The Modi government is being formed on the back of a mandate for honest and effective governance. Fortunately, it inherits a raft of incomplete social and economic equity initiatives from the UPA II. These need to be continued, deepened and tweaked to deliver more bang for the buck.

But every government craves the opportunity to distinguish itself from their predecessors. The Vajpayee government is remembered for the inter-city state highways it built, state enterprise privatization, albeit stymied half way through and the blot of Godhra.

Clearly, everyone wants a full stop to future Godhras. But the mere absence of organized violence is rarely memorable even though it is immensely difficult to achieve in a tinderbox political environment. What then are the “headline” opportunities that could grab?

Infrastructure, coal and defence present themselves instantly. The former two, to build an enabling India. The last, to deter the many “spoilers” of an Indian development story.

Within infrastructure, the real opportunity is in the railways. China now exports railway projects and technology and we are, reportedly, keen to learn from them. But the truth is that we have not served our cause well over the last two decades. The last memorable Railway Minister was Madhavrao Sindhia; not just for his dashing, good looks but for ushering in the era of “fast Shatabdi trains” in 1988.

What has held railways back since then is the “fiefdom” the Ministry became for coalition partners interested only in distributing goodies. Should not the railways them be privatized to nip its politicisation in the bud? Certainly not. Out of all the infrastructure sectors, railway privatization is the trickiest. Secondly, as we have learnt from the power sector, it makes little sense to privatize a sector, in which tariff setting is highly politicized, before it is stabilised.

The Rakesh Mohan committee on railways (2001) laid down a blue print for the sustained financial viability of a railway system performing on par with international standards of efficiency. More than a decade since, the situation has only degraded further: antiquated track and rolling stock; poor customer orientation; declining service and safety standards; distorted tariffs which are either not remunerative or are not competitive with air and road options.  

The target should be to restore, the low proportion of freight and passenger traffic presently carried by railways, to more economically and environmentally efficient levels with a push towards rapid electrification of rail tracks.

Convert the Railway Ministry into a set of publicly owned companies with core expertise in production of rolling stock; freight or passenger traffic with self-owned rolling stock and track and facility maintenance. These companies should be Board managed and have only an arms-length relationship with their administrative Ministry, which should be the Ministry of Transport. Corporatisation will distance railways from being the “freebie-bag” it has become. This has happened, in the case of National Thermal Power Corporation and POWERGRID, both power sector publicly owned companies, where sound technical and financial decisions are taken by professionals.

Coal, whilst actually being one step ahead of railways, since Coal India is already corporatized, seems even more degraded. The next step should be to privatize it and closely review the vast unused or sparsely developed mining areas which have been allotted to these companies. This could be the Maggie Thatcher moment for Modi.

Abolish the largely discredited Ministry of Coal, as an independent entity; merge it along with oil and gas into a Ministry of Extractive Energy Sources. Appoint a savvy, industry friendly, politician; a Sharad Pawar clone, to restore positive energy into the fractured government-energy industry relationship and watch this sector take off.

Defence is the third big area, which India has pussy footed around for too long. Revamping the structure of our defence forces to be lean and mean with less tail and more teeth; modernization of weaponry, aircraft and warships; minimum levels of usable ammunition stocks and efficient procurement processes; integration of operations across the three services and para-military units; compensating defence personnel handsomely, for putting their life on the line, and re-integrating then productively in civilian life, post retirement, should be near term goals. Opening up defence production to the private sector, including foreign investors can kick start a dormant, defence industry led, domestic supply chain, mini, revolution.

The ideal Minister to manage this mini revolution would be the personable and upright, economist, writer and investigative journalist; Arun Shourie, who displayed nerves of steel as Minister Disinvestment in the NDA and navigated both, the political perils of rapid economic decision making and the roving eye of the CAG, with equal dexterity and success.

The reform and restore agenda is likely to be fairly full. The challenge is to isolate the few lead stories which could be the bell weather for its commitment and credibility to work in national interest; its ability to kick start the economy and generate productive jobs for the educated unemployed.  

