Readers of a certain vintage would recall a ghastly Bollywood film produced in 1980 called Sau Din Saas Kay which had Reena Roy as the rebel daughter-in-law and Lalita Pawar as the archetypal vicious mother-in-law. This film was loud and melodramatic but it was a huge hit because suddenly tables had turned. The daughter-in-law had changed the equation in the Hindu undivided family. Somehow a 100 days is supposed to make a difference. The ‘nice’ period ends. Everybody is open to critical analysis at the end of a hundred days. So here goes the saucy tale of a hundred days.
The PM seems to be managing the relationship with the RSS, ensuring that the development agenda supersedes everything else. The thumping majority that the NDA has been given is a green flag but not a carte blanche. Pic/PTI
It’s different: Again, like Maggi sauce (ketchup for the posh), we have a government that is completely different. Nothing they do is what we have become accustomed to in the past ten years. The prime minister tweets, grins, meets Bollywood actors, cracks jokes, talks about toilets from the Red Fort. Yes, top down everything is different.
Frenetic activity: The lethargy is gone. Government officials are working. Industry is picking up pace. You would have to be blind not to notice it. Whether some are working due to fear or hope, the point is, things are moving. Whether on reducing red tape, cracking down on defaulters, starting programmes like Jan Dhan Yojana, there’s something happening almost every day. The CEOs are cheering. According to one poll in the first 100 days, 74 per cent of CEOs have noticed that demand has picked-up and 80 per cent of them have made new investment decisions. Trickle down happiness to the peon in the office? Maybe. Whether the economy is on an upward trajectory is something the next 100 days will show.
Disha: Direction. Who is setting the goals and the mapping for achieving those? Some say it’s the RSS, and others say it is the Prime Minister’s Office and the fact that the Prime Minister is steeped in RSS traditions means that there is not much difference. So far, the Prime Minister seems to be managing the relationship, ensuring that the development agenda supersedes everything else. The thumping majority that the NDA has been given is a green flag but not a carte blanche. Mistaking one for the other is a pitfall many experienced leaders have made.
Pal-less intrigue: By now Mr Modi would have realised that it is rare for a prime minister to have a genuine friend in Delhi. He hinted as much, the other day, when in his Red Fort address he talked about “mujhe kya and mera kya?” Actually, his predecessor also did not have many friends. He was quite alone. Quite like another Prime Minister, V P Singh. And even Narasimha Rao. Oh well, lets add Morarji Desai to that list. They barely had chamchas either. But palace intrigue has gone on in the Capital, despite the lifestyle of grand isolation practiced by prime ministers of past and present.
Sleepless in Lutyens: And because there is palace intrigue there are long nights of insecurity and longer days of careless whispers. The new Cabinet displayed signs of great joy in the first half of hundred days but in the second half is showing typical signs of nervousness. They are under scrutiny from their boss, who wants results yesterday, and from their constituents, who were promised achche din pronto. They have to ensure that they meet the goals set for them and with the staff picked for them. It is a discipline they are not accustomed to. It is seva without mewa to distribute.
Al-Hind: In the first 100 days there is more talk of Hindutva, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, love-jihad, chai-jihad, burqini-bikini, Yale-Sanskrit-Hindi etc than one can recall. Good good. What defines an Indian is an unending debate that has gone on for centuries. More debate can only be good. Jaw-jaw is better than talwar-trishool.
Mandal-kamandal: The combination and combustion of these two is never leaving, it appears. The general election was supposed to have been about new models of development replacing a moribund setup. But the results showed that people had not exactly voted around that agenda. The by-election in the first 100 days reinforced that mandal-kamandal politics is a fallback option that works. Even in the 21st century.
Ziddi padosan: The NDA is resetting how India operates in the neighbourhood. Very interesting policy initiatives have been introduced in the first 100 days. Its almost as if the PM is playing with a Rubik’s cube. Oh but with one neighbour, one can really not do much. Just wait for it to get its own act together. It’s been six decades of wait. What’s a hundred days?
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash