The best way for Narendra Modi to neutralise his critics would be to show that secularism thrives, not through public arguments and abuse, but through development.
We are among the millions of Indians who can hardly wait for a change in leadership. As is widely predicted, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, seems headed to become the next Prime Minister. Indian electorates, particularly the young, have responded overwhelmingly to his promise of ushering in good governance and rapid development, through swift actions, which will bring about speedy results on the ground.
If the poll predictions are right and if he does indeed become the next Prime Minister, Mr. Modi’s immediate challenge would be to restore confidence in the government. He has promised that his government will “not to be vindictive” towards his political opponents. Indeed, the best way to neutralise his critics would be for Mr. Modi to show that secularism thrives, not through public arguments and abuse, but through development. As he has demonstrated in Gujarat, he is serious about making a difference by delivering results, and does not get distracted by playing the blame game.
But will he meet India’s high expectations? Only time will tell, but we suggest a few critical areas where early signals have reassured us that he means business.
What Modi should do
We should expect Mr. Modi to make the Central Cabinet machinery more focused by streamlining power and authority, particularly in the areas of national security, foreign trade, investment, manufacturing, energy and infrastructure, and placing these sectors under competent leaders. And we should expect him to continue to appoint to key posts efficient and honest officers who deliver results, not favours. We can also expect him to make the bureaucracy work hard for the benefit of all the people, as he stressed that all public officials, particularly Indian Administrative Service officers, are the servants of the people and not their rulers. They are “karam yogis not karamcharis,” he said in Gujarat. If India’s giant administrative apparatus can be energised at all levels, and if corruption can be kept in check, this can make an enormous difference to the lives of all Indians.
The priorities for development are vast. This development would require long-term and sustained action. We hope that Mr. Modi will make a credible start, if elected, through decisive action in the most critical areas, which will show early results.
First, there is an urgent need to control inflation, inherited from the Congress government, caused by massive fiscal deficit. We all know that deficits are even higher than stated in the official figures when we take into account quasi-fiscal deficits and deficits by States. Unaffordable and inefficient subsidies are at the heart of the problem. We should expect the next Prime Minister to replace wasteful subsidies by targeting direct cash transfers to the needy. This includes the misguided ‘atta-daal’ scheme and the massive fertilizer subsidy. If Mr. Modi comes to power, his opponents will no doubt raise a hue and cry over the poor being neglected, but he can tell people the truth: these subsidies are wasteful, do not reach many poor people, and are a major source of corruption.
Second, we should expect him to deliver his promise of a dramatic upgrade in the sorry state of infrastructure. The most critical priorities are to end the perpetual power shortages and provide connectivity to every village in India. We should also expect him to implement a firm timeline for the completion of the golden triangle roads to at least six-lane divided highways and introduce fast trains, like the ones in Japan or Europe, between large Indian cities.
Third, having governed a large State, Mr. Modi undoubtedly understands well that development in a vast country like India cannot be managed from the Centre. We should expect him to move towards a truly federal system that our founding fathers had envisaged, defining more strategically the role of the Centre, and leaving most development functions to the States and institutions closer to the people. The States should, in turn, be expected to mobilise most of their own resources for development and hold themselves accountable to their citizens. Most central schemes could be devolved to the States and through them, to local institutions. Central funds can be used for incentives to improve performance and deliver better development outcomes.
The role of cities
Fourth, Mr. Modi has made it clear that cities need to play a much bigger role in development in the 21st Century. Indian cities enjoy little autonomy in revenue mobilisation and expenditure management. State politicians are reluctant to give up control over municipal governments. A major initiative would be to announce the 50 largest cities as candidates for the status of “special cites” (as is done in China), offer large funds to those that are given full autonomy and mobilise greater resources.
As the old saying goes: “You campaign in poetry and govern in prose.” Mr. Modi has demonstrated during his campaign that he is an accomplished poet. Based on his solid record in Gujarat, we are hopeful that he will convert his agenda to even better prose.
~ J. Shivkumar, Inder Sud
Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs
We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.
While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.
At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.
We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.
Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.
We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.
A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.
Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.
We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.
We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.
We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.
Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.
Our emergency services keep people safe.
Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.
Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.
Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.
We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.
With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”
Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality
Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.
On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.
Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.
Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton
Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.
Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?
The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.
He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture. That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries. Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.
The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.
Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.
Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response. However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.
Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth. Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.
In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide? Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed? However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.
The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?
Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.
Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.