All right, especially after the Varanasi road show, it is a sure thing that Shri Narendra Modi will be India’s next Prime Minister.
That’s the easy part
The tough part is the task that awaits him, following the economic and administrative mess that the Congress will leave behind after ten years in power.
On the economic front, though there will a surge of confidence in markets once Mr. Modi becomes PM, as he is known to be business-friendly and he stock markets will madly go up, it will be a long drawn job to bring back the growth to 9% from the 5% it has fallen down to. How will Mr. Modi be able to reverse all the huge subsidiary schemes of Sonia Gandhi, which have drained the exchequer, without alienating his voters who are benefiting from it?
Obviously he will also have to lower taxes, which are stifling the Indian economy. The aviation sector, for instance, is in its death throes, to the point that a company like Spice jet sometimes sells its tickets for 1 rupee each and you still pay 2 to 3000 rupees for the ticket, which all go the Govt in different taxes and surcharges. Flying here has become exorbitantly expensive and India there also is losing to China
Of course, the infrastructures is another top priority: roads are non existent in many states, or so pot-holed that it’s a nightmare to drive, even with all these fancy BMW and Audis; traffic jams are a sad reality in even India’s small cities and after successive after successive corrupt Railway ministers, or who used the portfolio only to bolster themselves or their parties, trains still average 50km an hour since the last 50 years, bogies have hardly changed from the British times, you still have to defecate on the tracks and accidents are frequent. Compare this again with China, which has bullet trains and state of the art railway stations.
The fight against Corruption will be very much on the cards, what with the AAP having shown the way and the Media now hyper sensitive to this subject. Mr. Modi will not be able to rein in corruption unless he changes the laws and introduces transparency in the funding for elections, as well a remove the ceilings on how much a candidate is officially allowed to spend to get elected. Indeed, one of the main reasons for corruption is that it cost now at least a crore and up to ten crores to get elected as an MP in India and that you are allowed only a few lakhs. Where else to get the money in party coffers, than by kickbacks in contracts such 2G or Coal allocations? But to change these laws, Mr. Modi will need a clear majority.
Foreign policy will not be easy either: there is intense hostility to Mr Modi amongst academics in the West, which in turn will be reflected in their Government’s policies. It does not help that many Indian (Hindu at that) scholars and academics in the US and UK have launched a Hate Campaign against Mr Modi. It remains to be seen too, if Narendra Modi will act tough (vis à is terrorism originating from Pakistan. Or if he will only talk tough like his BJP predecessors. Will he also recognize that China is a much bigger threat than Pakistan, as it has already strategically encircled India, from occupied Tibet, to friendly Nepal, Sri Lanka, with deep sea ports in Burma and Pakistan?
What else? Education in India will have to be transformed. At the moment it is very much what Macaulay had instituted to replicate the British system and mass-produce brown ‘sahibs’. He was very successful, as Nehru just adapted everything blindly and today’s Indian schools and universities just churn-out western clones, only good for export to the West, with no roots in their Indian culture, no knowledge of India’s poets, warriors, yogis and heroes. But Mr Modi will encounter there immense resistance from India’s intellectuals, Muslims and also Christians, who very much control education in India as the St Xavier story recently showed.
The judiciary is another area crying for reform: cases drag forever, anybody can make the most absurd court cases and the Indian judges want to be more British than the British. Along with the judiciary, it’s important to remove India’s archaic parliamentary system where a President with the trappings of a king, has absolutely no power, where governors, equally without any powers, are used cynically by the govt in place and where democracy is perverted at every stage. India should adopt France’s semi-presidential system, where the President is the top person and choses a Prime minster that enjoys executive powers from the majority. But again for that Mr. Modi will need an absolute majority
Nowadays gurus and yogis are hounded or thrown in jails. India is an ancient country of Knowledge which always accepted that God Manifests Himself or Herself at different times under different names. This is very unique. Nevertheless the majority of this country, the Hindus, have been targeted and ostracized by successive Congress Governments. Their instruments of knowledge – pranayama, meditation, hata-yoga, Ayurveda – should be revived and introduced in schools and universities’ curriculums. Anybody, be them Christians ,Muslims, Sikhs or Buddhists, can and should practice pranayama or hata yoga. Does the air around you have any religion? Hata Yoga is practiced today allover the Christian western world. Why can’t I be practiced by Christians in the country it was born? It could generate wonderful youngsters who will be at ease anywhere in the world.
Mr Modi’s supporters should tamper down their ecstasy: the tasks that await him are almost superhuman. He will need to have boundless energy & enthusiasm, a phenomenal health and to be properly advised. We know that once in power in Delhi, India’s Prime Ministers have become so cut off from the Indian reality that they all floundered.
The author is the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde, published by les Editions de l’Harmattan (larevuedelinde.com)