Economic reforms enacted during the ten day monsoon session ending September 23 firmly establish Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credentials as a reformist PM. His record now rivals those of Prime Ministers Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee and surpasses by a wide margin that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his entire ten year tenure.

What Modi has done begins to look particularly impressive when we take into account the fact that the reforms he has enacted have been politically far more contentious than those enacted by predecessor governments. The need for some of his big-ticket reforms had been recognised for nearly two decades, but all prior governments sidestep them on the pretext that there was no consensus for them.

Begin with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. As far back as 2000, Justice VB Eradi Committee had documented the glacial pace at which companies under bankruptcy proceedings could be liquidated in India. It noted that as of December 31, 1999, 48% of the cases took more than ten years and 15% cases more than 25 years to complete. The present author had pitched for a bankruptcy law along the lines of the United States Bankruptcy Code in his 2008 book, India: The Emerging Giant. But it was not until 2016 that Modi government enacted such a law.

Illustration: Ajit Ninan

Labour law reforms have an even longer history. They were discussed as far back as 1991 when Rao implemented the first set of reforms. But they did not get traction at the time. Later, finance minister Yashwant Sinha promised them in his bold 2001-02 budget but was unable to deliver.

UPA, which came to power in 2004, ruled out these reforms. Indeed, it went so far as to drop even a small provision for a more flexible labour law regime in special economic zones (SEZs) that the outgoing Vajpayee government had made in its draft SEZ Bill of 2004. During its ten year rule, UPA introduced no labour law reforms. Ice was finally broken by the state of Rajasthan in 2014.

But genuine wide-ranging reforms have come only now, with the Modi government replacing 29 disparate and occasionally contradictory labour laws by four considerably more coherent labour codes that make labour markets far more flexible and employment friendly. The new labour law regime gives employers the right to terminate workers in enterprises with 300 or fewer workers (up from previous threshold of 100 workers). More importantly, it gives states full freedom to raise this threshold.

Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh governments, which had recently wanted to suspend labour laws for three years, can now be genuinely bold and raise the threshold to 10,000 workers – to encourage large enterprises and create well-paid jobs. The new labour codes also cut inspector raj, lower compliance burden, empower women to work night shifts and do away with registration requirements for enterprises with less than 40 workers if not using power and 20 workers if using power.

The third set of reforms relates to marketing of agricultural produce, contract farming and controls on transportation, storage, prices and distribution under Essential Commodities Act (ECA) of 1955. The Vajpayee government had initiated marketing and contract farming reforms in 2003 through a model act to be adopted by states, but the latter implemented it only half-heartedly. The problem remained largely unsolved. As regards ECA, economists have called for its repeal or restrict its use for decades. Modi government has finally implemented these reforms.

The fourth difficult-to-navigate area of reform has been medical education. UPA had repeatedly tried to replace the highly corrupt Medical Council of India (MCI) with an alternative regulatory body, but failed. The present government has successfully put in place an entirely new legislation under which the National Medical Commission has finally replaced MCI. The government has additionally passed parallel laws governing education in homeopathy and Indian systems of medicine and laid down the foundation of a new regulatory architecture in medical education.

Fifth, Modi government has gone on to liberalise foreign direct investment in sectors such as defence, civil aviation, railways, coal, mining and e-commerce that prior governments had found difficult to open. It has also opened the automatic route to the point that it could disband the foreign investment promotion board.

Finally, we have two truly mega reforms: GST and the drop in the corporate profit tax to 17% for new manufacturing firms and 25% for other firms.

Plugging of leakages in social programmes through direct benefit transfers; introduction of commercial mining in coal; building of roads, bridges, tunnels, ports and airports at accelerated pace; a robust digital infrastructure founded on innovative Unified Payments Interface platform; digitalisation of numerous government services to improve the ease of living; toilets for all in rural India; electrification of all rural households; and rapid expansion of rural roads and rural housing are some additional achievements worthy of note.

The government’s record is not without blemish and I have written critically of its embrace of import substitution and inaction on privatisation. But criticism without appreciation of positive accomplishments misleads rather than informs the readers.

ପ୍ରଧାନମନ୍ତ୍ରୀ ମୋଦୀଙ୍କ 'ମନ କି ବାତ' ପାଇଁ ଆପଣଙ୍କ ବିଚାର ଏବଂ ଅନ୍ତର୍ଦୃଷ୍ଟି ପଠାନ୍ତୁ !
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ଆମକୁ ‘ଚଳେଇ ନେବା’ ମାନସିକତାକୁ ଛାଡି  'ବଦଳିପାରିବ' ମାନସିକତାକୁ ଆଣିବାକୁ ପଡ଼ିବ :ପ୍ରଧାନମନ୍ତ୍ରୀ ମୋଦୀ

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ଆମକୁ ‘ଚଳେଇ ନେବା’ ମାନସିକତାକୁ ଛାଡି 'ବଦଳିପାରିବ' ମାନସିକତାକୁ ଆଣିବାକୁ ପଡ଼ିବ :ପ୍ରଧାନମନ୍ତ୍ରୀ ମୋଦୀ
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Happy Birthday Mr Modi: Your friend from Goa!
September 17, 2021

I like you Mr Modi. Your are a good person and an inspiring leader.

I like you because your intentions are driven purely for India. I saw that passion, care and love for our motherland and its people, in your eyes when we meet on August 6, 2021.

You called me your friend from Goa and that too me was such a wonderful way to describe our friendship.

I remember your laughter when I told you, about my retort to people who call me a ‘Bhakt of Modi’ – ‘I am a Bhakt, are you a Kambhakt’. It showed me your witty side.

I know you face immense criticism for the sincerity of your work; some decisions, some might not understand. But I see a plan behind your actions, that plan is not for the destruction of India but for its welfare. There are short-term objectives and then there are long-terms goals.

In our discussion for 25-minutes, I understood that you care for India, as a child cares for its mother. It is this single-minded courage of conviction that you possess that endears many committed nationalists like me to you as a person and as a leader.

It is not easy managing and governing India. It is diverse and often difficult to comprehend, especially the needs, wants and aspirations of the people of India.

I know it is impossible to be appreciated by every quarter in India but I can see most people in the country admire your efforts and dedication Towards a Better India. The people of India have a sense of hope in you and they are willing to put their trust implicitly in you.

The fact about your life that is inspiring to me is that you were a common citizen, who came from humble beginnings to work your way up the ladder of success. You were not born into aristocracy or political legacy. You have strived arduously over the years to rise up and take forward your visions and missions for Gujarat first as a state and now over the last seven-years India as a nation.

Your rise in the political space in India and globally has been phenomenal but it has not come without strife and hardships. You have surfed the tough waves of your political career with confidence and taken people that believed in you and followed you, along with you.

Life, in my simple understanding has been your greatest teacher.

It is wonderful to learn from your strategies in dealing with the different hurdles you have faced as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and now as the Prime Minister of India. I have been following your work since 2000. And it has not been an easy ride for you. Every step of the way has been a struggle but with each challenge you have emerged stronger than before and more determined. It as though, your challenges in life have moulded your career for the better. That grit you possess is infectious.

I realized in my personal meeting with you, which was huge high in my personal achievements of my life, that you are not pretentious. You are who you are and you just want to give your best to India in the best that you can give.

People look for perfection in their leaders. I do not think any leader can be perfect in his actions or decisions but he can be honest in his intentions and that’s what I found in you during our conversation. You are honest about your duty to the country and its people.

Such is the honesty you possess in your intentions for India, that dishonest people in India and nations outside of India fear you. They feared you when you were the Chief Minister of Gujarat, they fear you even more now that you are the Prime Minister of India for a second-term and I am quite confident you will be the Prime Minister for the third-term too. Our nation’s enemies know that under your leadership, India can strengthen its roots to grow into a global nation that is valued, respected and feared.

Your life’s experiences of 71-years is an interesting learning for most Indians because it is about a man from the grassroots of India who dreamed of a Better India and worked for the last several-decades to do his duty to the nation.

I am in awe of you as a politician but I have even more admiration for your humanness. You are good human being. You have a heart of care and concern for the common people.

The Congress has termed your birthday as ‘Panuati Day’ and ‘Bad Omen Day’. That is the pathetic level of their political maturity. Once tall political leaders and political parties have exposed their fall into an abysmal pit of degeneration and degradation. Such is their hate for you, because you have shafted their political arrogance with your governmental policies, some very tough decision, but most of all, they cannot get over your connect with the people of India. They don’t understand what makes people connect to you.

The answer to the question of your people connect is simple. You are one of them, you think like them, you act like them, you live like them and you dream like them. It is your simplicity and lack corruption in governance that makes people believe in you.

On your 71st birthday, I wish the very best for you and your years ahead as leader of one of the world’s most promising nation – India with our people of great ethos and culture.

Humbled that you considered me to be a your friend from Goa. I am glad to have a friend like you from whom I can learn.

You are a leader that has stirred a spirit of confidence in our people. It is a confidence that will reshape the future of India for the better.

Some people can continue to mock you for reasons known to them, I see you differently. And I am glad that our country at this point of time has you as our leader. You are not perfect but you are the best we have.

From the people of Goa, my family and myself: Happy Birthday Mr Modi!

Author Name : Savio Rodrigues

Source : Goa Chronicle