Tags

, , ,

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Tony Abbott depart the House of  Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Tony Abbott depart the House of Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In 2007, when Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama were elected they over promised an under delivered. The Euphoria for Australia and US change led to disappointment.

The most popular prime minister in Australian history was ousted by his own party.

As Australia and India now promise a Free Trade deal in a year I wonder if both Prime Ministers are making the same mistake.

I am sure they are well intentioned.

From Bhopal, I watched Indians display their inked fingers as they voted for change. The old order was worn out and is retired; at least for a while. I also read of the reviews and critiques of Mr Modi’s first 100 days in office.

I appreciate Mr Modi has achieved much in Gujarat as Chief Minister. Gujarati’s are known world over for their natural business acumen. But now, like Obama, the weight of expectation will weigh on the Prime Minister long after the euphoria has died.

After Independence, to get Princely States to join the Union, law makers ensured powers still rested in India’s states. With its complicated democracy even Prime Minister Nehru complained it was easier in centralist China than in India.

Yet, it took China and Australia nine years to reach a Fair Trade Agreement. Six of those were under a labour government that was for part of the time led by an Australian Prime Minister who spoke fluent Mandarin. I sincerely hope both governments will succeed, but It seems unrealistic to me that the complicated democracy of India can be so quickly tamed.

Mr Modi has great public support. He is a master of shaping his speeches to his audience. I saw this in listening to his speech in the Australian parliament compared to his words to the Indian Diaspora in Sydney. From Brisbane, I watched with interest the G20 Summit.

Both Prime Ministers have extensively travelled on the world stage but little reform has been achieved at home.

Indian politics is described as a game within a game. However, Prime Minister Abbott, swaggers into the diplomatic ring hoping to land a knockout punch. Its long term gain not short term promises that will be revealed in the detail over time.

I hope PM Modi’s popularity will allow him to power through his reforms, but I do not the signs of real change are good. For example, the Union Government has promised to cut corruption and red tape, yet India’s trade minister continues the same legislation leaving things as they were.

I think former PM Singh must be remembered for reforms that opened india’s to economic prosperity. With rapid social change came increased corruption that destroyed his governments legitimacy and unrealistic expectations of continued high growth during global financial decline.

Without active family connections[1] I hear hopes that PM Modi will push reforms unhindered by family demands for favours. But what favours will states demand as India modernises?

The hug made this Austro-Indian feel embarrassed

The hug made this Austro-Indian feel embarrassed

In India when a person is doing well his sins are ignored. But any sign of decline and you are quickly abandoned.

Both Prime Minister s have crafted a Pro business image. Mr Abbott lost credibility for breaking major promises and Mr Modi exaggerated Gujarat’s considerable growth. Undeniably, Gujarat is now more investor and Industry friendly. Investor Summits promoted Gujarat’s business readiness.

However, many state have surpassed Gujarat in growth and investment with far less publicity. In 2013 four states (Odisha, Maharashtra, Punjab and Andra Pradesh) received more investment. In 2013, Odisha received 27% of all India’s investment Rs.53,000 crore), Gujarat received only Rs.10,600 crore.

From 2006 to 2010 Chattisgarh and Odisha signed Memorandums of Understanding worth Rs. 3.61 lakh crore and Rs. 2.99 lakh crore more than Gujarat. Gujarat’s own Soco-Economic Review 2011-12 indicated that of 12,39,562 lakh crore proposed investment from the 2009 Vibrant Gujarat Summit only Rs. 1,04,490 materialised and Rs. 2,81,629 were in progress.

Gujarat has the seventh highest growth rate in India manufacturing, behind Uttarkhand, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir. Gujarat ranks fifth in the services sector.

I intend no disrespect of Mr Modi and his considerable success, or to denigrate Mr Abbott. Both have achieved much. However, while Democracy requires part rule and part advertising, ultimately, results and not hype, will last.

Unless India’s ragged criminal justice system is repaired, its jaded institutions rejuvenated and made truly free and social stability ensured, tinkering with economic reforms and giving stentorian pep talks alone will not help.
Soutik Biswas

I hope for both India and Australia both governments’ trade hopes are more delivered than over promised. I hope the results will match the advertising.

[1] Mr Modi was married as a child but at puberty refused the union. They are still legally married but have never lived as husband and wife.

Advertisements