The Business Board has voted to concur with the recommendation of the University Affairs Board (UAB) to enforce a smoking ban at U of T and to approve the

What are some commendable initiatives by the Modi Govt?

How the Global Experts Evaluate Modi

The legendary Marketing professor and expert – Philip Kotler talking about Modi in November, 2014 while speaking to corporate leaders, marketing professionals and faculty and students of MBA schools said that he was high on Modi and PM Modi felt like breath of fresh air.

In March 2015, Christine Lagarde discussed how after the Modi government came the inflation had come down to around 5% while revised gross domestic product (GDP) data was pointing to a growth at 7.4% and will help India better even China. She had advocated further reforms for greater growth, which unfortunately have been blocked by the Congress.

In May 2015, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim found the policies and work of Indian PM Narendra Modi visionary.

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Jim Yong Kim @JimKim_WBG

Congratulations, @narendramodi, on one year of visionary steps toward ending poverty in #India. The world needs more leaders like you.

10:35 PM – 26 May 2015

What has Modi Government Accomplished?

Let us go through the list of accomplishments that Modi Government has notched up in the 2 years that it has been in power. It is important to understand the speed, the efficiency and the earnestness with which these schemes have been envisaged and then executed. I also challenge you to go to the official sites and check out the latest – often real time – Dashboards of the progress, with relevant KPIs and metrics for each project and program. I have worked most of my life in Business Intelligence and Analytics implementing large programs to get the metrics created in Dashboards. To do this kind of work even in the best of US multinationals within that short a time – sometimes because of data and sometimes because systems capturing data “don’t talk” – will be considered quite an achievement for even the best consulting team in US!! That this has been done in Indian Government departments with the resources that we pejoratively call “Babus” – is nothing short of absolute miracle! To understand and assess any work, we need to look into its context and background and then you will realize what has been done in real terms!

1 Minimum Government – Maximum Governance

The main aim of the government is not to be there and run up the bills on the money of the tax payers – but to govern! And the best governance is when there is minimal government but efficient in its work. And that is a major metric by which any government should be evaluated. How many Ministers are used and what output they give for their effort?

Let us look at this metric. Modi government has 65 Ministers compared to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s2nd Ministry with 80. That’s 20% less. The work obviously has been more – which we shall see later. But here is a visual of the Minimum government and Maximum governance.

This has the obvious cost savings.

The difference of 25 ministers would immediately relieve at least 375 government officials, employed as personal staff of these ministers.

The estimated amount of money saved by each minister would be around rs one crore every year and thus 25 ministers would save Rs 25 crore every year compounding to Rs125 crore in five years. The breakdown of the annual Rs one crore saving would be more than Rs 65 lakh withdrawn as salary of 15 employees, Rs six lakh allowances minister gets from the government under different clauses. And around Rs 25 lakhs he would get as part of the salaries and other benefits. Rest of the amount for his miscellaneous expenses.

Now this is the direct benefit. There are other benefits of having a “lean, mean and flexible” bunch of ministers who make decisions! The real metric / KPI is how much work or output can a group of ministers accomplish? And that is where PM Modi’s cabinet scores very high!

2 Dissolving Committees and Planning Commission

Charles Kettering once accurately observed – “If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.”

In UPAs time there were 9 empowered groups of ministers (EGoMs) and 21 groups of ministers (GoMs) in operation to take decisions on various matters before being presented to the Cabinet. Do you see the redundancy? Do you see the culture of shirking the work and inadequacy of the ministers to not make decisions on their own or even in groups?

Well, one big thing that Modi did was to abolish all this redundancy! He also abolished the Planning Commission – which was a vestige from the Soviet era which still was being dragged on – well, because “it was the way we did work all the time”. It was adding nothing much to the real development. As anyone with any experience in corporate Enterprise Performance Management area will tell you budgets are the legacy of a past when rationing was key. The flexibility and the focus on states was obvious.

E-Samiksha: is a portal where the action items for every ministry is monitored. It is a real time, on-line system for monitoring of follow-up action on the decisions taken during the presentations made by different Ministries/Departments to the Prime Minister. The follow-up actions are updated by the ministry with the action item and it is accessed by PMO/Cabinet Secretary/Ministries and the Government Departments. Now, that is responsiveness!

3Foreign Trips = FDI Bonanza

I know someone personally who interacts with the Finance ministry bureaucrats and the word is that there is a lot of FDI waiting to enter India but has been held back due to stalling of reforms by the opposition. And, this is despite the fact that India – per The Financial Times – has emerged as the biggest grosser of FDI in first half of 2015!

“A ranking of the top destinations for greenfield investment (measured by estimated capital expenditure) in the first half of 2015 shows India at number one, having attracted roughly $3 billion more than China and $4 billion more than the US,” the FT report said.

For context, India was ranked #15 in 2013, #9 in 2014 and #1 in 2015. The trend is clear.

The world economy has been low in the past year or so. And in that atmosphere, where China and other emerging economies are suffering, India has been getting more. It could have been much higher had it not been for stalled Parliament.

source: tradingeconomics.com

Initiatives like “Make in India” have pushed the FDI up. The “Make in India” initiative, for example, increased FDI inflow in India by 48% as per April 2015 figures.

Infrastructure Initiatives

Infrastructure is the key to development. If India has to develop, its infrastructure has to be enhanced and improved. Here are some excellent initiatives for that:

4‘Setu Bharatam’ Program

This program will make all national highways railway level crossing free by 2019. A total of 208 rail-over bridges and rail-under bridges will be built at a cost of Rs 20,800 crores in this program. Besides 1,500 decade-old bridges will be reconstructed and revamped for Rs. 30,000 crore.

In the latest Budget 2016-17, Rs. 19,000 crore have been earmarked under the Pradham Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), to connect all villages with roads .

5Research on Cutting-Edge Science

Scientific fundamental research is probably the most important backbone for a great future of India. It is imperative that we build infrastructure for fundamental physics and other science research in India. This will help us build even great human infrastructure with local scientists getting to work at cutting-edge areas!

Gravitational Wave Research: In February 2016, the Union Cabinet gave approval for LIGO-India project (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in India) which will be piloted by Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology (DST). This will be a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory in the U.S. run by Caltech and MIT. An eight kilometre long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain will be constructed so that fundamental research on this cutting edge technology can happen.

Restarting Cold Fusion Research: In 1994, due to fuzzy and dishonest “scientific” pressure – the research on Cold Fusion technology was abandoned in India. This answer explains how and why the whole debate and mis-direction happened. Now the Modi Government is starting the work on Cold fusion. The decision was made by a “high-level group” including two former chairmen of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE): Anil Kakodkar and Srikumar Banerjee.

Promises that were never kept – Being taken care of

For decades now, Indian public has been promised so many things which were never given. “Garibi Hatao” (and its variations) has been a great slogan only given to fool the public in every election. Even after 65 years, India didn’t have electricity in all the villages, proper roads, an efficient railways, closing on the disagreements with neighboring countries and even giving the Defense personnel their due. And that is where this government has done things which even after so many decades had only been promised but never undertaken or closed. So let’s take a stock.

6One Rank One Pension (OROP)

Just two years after the Indian forces had won India one of the most spectacular victories in its history – the 1971 Indo-Pak war – and right after the star Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw retired, Indira Gandhi’s government reduced armed forces pensions by 20-40 percent, while increasing civilian pension by 20 percent, without any consultation with armed forces headquarters. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how OROP issue was started! So, when Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi or other Congress leaders argue about how Modi government hasn’t done enough on OROP, it is important to lay out the genesis of the whole issue in front of them point blank. The discrimination of the Armed Forces versus the rest of the government servants is the brain-child of the Congress itself!!

