is to be done – very obvious (and widely discussed) even to the uninitiated and absolutely necessary to revitalize the Indian economy.
    What may be more important may be viable suggestions as to the HOW of it. Differing views in this reagard will help.
    Tail piece: I thought PR was part of Governance; It has been since prehistoric days.

  23. Hope our dear NaMo gets the message. Hope we gain the momentum of Narasimha, Atal and Manmohan goverments back again. Hope our India shall be great again. Hope it will shine again as a political and economic powerhouse of Asia. Hope it dazzles as a free market democracy.

  24. ” shoe i am ” you STUPIDO are you asking for suspension of all activities by my 50 year old babies. Get a life. MAMAMIA

  25. Most of the suggestions are more political than economic, if one digs deeper. The reason is that the author thinks we have a political leadership problem and not an economic problem.
    And hence this article will have no takers among those who have the power to change things.

  26. Modiji’s performance has been like a Facebook profile picture. Picture looks very good but truth is something else.

  27. 67+ years wasted by darbari advisors ~ Had you given such advise to the Dynasty, Our Economy would have been the Largest ~ & Strongest ~
    Tell the Dynasty to Return the Scammed booty to the National treasury ~ & also take credit of saving the economy ~

  28. Dear Shivan Vij,

    Please give up journalism, the profession of which will be far better off without you. You might want to help Pappu and mamma Sonio in their efforts to consolidate their power within the party.

    As for the economy, fixing the economy is out of scope of Modisutra, which is about fixing political targets such as instant divorce (triple talas), Art 370, Ayodhya, Gas stoves for the poor, direct cash to the poor, toilets……. Whilst some of these may have helped the poor, their enormous vote bank potential means they instantly qualify for urgent attention.

    Yours faithfully,

  29. !! Asatyam Shivam Sadaa Sundaram !!

    Dear Shivam We…zzzzzz, please suspend your weekend wild junkies for just two years and focus on Journalism.
    Dear Shekhar Gupta, please remove your junk/rubbish fantasy writers for ever and focus on Journalism.


  31. BJP supporters love Modi…
    Modi is in love with himself now…he is convinced people are behind him…

    This democracy now runs on love, not performance.
    Couples falling in love like to impress each other – like between bjp bhakts and Modi.

  32. This Govt has no intention to get out of the mess the country is in. It also lacks orginal ideas to get out of the mess it has created over last six years. Let us hope that good sense will prevail upon them sooner than later.

  33. The pocket square, favoured by some mandarins in Niti Aayog, is an apt symbol for the organisation : flowery, sartorially elegant, but with no functional use. When was the last time you saw someone use it to wipe their glasses, see more clearly ahead.

  34. Shut down loss making PSU ? No one in India will have guts to do this for the next 20 years atleast . There is a sad reality about India. There are way few risk takers as compared to the population. An Ajit Doval for the economy is Mr . Piyush Goyal and I hope he is given the charge. However, we must not forget how people criticsed Late Shri Pranab Mukherjee too during his tenure as FM in pretty torrid times. Seems he did not do as bad in hindsight ! So Ms. Sitharaman needs to be given this FY alteast .

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