We enter 2018 filled with hope and also a lot of despair.
Let us list out the hopes part first
Economy appears to be turning corner, having swallowed GST and DeMo shocks. Safe to bet it should be smooth ride from Q4 2017 calendar (or even Q3 of 2017) all the way. How much that will help Modi in 2019 remains to be seen. Will it be too little too late like 2004? Will it end up benefiting UPA3 in 2019 like it did with for first few of its disastrous plunder regime in UPA1?
Trump is settling down and doing things exactly the way he promised in his campaigns. This may not be 100% good news (H1B for one) but most of it is good for India if he walks the talk. Signs are good.
The global economic situation is benign if not beneficial. Many countries around us are doing well. ASEAN, Japan, USA (which is seeing record breaking growth run not seen for 10+ years). This should help India directly as well as indirectly, absorbing surplus and creating markets.
But our “despair” list is longer
Senseless procedures, meaningless forms, byzantine laws, opaque rules, incompetent, insensitive, arrogant reckless babu-dom still holds back India and Indians from its rightful place in the global arena.
We still pay bribes to register property, even scooters, get various certificates, licenses and permits for everything from birth to death. Sad to say, this seems all pervasive, regardless of which party heads state or center.
It is the single biggest factor that easily shaves off 4-5% from annual growth. Modi has been making noises but has not done much about this perhaps fearing backlash, non-cooperation and sabotage. Will he wield the brahmastra? Or plod along? Or make things worse by giving free reign for terror raj in the name of anti-corruption?
We are still wrecked by meaningless violence. Our IT capital Bengaluru or Chennai can be shut down by a few hundred goons for death of a movie star or disputes over water or language. Killings in the name of cow, honor and what not still hog headlines. Kerala is no different from Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Can we not pursue agendas without violence? Why has the argumentative Indian run out of words?!
We seem to be unsure whether to march on to 21st century or remain in 19th. In which other country in the world prohibition becomes a ‘vote catcher’?! Do we have a politician that dares to say “Come on guys, let us move to 21st century! Let us find ways to solve the problem without bans”. Same goes for beef too.
Our public deserve the governments they get. If the likes of Hardik Patel, Tejaswi Yadav and other such unrefined thugs can swing voters, if they can vote like they did in RK Nagar, if they back leaders like Jaganmohan Reddy, Gowdas and Mamata Banerjee, can we hope for anything other than sub-saharan future in slums? Will this change?
We have still done nothing about lunatic RTE, assault on freedom of expression like Sec 66A, 377 and so many others.
Our sick die in streets, carrying dead bodies in bicycles or get gouged lakhs in plunder by corrupt greedy and Shylockian doctors in “corporate” hospitals. Our children go to fake universities and degree mills whose certificates are not even valued as toilet papers in any decent country in the world for jobs. Even our own businessmen feel they are unemployable. And they pay a kings ransom to get that. If they are lucky to get in!
We are yet to build schools and colleges that solve the education problem in ways that, 20 or 30 years later will have our “backward” people storming the streets demanding end to reservations. Yes, it can become non issue if opportunity is there and equally available to all.
Back to Hope
On all these fronts, we the citizens expect a lot from Narendra Modi and his government because he is the only hope we have.
Not a bunch of dynastic dacoits that get together on flimsy alliances backed by equally corrupt leftist charlatans to loot even more and throw crumbs to poor as “welfare” to keep them poor carrying them in palanquins. Sipping their Chiantis and Scotch funded by western aid!
Not an anarchist megalomaniac serial liar who hijacks everything and anything with the sole objective of grabbing even more power to be wielded for grabbing yet more power.
Will 2018 deliver? Let us hope and pray!