Filling in the blanks

Modi lays out some big ideas, frames the urbanisation opportunity. But his economic blueprint is incomplete.

Updated: January 20, 2014 3:51 pm
Narendra Modi Narendra Modi

Modi lays out some big ideas, frames the urbanisation opportunity. But his economic blueprint is incomplete.

In his speech at the BJP’s national council meet on Sunday, Gujarat chief minister and the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi targeted and taunted his political rival. Less predictably, he packed in some big ideas and messages, perhaps in a bid to make up for their absence in the party’s economic resolution on Saturday. For instance, at a time when many states, ruled by BJP as well as non-BJP parties, are chafing at what they perceive to be the Centre’s hauteur and unwillingness to adopt a more accommodative and consultative approach, Modi spoke of how the story of rising regional aspirations must not be told as one of a Centre under siege. The assertions in the states, he said, are not a threat, but an opportunity for a more balanced development through partnership in governance.
Given that the political class across the ideological divides continues to be evasive in, if not embarrassed by, addressing the legitimate needs of a fast growing urban India, it is also significant that Modi urged a similar recasting of the urbanisation challenge as an opportunity. He talked of the need to create 100 “smart” cities and satellite cities, and to explore the concept of twin cities. While his idea of a bullet train network, like the Golden Quadrilateral that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee began work on during the tenure of the NDA government, in time for the diamond jubilee celebrations of India’s Independence, may not seem doable, Modi is right in demanding that India’s political class should start thinking big about its cities. There is no time to lose. As has been pointed out by a McKinsey report, if India is to move 250-300 million more people into urban spaces over the next two decades, it needs to build 700-900 million square metres of commercial and residential space each year — that’s more than two Mumbais each year.
The BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful did not dwell on other areas where his party clearly needs to shed some of its baggage, as on FDI in retail. It is obvious India cannot be built by foreign capital alone, but a party that wants to control where it goes betrays a closed mind. Modi is right in wanting real-time data on crop sowing and production so that imports can be planned, for instance, but when he says this will be helpful in deciding if certain crops are to be exported, it recalls an old and obsolete Swadeshi Jagran Manch version of the BJP.

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  1. Sanjay Kumar
    Jan 20, 2014 at 2:30 am
    BJP should doent every fraudulent decisions and inefficiency of this congress government which brought hardships to Indians and its economy. This needs to be narrated to future generations so that they don't repeat the mistake of electing Congress again like this generation made in 2004 & 2009.One of the main reasons why Congress got re-elected was the failure of BJP to communicate to present generation the hardships the country had been brought to by Congress and its cronies before 1991 and 1998, mainly because of lack of evidence and doentation of those ill governance and inefficiencies of previous Congress govts.Congress has even subverted our education syllabus to spread false stories to project a better picture of Congress rule and its rulers.
    1. Shahabuddin Nadeem
      Jan 20, 2014 at 3:06 pm
      Every one is, by now totally AMUSED & has started WONDERING whetherMr. Modi is going to CONTINUE - AD-NAUSEUM,to base the VERY CORE as well as thew EDIFICE of his CAMPAIGN only at -CONGRESS BASHING, SONIA BASHING,RAHULBASHING,SECULARISM BASHING,MINORITY APPEAT BASHING,...X BASHING,YBASHING...ONLY& ONLY on BASHING SOME BODY or SOME OPPOSITION eny/POLICY/IDEOLOGY/&so on continuously without EVER delineating HOW & with WHAT POLICYINITIATIVES he will CONVERT INDIA in to a NATION that is FAR BETTER, FAR SUPERIOR & FAR SUPER POWERISH(!) THAN CHINA- the IDEAL COUNTRY of his DREAMS?!The ECONOMIC KITE flying with ZERO IT&RE-IMPORT OF SHIP LOADS of BLACKMONEY from SWISS BANKS&various OTHER ideas of worthies like Baba RAMDEV,Iam sure will remain exactly that - KITES that may not even raise above theground in to air!This Non PRACTICAL melodramatic BALLOONISTS campaign by BJP/MODI needs tobe COMPARED with ARVIND KEJRIWAL's down to EARTH PRAGMATIC-15 days inoffice!