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(Edited Image Courtesy-narendramodi.in)
 
“No action, maximum oratory.” That is how Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described BJP’s slogan ‘Namo’ the other day while chiding NDA Government. 
Such pithy comments from the Opposition make us wonder when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would shift the governance gears and thus silence his critics.  Would he ever change over from incrementalism to tough reforms that he himself referred to repeatedly after coming to power?
Recollect his tweet from Goa on 14th June 2014: “Time has come to take tough decisions and whatever decision we will take will be in national interest”
On another occasion in the same month Mr. Modi said: “I know my popularity might go down due to these hard decisions, people might be annoyed with me, but they will appreciate it later.”
Mr. PM, time is flying away fast. As much as 20% of the mandate period has already been exhausted. Your popularity is declining. And disillusionment is growing among unemployed youth, farmers, minorities and businessmen. 
Is your silence or muted stand on contentious issues a sign of political wisdom or cowardice? Do you realize that you are facing the risk of going down in the history as an escapist PM?    
Time has come for Mr. Modi to move on to the path where his predecessors feared to tread in their yearning to hang on to 3Ps - Power, Pelf and Publicity. 
Even Mr. Modi’s well-wishers are wondering whether he is ducking national challenges while building the country’s image through frequent overseas visits.
A case in point is Mr. Modi’s failure to prod Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to roll out expenditure reforms. Though the Expenditure Management Commission (EMC) submitted its first report in January 2015, Mr. Jaitley did not incorporate its recommendations in the Budget for 2015-16. He did not made ERC report public. Ditto is the case with three studies on black money that were commissioned by UPA regime. 
Mr. Modi’s decisions on five major national challenges would thus ultimately decide whether he frittered the unprecedented mandate in escapism. The challenges are: 1) Restructuring and rejuvenating the jobs market;  2) Reining in and reversing the worsening social discord; 3) Solving the problem of naxalism preferably through amnesty; 4) Moving beyond lip service to robust cooperative federalism and 5) Reining in population explosion, an issue on which there has been unanimity across the entire political spectrum.   
One can fathom the gravity of these challenges through a quick glance of their elaboration.
1) Restructuring and rejuvenating the jobs market: Mr. Modi has failed to feel the adverse impact of exploitative outsourcing of manpower resorted to by both Government and private entities. It has brought out paradigm shift in employer-employee relationship. 
Induction of outsourced or ad hoc staff in Government offices has been done without due regard to quality and continuity of public service and confidentiality of operations. There has been oversight of the rights of such employees such as annual increments and promotions and leave travel allowance. 
As for confidentiality, does it make sense to hire outsourced secretarial staff for top-secret entity like National Intelligence Grid?     
The tale of manpower contractors not paying wages to outsourced staff working in Government establishments is well-known. So is the story of the contractors short-changing such staff on other counts.  Even the ‘fly-by-night’ malpractice has afflicted manpower companies, forcing a department last year to blacklist one such firm named Bliss Manpower Services Pvt. Ltd. 
PM and his trusted advisors are perhaps too busy to read and react to jobs-related news and advertisements that would disillusion an Aam Aadmi. We need to recall one or two instances to drive home the unhealthy trend in the jobs market that would adversely impact the society as a whole.
On 22nd May, dailies ran a story about a strike by contracted paramedics staff at a Noida hospital owned by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The outsourced staff was protesting against non-payment of wages for two months by the manpower supplier. What is the impact of quality of medical care under conditions where a staffer might have a nagging worry about the school fee for his children? 
For the last few months, media have splashed stories about municipal sanitary staff and doctors in Delhi going unpaid for months, forcing them to on strike. The story about ad hoc teachers and other staff being not paid salaries in States such as Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir are well-known. 
Did Mr. Modi tweet his views on a PTI story datelined 4th December 2014 that appeared in a national daily with a headline ‘No salaries to medical staff: Delhi
High Court raps Delhi government, NGOs’? (At that time Delhi was under direct control of Modi Government due to non-existence of a State Government.)
The concerned High Judge observed: “You (Delhi government) have not blocked the money of the petitioners (doctors, nurses and staff) for a month or two. It (salary) has not been paid to them for last two years.”
