Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to climb mountains in adverse conditions(REUTERS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to climb mountains in adverse conditions(REUTERS)

5 challenges for Modi 2.0 that are as big as his super-sized win | Opinion

One of the biggest challenges that Modi 2.0 faces is how to protect brand India from his adversaries both within and outside the country
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2019 10:51 AM IST

In his eloquent electoral victory speech from the BJP headquarters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a commitment to his supporters that he would do nothing for himself. Even though Modi has many similarities with Plato’s “Philosopher King” in the context of vision, wisdom and asceticism, the PM is essentially a man of action. And this all will be put to the test in the next five years. This means that corrective action must be taken from the very first day of the new government.

One of the biggest challenges that Modi 2.0 faces is how to protect brand India from his adversaries both within and outside the country. It would be naïve of him to assume that the rise of India will be benign. No, it will be contested all the way by competing nations and their all-weather friends. He will have to bridge the gap between the global perception of India and reality with little or no support from the western media. A very serious attempt will be made by Modi’s detractors to damage him globally through labels like human rights violator, dictator and fascist. Brand India will be attacked on account of minority harassment, rapes and suppression of rights in Jammu and Kashmir. As the government itself may not be up to the task of handling the counter-narrative, PM Modi will have to overcome his wariness of the media to project the reality or use social media to call out fake news and views peddled by his detractors.

Also Read | Modi govt 2.0: Space flight, solar shift in 1,000-day plan

The other option for him is to engage the adversary and try and elicit genuine criticism based on facts and not on perception. Mind you, PM Modi, as many global leaders will now admit, can be very charming when he wants to be.

The second big challenge for him is to undertake serious bureaucratic reforms in the initial stages as the system is process-driven and not product-oriented. Unless the file and process is complete, the Indian mandarin will just not move and could not care less what happens to the final product. A classic example of this are the problems which beset the upgradation of critical border infrastructure, where bidders for building snowbound roads along the China border are very limited in number and often there is a single vendor option. This, as per CVC guidelines, leads to the rejection of the tender and starting the process all over again. The bureaucrat has done his job on the file but the work has not moved forward an inch. In the national interest, such problems must be resolved quickly, failing which India will always lag behind China and yet be compared to it by Modi’s detractors. Simply put, it is the bureaucratic process that is choking India’s global rise with all decisions being taken by the secretary of the department and the file taking ages to move. Mere delegation of power is not the answer to this gridlock. Bureaucratic reforms in which genuine merit and innovation are valued over mere seniority and zero tolerance of corruption are the answers. This may sound utopian but this “chakravyuh” of the Indian civil service needs to be broken.

Third, Modi will have to handle economic turbulence deftly till the 2020 US elections. The US-China trade wars and the US-Russia differences will create new fronts all over the world with India often called upon to take positions for or against the election-bound Trump administration. This becomes a bigger challenge as India faces imminent US notification of withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the face of the slow progress in the resolution of the India-US trade deficit. Modi, along with President Trump, will have to use their personal clout to reach an agreement on trade as the bureaucracy on both sides is only interested in protecting its turf at a time when there is a perceptible hardening of positions on both sides. The answer to the US withdrawal does not lie in Indian retaliation but in the resolution of trade differences as both countries need each other in a worsening strategic environment.

Fourth, Modi will face a challenge to his resurgence on the national and internal security front. The surgical strike and air strike have raised the bar on India’s response under the Modi regime to any terror strike by a group based in Pakistan. Since the principal terrorist groups based in Pakistan are alive and kicking, it is only a matter of time before they strike on Indian soil. The orchestrator of the Pulwama attack, the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed group, is known for violent retaliation with its leader, Masood Azhar, not interested whether this leads to all-out hostilities. The Pakistan army’s other arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, is no better as demonstrated by the 26/11 attacks. The internal challenge will come from the Maoists and urban Naxals, who will test the Centre by trying to present the development of infrastructure in the interiors of India.