Railways, defence and coal are not low hanging fruit. All three have deeply embedded elite interests; the risk of failure is high and the likely adverse fall-out significant. Reforming them is not for the faint hearted. But that is precisely why they are good choices to announce ones arrival. The one that succeeds at reforming the three would have bent and strung Shiva’s bow.   

17 thoughts on “

  1. I seen lots of things about clean india but it’s sad that I don’t see any litter box on side walk.all fast food vendors should have their recy cling bin mandatory, also gov garbage can is dig out by recycling worker to find plastic material and leave all trash out side.M y advis that to prevent this their should be separate can for trash and recycling.also pick up should be done on time.

  2. I visit india every few years and one of the biggest problem found is cow sitting in the middle of road bloking traffic and causing accident .also road gets dirty due to litter and slippery. No official take strict action and fine is not enough to stop them to keep happening again.I would like that gov should take strong action to prevent that also help swatch bharat.

  3. Request to introduce new method in school to promote awerrnes about environment.student should encourage to plant one tree during their education period and use bicycle for transportation .student can choose there location for planting like side walk.side of road,garden,school,etc.They can use water bottle to water the tree on their way.student effort should be taken in to consideration.

  4. I would like to request modi change color of police vehicle emergency light in our Tiranaga color.please do not copy as other country.

  5. I am requesting to your team to visit Hazira Industrial zone having biggest industrial houses in Gujarat and giving lots of revenue to government,It is near Surat,Gujarat.I am requesting you to visit specially from O.N.G.C cross to Hazira village.In this industrial zonethere are working many giant industries like ONGC,KRIBHCO,NTPC,SHELL,RELIANCE,ESSAR,L&T,GSPC,GIPCL,GAIL,IOC STORAGES etc.Listed petrochemical companies handling and transporting Explosive, Flammable, Toxic, Carceogenic liquids and gases using tankers and truck trollies and by railway,Almost 10000 vehicles moving everyday across this zone including employees,local residencial and transport carriers.Now I am requesting you to show the most worst road condition and heavy traffic nuissons of this area to whole world,this type of worst roads and heavy traffic may be not found any wherein india.You visit and check your self that how much frustration and headache people suffering everyday before reaching to work and leaving to home,And also check that if some day when in above listed industries major fire or gas leakage will occur than how people will leave this area?if local people having medical emergency than how will reach to hospital?on the road may lost life.Road conditions and capacities are such that it may take hours to vacant these area and optional roads are also not available,only single exist with two railway crossing!!!During 23rd to 25th November there is railway crossing repairing work has planned but no optional road arrangement has done,you have chance to record these rubbish decision of responsible government authorities.From last 4-5 months zero work on this road and peoples are suffering from last two years due to road construction but govermrnt nothing doing for this issue,I am sure that when any major accident will happen in any industries than lots of casualities will occur ,and requesting you to highlight aggressively these issue before lots of people lost theirs if you are nutral media that be aggressive for this issue.

  6. Heyy there, Youu have done a fantastic job. I will definitely difg
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  8. Sir, fantastic going, plz continue. Requesting you on few things as follows:

    1. Education loan rate of interest from the bank please reduse.
    2. Bring black money back immediately, no matter how small amount it is. To shut the mouth of the media and some unwanted barking dogs.
    3. Kindly do give a proper reply to pakistani people so that they should not raise again for next 2020.

    Bhaskar Bhat
    Success Coach
    Pyramid Consultants
    Cell – 9743992899

  9. “THE MODI” is a good prime minister of our country (India) Mr.P.M is doing well job…really apriciated. He live long.
    this is my advise that our prime minister need hight security because every oposition leader afraided to see the good work of Mr. modi………this is my our country need Mr. Modi..
    Mr. Modi is the no. 01 leader in the word..Jai Hind…

  10. SIR,


  11. I think if swacch bharat is to be built or continued then the most important thing in past hours is the idols of gods which are polluting the water a lot and in my opinion in one district or city there should be only 1 idol of the same god whose puja i going on .There is no justification of making so many idols as in my city cuttack and polluting the rivers.The single idol should also be made with least chemicals for colours


  13. The BJP has some excellent old men like Shourie, Khanduri and Yahswant Sinha. Hope they use them and not sideline them, they way they pushed out Jaswant Singh.

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