The Judge commented: “It is very unfortunate. They will borrow or steal the money from someone. You are the state here, you have larger responsibilities. Put yourself in other's shoes and feel it.” 
This did not serve as wake-up call for self-styled sooj-booj ki sarkar (well reasoning and commonsensical govt)!
When doctors, engineers, scientists and MBAs and lawyers are being hired by Government on contract/ ad hoc basis or outsourced through manpower agencies, there is bound to be increasing disillusionment among the educated youth and middle class. How does Modi Government expect professionals to put in their heart and soul into jobs when they are always on the look-out for next 12-month contracted job? 
The focus on higher education and skill development would turn million dreams into nightmare for professionals who are have no option but be at the mercy of manpower contractors.
Consider the tender notice issued by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) in December 2014 for supply of 118 engineers for manning its petroleum pipelines. 
The tender document says: “Duration of this contract shall be one year w.e.f. 1/04/2015 or as advised by HPCL with the option to extend for one more year at the same rate, terms and conditions at the sole discretion of the Corporation.”
Should a public sector enterprise compromise pipeline safety through dubious cost cutting accruing from outsourcing of field engineers? 
Take now the case of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment’s notice issued in the current month to hire five consultants mainly MBAs for one year. The contracted staff would work in the programme management unit of National Action Plan for imparting quality vocational training to 2.5 million persons with disabilities over a period seven years. How can the Government ensure quality of service when the core team would change every year?
Time has come for the Modi Government to prepare a statutory framework for outsourcing of manpower by Government entities at all levels to protect the rights of new generation of workers and professionals. The Government should also draw limits beyond which intrusion of outsourcing in governmental functions would not be allowed. The Government should draw a distinction between a) provision of public services through Public Private Partnership ventures, b) outsourcing provision of a complete service to a private company under five or 10-year contract period and c) outsourcing of manpower for Government.  The last practice should be restricted to the bare minimum and not made the norm to avoid filling regular posts.  
And to reverse the rise in unemployment under NDA rule, the Government has to fire all cylinders on all fronts including mining and construction and for faster clearance and implementation of projects. A lot can be said about delays being suffered under Modi regime.  
2) Reining in and reversing the worsening social discord: It appears there are no takers in the society for Mr. Modi’s appeal for 10-year moratorium on communalism and casteism. Instances of these twin evils, lynching by mobs, bashing of doctors and policemen on duty by public and destruction of property through street violence have multiplied ever since Mr. Modi made the appeal in the Independence Day Speech on 15th August 2014.   
Mr. Modi has to thus go beyond making clarion calls. He should revive institutional mechanism such as National Integration Council (NIC) which has not even been reconstituted since he came to power. He should pitch for dispute resolution councils at various levels to prevent escalation of tensions into violence. He should urge States to empower policemen to act fearlessly and independently. He should facilitate a strict code of conduct for the media to refrain from operating as instant prosecutor-cum-judge while wallowing in shrill reporting of crimes. Time has come to shake the entire criminal investigation-cum-justice system, an issue on which ample suggestions are available from reports of official committees.
3) Solving the problem of naxalism preferably through amnesty: Mr. Modi has won laurels for his global statesmanship. He should also show statesmanship at home, especially in solving the problem of Maoists. They virtually govern large chunks of hinterland in nine States. They demonstrated their growing power last month by torching about 40 vehicles on Grand Trunk road in Bihar and Jharkhand on the first day of their two-day protest against killing of one of their commrades.  Naxalities merrily ambush our para-military jawans as the Modi Government is toeing UPA’s policies in this area.   
Mr. Modi has to think of out-of-the-box solutions starting with straight negotiations and settlement including amnesty for all Maoists. He can seek Parliament’s approval for such an initiative.
If Maoists spurn amnesty and jobs, then the Government should not hesitate to deploy the army to hunt them down. In such a situation, many naxalities might prefer to surrender. The core issue is how long would Mr. Modi let such national problems linger on. 
4) Moving beyond lip service to robust cooperative federalism: This is one area where Mr. Modi has built massive credibility deficit. PM-Chaired Inter-State Council (ISC), a constitutional body, has not been even reconstituted till today. Same is the story of Home Minister-headed Standing Committee of ISC.
