Modi led BJP swept the elections – clearly indicating the people of India want big changes . Here are my personal “wish list” items on what changes would be great for India in policy terms when this government is in power.
1. Revamp public distribution.
India does well in pockets – but it is practically the most inefficient supply chain I know of in any country. People starve on parts of the country when there is food rotting in other parts – some times food rots in godowns within state when prices increase at super markets for essential stuff like Onions and rice . This needs a big overhaul
2. Amend the constitution – remove “socialist”
Nehru and team decided India needs to be a socialist republic . That is not modern India . If socialist policies were what the people wanted , Congress would have won on its election promises of dole outs to the poor . No strata of society voted for Congress – and it is time to acknowledge its time to move away from socialism as a defining characteristic of India
3. Double down on agriculture and manufacturing
India – and some states like Kerala especially – need to wake up and smell the coffee on agriculture and manufacturing . India is extremely well focused on services and financial markets , which won’t help in a downturn . People can live without services and financial markets are built on speculation – they need to be balanced by agriculture and manufacturing . There are pockets that do great in agriculture and manufacturing – but if we take the country as a whole , it is not a good picture for a nation of a billion people .
Also – these two things give India a better ability to stand up to other countries on foreign policy . Most business schools in India used to teach the post WW2 story of how trade happened between Japan and US and how the hunter became the hunted . Sadly, that is not exactly how reality unfolded for India
4. Introduce mandatory one year apprenticeship for all engineering students
India produces a lot of engineers every year . However , most of them do not have any real skills when they come out of engineering college . It takes a year of working at some company before people figure out the basics of real engineering . And vast majority never work in real engineering – they join IT services companies . Why is it that engineers don’t have an apprenticeship requirement like doctors and accountants ? It should be implemented ASAP
5. Bring consistency in taxation and monetary policy
India has a very complex tax system and it swings widely in short period of time , making it hard to plan investments . On top of that – for the most part, Reserve Bank of India gets pressured to do unnatural things on Monetary policy . It is beyond high time that this stopped . Aadhar – despite implementation troubles – seems like a good step in right direction . But it solves only a part of the problem . I hope Modi gets some serious firepower into financial policy making and then sticks to it long term .
6. Take some consistent stances with neighbors
States ruled by regional parties and centre ruled by national parties who need their help in coalition politics is the reason India could never have a consistent relationship with Bangladesh , Srilanka etc . Now BJP has a clean majority in lower house, but still need some regional help in upset help to push bills . Now is as good a time as any to solve the problems with smaller neighbors .
This gives time , resources and energy to focus on the two big ones – Pakistan and China . Those are probably going to be “frenemies” at best even if trade improves , but that is a lot better than what it is today . Stability in the region can also help redirect extreme defense spending on to other things like infrastructure, health and education