I wish this was the speech that was made in May 2014. I am sure someone attempting this counterfactual would have many other points to make.

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters

The nation has spoken.  You have given your mandate, your trust, to our party.  You have given us your instructions very clearly. To govern this country so that everyone progresses, and everyone becomes prosperous. We are grateful and humbled. And I, as the leader of the party, bow down my head in humility to you the people of India. You are 130 crore people – rich and poor; Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain; you speak 26 languages and live in 29 states. And yet, when you speak, you speak clearly and without any doubt. I have heard you loud and clear and as your servant, I bow my head to you.

During the campaign I promised you that this Government will be very different, a government of change. I plan to live up to that promise. You have seen our program in the manifesto. But the time for elections is over, and the time for talking is done. Now, as your servant, you are entitled to know what we plan to do and how it will better your lives. Allow me to lay out the big changes that we will make.

The first job of a government is to ensure that the prosperity of the nation goes up. Without money in the bank, without a job, without food in your stomach, you cannot be a good citizen. If people are seeing their prospects improve, tensions in society will decrease. Most of the tensions we have in our country are about competition for resources – for jobs, houses, land.  Our goal is to end these tensions by increasing prosperity.

Prosperity can only come when entrepreneurs and industrialists feel that they can set up companies without any interference or problems. These companies will create jobs. You should no longer expect that the government will be the source of all jobs. Those days are gone. If we keep generating non-productive jobs for people, then we will just be paying salaries. Then how can we invest in roads, railways, ports, airfields, in the latest arms for our defence forces?

To ensure job creation in the private sector, we will do the following

First, reduce the number of clearances and permissions the business needs. We have to ensure the business does not harm the environment, takes care of pollution, and adopts fair labour practices. Other than checking these, we will not interfere in how they run. Permissions will be granted quickly, in fourteen days time, once they satisfy us on these three.

Second, we will give all businesses tax reliefs on their initial years of running. New businesses, and existing businesses expanding operations will be given tax reliefs that are linked to employment generation as well as quantum of investment.

Third,  private companies are invited to invest in road infrastructure. We will announce our project preferences in two months time. We will give interested private companies one month to respond to tenders. Every such investment will receive a tax holiday for fifteen years provided the project is completed on time and to our satisfaction.

Fourth, we will cut corporate taxes to bring them in line with other countries in Asia with whom we compete for investment.

Fifth, there will be no tax on dividends. This will encourage people to start investing in stocks and shares to help private companies to invest.

Sixth, in selected sectors like defence, government will announce a Future Purchase Program to enable indigenous industries to plan and develop technologies for investment.

Seventh, we will announce Strategic Industry Partnership Initiatives to create annex exploit technologies for water conservation in farming, river cleanliness, ground water recharge, waste management and alternate energy sources.

In the field of agriculture, the country has made tremendous progress. But more needs to be done to ensure that our farmers can earn good incomes from agriculture. Wherever possible, we will use Minimum Support Prices to help farmers shore up income. But going forward, we will ask FCI to implement cold storage systems to help store food surpluses of items like onions which cause a lot of suffering due to wild price fluctuations – both to farmers as well as to consumers.

We will ask the State Agriculture Ministries to help farmers move to less water-intensive modes of cultivation. This will take a few years to accomplish but we must start now. The country has the lowest per-capita availability of water among all major countries. Global warming is here and it will affect rainfall patterns. We need to be prepared.

Access to credit for farmers will improve in our administration, but to maintain a healthy flow, we will ask farmers to repay loans. Not paying back a loan does not reflect well on our culture. We will ask the States to be extra sensitive to this aspect.

Coming to the Banking system. The previous government had started the Asset Quality Review which is a good step. But we will take it further. First, all politically directed lending will stop. Bank officers will be allowed to make their own decisions on credit. Further if a credit decision is made on the basis of facts, the bank officers will not face criminal prosecution.  This will allow them to function freely and without hindrance.

To enable the public sector banks to act without political interference, we are hereby abolishing the Department of Financial Services.  There will be no privatisation of the banks but these banks will now have to manage their affairs freely under the total supervision of the RBI.  We will appoint individuals of repute to act as Independent Directors representing the government as a stockholder in these banks. But there will be no more remote control.

The tax burden in this country is borne by a very few people. To make this fairer, we propose to do the following.

Income tax will now be paid by all. The threshold for no tax will be set high enough so that poor farmers and poor people do not have to pay. Tax rates for low incomes will be low.  It is a national duty to pay to keep your country safe and prosperous. The Income Tax Act will be amended to reflect this aim.

Further this government will abolish all state level Octroi and Sales Taxes and move to a national Goods and Services Tax system. It will take two years to design it properly and two years for it to stabilise. I ask my countrymen to be patient. If we get this right, the immediate benefits can be illustrated as follows: a truck of Alphonso Mangoes from Ratnagiri will take three days to get to the Capital, without any Octroi stops, instead of ten days at present.  A separate commission consisting of all states will be set up to ensure that the states do not lose revenue. But if some states do, they should remember the whole nation benefits. Farmers benefit. Industries benefit. Customers benefit.

The Government will provide incentives to those who pay at shops by debit or credit card or by IMPS.  The incentive will be credited directly to the payer within 15 days of such payment. Insist on paying by card at a shop. India has the lowest merchant charges, and the merchant saves money in cash handling. WE will introduce schemes to ensure that every Indian is able to pay by card.