These crucial vehicles of cooperative federalism have not met for years! Mr. Modi has hardly made any effort to resolve any inter-state water dispute or other tussles. He has only substituted Planning Commission with Niti Aayog, which is now struggling to create an identity for itself!
Like his predecessor, Mr. Modi has practiced silence over the fate of seven-volume report of Commission on Centre-State Relations (CCSR) that was submitted five years back. 
The Commission’s recommendations, if implemented as a package, can spur inclusive and integrated socio-economic growth of the country. Expect 2% increase in economic growth if cooperative federalism is embraced as national dharma by all stakeholders. 
As put by the Commission, “India today has reached that stage of development when ‘Statesmanship’ should lead ‘Politics’, where on one hand the National goals and objectives are fully respected by the political parties and the federal constituents and an equal amount of consciousness and support is shown in addressing the needs and aspirations of the States and the different communities by the Union.”
This message is meant for Prime Minister. He has to show statesmanship to reach out to chief ministers and to sort out inter-state disputes and disparities that have become stumbling blocks to growth and peace. 
Ideally, the Centre should frame model laws for each and every subject that falls in the States’ domain. This would be a step towards encouraging development of a country into a seamless market and society. 
The buck stops at Mr. Modi’s door on the issue of reinventing Centre-State Relations.  
5) Population Control: Mr. Modi has adopted an ostrich-like stance on this subject after becoming PM. Breaking his silence on the issue on 9th June 2015, he appreciated the decline in the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) at a closed-door meeting with officials convened to review health initiatives. 
An official release quoted Mr. Modi as saying that “these benefits of low TFR should be brought before the people across the country.”
It is not known whether PM was apprised of the fact that the country has not achieved even till today the TFT target of 2.1 that was fixed for 2010 under the National Population Policy (NPP) 2000. 
Notwithstanding this stark reality,  NDA Government has ruled out formulation of a new NPP as disclosed in an answer to a question on the subject raised in Rajya Sabha on 9th December 2014.
TFR of 2.1 is the rate at which the population grows at the replacement rate. TFR in 2013 declined to 2.3 from 3.6 in 1991. The Steering group on Health for the 12th five-year plan has projected decline in TFR to 2.1 by 2017. This appears to be over-optimism if we factor in projections of other authoritative studies.
The country is set out to emerge as the world’s most populous country by 2028, dislodging China from this dubious number one slot. India’s population would soar to 162 crore by 2050 according to a global report named World Population Prospects 2012. 
Such unsustainable growth in population has rattled leaders across the political spectrum. One need not recall the recent observations on population explosion made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj. We should factor in the concern voiced by the Opposition parties on this issue. 
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla has been a champion of population control and has had the courage and vision to move population control bill in Parliament way back in 2000. 
Two icons of Dalits’ rights, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav showed the rare vision in calling for a strong law to curb population growth while participating in a debate in Parliament on land acquisitions in August 2013
The latter MP even called for a special session of Parliament to discuss the issue. Why has Mr. Modi ignored all such concerns? He should respect national political consensus and act on it. 
If still has an hesitation, he should refer to a historic resolution ‘Agenda for India’ passed unanimously by both house of Parliament on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Independence, 26th August to 1 September 1997.  
the Resolution says: “That a vigorous national campaign be launched by all political parties to  combat  economically  unsustainable growth of population, recognizing that such growth lies at the root  of  most  of  our  human,  social  and economic problems.”
PM must take a break from creating illusions about the country’s demographic dividend. He should first reconstitute National Population Commission (NPC) and immediately convene its meeting. Chaired by PM, NPC met only twice during 10-year UPA regime with the last meeting held in October 2010. 
The Government’s laxity over population explosion has been the biggest drawback of Indian democracy right from 1947. It is here pertinent to recall what Late Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Health Minister once stated.
Answering a question in Rajya Sabha on 20th December 1956, she said: “The increase of population in India constitutes a big national problem.” 
The problem has since then snowballed into the country’s foremost enemy. Try to find the root cause of any problem in the country and the answer would be obvious-population explosion.  
Modiji, please tweet Amritji’s quote as a mark of respect to visionaries who have worked for India's inclusive and sustainable development right from the pre-Independence days. Let the tweet herald the time to take tough decisions in national interest. 
                           
Published by taxindiaonline.com on 12th June 2015
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