My Independence Day message to our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi

 

Respected Modi Ji,

 

Namaskar,

 

We know that the noble task of giving long messages to the nation is yours and you have performed it dutifully for the last three years and will be doing so again on 15th August 2017 from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort.

 

I’m a concerned and politically and socially aware nationalist citizen of India and a hard-core swayamsevak who firmly believes that it will be disastrous for the nation if a secularist dispensation backed by Islamists ever returns to power.

I felt there was an urgent need to give you this overlong message on the eve of the 71st Independence Day of India much before the year 2019 when the citizens of this great nation will have the opportunity to deliver their message and verdict on your performance.

I recall the years 2002-2003 when anguished by the actions and inactions of the last NDA ruling dispensation led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee I had begun writing acerbic expletive and angst ridden khullamkhulla articles about the functioning of his government. The articles had alerted IB and its team, accompanied by the officers of CBCID of Maharashtra, had paid a visit to my residence in Mumbai in the wee hours of morning. That didn’t scare me. I knew that after having discovered my nationalist antecedents, and having realized that I was nothing but a small fry, the regime would prefer to ignore my biting and bitter criticism.

 

I wish the Vajpayee government would have ignored the angry language of those articles and taken seriously the well-meaning messages they contained. By the time it realized their importance, it was too late to turn things around. A prominent Sangh Parivar ideologue and interlocutor from Chennai, and an Indian media Mughal, both known to you, are privy to that episode. I need not have added the last bit but I feel it may stop you from ignoring this article and take it a bit more seriously.     

I fervently hope and pray that the 2004 story does not get repeated and you will not ignore this message the way you ignore the honest well-meaning critique of your government and governance on your Social Media (SM) timeline. Sadly, instead of using SM as a grassroots ‘feedback and response’ mechanism, your office prefers to abuse it as a PR tool. I wonder how you have not yet gotten sick of tweeting birthday wishes to your colleagues and posting posed pictures of giving and receiving bouquets and meeting and shaking hands with political leaders, celebrities, and foreign dignitaries.

With this brief preamble, let me come to the point.

 

Your ministers, BJP leaders, BJP’s social media cell (paid employees), your own SM team, and you regularly post messages on SM timelines, highlighting the achievements of your government through smart graphics, visuals, and banners.

 

The DAVP does a similar exercise and releases radio and TV spots, and short films in cinema theatres highlighting various government schemes and initiatives. They draw a very positive and hopeful picture of the functioning of the govt. and the future of our nation. If that’s not enough, you also repeatedly mention them in your speeches.

The unpaid, unrecognized, much maligned and scorned nationalist social media warriors like me, generally termed by wily MSM journalists and your rabid opponents as ‘bhakts’, dutifully like, forward, and retweet those images and messages. We try to lend a helping hand in our own way.

Since you believe in research and numbers, I will advise you to ask your honorable Minister of Information & Broadcasting Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani to conduct an informal survey of the impact of those messages and how enthusiastically are they received by the lay citizens of India who are not politically aligned. They normally evaluate the performance of their elected governments on how it delivers on ground. The research should focus on the question if the citizenry is actually experiencing a change as the numbers and colorful graphics in your campaign suggest and proclaim.

Let me highlight a few issues and instances among many that should give you an idea of what’s generally happening on ground and if various initiatives of your government, involving lakhs of crores of budgetary allocations, are making a positive impact on the lives of people. 

The crumbling urban infrastructure and unplanned and wasteful development is a major issue facing the nation. It also touches the lives of every citizen in million ways and is dovetailed to all essential services various governments are supposed to provide in lieu of the taxes paid. The Smart City initiative of the Government of India (GOI) seemed like an answer to those problems. This was much advertised and we were told through various communications of the government that lakhs of crores are being allocated in the budget towards this initiative.

I live in a suburb of Mumbai, the biggest and most populated metropolis of our nation and as I mentioned earlier I’m a swaymasevak and probably my ‘Sangh Aayu’ is greater than yours. I have also given some youthful years of my life as a ‘Jeevan Vrati’ to one of the organizations related to the Parivar. So, please take it for granted that I’m your well wisher and not an opponent.

