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Making India Awesome: New Essays and Columns Paperback – 19 Aug 2015

I have one request. I never write an essay or discuss an Indian problem without proposing a solution, no matter how simple that resolution may sound. I urge you to do the same when you discuss a natio

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Transforming society’s values is especially important.
Let’s take an example.
If we want to eradicate the menace of corruption, every dishonest act must create deep revulsion within us.
Fighting corruption is not restricted to naming and shaming a few corrupt officials.
If we think it is okay to cheat in exams, lie to a ticket collector in the train about our kids’ ages and pay a bit of money to avoid a big traffic fine, then at some level we clearly don’t care about eliminating corruption all that much.
At best, we hate the politician who gets to steal (while we don’t).
The prime minister, with all due respect, is floating too high.
Come back to earth.
Don’t try to present an image of a global statesman.
You won an anti-incumbency election when the Congress was weak, by increasing the BJP’s vote share by a few percentage points.
You have not transformed India yet.
Don’t be happy with just the applause from non-resident Indians (NRIs).
If they love you so much, ask them to pay.
If one lakh NRIs commit to paying the BJP $1,000 a year, that is a $100 million of clean money annually.
Use that to clean up party funding.
When are you going to do that anyway? It has been over a year since Modi won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
What’s amazing is that the criticism has not stopped even as the Godhra riots’ censure has subsided.
Anyhow, one thing is clear—Modi’s political graph has continued to rise.
Even the always-righteous-but-not-always-right Arvind Kejriwal, who has successfully tarnished many reputations so far—Nitin Gadkari, Robert Vadra, Mukesh Ambani, Sheila Dikshit, to name a few—has been unable to really puncture the Modi effect.
As he enters his second year in office, Modi’s popularity has not nose-dived, as so often happens with politicians who are voted into office with landslide majorities by voters who think that these leaders are their new messiahs.
If we really want them to ‘Make in India’, the government has to let go.
Keep business rules, but align them with international standards.
Get the government out of business, not just in terms of selling public sector enterprises, but also having no arbitrary or discretionary control over individual businesses.
All this should be personality-proof.
The current finance minister may be investor-friendly.
The next one may not.
If I have invested money in India, how can I be sure the new guy won’t come after me with a stick? How we treat these three minorities in the future will determine how awesome our nation becomes.
Quite frankly, we have some way to go in achieving awesome levels.
We still have Section 377, a legacy of the Victorian age, which criminalizes gay sex, a law so regressive, only a few orthodox religious states around the world have it today.
We still don’t treat our women right, and often deny them rights without even realizing it.
And every now and then, the fear of communalism and actual violence against religious minorities makes them feel unsafe.