Ideas

101 Ideas For An Ideal Manifesto In 2024

Banuchandar Nagarajan

Feb 21, 2024, 07:58 PM | Updated Feb 23, 2024, 06:10 PM IST


(file photo)
(file photo)

At the end of the second term of PM Modi, India is decisively moving from the "Restoration Era" to the "Ambition Era". The Prime Minister himself laid out the aspirations for the next term in his speech in Parliament, offering a saturation of quality basic amenities aimed at dramatically improving the "ease of living" for all citizens. We have to wait for the BJP manifesto to get a complete picture. 

PM Modi has also said that the foundation for the next 100 years will be laid in the next term. This author wants to put forth his wish list of big ideas. A few have been in public debate for a while and small beginnings have been made in a few others. Some of them are pointed, some are conceptual. The list is not exhaustive (obviously!) and in no particular order.

LAW

1. Common Civil Code for all citizens

2. New Constitution Commission with retired chief justices, presidents, thought-leaders etc. to think from first principles and give us a renewed legal edifice 

3. Free and open-source AI judicial companion to know the probability of success of any case and to address pendency

4. Comprehensive reform of lower-judiciary to remove nepotism, increase quality of delivery and reduce pendency. Serious thought about Judicial services like IAS. Remove opacity of transition from bar-to-bench

POLITICAL

5. Lok Sabha seats delimitation and expansion. Women's Reservation Bill already demands (sort of!) expansion by another 250 seats. It can be done prior to census as well (and tweaked later)

6. Restoration and rebuilding of Krishna Janmabhoomi with a global concomitant Gita Festival and 'Bhakti Song Movement". Hindus cannot become smug after Ayodhya

7. Renaming cities through a proper commission. We cannot have Aurangabad, Bhaktiyarpur etc. anymore

SOCIAL JUSTICE

8. Correction in anomalies in social justice through OBC & SC-ST commissions and creamy-layer & EWS adjustments

9. Tripling tribal incomes in next 10 years through focussed, humane and creative approaches

10. Pan India legal architecture and roadmap for freeing temples from state control and also addressing genuine social justice concerns

11. Survey and regulate Waqf land all over India

12. Plan for 5x increase tourism in erstwhile LWE and NE regions

13. Develop comprehensive multi-sectoral road map for promoting women in gigs, especially digital gigs.

STATES

14. Reintegrating PoK and Aksai Chin 

15. Reorganization of states. 50 (like the US) seems an administratively and cognitively decent number

16. Development of 10 Mega Urban Regions such as: "Chennai- Pondicherry", "Bengaluru- Mysuru- Hosur", "Lucknow-Kanpur-Ayodhya", Expanded NCR, "Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad" etc. and provide quasi-state government like structure to guide urbanization

17. Revival of Bihar by taming the Kosi like China did with Hwang Ho

CULTURE

18. Creating a Global Media behemoth on the likes of RT, BBC

19. Indian Oscars should become as big as the original. It should award foreign movies

20. 10 world-class museums 

21. Tomes of Sanskrit scriptures lay unresearched in libraries. Establish fund to provide research scholarships

22. Begin conversations on AI and Religion. Hindus/India should take the lead to create global organizations for the dialogue. It is as important as tech partnerships.

23. Indian Islam needs a proper anchor in India including pilgrimage sites, guide book and organizational authority 

ECONOMY

24. One GST

25. "Zamindar Tax" - Farm income of more than 2x the deduction (say Rs. 15 lakhs) should be taxed

26. Create a structure for reform social security net through rationalizing all DBT and revdi programs at centre and states

27. India based rating agencies like S&P and Fitch

28. Bose Digital Currencies. We have not done right by the great man yet.

29. With deepening capital markets there should be 20 per cent non-institutional public ownership in listed companies to prevent rigging

30. Indian think tanks should develop global indices like Freedom House Index, Democracy Index, Nutrition Index etc. 

INFRASTRUCTURE

31. Work is on, but we need to match China in nuclear reactors. We have more people than them. They will have around 150(160 GW), we will only have close to 30 (15GW) in the next few years.

32. India needs a Guangdong to power its manufacturing ambitions. Can we build a greenfield megacity one close to a labour catchment area, say, Paradip port  in the form of Baleswar Mega Manufacturing Region?

33. Accelerate housing for all with pre-built houses. (Currently underway as Project Light House)

34. Takeover of Vizhinjam as Indian Ocean Transhipment hub from Colombo

35. Develop two airline hubs, one international and one national - Jewar and Nagpur. Add MRO and multi-modal logistics park into the mix.

36. Develop a Macau in the North East. Have a more realistic approach towards human instincts that make Indians travel abroad or go underground (e.g. betting apps)

URBANIZATION

37. Urban river cleaning with robots

38. 100 per cent Water metering

39. Zero open sewerage

40. Hi tech Main Chowk in each city. Sasta "Time Square" in cities. Plus a large maidan and central park if possible

41. Delhi deserves a face lift. Kalkaji redevelopment.

42. Focused rejuvenation of two great cities of the Eastern India - Patna and Kolkata

AGRICULTURE

43. Triggering agri-business revolution with new laws promoting innovation, investments, capacity building, infrastructure, and the ‘whole shebang’. Like with UCCs the Centre can recommend model regulations for states to take up.

44. To realize the previous point, we need to constitute "Farm Teachers Program" with exchanges between New Zealand, Netherlands etc. to teach our farmers to upgrade their skills.

45. Atmanirbhar Oilseeds program should be built as a model for multiple innovations - GMO, irrigation, precision agriculture, infrastructure etc. 

INDUSTRY

46. Promote, regulate and become a responsible and thriving global hub for e-sports development. Seed an e-sports cloud city.

47. Become a hub for low-cost medical devices (include AI) that could be distributed to poor Indians and Africans

48. Replicate German Mittelsand system for comprehensive rejuvenation of MSMEs. (Robots are coming!) 

49. Become a boss in high-value manufacturing like precision devices, capital goods etc so that the seeds of moving up the value-chain are laid

50. With Indian trade increasing manifold, we need Indian shipping behemoths like Maersk. There is no Indian company in the top 30.

51. Accelerated progress in ship-repair industry leading to giant shipbuilding industry like Korea

FOREIGN POLICY

52. Diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and Tibet

53. Build Ram Setu, road/rail connection to Sri Lanka. It is less than 30 kms!

54. Drastically increase access to Chittagong and Sitwe ports through operating India owned terminals

55. Mineral resources security through equity in global mines

56. Prepare for worst-case scenario of war and simultaneous collapse of US, Russia and China

57. 5x increase in Mandarin savvy China scholars that comment extensively in local languages

58. Not immediately, but when time is ripe, smoothen relations between Iran and Israel. Plan an annual 3I business summit in Mumbai 

SOCIAL

59. PM's LiFE Mission needs a fillip; could be coupled with Fit India

60. Drugs are the biggest menace in advanced societies and even in Indian states. India should lead a global war on drugs.

61. Centre of excellence on veterinary science and animal husbandry incorporating modern technology. Train a cadre of rural youth through online certification programs

62. Hosting Olympics in 2036 or the next best opportunity.

EDUCATION

63. We have done NEP. But Primary Education needs to go back to the state list for kids up to 10 years to have accountable education.

64. Adult reading festivals. Rope in celebrities to read a chapter of a great book every month from various Indian languages, similar to "Mann ki Baat", with AI translating in other languages

65. Focused development of extraordinarily capable kids like in Russian Sirius Educational Centre. MoE started this in 2018.

66. Three world-beating multi-disciplinary advanced universities like MIT or CalTech

67. Large scale building of remote labs/workshops across the country with skill certification programs like erstwhile NIIT, Aptech centers

HEALTH

68. Global Nursing Centre of Excellence incorporating robotics 

69. Totally eliminate child malnutrition measured by any standard

70. Saturate rural India with telemedicine options with upgraded facilities and AI

71. We should become the global centre for research and therapies on mental well-being. Illnesses of the future will be more on the mental side. 

72. Formalize and train the cadre of ASHA and Anganwadi workers

73. 10x increase in paramedics ( or shorter MBBS program) and regulatory reform to allow them to write prescriptions

ENVIRONMENT

74. India should aspire to have Clean Air standards of western countries in next 5 years

75. Water security. Climate change (it is real) is depleting water tables. Mission mode projects on tackling to prevent mini economic collapses. (Remember that the mighty River Saraswati dried up!)

76. What happened to good old low-cost desalination plants for urban areas on the coast?

77. Develop a recycling and waste management CoE and incentivise states to clean-up. Massively increase fines for dumping waste. A waste management behemoth should come out of India

78. Prepare an atlas of wastelands in India. Come up with a comprehensive management plan to use it for agri-import substitution

SECURITY

79. Develop a Cyberforce cadre like Army, Navy and Airforce. The cadre should have large internal security mandates as well.

80. Maintain leadership in Space. Become the silicon valley of Space tech. Like Trump, develop a Space Force.

81. Prepare robot soldiers to guard far flung outposts to augment troops

82. Modern Police Stations, like ones in developed countries

83. Develop architecture to deal with NGOs - like UK's Charity Commission. Spruce up national security capabilities to be vigilant against non-state actors

TECHNOLOGY

84 We need to have our chip foundries at some point! Fiscally hard problem.

85. Sovereign AI. Build our own AI like we build a nation. Prepare for the advent of AI disruption - Jobs, National Security, Cognitive Security, everything - in a honest and participative manner. Containment is impossible!

86. Catch-up with the world on bio-technology; be world-beating in it like in IT

87. India needs to up the quality game in all "Made in India" products and services. Explore possibility of Blockchain for QC

88. Implement Data Protection Act well to assure Indian data security and preserve Indian data sovereignty. India's advantage in the AI-LLM game is data.

89. Massively increase consumer awareness about cybercrimes. Should be constant, repetitive and helpful. What we have now is half-hearted and incomplete.

90. India has already jumped into the energy storage revolution. As a part of becoming a global leader in clean energy and transitioning into a "mainly solar" economy, we should also become the innovation hub. Keep an eye on nuclear fusion start-ups developing elsewhere.

91. DRDO and ISRO should emulate Unit 8200 of Israel in spawning cutting edge-innovation in deep-tech

GOVERNANCE

92. Comprehensive bureaucracy reforms bringing in best practices in talent management. It will be up to the most powerful PM in Indian history to make this happen. With the lateral hiring program making shaky progress, Government should mandate a technical expert at the Additional Secretary level in every ministry

93. World class Ministry of Statistics

94. Declassification of papers till 2010

95. Unlock massive revenues and development opportunities by freeing defence land fast

96. Institute an Indian Pritzker for awarding innovation in architecture awards. With a building boom underway we don't need more ugly buildings.

97. Place reasonable limits (twice or thrice) for appearance in civil services exams

98. Proper decentralization and fillip to Municipal governance. As we grow bigger and more complex, we should have strong and accountable governance structures.

99. Massive capacity building of Panchayat chiefs through a e-LBSNAA like institution

100. Targeted PDS through digital tokens or tradable coupons

101. Like privatization of PSUs, close defunct/nepotistic institutions of various kinds. Make them public.

Modi 3.0 might be the last sane period before machines take over. We might also be entering an era of geo-political tensions. Hopefully we will be able to get much done by the end of this decade as we move towards assuming the role of a preeminent geo-political power.


Banuchandar is a political and public policy advisor. He posts at @Banu4India.

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Future of Indian politics and economy is closely linked to the politics and economy of Uttar Pradesh