In more than three years after you became the Prime Minister nothing has changed in Malad, the suburb I live in. NOTHING, not even its badly constructed pavements. The drains are as bad as ever. But what I have seen is the huge waste of nation’s precious resources. It’s money thrown down the drain in the name of repairs and reconstruction of dysfunctional drains, roads and pavements that are designed to be dysfunctional. It’s obvious that these jobs have not been carefully planned, executed and supervised. They benefit civil contractors, bureaucrats and politicians alone.

 

On 12th November 2015, I posted a video titled ‘Mumbai City: Bamboo in A Manhole’, the link given below, on You Tube. I tweeted the link to Devendra Fadnavis, Venkaiah Naidu, and you. This was a video made in one of the poshest areas of Mumbai where your friend Shri Amitabh Bachchan resides. Nearly two years have passed and nothing, NOTHING has changed there.

 

 

Venkaiah Naidu is the ‘Mahamahim Uprashtrpati Ji’ now. I recall that he visited Berlin and other European cities to have a first hand experience of their urban planning and infrastructure. We know Berlin city has been rebuilt post World War 2. I had expected that Venkaiah Ji would have the zeal to ensure he turns at least one tiny urban hamlet into a model city under the Smart City project. Forget about the city, he could not even turn a muhalla, or even a street around. What he produced during his tenure as the Minister of Urban Planning & Development were tonnes of useless reports, surveys, and MoUs. He also sanctioned thousands of crores of funds that, I fear, would ultimately go down the drain in the absence of a solidly designed and supervised plan of execution and control.

Through my tweets and articles I requested you and various others at the helm to take a 500-meter-walk in any area of your choice to understand the problems of urban planning, development and infrastructure maintenance. That would save the cost of employing an outside agency to produce an expensive report on the subject. So far, none has responded to that request and challenge.

Can you imagine that your CMs, ministers, babus, and even you cannot spare time to take a 500-meter walk while 125 crore Indians walk through the living hell of potholed dirty, dusty, badly constructed roads with open manholes, overflowing drains and stinking sewers? They walk amidst piles of unhygienic garbage on non-existent pavements and sidewalks everyday. While DAVP releases campaigns against roadside defecation and peeing, people walk miles on city roads with no working toilets and urinals in sight. How can you expect ‘Swachch Bharat’ mission to succeed in these circumstances - by organizing seminars and conclaves in five star hotels? And all this useless ridiculous charade of ministers, babus, and volunteers of government funded NGOs in their nicely designed and printed T shirts cleaning streets and lanes with brooms in their gloved hands must stop. It’s a mockery of the issue of urban hygiene and waste management.  

 

You cannot devise policies and plans sitting in offices. You want everything to look beautiful on the face of it. The bureaucracy knows it. It constructs stages for your programme, installs ACs and coolers on those stages, and decorates them with most expensive flower arrangements. That’s the sum and substance of ‘Swacch Bharat’ mission for your babus. And when one tweets or writes to you about ground realities, your office or you don’t even care to acknowledge that, far from acting upon such valuable feedback. 

Your CMs and junior leaders have begun to copycat you. Their interaction with masses is reduced to minimum. They interact only within a hallowed circle of babus, industrialists, CEOs, and English media journalists and source their information from this decadent class, thus cutting themselves off from reality. They have begun to dress like you too. Very few are working with the missionary zeal needed to truly transform the nation and set things right. I suggest you get such hangers on out of the government. They are no good.

Let me give you some more examples of your dependence on babus who have been albatrosses in the neck of our nation.

 

I have a fairly good understanding of how the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting functions. About a year ago I came across some information and articles about corruption in one of the PSUs under it. That made me study the working of the Ministry a little more carefully so that I could suggest some constructive reform measures. I wrote a few articles as well and sent links to them to successive ministers and babus as well as you.