Turning to foreign policy – India has always desired peaceful relations with our neighbours, particularly Pakistan.  I ask my fellow Indians to be patient. Pakistan is a country in great trouble. But they are our neighbours – and we cannot chose our neighbours. Our government will engage Pakistan at civil society, inter-governmental and in people to people levels. We will punish anyone who launched a terrorist attack on us from their soil. But we will reward such countries for good behaviour.

Last and most important – I wish to address the question of our approach to secularism. There has been a lot of scaremongering about our party during the elections. Do not believe these rumours. There will be some changes but here is what I want to tell my Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain and other brothers and sisters from any religion.  You are Indian first and last. Hindus are Indian first and last. As Indians you are equal in the eyes of the law. There will be no discrimination – either positive or negative – on the basis of religion. Any person caught doing so will be punished under the Constitution. At the same time, my brothers and sisters from the minority religions, you will agree with me that a lot of misuse of secularism has taken place in the past. Vote bank politics, encouraging illegal migration, fomenting communal violence – all of this has been done by political parties in the past. This ends now. The civilisation of this country has benefited from Islam, Christianity and other religions. But it is largely a Hindu one. This should not scare you. It is the same Hindu religion that welcomed the Parsis, the earliest Christian evangelists, that co-existed with Jainism and Buddhism, and enabled Islam to become an Indian religion. My government will ensure this is not forgotten but this is not at the expense of our fellow Indians from other religions.

My friends, we have a lot to do. Let us swear an oath to work hard. I and my government, as your servants, will make a solemn vow to you to make your lives better over the next five years that you have given us. Jai Hind! Vande Mataram!

4 thoughts on “May 2014

  1. Well, the obvious implication of the post is that he has failed to do most or all of this. I would be more charitable. It is an almost impossible job to run India. We cannot expect perfection.

    Before I comment on each of the points you have made, you could summarise all your economic points by simply saying Sack Ramamritham. In that I totally concur !

    On your points on industry, the government has delievered on lower taxes and road infrastructure. They have not improved at all on business friendliness. There is no Strategic Industry Partnership or Future Purchase program. And GST has been delivered. You must also credit the government on continuity. They carried on some of the better programs from the earlier government. Unlike Trump whose every effort seems to be to undo whatever Obama did.

    On Agriculture, your wish list is small, but with the exception of loans, they have done all of this. Change in agriculture will be slow. Very very slow. On farmer loans, I totally agree, but every party is going to do this in India, because if you don’t do it you cannot win an election.

    Totaly agree on banking points. Abolish every Ramamritham department. And yes, the government could have done lot lot more on stopping political interference in lending. Missed opportunity.

    On income tax, the government hs done this. The exemption for agricultural income isn’t a big deal. Sure some rich farmers escape tax, but in the larger scheme of things, it isn’t big. Most state taxes have indeed been abolished.

    Foreign relations have never been a major issue in governance of India, and it hasn’t changed under this government too.

    The emotive issue will always be secularism given the backgrund of the current government. However even on this, it isn’t a great positive or negative. By and large there have been no communal distrubances of any major impact. That should not be discounted, given our history. The very recent own goals on citizenship aside, there has neither been an improvement nor a deterioration in amity. Methinks too much noise is made by both sides in the recent controversies. The government could have avoided the recent announcements and I don’t have a great appreciation of the protestors either. There is more sound and noise than any real movement on secularism.

    Overall, as you could have guessed from the tenor of my comment, it is one of statism. And that is my biggest complaint against this government. A missed opportunity of gargantuan proportions. They could have done a lot lot more. They haven’t so far. And therein lies the regret. Any other party forming a government would have done roughly the same. It isn’t a massive credit to you if the report card says you did only as well as anybody else.

    Like

    1. I wanted to make the comment on secularism front and centre – but this was intended to be a speech by the PM to the people on getting elected and I am entitled to believe that he really meant “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas”. Thoughtful comments as usual!

      Perhaps they have indeed done a fabulous job. I cannot see it. The biggest mistake was demonetization, and to cover it up, a hasty and botched GST.

      Lack of thought is the biggest mistake here. And listening to the IAS lobby is an unpardonable sin.

      Like

  2. Eminently sensible and logical, something any right thinking individual thinking for the greater good of India will happily agree with.

    The emotional aspect is what drives folks much more than logic. There needs to be something for his core Hindutva type constituency which is strong, muscular but constructive and forward looking

    And for the minorities, not to mention ‘secular’ parties and certain sections of intellectuals and media, this set of lines will be what will be focused on viz,
    “At the same time, my brothers and sisters from the minority religions, you will agree with me that a lot of misuse of secularism has taken place in the past. Vote bank politics, encouraging illegal migration, fomenting communal violence – all of this has been done by political parties in the past. *This ends now’*

    This is enough for all of them to take to the streets, launch agitations, cry themselves hoarse that minority rights are in danger..

    In sum, politics in India often is driven more by emotions than logic. This cold logic is understood by seasoned politicians and not folks like us

    Like

    1. Chandu, the biggest liability India has at this difficult time is that everyone practices identity politics – the majority as well as the minorities. Sectarian interests triumph national interest.

      No one can disagree with the stuff I wrote – a lot of it is motherhood – and indeed, as Ramesh points out, some of it has actually been accomplished. My grief stems from how identity politics is front and centre of everything we do.

      Thanks for leaving a thoughtful comment.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s