Ever since he was sworn in as Prime Minister of the one of the largest, most vibrant (if not the fastest-growing) democracies of the world – India, Narendra Modi has been the architect of political and PR magnum-opus strokes that have caught the world’s fancy. Expectations from him on all fronts have been sky-high and his every move has been keenly followed by general public, media as well as business and political echelons. Creative agency heads assess PM Modi’s one year in power, and share their expectations from him hereon.
Did Modi govt meet expectations?
We asked agency heads if their expectations of the government been met in terms of action points and areas of priority in its first year.
Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & Creative Director, Ogilvy South Asia, likens a 5-year government to a 5-day test match. “In the first period, you should clean up the act, not lose wickets, sow the seeds for the runs to be scored and I think that's what is done. I have read a lot of criticisms, but then people are expecting Maggi noodles and running a government is not making noodles. It is not a 2-minute job, you got to clean up the act, before you set the field right, roll the pitch and then start batting. I think everything that's been done in this year is so positive that I feel optimistic about the future,” he said.
Taking a more neutral stand MG Parameswaran, Advisor, FCB Ulka said, “As Modi government gets ready to celebrate its first year, I would like to submit that some of the expectations have been fully met, some partly. We expected, probably wrongly, that the government will rapidly implement some of the long pending changes. Things like GST, PSU dilution, land bill, changes in tax laws were all on the agenda but are yet to be fully implemented. On the positive side there has been control on govt spending, deficit is under control, oil prices have been decontrolled, inflation is down. One big positive has been the change in the international perception. This should auger well for the future.”
Sunil Lulla, Chairman & Managing Director of Grey Group India gives the govt full credit for its performance. He said, “There are huge expectations, putting this government at a disadvantage. Nonetheless they have demonstrated clarity of thought and action. Global relationships are getting stronger. The government is more voluble on ‘Business, Growth and Well Being’. Basic and key issues like Swachh Bharat, Bring Back Black Money, Make In India, drives energy, sensitivity and the economy. It’s not easy to have inherited a slow economy, stuck in red-tape and fraught with infrastructure challenges to grow suddenly. Nonetheless global tail winds have boosted the Indian economy.”
Dhunji Wadia, President Rediffusion Y&R, has no doubts about PM Modi’s conviction that India is about to achieve greatness. “We could become among the top three economies in the world in the coming years. And we could influence international relations more than ever before. Official statisticians are claiming that India’s growth at 7.7% outpaces even China. This makes us the fastest-expanding large economy in the world. Inflation is down. Fiscal and current account deficits have shrunk. Foreign Direct Investments are up. Mr Modi makes an impressive image on his foreign visits. Some help may be because of dropping oil prices, but he is the Prime Minister of an improving economy. He may not have been as effective in controlling extremist bullies locally, but having said that, there has been no severe communal violence as the naysayers predicted,” he asserted.
Taproot’s Co-founder and Creative Chief Officer Santosh Padhi candidly remarks that anything is better than the earlier government although he also goes on to say that it should not be a comparison point at all. “One should consider state of the nation, mindset and need of the hour. I think there was a great attempt to do many things, many actions were taken, right now I can say that we can hear it clearly, but will have to wait for some time hopefully to see it as well.”
How did Modi government impact the advertising industry in one year?
Parameswaran expected a big jump in new brands/products action but that has happened only with e-commerce brands, he said. “Hopefully new investments will flow this year and will help advertising,” he added.
“For years now the Indian Advertising market as such has been very independent of government action. A large part of the action is real estate, internet and mobile commerce and retail. Yes, the government has been very active of its communication and to that extent it has added to the growth and value,” said Lulla.
Wadia said PM Modi believes in the power of advertising and has used it effectively. “The Government spending on promoting various initiatives has been positive. A lot is riding on the economic indices improving. Once that happens, the Advertising and Promotion spends would go up.”
Pointing out the flipside he said, “The dampner has been increase in Service Tax to 14% from 12.36% (which itself was high in the first place). No client is going to increase their spends to compensate for the increase in Service Tax. However the proposed introduction of GST from April 2016 should provide sufficient business opportunities for other countries to come and do business in India.”
“After the government formed, there was a great degree of positivity over flowing amongst people /brands assuming good things will happen to us, I think somewhere that positive approach itself has also played a very big positive role in the business and growth of the nation,” opined Padhi.
What are the expectations going forward?
Pandey expects efforts will turn into fruitful results. “If the land bill goes through, I am sure the rural areas will see a very positive impact. They won't be dependent on just the rains and they will have an alternate option. Their children will probably have a school closer by and their older children will not have to drive a taxi in Mumbai in the off season. So I am very hopeful and my belief is results will come in the years to come.”
Parameswaran proffered a different opinion saying a lot of the initial euphoria is over. It is now the time for real political action. People of Indian are patient, but the big majority gave them false hopes. Reality is now biting back. I am sure Modi's advisors are also ruminating over these issues. Hopefully we will be in a good place soon. Progress will happen, but not at the jet speed we were expecting.
Lulla presented his wishlist. He listed, “Development of infrastructure; Employment, Skill Development, Clean & Green Environment, Transparency, Economic Growth, Equality of Women; Kids in Schools, Security…The list is the same as its been. Somebody has to enable action. That’s what the government needs to do.”
Padhi also gave the Modi govt the benefit of the doubt offering a cricket analogy. “I would say they(the govt) have taken some time to read the wicket and weather conditions, been taking singles and have kept the score board ticking, but year two and three will be critical as the nation wants some fours and sixes soon, as even the wicket is quite good now to bat and even the government is fully set on the wicket so I expect a big total at the end of year two and three.”