An Open Letter to Mr Narendra Modi

Dear Mr Prime Minister

Many many congratulations for assuming the reins of the Country and creating HISTORY in many ways. You have so rightly and meticulously arranged each and every stone thrown at you and created step stones to steer the party to this level and reached the place you so richly deserved.

Mr Prime Minister, you have your own set of qualified and talented people to advise and guide you. I, as an ordinary person who has followed you for the last 15 years or so, would like to share my views which may find some place in the governance of the country.

1. For the first 49 days no statement should come from the Government — whether any minister or official. This time should be exclusively devoted to fine tune the road map which, I am sure, you have already made out for the governance of this country.

2. After 49 days your first statement should come out in the shape of Annual Budget document clearly depicting the present state of the economy, and the future path the economy has to travel. More than our countrymen, the foreign investors will be eagerly waiting to vet it.

3. Along with this document, you can pleasantly surprise the millions of Indians by abolishing Income tax — at least on individuals to start with. With this single step you can release a large pool of govt. employees who can be gainfully employed to create a three tier team to oversee 99% compliance of other revenue sources like excise, VAT, service tax etc. To make it possible, GST has to be implemented as soon as possible— the ground work for which is almost done already. Mr Prime Minister, I am not an expert on economy, nor do I have the data (on revenue generated from income tax and the expenses on establishment etc.), but by sheer common sense,I can say that the extra revenues generated by robust compliance of other taxes will more than compensate the loss of revenue from income tax. Moreover, with abolition of income tax people will have more money in hand which will find outlet in either consumption (especially of consumer durables ) or savings and investments ( especially housing activity) . Either way, it will result in increase of indirect tax revenues and thus create a virtuous cycle of more revenues.

4. Since the measures you may have planned to revive the economy will take time to implement, and a still more time further to show any tangible results, there is a suggestion: declare a voluntary disclosure scheme to bring back unaccounted money stashed in foreign banks. I make this suggestion with full responsibility as an honest tax payer and law abiding citizen. But under the special circumstances the economy is in, and the commitment of the new government to put the economy on rails, this scheme could be introduced with the clear understanding that it is made for the last time and the Indian Constitution could be amended at a later date to the effect that no such scheme can be brought in future. The contours of the scheme should be:
a) Any Indian citizen who declares and decides to bring back the money illegally stashed abroad, should be allowed to invest 70% of this money in Infrastructure Bonds with no interest for a five year term . The balance 30% should be retained by the Government.
b) Any citizen who proves that the money was transferred through legal channels and out of the tax paid income, should be given the option to bring back the money or retain it overseas.
c) After the closure of the scheme , all illegal assets stashed abroad should be declared national wealth and accordingly forfeited.
This way, in the very short term , the foreign exchange reserves will swell, the rupee shall appreciate to a reasonably sustainable level, and the government can reduce excise and other taxes on petroleum products, thus taming the inflation to some extent with one shot. The effective implementation of the GST will also help in containing the inflation.

5. The next important step should be to amend the land acquisition Bill , as in its present form, it hampers the setting up of industrial units. Instead of paying the market price to the farmers/ land owners in cash , it should be provided to pay partly (say 20%) in cash , and for the remaining 80% the land owners should be made partners in the project — whether industrial unit or a housing project.

6. With more than a hundred million youth unemployed and the country facing inefficient employees at all levels in government departments, both situations cannot and should not co-exist. The govt should utilize the crisis to overhaul the system. Honest and efficient officers should be incentivised and the inefficient ones should be replaced by young and professional persons. Extraordinary situations require radical solutions which the government can do by reducing the retirement age to 45 years or 15 years of service for new entrants. Only those employees who have excelled in their job could be considered for a five year extension. This way we will get quality service from govt servants and our bureaucracy will be free from stigma it suffers in the international arena.

7. As a corollary to the above problem of unemployment, it should be seen in the larger context of inadequacies of our educational system. These can be tackled only through wide ranging reforms. In the short term, arrangements could be made to set up properly equipped workshops in schools which provide training in trades like plumbing, electrical work, repairs of electronic gadgets, carpentry skills etc which are in wide demand. Any student who does not want to study after 10th standard should be encouraged to complete a two year course in the skill of his liking. After this he can be given a 12th pass certificate. This way people can be gainfully self-employed and the drop out rate from schools will also go down.

8. The Banks should be made `five day week` to bring in line with the government offices/PSUs While doing so , it should be decided to do away with the “government holidays” –except 3 National Holidays,so as to avoid suffixing / prefixing of holidays. The Banks` working hours should be increased to six hours uninterrupted public dealings. All government and bank employees should be given 9 days paid holidays to compensate for doing away with holidays for festivals etc.

9. The new government should expedite passing of Women`s Reservation Bill as the two parties ( SP & BSP) vehemently opposing the Bill are already decimated in the recent elections.

As you, Mr Prime Minister, have promised to give a report card to the Nation after five years, you please also exhort your party MPs to give an Annual Report Card to the party for the work done in their respective constituencies and the follow up with the state administration especially where the state government is other than the BJP`s. You should ensure that 40% of the MPLAD fund is utilized in the first two years, 90% in the four years and the balance 10% in the last one year of their term. Please ensure that there is a moratorium of at least 10 years for MPs/ MLAs going on foreign junkets in the name of study tours. In fact foreign parliamentarians should be invited from developed countries to know how the world`s largest democracy works and how it manages free and fair elections on such a mammoth scale and from under-developed countries to learn from our experiences in parliamentary democracy. This way there will be a boost to tourism also and county will earn foreign exchange instead of spending .

Mr Prime Minister, you and your team must be having a plethora of experts to advise and give suggestions, but I feel extra-ordinary situations demand extra-ordinary solutions, hence the points enumerated above.

With best wishes and kindest regards,