To begin with, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government is structurally different than any in Indian history. While different non-Congress governments have ruled at the Centre, they were mostly variations on the Congress theme — a little better here, a little worse there, but the same socialist, maibaap mindset. To paraphrase George Wallace, there isn’t a paisa’s worth of difference between the Congress and the BJP (of old).
The Modi election campaign had several distinctive features. It was a presidential campaign, which primarily reflected the personality of Modi, that is, a successful politician with more than a decade of ruling Gujarat with an iron fist. In his promises, he reminded many of Maggie Thatcher — a political leader who achieved the near-impossible by changing for ever the mindset of a socialist, outdated England. For many an Indian voter, the ballot for Modi represented a demand for a similar modern mindset.
In 75 days, much of the voters’ demand, and prayers, are being addressed. The possibility of change is evident in the initial policies. Long held, and outdated, labour laws are being changed. Sadly, there are still a few so-called experts who continue to believe that laws formed in the mid-19th century are relevant in a transformed India and the world. None other than the ILO representative in India recently claimed that such fast change can damage the country — when some change has only begun to happen!
Also, undergoing transformation are land acquisition laws passed by the previous government — such laws are an insult to the capitalist notion of “acquisition”, since they reflect much more the socialist dream of state-inspired prohibition. How the ground reality of life and enterprise is changing is provided by the following true story. Entrepreneurs who started businesses in India some 30 years ago had their land locked up in legal tangles. The firm could not expand and representations to the previous government fell on deaf ears. With the present government, it took them only two weeks to get ministerial approval for their project — and all this happened without a single bribe! This is progress, this is change, and this is a huge improvement in the ease of doing business.
Only someone wilfully hiding deep under a rock would not have heard the buzz of activity in the atmosphere. Work has begun, and not just in the offices of bureaucrats. Industrial activity has begun to improve, and there is a newfound confidence that India can grow …continued »