Also Read | Senior Congress leaders quit ahead of CWC meeting today

Last, for Modi to provide the last mile delivery for Centrally-sponsored schemes in the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal will be a challenge. Schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Ujwala, agriculture and unorganised sectors reforms will run into obstacles in these states on account of ideological differences. If the schemes succeed, the state leadership will claim credit; failure will be dumped squarely on Modi. But then the PM is known to climb mountains in adverse conditions.

shishir.gupta@hindustantimes.com

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)

Espionage to smuggling, scandals spice up every poll in Kerala

By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvanathapuram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 07:26 PM IST
  • controversies and scandals were part of the state polity in the last three decades and mushrooming digital media also played its part in amplifying them, said a political observer.
Close
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)

Why 2021 political rhetoric is no match for 1962 fighting in Ladakh

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 02:15 PM IST
  • India and China came close to war last year after Indian army commanders atop Rezang La-Rechin La ridge threatened to fire at the advancing PLA tank regiment that sought to dislodge the Indian troopers.
Close
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)

J&K delimitation: Go by the population rule

By Haseeb Drabu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:39 PM IST
Having already decided on the number of electors as well as the number of elected, the only part of delimitation that has been left to the Commission is the electoral cartography — the redrawing of boundaries and enclosing people within the constituency framework. Notwithstanding these debilitating infirmities in the context of J&K, the redrawing of the constituencies is an extraordinarily complex and highly contentious exercise. It can potentially alter the electoral demographic balance.
Close
Representational image. (AFP)
Representational image. (AFP)

Congress needs to worry more about rebels than opponents in Puducherry

By Abhishek Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:32 PM IST
The only time the Congress has lost Puducherry, it has been because of a rebel. The Congress and DMK together have won over 50% seats in every assembly elections in Puducherry since 1980, except in 2011
Close
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)

Behind PM Modi’s stinging critique of the IAS, a Jan meeting holds the clue

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2021 09:35 AM IST
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given bureaucrats an earful at a January meeting of the country's top officials and underlined the price that India paid for their slow pace.
Close
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.

Salute to Ghulam Nabi Azad underlined PM Modi’s personal ties with rivals

By Saubhadra Chatterji | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2021 03:37 PM IST
  • Leaders from the Congress and other Opposition parties have many stories to show that the Prime Minister has maintained personal rapport with leaders cutting across political boundaries.
Close
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)

Not just climate change, Chamoli disaster was human-induced

UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2021 12:15 PM IST
Stone quarrying, blasting of mountains and digging of tunnels in the base of the mountain system for two dams on Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga rivers played havoc with the local ecology
Close
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)

Perception is the truth in information warfare over farm laws

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi, Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 04, 2021 01:42 PM IST
  • The Chinese were among the first to recognise the role of information warfare to weaken the adversary from within
Close
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)

A new confidence about India reflects in a bold Budget 2021

By Monika Halan
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2021 09:59 PM IST
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has chosen to spend on generating future income using the higher capital spending, which has gone up by 35.4% over the previous year
Close
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)

The life and times of a Patna intellectual

UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Shaibal Gupta was rooted and cosmopolitan; idealistic and pragmatic; and an insider and outsider — all at the same time. Patna’s public life will not the same without him.
Close
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)

Jaishankar yellow-cards China for violating pacts, spells out the India way

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 03:02 PM IST
  • S Jaishankar’s speech on India-China ties signals India’s determination to continue to stand up to Xi Jinping’s expansionist plans for Asia as an equal and makes it clear that nothing that Beijing does against India will be overlooked, or allowed to go unpunished.
Close
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)

Jack Ma story: China’s deep strategic ambition

By Manoj Kewalramani
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 04:50 AM IST
This statist vision of the future is very different from the government creating a level-playing field for private capital to compete and the market to do its job. It is about the State guiding capital and private entities towards what it believes are national strategic priorities, rather than allowing them to simply focus on generating greater revenue.
Close
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Republic Day raid was pre-meditated, planned well in advance

UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 02:17 PM IST
With Delhi Police under firm orders not to open fire, the armed Nihang Sikhs provided the cover for the tractors to roll towards Red Fort.
Close
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.

How unruly farmers tried to embarrass India on Republic Day

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:09 PM IST
The tractor-borne unruly farmers were minutes away from India Gate when they were blocked by New Delhi Range police.
Close
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The policy landscape around digital and physical micro-lending

By Amol Agrawal
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
In 1870s, a similar backlash emerged in Poona and Ahmednagar districts of the Bombay presidency. The agriculture boom in the early 1860s led farmers to take loans from moneylenders
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP