Opinion

Assessing the reforms, governance and Pragati

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‘reforms, governance, Pragati ‘Reforms, governance, and Pragati

Two separate initiatives by the Indian government have become the cynosure of all eyes.

One is the finalization of the new tax rate structure under GST regime held at Srinagar and the other is the rankings of States based on their performance in governance.

The recent (May 2017) release of the Public Affairs Index of various Indian states based on their performances in various aspect of governance has once again reiterated the commitment to the implementation of the reform process across the political spectrum.

In order to improve the service delivery to the people, the Narendra Modi government has started the PRAGATI which represents ‘Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation’ in March 2015.

The mechanism which has been set up for PRAGATI involves the Prime Minister himself at the helm and every single projects or issue come up are given a strict deadline for completion of work.

Constant and direct monitoring of schemes by the highest authority provides the much-needed energy for timely implementation of various welfare schemes.

The other important aspect which has also emerged is the timely implementation of various schemes and programmes. And the last aspect has been the agenda, off taking the benefits of development to the doorstep of people without delay.

Analyzing the political economy of the reform process, the message that can be deciphered is,  reforms process has no meaning altogether if the benefits of development can not be reached to the people at the grassroots.

And the political parties will have to pay a heavy price in electoral battle if the benefits of reforms are not made available to the people.

Both electoral benefits and economic reforms are strongly correlated and generally reinforce each other.

There have been many instances that mishandling of taking benefits of reforms to the people have cost the blue-eyed boys of reforms heavily in electoral field.

The example of Chandrababu Naidu’s debacle is a classic case in Indian politics.

After the landslide win in Uttar Pradesh and the thumping victories in recently concluded state elections, the Central government’s confidence has been strengthened.

The government was under pressure about the political outcome of the demonetization move by the Prime Minister and was a bit slow in pursuing the reforms in various important sectors.

With the completion of 25 years of Economic Reforms in India, the present Modi government now seems to have put its foot on the accelerator on reforms process.

Be it GST Bill or other innovative schemes, the focus has shifted to ‘re-energies the service delivery mechanisms ‘of the government.

This is done by bringing in big-ticket administrative reforms and streamlining the implementation process along with speeding up the decision making.

The GST Bill which has been on the policy platform since 2004 is certainly a huge leap in terms of economic reforms and governance improvements initiatives.

This big step in economic and governance reforms is also in synchronization with the reforms measures undertaken by various countries around the world.

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For example, France initiated such measure way back in 1954, whereas Russia did it 1991, China implemented the same in 1994 and the United Arab Emirates intends to implement it by 2018.

Moreover, GST has already been put in place in many countries like Germany, Italy, South Korea, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Australia etc.

Now, India as one of the fastest growing economies of the world needs a supportive and geared up administrative and legal institutional mechanism to undertake and implement reforms measures.

India has definitely shown the much required ‘fire in the belly’ to undertake sensitive reforms measures, however, India’s institutional capacity to undertake such measures in a sustainable way must be strengthened as quickly as possible.

It reiterates the basic aim of the governance process which has been to improve the service delivery by overcoming ‘red-tapism’.

Few days back in April 2017, the Prime Minister articulated the ways forward for the reforms and governance in his address on the occasion of the Civil Service Day.

The commitment to reforms will once again be put to litmus test in the next few days when the GST will be rolled out.

The author analyses polices and can be reached at prusethsujit@gmail.com

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