Shut Films Division of India

Shut Directorate of Film Festivals

Shut Children's Film Society

NFDC Expose

I also came to know in the process that the babus and the ministers in MIB had scant understanding of the subjects they were supposed to deal with in spite of years of experience. Their expertise lay in somehow spending the budget of MIB. They got sufficient help from sundry freeloaders and hangers on to achieve such objective. The Ministers had no idea of what they were supposed to do except appointing a few friends of the new regime to certain important positions and sacking them later and appointing new more media friendly persons in the same positions.

 

For instance the controversial and parochial Pahlaj Nihalani is gone and in his place has come the media friendly and liberal Prasoon Joshi who believes that the job of CBFC is to promote better cinema. I had a brief interaction with the successful ad man in a press conference. He has no idea of how the film certification bodies around the world work. Of course the babus in MIB have no idea either nor does the new Minister. Film certification bodies around the world work with well-defined principles and objectives and filmmakers have nothing to do with them. This little fact is unknown to MIB honchos. Somehow, they have been perpetuating the stupid idea for decades that CBFC must be headed by a film personality. The CBFC board is now filled up with good looking and good sounding film celebrities, cronies, and hangers on of the new establishment. Why and how, none knows. MIB babus cannot even define and list out the reasons for the existence CBFC.

The people of India expected you to ensure that various Ministries in your government worked with a sense of well-defined purpose thus putting the precious national resources to their most effective use. I can tell you with absolute certainty that MIB has no sense of purpose, it believes in maintaining the status quo, and its ministers and babus have no idea of what they are doing. It also is a den of bureaucratic micro-corruption, and cronyism and sustains a whole lot of useless freeloaders and parasites.

Now, MIB, being the nodal Ministry for Media & Entertainment sector, is expected to play an important role in your Make in India initiative. The problem is that the babus and Ministers in MIB have zilch idea of the global media & entertainment industry. They tom-tom some figures from reports published by    creative accounting firms like KPMG. Most of these reports are based on cooked up figures from unverifiable sources. The competence of your bureaucrats can be judged from the fact that NFDC, one of the PSUs under MIB, even after decades of its existence has not developed the wherewithal to release its films in domestic market. It participates in film markets world over yet has no study of its own on global film business.

So, what it leads to? Your much hyped Make in India initiative in the Media and Entertainment sector is a complete non-starter. You won’t know it because the babus around you and your good trusted friend Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog, won’t let you have an inkling of this humongous failure of your initiative.

I hope and pray this is not happening in other sectors.

 

The modus operandi of babus is simple. Generate and feed fake data to keep the boss in good humor. And as far as the execution of projects is concerned the situation is still more pathetic. The telltale evidence of that is the recent statement of your ace minister Nitin Gadkari. He blamed bureaucracy for creating bottlenecks in the execution of infrastructure projects. I don’t think that the nation wants to hear such statements from a go-getter of a minister like Gadkari after more than 3 years of your rule.

 

While you have been plugging in holes to improve fiscal situation by targeting subsidies effectively, and making efforts to expand the tax base and improve tax collection etc., I don’t see any attempt on the part of your government to control bureaucratic micro-corruption and wastefulness that affects the citizens directly and quietly drains out public resources. You have been saving pennies and losing pounds and giving uncalled for heartburns to common people. The cost of bureaucratic micro-corruption and sheer waste of public money in various ministries will run into a few lakh crores, a figure far bigger than the pitiable subsidies to lay citizens your bureaucrats and NITI Aayog thinkers crib about endlessly.

 

Someone should tell the geniuses of NITI Aayog that bureaucratic micro-corruption and wastefulness of oil PSUs is far bigger than the cooking gas subsidy bill. GOI can save thousands of crores of totally wasteful expenditure in a minor ministry like MIB alone that has minuscule budget. I can assure you that nearly 60% of DAVP/NFDC advertising is redundant and it serves only the interest of babus, PSU head honchos, and some ministers who brazenly indulge in cronyism, nepotism, and ‘kickback’ variety of micro-corruption. They even support known anti-Govt. media houses and their ‘failing’ publications with pathetic readership and news TV channels with negligible TRPs without any professional justification. I wrote about it some time back and sent a link to you.

