Thursday, February 25, 2016

Modi's "famous" Gujarat model not working in Delhi: USA's top neoconservative think-tank scholar comments

Sadanand Dhume
By Our Representative
America’s top business daily, “The Wall Street Journal” (WSJ), has warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the Union budget that he should realize, “the famous Gujarat model is not working in Delhi”, adding, “A vast country cannot be run like a relatively homogenous state.”
In an opinion piece by a right-wing columnist based in Washington DC, Sadanand Dhume, WSJ recalls Modi’s days as Gujarat chief minister saying, “A chief minister can succeed as a hand-on manager, but a prime minister needs to set a broad policy agenda and trust his colleagues to execute it.”
Dhume is currently attached with the Washington DC-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI), considered in the US as “one of the most influential pro-business right-wing think tanks” researching on public policy issues and the “country’s main bastions of neoconservatism.”
Dhume says, “Modi often slows down decisions. A chief minister can succeed as a hand-on manager, but a prime minister needs to set a broad policy agenda and trust his colleagues to execute it.”
Accusing Modi of having “frozen in his old job” of Gujarat chief minister, Dhume — who has been a strong Modi supporter — says that Modi “hasn’t grappled with the central question facing India of rolling back the role of the state in the national economy.”
He says, Modi refuses to “accept that the national media must be engaged professionally and won’t just regurgitate facts sheets and press releases”, as he is known to have done in Gujarat, adding, “Rather than hire a provisional media advisor, he treats the press with disdain.”
Pointing towards why governing India is different from Gujarat, Dhume says, “When Modi became prime minister, the challenge was to adapt the ethos that powered the Gujarat model — efficiency, ambition and business-friendliness — to the vastly more complex of running India.”
Dhume notes, the only thing in which he has succeeded in transferring the Gujarat model is his “willingness to woo investors and efforts to make doing business easier”, adding, this has helped foreign direct investment rise by 24% to $42 billion in 2015 despite global slowdown.
Yet, he says, India is different from Gujarat, as seen by what Christophe Jaffrelot, well-known political scientist at Ceri-Sciences Po in Paris, said – that “only about 1% of Gujaratis work for the government, compared to 16% in leftist-dominated Kerala.”
Titled “Mr Modi, You’re Not in Gujarat Anymore”, the WSJ article says, “Though wooing business is a fine idea, and a welcome change from the country’s recent past, the parallels with Vibrant Gujarat … as seen in the Make in India summit in Mumbai earlier this month ... revealed a problem.”
“Nearly two years after taking office, a Prime Minister famed for his administrative skills has yet to show he can run a federal government. Instead of setting a broad policy agenda and hiring the right people to execute it, he has been focused on micromanaging the day-to-day administration”, he says.
While conceding that Arun Jaitley’s budget on February 29 is an “opportunity” to show that his government stands for a “market-oriented approach to the economy”, Dhume suggests, there appear to be little signs that Modi will move in that direction.
“For now, Modi appears to believe he can run India the same way he ran Gujarat. He has centralized authority … and prefers working directly with bureaucrats rather than delegating to his Cabinet colleagues. He often runs through checklists of stalled infrastructure and industrial projects himself”, Dhume concludes.

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