The French general Napoleon had said “when you are facing multiple enemies powerful than you, then put your army in the central position and fight them one after the other”. In this article we will today discuss how this strategy applies to both Modi and Trump.

Both Modi and Trump came to power with the mission to break the status quo and eliminate the entrenched politico-economically powerful groups whose very existence was harming their own nations.

Lets understand Modi’s mission and how he navigated it:

When Modi got elected, he was facing entrenched groups who made money from some of the items listed below:

  1. Subsidies – The biggest corruption was happening in food/gas/fertilizer subsidies. Since this system was introduced by Gandhis, the loot mostly should have been going to them.
  2. Banks – We hear about bank NPAs and we know bank NPAs greatly increased from 2008 onwards. Many were due to “willful default”.
  3. Tax evasion by businessmen – Due to multiplicity of taxes it was very easy to avoid taxes.
  4. Govt auction of various goods and services – The government contracts were rewarded in a very opaque manner which made only the political coterie get the contracts.
  5. Defense deals – We all know about Bofors, Augusta Westland. From Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure middlemen were deeply entrenched in defense deals.
  6. Corruption in PSUs: We all know of the corruption in PSUs.
  7. Corruption in Mines – The allocation of mines were done in a very opaque manner probably to those people who bribed. In case of coal, Coal India had a virtual monopoly.
  8. Special status of Kashmir – Article 370 and 35A had created well entrenched groups in J&K who benefited financially. Many laws like Prevention of corruption act, Prevention of Money Laundering act, Benami law etc. were not applicable to J&K. Plus, though the money given to J&K from Union was higher than all other states(on per person basis), the development was little. Where did all the money go?
  9. Farm produce – We know about the ongoing farm protests by the middlemen mafia.
  10. Import from China: Every one knows how China exploits Indian market.
  11. Cooperative banks – Many people don’t know about this, but lot of corruption happened in these Banks, as these banks were not under full control of RBI.
  12. Underworld influence on Bollywood
  13. Dynasty in Indian politics: Dynasty survives on money of those businesses/groups who cannot survive in an open competition after the dynasty loses power.

What Modi did right here, he did not take on all the above groups at once. He took on them in a piecemeal manner. He reformed the items #1 to #5 listed above in his first term:

  1. After he came to power he passed the Aadhaar act which greatly reduced the leakage in farm and gas subsidies, did neem coating of fertilizers. The reason why the law was challenged in Supreme Court was not due to violation of right to privacy but it reduced a big chunk of corrupt income.
  2. He passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and established the ecosystem for Insolvency handling. Due to this, many companies who has looted the banks got auctioned and changed hands. For e.g. Essar Steel and Bhushan Steel etc.
  3. Though it has flaws, GST forced many businesses to pay taxes.
  4. Modi reformed the method of awarding government contracts through e-Auction due to which any one literally could participate and that broke many corrupt monopolies.
  5. Reformed the process of awarding defense deals.

In the second term Modi did the following. He is essentially taking care of items #6 – #13 of the first list.

  1. Abrogated article 370/35A
  2. Started large scale privatization of PSUs
  3. Reformed the mining sector by making sweeping changes in laws.
  4. Eliminate the farm middlemen by passing the farm laws.
  5. Changed process for defense procurement.
  6. Imposed tariffs and other barriers on Chinese goods and apps.
  7. Increased RBI control on cooperative banks significantly.

Had Modi tried to do all reforms in his first term, all the lobbies would have turned against him and defeated him. For e.g., in his 1st term he even increased the MSP which kept the farm lobby happy but struck them hard in his second term. After the farm protests subside, I my opinion, he should act against the underworld influence in Bollywood(item #12) and take steps to eliminate dynastic regional parties(item #13) – the first step here is to make Congress dump the Gandhis. If Congress becomes democratic, all other regional parties will also become democratic. We need regional parties, but not the entrenched dynasties.

Lets now look and Analyze Trump’s actions: Before Trump came to power.

  1. US was having a big trade deficit with China. China was ruthlessly exploiting US market.
  2. Iran had becoming extremely rouge.
  3. The Oil cartel was exploiting the world.
  4. Due to lax immigration laws, many foreign companies were benefiting at the cost of US companies.

After he came to power he took steps to control all of the above. Due to this, he created many enemies who wanted him out of power unlike Modi. Modi took on his enemies one after other, not in one go. What Trump should have ideally done is: take up #1 and #2 in his first term and leave #3 and #4 for his second term. He would have surely won had he acted in a piecemeal manner.

And, we are seeing after Biden winning elections, China has signed RCEP, trade deal with EU. Oil prices have started increasing and I fear he will successfully undo many good work Trump has done for US.

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