A mundane wishlist for Modi 3.0

In 2014, the Modi sarkar had promised a pan-India sarkar; but come 2024, it is as Delhi-centric as earlier governments. Please change to the earlier plan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi(File photo | Shekhar Yadav)

With the cacophony of the elections settled, the Modi-led NDA has started its third stint and second decade in power. Let me take this opportunity to ask for some mundane things that seem to have been missed in plain sight, but would give instant relief to a large section of common Indian citizens.

Make all government websites more secure with an updated security certificate. As a small website owner, I ensure that my site is safe for my visitors even when there is no data collection or financial transactions done. GoI websites are responsible for providing first-hand, authentic information; they also collect crucial and sensitive data. Many of the websites are prone to easy hacks. It seems no one looked into it, else it is something that can be fixed in a day.

Stop official communication from Gmail or other free service providers. Today, most official communication is from personal or so-called ‘official Gmail’ IDs, including some from army officers. This can be dangerous and is prone to scams. When I receive such emails, I am not sure if they are authentic. Two, the content is available to a third party in another country to be scraped and used in any fashion.

Use technology to make uploads of Form 26AS or similar documents on the income tax portal instant. The moment a company deducts TDS, it should be uploaded on the IT portal. So much productivity is lost in chasing the upload of this data every summer. It is a primary reason that delays the filing of IT returns. Even the biggest banks are guilty of last-minute uploads. I understand it is more because the authorities allow time, and we are a last-minute nation. We thrive in the chaos created. At least, put a penalty for late uploads or incentivise timely uploads so that people have a reason to act in time. While on income tax, remove double taxation on dividends; it will relieve the small tax payer.

Customer service calls must be trackable and accountable. Today, every such call takes data from customers with no trackability. We do not know who we are speaking to; they can disconnect the call or put you on hold forever. Make it mandatory to take complaints on email, so that there is traceability. Make it easy for the customers to be treated like customers and not lemons that are squeezed and then forgotten.

Strengthen the train network for short-distance travels and deincentivise short-distance flights. This is good for the economy, as well as the ecology.

On a war footing, work on reducing the pre- and post-flight times spent at airport, including the time spent in travelling to and from the airports. It is good to have swanky airports, but if the buffer time on both sides for a 2-hour flight is 6-8 hours on average, the flights lose their utility. It is also an inconvenience for elderly and unwell people to go through so many steps at airports.

Make some simple canteen like food mandatory at airports. With so many people travelling, you cannot treat airports as luxury-only facilities for the elite. When we take pride in the fact that those wearing chappals can also fly, we must also cater to their basic needs during the time spent at airports.

I would like to see flexible fares go away completely, and fixed fares bringing predictability for travellers as well as airlines. At least put an upper limit to the fares for each sector. Stop convenience fees charged for work a customer ends up doing, which the airline staff once did. Do not extend this menace to the railways.

Work on preventive wellness more than building hospitals. It may sound counter-intuitive for the pharma industry, but I think it is time we call it a wellness industry than a disease industry. It is time we incentivised preventive medicine and healthy lifestyles, so that fewer hospitals are required.

I see a lot of focus on the food processing industry, with the argument that it will enhance farmer incomes. But can we push both the Fit India movement and an increased consumption of processed food? Can we focus on local production and local consumption similar to the ‘Vocal for local’ initiative?

As a bibliophile, can we ask for reviving the state, city, district libraries as vibrant public places? We can also fill them with books that are relevant, that the area’s populace wants in their libraries. We need to bring back the days of borrowing libraries and increase reading in the age of ubiquitous screens.

Make roads walk-friendly. It will help reduce traffic and parking woes, especially in urban areas, if people can walk at least a 1-km radius around their homes and offices.

I want to say ‘reduce corruption’, but one must first acknowledge the problem. It might reduce the lure of sarkari naukri (government employment) and push entrepreneurship.

In 2014, the Modi sarkar had promised a pan-India sarkar; but come 2024, it is as Delhi-centric as earlier governments. Please change to the earlier plan.

Finally, as a Bengaluru resident, can I throw a challenge that the Namma Metro’s Blue Line be functioning before elections are back in 2028 and 2029? The pace at which the work is happening, it might still be a dreamy promise even then.

Anuradha Goyal

Author and founder of IndiTales.com

Follow her on X @anuradhagoyal

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