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Swapan Das Gupta: A Lean Govt Machine.....
The Modi government has inherited a treasury that has been accustomed to spending more than what the revenues bring in....For far too long India has been living in a financial bubble that needs to be punctured urgently before the whole thing explodes in our faces... The next eight months must be devoted to shedding the accumulated flab of government.This is politically not as daunting as some may imagine. A lean government does not imply a mean government: it implies a more nimble and fit for purpose government. In Gujarat, Modi injected a new attribute to the functioning of the state: efficiency. Now, it is his responsibility to ensure that legitimate cuts in wasteful government expenditure are coupled with a change in the culture of governance.There are three aspects to this project. First, there has to be a discernible improvement in the quality of the interface between the citizen and the state. The state does not regulate every aspect of our public life. Where it does it must fulfill its obligations with courtesy and without the payment of the obligatory under-the-table ‘service charge’. Secondly, the budget must send out the clear signal that the future of development depends on the explosion of entrepreneurship. This does not cost money. It involves lessening red tape, scrapping over-regulation and injecting stability into the financial system. Finally, Jaitley has to begin the process of unplugging the life-support systems of a terminally ill public sector. The logic of what the Reserve Bank governor has recommended for public sector banks must be extended to all public sector undertakings. They must be encouraged to either perform or become history.In the political cycle, there is only a small window for being bold and establishing political distinctiveness. The first budget of a government blessed with a clear mandate is the obvious starting point. By rising to the occasion, the budget can set the tone for the entire first term of Modi.
Gurcharan Das- After months of talk, its go time for new PM:
In one respect Modi should not be silent. He should learn from his predecessor’s mistake and insistently make a compelling political case for economic reform. He must keep educating Indians about the link between reforms, jobs, opportunities and prosperity . He needs to explain that only the competitive market (not giveaways) can deliver a middle-class society and that a rules-based capitalism leads to dignity, not crony capitalism. Modi has spoken about “tough“ decisions that are urgently needed to enforce financial discipline, and they risk losing popular good will. With this warning he has set the stage for a hard-nosed budget on Thursday.He is being advised to be prudent, to make incremental changes and not unsettle the system. But he must not forget that an aspiring nation has elected him precisely because he is an outsider and wants him to shake up the system. So, he must not listen too much to others and follow his own dharma.