On March 14, 2016, that decision – where Indira Gandhi stabbed the Armed Forces in their back after the great 1971 war – imposed by Congress in 1973 was finally corrected and the pensioners received revised pension. Over Rs 1465 crores were paid to the Armed Services personnel!

The government on Monday released revised pensionary benefits under One Rank One Pension (OROP) to over two lakh beneficiaries drawing service or disability pension. The amount along with first instalment of arrears had been released and credited by the Defence Ministry to the accounts of pensioners on March 1, 2016.

Could this have not done earlier? Of course it could have been done. But how do you expect the fox to raise the hens it is placed to look after while it feeds on them?!

7Electrification of the Entire Nation – Rural and Urban Centers

The Modi Government has a target of bringing electricity to 18,452 villages by May 2018. It seems the way the progress is happening, it will be completed by March 2017 – over an year ahead of schedule!

India’s electricity distribution is in a complete because of the distribution and how the distribution companies work. Specifically the financials around the whole process. To tackle these issues, the Modi Government, spearheaded by the Minister of Power Piyush Goyal – introduced the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY). It is a financial turnaround and revival package for electricitydistribution companies of India (DISCOMs).

UDAY has four components: (i) improving operational efficiencies of discoms, (ii) reduction of cost of power, (iii) reduction in interest cost of discoms and (iv) enforcing financial discipline on discoms through alignment with state finances.

The turnaround will be done with the State Governments taking over 75 percent of the Discoms’ debt as of September 30 2015. After this the State Government will pay back lenders by selling bonds. Discoms, on the other hand, are expected to issue bonds for the remaining 25 percent of their debt.

Andhra Pradesh was the first state to join the UDAY scheme. By now 11 states have joined forces with the Central Government to get the Discoms back on track. They are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Interestingly, the state where the AAP Chief Minister won on promising tackling the Discom mismanagement has given ths UDAY scheme a pass – leaving the Delhi-ites in the lurch!

8Real Estate Bill Passed

Real estate sector is largely unorganized. Buyers are at the whims and fancies of the developers – and some developers charge through the roof and keep changing the price goal post while the construction is on. The new real Estate bill will help set up state-level Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs) which will regulate transactions related to both residential and commercial projects

Some good provisions

  • The bill mandates that builders to keep aside 70 per cent of the money received from buyers in a separate account. This amount can only be used for the project that the money has been paid to the builder. Anyone who has dealt with the developers knows that these companies keep taking money from one project to another project and play merry go round with the moneys. The result is that the dates of possession slip and penalties / charges keep changing for the buyers.
  • The builders used to be nonchalant about the delays in the project because it didn’t hurt them much at all. They were paying only 2-3% interest in case of default / delays. On the other hand, buyers had to give out 15-18% interest for their defaults. The bill mandates builders to shell out an equal payment of interest for delayed possessions as compared to the interest it charges buyers on account of delayed payments. Now both have a level playing field. Also the time for builder to be accountable for structural defects is 5 years from the existing 2 years.
  • Another tactic that the builders used to fool the buyers was that they promised one set of built area in the beginning but would deliver something else. Now that will be stopped. The bill disallows sale of a property on the basis of ‘super area’ which includes both flat area and common area. Violation of this norm can lead to a three-year term for the developer.
  • Builders keep changing the original plan as it suits them for increasing profits. That will no longer be allowed. This new bill makes it compulsory for developers or builders to muster the consent of two-thirds of the buyers to bring about any changes to the original plan.
  • For builders, it provides them the assurance of better payment by the buyers. The bill also imposes penalty on allottee for not paying dues on time. And the builder will have the opportunity to approach the regulator in case there is any issue with the buyer.

It is said that this bill will bring the home prices down as well.

9Rejig of Air Defense System to save Rs 49,300 crores

Sometimes looking at things afresh and making sure that we have what we need, gives us a whole new way to save. And, that is exactly what the Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar did. He got the 15 year old plan reviewed and it resulted in a savings of almost 50,000 crores INR. Here are some of the points on this.

