In May 2014, when PM Modi took over the reins of the country to form the first full majority non-Congress government, expectations were rife. He set out to do many things right. These include restoring several strangulated infrastructure projects, rejuvenating the interests of private investors, restructuring the speed of reforms and reshaping India's image globally.
From the start of his tenure, PM Modi has hardly spoken to the Indian media. He has instead chosen to speak directly to the audience via his monthly radio show and social media. This strategy enables him to successfully dodge questions and scrutiny from news organisations and commoners, leaving no room for an opportunity to gain insights into his mind.
In his latest book, Marching with a Billion - Analysing Narendra Modi's Government at Midterm, noted journalist Uday Mahurkar tracks Modi's journey right from his first day in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), giving readers a peek into his thoughts. He attempts to unveil Modi's way of decision-making and assessment of a situation.
Mahurkar analyses the various decisions taken by the PM, the precursors to the decisions and the behind-the-scenes details. Modi inherited a beleaguered bureaucracy that was lax about taking decisions. He reworked the bureaucratic work culture in the country, the author says. Modi entrusted his close confidant and Additional Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra for this job with clear instructions to dismantle the 'transfer-posting' business. Mahurkar says, Modi instructed his cabinet colleagues to be prepared to say no even to party men.
Mishra was asked to prepare a mechanism to select meritorious officers, offer them correct positions and delegate work accordingly. Modi also insisted on developing a mechanism to assess their work in real time.
The book also incorporates a fair assessment of Modi's cabinet colleagues and the outcomes they have been able to deliver. These include evaluations of the work done by Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, Oil and Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, among others.
Unfortunately, the book does not say much about the work done - or not done - in the farm sector. This is perhaps one of the weakest links in PM Modi's model of development, apart from job creation.
In conclusion, the book is a refreshing read. The author deftly traces the Modi-led government's journey so far. Anyone interested in investing in India or keen on understanding the trajectory the country is following will find the book useful. ~