How many of us were frustrated with corruption and mis-governance during the rule of the Congress-led UPA pre-2014? Everyone in this country, including the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), wanted to vote out the corrupt UPA government.
Our wishes came true on May 16, 2014, when the BJP – under the leadership of Narendra Modi – had swept the general elections with a trumping majority. Everyone, including me, expected that such an undisputed government would do wonders. Everything was going well till November 8, 2016, when the first blunder was committed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his move – Demonetization.
Blunder 1 – Demonetization
When the move was announced by PM Modi on November 8, 2016, I – including many – was of the opinion that it would convert the black money into dust.
Demonetization had an unwritten assumption that everyone should be honest and true to make this a success. But in a country like us where people do corruption for even Rs 10, how could the government expect that everyone would stay true?
This was exactly what happened. Bank officials, government officers and others were helped on commission basis to change the old currency into new and 99.9 per cent of the notes returned back to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Demonetization created a lot of black money via commission and invited troubles and hardships for the common man. So instead of ending black money, Demonetization had helped making black money into white to a good extent. At the end, it hit our Gross Domestic Product (DDP) really hard and downgraded India’s ratings at the global stage.
Blunder 2 – GST
Even as India having badly hit by the failed Demonetization experiment was struggling to recover, the Modi government did another blunder by implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST). After the implementation of multi-slab GST, which is the highest in the world in terms of equivalent tax slabs in other countries, industries and businesses were hit hard.
India, the second largest populated country of the world, houses various types of organized and unorganized businesses – from few rupees to billions of rupees. But with the GST coming into picture, the average slab for most of the goods and services became 18 per cent (some 5 and some 28).
It could be noted that many of the businesses in India operate at a very low profit margin of 10-15 per cent. With the introduction of the GST, they needed to raise the price, which was objected by the government.
Ultimately, this led to many businesses flee from India to countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and even Delaware and Newada in the US, thanks to the ease of doing business there in the real sense, not just on paper like in India.
Also the filing in the GST portal is too complex which mandatorily requires the support of a Charted Accountant (CA), who would charge Rs 1 to 2 lakhs per annum per business.
People complain about the brain drain. When the government ]is collecting highest tax in the world from the companies operate in Indian soil –in the form of the GST – and in turn giving pathetic support to them then who would like to be thoroughly loyal? Many big companies are here in India just because of the high density of population and the big market, else they would have abandoned the country long back.
So instead of boosting start-ups, the GST has actually ended up killing small and medium businesses in India.
Blunder 3 – Covid-19 lockdown
Economy was struggling to recover like never before. At a time when the Modi government was struggling to maintain the GDP rate, the global Coronavirus pandemic stuck. As the Covid-19 cases were rising, the hospitals were getting full in countries like Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, the US and other first world countries. Many of these countries went for a lockdown to save the lives of the people at the cost of economy.
Back home in India, the Modi government without assessing the risk went for a eight-week lockdown, when there were hardly few 100s Covid-19 cases in India. Probably the government thought that people’s lives would be even at the cost of economy. It could be noted that countries like the US and China never went for such an extensive and exhaustive lockdown as India did.
But now, when it is the actual time to implement the lockdown, when the Covid-19 cases have reached a whopping 60 lakh and around one lakh deaths have been reported so far, India cannot afford it as the economy is on an abysmal downgrade.
At least countries like the US played smart by saving their economy. India was neither succeeded in saving its economy, nor managed to reduce the Covid-19 cases because the lockdown decision was taken in a haste.
The above three blunders have cost ndia dearly. Hope, PM Modi would have taken decisions after extensive consultations with experts. He could have implemented selective lockdown at the first place instead of going for a pan-India lockdown and gradually expanded to more areas.
Same is the case of GST. The Modi government could have selected pilot products and services for GST implementation and would have seen the impact, before going for a full scale implementation.
The government would have kept the flat GST rate at around 5 to 7 per cent (less than 10 per cent) and could have kept an user friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) so that people would have loved to pay for it.
It is time the Modi government takes to the feedback from the common citizens seriously. Feedback from fanboys can only generate false perceptions and invite damages.
– The author is a successful Indian entrepreneur who has set up mini start-ups across the globes. The opinion not necessarily reflects that of SatyaVijayi.