  • The recently concluded review, which involved a technical study by the air force and an evaluation of all available air defence systems in the world, has resulted in a consensus decision to cut down on purchase plans of shorter range missiles, senior officials have told ET.
  • Air defence strategy hinges around three layers – a short range system that protects high value installations upto 25 km, a medium range system that covers an area of around 40 km and a long range system for threats coming from further.
  • Sources told ET that the revaluation conducted by the air force concluded that with the S400 acquisition, the long term acquisition plan for over 100 each Medium and Short range systems have been cut down.
  • “The study found that we will require a much much lesser number of the shorter range systems. Minister Parrikar convinced the air force that according to its layered defence plan, the long range system (S 400) would make the larger number of MR SAM and SR SAM redundant,”
  • The S 400 is expected to cost $ 6.1 billion for five systems – the most expensive air defence system ever bought by India. But, on a per square km covered basis, if is the cheapest of known systems available globally.

Common sense steps to make sure programs and actions aren’t just useful but also cost effective are important. And this government has ministers who can use a bit of common sense.

10 Operation Smile: Saving Missing Kids

Missing kids – due to so many factors – end up in hellish situations. Most commonly either into prostitution or into bonded labor. Minister of Home, Rajnath Singh started a program that rescued kids who had gone missing and reuniting them with their families. As of September 2015, over 19,000 children had been rescued!

Nineteen thousand boys and girls rescued by a special initiative of the Union home ministry have similar stories: From being pushed into prostitution and bonded labor to ill-treatment by parents. Codenamed ‘Operation Smile,’ the drive pioneered by home minister Rajnath Singhhas seen different state police and women and child departments step up efforts to rescue missing children, with Haryana and Maharashtra taking the lead.

That’s 19,000 reasons to feel good about a government that has compassion and empathy with the poor and disadvantaged.

11Progressive Programs for Overall Development of India

These are some of the top programs started by the Modi Government:

  1. Digital India
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
  3. Swachh Bharat
  4. Make in India
  5. Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
  6. Atal Pension Yojana
  7. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  8. Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY)
  9. Suraksha Bima Yojana
  10. Krishi Sinchai Yojana
  11. Kaushal Vikas Yojana
  12. MUDRA Bank Yojana
  13. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
  14. DigiLocker Scheme
  15. Ebasta Scheme
  16. LPG Subsidy Pahal Scheme and Ujwala yojana
  17. Modi’s Sagar Mala
  18. Smart City Yojana
  19. School Nursery Yojana
  20. Nayi Manzil Yojana
  21. Gold Monetization Scheme

Let us talk about some of these programs.

Digital India: It is a program launched on July 1, 2015 by Narendra Modi to “ensure that Government services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology”. It has three main components – (i) The creation of digital infrastructure (ii) Delivering services digitally and (iii) Digital literacy. It will be done via creating high-speed internet networks for connecting rural areas. Check out this slideset for moredetails on the program – Digital India

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: launched on 28th August 2014, the Jan Dhan yojana is a National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely Banking Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner. On the opening day itself, 1.5 Crore (15 million) bank accounts were opened! What does the scheme give its beneficiaries? Five main things:

  • Account holders will be provided zero-balance bank account with RuPay debit card, in addition to accidental insurance cover of ?1 lakh (US$1,500) (to be given by ‘HDFC Ergo’).
  • Those who open accounts by 26 January 2015 over and above the Rs1 lakh (US$1,500) accident claim will also be given life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 (US$450) (to be given by LIC).
  • After Six months of opening of the bank account, holders can avail Rs 5,000 (US$74) overdraft from the bank.
  • With the introduction of new technology introduced by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a person can transfer funds, check balance through a normal phone which was earlier limited only to smart phones so far.
  • Mobile banking for the poor would be available through National Unified USSD Platform (NUUP) for which all banks and mobile companies have come together.

Here are the latest statistics:

Pradhan mantri Jan Dhan Yojana Progress Report

Swachh Bharat: It is a national campaign by the Government of India, covering 4,041 statutory cities and towns, to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country. It was launched by India’s PM Narendra Modi on Oct 2, 2014. You can follow the statistics and progress state-wise at the official site of Swachh Bharat Mission. You can download the reports in Excel format as well. Here is one such report which details Physical Progress Reported by States – Swachh Bharat Report. Based on the official site, the statistics of what the citizens of the country have contributed are pretty staggering. They could be much better given the huge population, but they are amazing still.

Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojna: On March 10, 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojna was launched. Under the scheme, Rs 8000 will be spent to give LPG connections to the rural poor. After the appeal from the government and the ‘GiveItUp’ campaign, over 80 lakh people have already given up their LPG subsidy voluntarily. People with income of over Rs 10 lakh income were requested to give up the subsidy.

In the new budget for 2015-16, Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley earmarked Rs 2000 crores.

“Women of India have faced the curse of smoke during the process of cooking. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour. The time has come to remedy this situation,” he said said in his Budget speech.

He had stated that the government has decided to embark on a massive mission to provide LPG connections in names of women members of poor households.

“I have set aside a sum of Rs 2,000 crore in this year’s Budget to meet the initial cost of providing these LPG connections. This will benefit about 1 crore 50 lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17,” he had said.

This will help the rural poor – specially women – to have a better quality of life.

12The New Generation Reforms for Railways by Suresh Prabhu

Author’s Note: Due to oversight, I had missed writing on the Railway Minister, Suresh prabhu’s accomplishments. The comments from the readers made me realize it and I am rectifying it now. Thanks for the great feedback!

Suresh Prabhu is another stellar minister. Here are some of his most amazing achievement as Railways minister.

Smart Management: One of the best leadership things that Suresh Prabhu did was to change the way tenders were decided upon. Now, all tenders of non-central nature or dealing with one zone, the General Manager will be the main accepting authority. For tenders above Rs 500 crores, the authority will be a member of the Railway Board. Minister has been taken out of the whole equation itself.

Financing from Life Insurance Corporation: In a very interesting decision, Suresh Prabhu signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Life Insurance Corporation, railways will get a financing of Rs1.5 lakh crore over a period of five years to finance infrastructure works.

Launched e-catering service: Via the Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Indian railways is now offering an e-catering service. While in the train, a traveler can place an order for a meal just by making a phone call or sending an SMS. Here is the e-catering website.

Security via Helplines: There are two helpline numbers now in Indian railways. “138” for medical emergency, cleanliness, food & catering, coach maintenance, linen etc. ‘182’ for any untoward or abuse issues. These will be printed on the railway tickets so they are handy.

Smart services: Many smart services have been introduced to help the passengers. Go-India Smart Card has been launched on two sectors: New Delhi to Mumbai and New Delhi to Howrah, where the card allows the passengers to pay for reserved and unreserved seats. This will reduce the transaction time and also help reduce the corruption of the Ticket Checker (“TT” in local parlance). Another initiative is the new e-Ticketing system which can now book 3.5 times moretickets per minute (which means 7200 tickets a minute) and helps take care of 200,000 enquiries. For enhanced security of women, there is a Mobile Security app for women. It will be implemented in a phased manner throughout the railway sectors.

Yatri Ticket Sewa Kendra (YTSK) Scheme: Under this scheme, agents of Indian railways will operate terminals at multiple locations in major towns and cities to issue reserved and unreserved tickets.

R.O. Drinking Water at Stations: RO drinking water will be provided at selection stations now – these are Madurai, Gadag, Tirupati, Guwahati Dwarka, H.Nizammudin, Patna & Bhopal.

There are many great initiatives that Suresh Prabhu has undertaken and it will take a complete post – which I will write in near future