Three Roadblocks Marring India’s Progress – OpEd


In the last nine years, India has been forging ahead in multiple directions and several international credit rating agencies have concluded that India is one of the fast developing economies in the world, in spite of the COVID pandemic crisis which caused recessionary trends all over the world. Some global experts have gone to the extent of predicting that India could emerge as a super power in the next decade, if India were to maintain it’s present tempo of growth in consistent manner.

In such circumstances, it is necessary to point out that there are three road blocks impeding India’s progress, that are there largely due to India’s free for all political and democratic structure ( what is described by some critics as chaotic democracy). Of course, India faces number of other economic and social issues apart from the three road blocks. However, these other issues can be sorted out in steady manner by better governance in the course of time, as seen in the last nine years after Mr. Modi has become the Prime Minister of India. The pre condition for India to forge ahead to the level of it’s potential is that these road blocks have to be wiped out.

Family controlled political parties and corruption in governance

Family controlled political parties that are in power in a few states and corruption in governance are two road blocks that are interlinked and compliment each other.

The major road block is that a number of political parties have gone under family control (dynastic control), that have vested interests. When such family controlled political parties are elected to power, then such condition lead to nepotism and high level of corruption in politics and administration .

As corruption at various levels, both in government as well as in private sector, have become rampant, there is serious setback in implementing development projects , apart from causing inefficiency in governance and also creating severe problems for people in day today life.

While corruption prevails in several spheres, the family controlled political parties in power increase the level and intensity of corruption several fold.

Family controlled political parties are the bane in any democratic society.

The political parties in India which are not family controlled are BJP, Communist party of India and Marxist communist party. Kudos to them.

Freebies culture

The other road block is the increasing practice of extending what is known as freebies (free gifts) by a few state governments and such freebies are offered to people in the form of free bus travel, free electricity and in so many other ways, to conceal the inadequacies of governance and buy peace with the people. These freebies are promised or extended before the elections, in order to tempt and entice the voters to vote in favour of any particular party during the elections. As such freebies are extended by the political parties without considering the financial health of the state and the adverse economic and social impact on the state, these state governments have been driven into a situation of huge debts and consequent financial crisis. State governments in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Karnataka are the most offenders, where such freebies are extended in almost irresponsible manner.

For example, before the recent Karnataka state election, the political party which was voted to power in the state, promised several freebies to people as part of the election campaign. The particular political party pledged 200 units of free power to the people, in spite of the fact that this would cause an additional annual expense of Rs.15490 crore to the state exchequer.

Further, this particular political party promised free bus travel to women in the state, that would make the government incur an additional expenditure of Rs.8.84 crore per day. There are many more such freebies offered, that would strain the financial condition of the state irretrievably. 

Similar freebies have been extended by Tamil Nadu and Delhi government also. The debt of these three states now amount to several lakh crore of rupees, which can never be paid back by these state governments considering the present fiscal scenario in the state. All such freebies are being promised and implemented, even though the financial and debt conditions of the state are extremely grave. But, the politicians holding power in these states do not seem to care.

The matter of concern is that other states too seem to be inclined to adopt such freebie culture, as some political parties seem to think that offering freebies is the sure way of winning elections.

Extending such freebies before the elections to tempt the voters and get their votes has the effect of derailing the process of fair play in elections and falsify the letter and spirit of the concept of electoral democracy. This scenario seriously affects the fibre and fabric of the democratic system.

Need to counter the road blocks

These three road blocks have to be fought against, if India’s economic and social growth were to be sustained. While central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been largely free of these road blocks, this is not so in the case of several state governments, particularly those where family controlled political parties are in power.

What do the people expect from Mr. Modi?

All said and done, the world community and even large section of Indian population assess the causes for India’s success or failure scenario, relating it to the performance of Prime Minister Modi as an individual.

With the next parliament election due in India in 2024, the election is likely to be fought, based on the performance and leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi as the focus point. In such circumstances, the countrymen, whether the pledged admirers of Mr. Modi or sworn critics of Mr. Modi , are eagerly observing as to how Mr. Modi would fight against the above three road blocks and how far he would be successful in wiping them out in Indian political scenario. Given the expectations of the people, Mr. Modi has no choice other than fighting against these road blocks with courage of conviction and in whatever way it is possible.

Mr. Modi has to convince the people that the family controlled political parties are harming the Indian democratic process and he has to educate the voters about the need to reject them in the forthcoming parliamentary election.

By and large, people believe that Mr. Modi is one person who can wipe out corruption in India to a significant level and they expect him to do so. While Mr. Modi has taken steps to eliminate corruption by promoting digital transaction and in several other ways, people expect more from Mr. Modi , as the dent on corruption in the country is yet to be made adequately. To meet these expectations, Mr. Modi has to use all his powers to catch and punish the institutions, political leaders, bureaucrats, business leaders and everyone else, who are involved in corruption and nepotism.

This is not an easy task, since the corrupt persons will fight with back to the wall and backed by their huge ill gotten money power. They will create huge public outcry calling the actions against them as vendetta and as motivated by political considerations. Gullible people may even believe such sustained campaign by the corrupt forces. Another serious problem for Mr. Modi in punishing the corrupt persons and restoring probity in public life is the extremely slow pace in the functioning style of judiciary , where it now takes several years to pronounce judgements. While Mr. Modi can catch the corrupt persons and bring them to the notice of the judiciary, the punishment has to be meted out only by the judiciary and Mr. Modi can only wait and watch.

Mr. Modi needs to expose the harm due to the prevalence of freebie culture and ensure that focus and expectation of the people remain on development and progress and not on freebies and free ride. To achieve this end, a huge public campaign is necessary to reform the freebie mindset of the people.

Mr. Modi’s future and perhaps India’s future largely depend upon his success in undoing these three road blocks, as India approaches 2024 parliament election.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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