The famous three laws of motion enunciated by Sir Issac Newton state, first, a body at rest or in uniform motion will continue to be at rest or in uniform motion until and unless a net external force acts on it. Second, the net force experienced by a body is directly proportional to the rate of change of momentum of the body. And, last but not the least, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the latter-day Newton, is currently facing the third law, with the ragtag opposition ganging up against all the good that he proposes to do for the nation’s economy. Being denied adequate space in electronic and major print media, the growing social media has become the new battleground for the opposition parties, who have set up their own ‘war rooms’ manned by hordes of eager kids bursting with ideas for putting roadblocks in the path of Modi’s various initiatives.
Of the dozen or so initiatives by Modi, none has attracted more criticism than demonetisation and the connected war on black money, since it impacted not only the the high and mighty—be it in the business or politics—but also the common man. For it is the parallel economy—for all its undesirable features—is what has kept India’s business sector ticking over the years and registered whatever modest growth it could manage. With these informal channels having been disrupted, growth has come to almost a crawl and it will be decades before new channels are created and grow to do whatever they did before demonetisation.
Aadhaar has also put a spanner in the works for those who had made a business out of getting a cut from the scores of social benefit schemes, resulting in only 10 paise out of every rupee allocated by successive governments ever reaching the intended beneficiaries.
At the high end of tax evasion, the scourge of multiple PAN cards being owned by an individual was dealt a mortal blow by Aadhaar being mandated to be linked to an income-taxpayer’s PAN card.
The spate of PIL cases flooding the Supreme Court is an indicator of how much it has hit those who had found various ways and means to beat the system, and form a substantial and vital part of the equal and opposite forces of reaction.
Projecting creation of job opportunities as the prime objective, as in the case of ‘Make in India’, Modi could have got some of the opposition and vested interests to lose credibility in their tirade against his schemes. However, the fact that this initiative has not witnessed a spectacular take-off as envisaged has been, again, an indicator of how much angst has been built in the business community towards Modi’s crusade against the parallel economy, the vital lubricant that keeps the wheels of business moving smoothly.
Commenting on “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, about the moral world of politics and the gulf between private conscience and the demands of public action, Michael Ignatieff has observed: “Public necessity requires actions that private ethics and religious values might condemn as unjust and immoral.” He goes on to add, “What he (Machiavelli) refuses to praise is people who value their conscience and their soul more than the interests of the state. What he will not pardon is public displays of indecision.”
In his opinion, “We should not choose leaders who agonise, worrying about the moral hazards of the power they exercise in people’s name. We should choose leaders who sleep soundly after taking ultimate risks with their own virtue. They are doing what must be done.”
In short, knowing that Newton’s third law of motion will apply in each and every case of his initiative to develop the economy, Modi must now apply the second law, according to which “the net force experienced by a body is directly proportional to the rate of change of momentum of the body.”
The Indian ‘elephant’ will ultimately move, and in the direction and the pace which Modi wants it to—patience and persistence is the vital factor.
By- RC Acharya, Former Member, Railway Board, email@example.com