Who funds Indian Express

I know that Harvard trained economists have been advising you to bring down the interest rates on term deposits and encourage people to invest in stocks through mutual fund route. They have been advocating that RBI should follow liberal policies and make every effort to keep the interest rate down. We are made to feel that high interest rates are the real cause behind a single digit growth that can zoom to double digits if older people are more insecure as their safe and secure savings earn lower interest rates. They want the banks to lend to the corporate sector still more vigorously by lowering interest rates. They are not concerned about the growing profligacy of the corporate sector and the rising NPAs and wasteful public expenditure. Even 8 or 9% rate of interest on bank deposits is unacceptable to them.

The armchair economists and political mangers of your government are ignoring the hard reality of 2004 and how the UTI fiasco and the Vajpayee Government’s inability to come to the rescue of retail investors had led to an unprecedented disaffection among people. I suggest you should revisit 2004 yet again to understand what led to the downfall of the Vajpayee regime. Incidentally, my bitter article on that subject had led the then PMO to send IB sleuths to knock on my door.    

Let me give you an example of how well some of your ‘pro-poor’ schemes are doing on ground. I suggested to my part time maid that she should buy the accident and life insurance schemes for her family and I will pay for it. She tried doing that. The local banker discouraged her and she never bought those subsidized insurance products. This is to make you aware that many of your subsidized banking and insurance sector schemes have been poorly executed on ground and their benefit has not reached the intended target and thus have made no perceptible material difference to the lives of the poor marginalized classes. Banks and Insurance companies in cahoots with babus have deliberately fleeced people, your government and you. The fact that you still rely on babus and allow them to filter grassroots feedback is not doing you any good. I have been writing about it and here are the links to the related articles.

An Appeal to Narendra Modi

HDFC Bank sabotages Modi's flagship PMJDY

We keep hearing of cases where social media posts drew positive response from certain government departments and ministries. I wrote articles about my own first had experiences commending their work.

Where Modi fails, Sushmas Swaraj succeeds

How Suresh Prabhu's Railways helped an octogenerian lady

It’s strange that the system responds with alacrity when you tweet to a minister and not otherwise. That clearly means that the changes are ad hoc and not systemic. If you complain in the normal course through prescribed channels, the system fails to respond and is as sluggish and callous as it used to be in the past.

 

Interestingly, the PMO is the worst performer.  The PMO web site has a section about registering public grievance against various GOI ministries and departments. I posted a complaint and uploaded various documents regarding corruption in one the PSUs under MIB. After about a month or two I received a response to my complaint from the same officers of the PSU who were responsible for the large-scale corruption and acts of omission and commission I had complained about. One can imagine the fate of a whistleblower if he were an employee of that organization. That’s the way your own office functions.

 

After your demonetization initiative that was primarily aimed at controlling corruption, I wrote an article and sent its link to you. The article gave definite examples of how even while the demonetization process was on, it had hardly made any difference to the levels of corruption in society. Today, after nearly 4 months builders still demand black money from buyers, courts still demand bribes, tax-men still do their ‘hafta vasooli’, traffic policemen still demand bribes, Municipal inspectors still collect their sleaze money from roadside vendors…micro-corruption that affects the lay citizenry the most remains as unstoppable as ever. Here is the link to the article I wrote at that time.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Here is the biggest ever revelation on black money; Khullamkhulla leak on fountainheads of corruption

I can write a few thousand pages about the ‘dysfunctional’ and corrupt govt. machinery and the humongous waste of public resources based on what I can see happening around me here in a Mumbai suburb. The evidence of bad, inefficient, wasteful, and corruption-ridden governance is all there, staring in your face. You don’t have to employ a research agency to know that. Yet, in the last three years nothing significant and systemic has been done to change these ground realities.

 

I hope you take this long message in its true spirit and initiate some decisive measures to correct the situation and bring about long-lasting systemic changes instead of promoting fads through a rhetoric not supported by ground level action. You have very little time left now to save our nation that cannot survive a repeat of 2004 in 2019.

 

Namsakar

 

Rajesh Kumar Singh

A Swayamsevak

 

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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