May 20 2015
It’s been a year since Narendra Modi was selected as the Prime Minister by his party – the BJP. During the election campaign his slogan was:
Achhe din aane waale hain
Which translates into “good days are coming”. Well it’s been 1 year or 20% of his 5 year term and I would say most people feel the good days still have not arrived.
During the run up to the election, I kept on comparing Modi to Obama in that both countries were betting that a single charismatic speaker could turn around the fortunes of a country. That comparison of Modi vs. Obama did not go down well with most supporters of Modi. They kept on referring to his 13+ years as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat and turning it into an economic powerhouse. Obama’s campaign slogan was “Hope” and everyone jumped on the bandwagon (me included) but when I look back at what he has achieved it’s pretty disappointing. It’s partisan politics as usual which means nothing is getting done.
Back in India, Modi is facing the same issue with partisan politics and that logjam is stifling the country. Two big bills Modi and the BJP are trying to pass are the Land Acquisition bill and the GST (Goods and Services Tax) bill. Every week that passes without resolution is another delay that the country cannot afford. The reasons for the delay are very much related to money. With the passage of the GST bill, the state governments no longer collect the money directly but get the money from the central government. It’s a bit like working and getting your own paycheck vs working and the money getting deposited into your parents account who in turn give you an allowance. As you can imagine the state governments that are not under the BJP government are not to happy about this and pretty much stopping every piece of legislation.
Of course, when you speak to a BJP party loyalist they will tell you the previous UPA-led government spent the last 10 years trashing the country and that takes time to fix. I do buy that argument. It’s probably like crashing your car and then expecting the repair shop to fix the car in a day.
However, what is frustrating are some of the proposed changes that have been leaked to the press. One such proposed change is that any international trip must be documented in your tax return. Yes, every time you travel you must document every expenditure down to a taxi receipt because they want to know where the money came from. I can only imagine the conversation that ensued when the idea was hatched:
Babu 1: Let’s track everyone’s international travel
Babu 2: Okay, when they book an airline ticket we can ask them for their PAN card number
Babu 1: That means we have to work with all those airlines to add another field to the booking engine, that seems like a long process
Babu 2: Okay, then why don’t we add a line in the ITR (Income Tax Return) form
Babu 1: Done.
Babu 2: Of course that means a lot more paperwork for the taxpayer, but who cares
As expected, the government has still has not decided what they plan on doing about documenting international travel even though tax returns are due at the end of July…so India.
The only people that are celebrating the good days in India are the ones that are benefiting from the VC gravy-train of money – startups, recruiters, Android developers, iOS developers, marketing firms and advertising outlets. Otherwise everyone else is still waiting for the good days to come.