Well begun is half done! This might not be quite true given the complexity of the challenge at hand for the Narendra Modi government. But even the worst critics of Narendra Modi would not dispute the fact that there could not be a better start to an innings on which rests the hopes of a billion plus people. Narendra Modi, sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India, has several firsts to his credit. His first big outing in full global view has been an unrivaled feat in ways more than one.
Having successfully repositioned himself quickly post the decisive verdict Modi has been able to pleasantly surprise his friends and foes alike. He has chosen not to play to the gallery but act as per his own instinct. That for a change augurs very well for India. His cabinet bears his signature and comes with several firsts that are bound to put India back on track.
For the first time the Modi swearing-in-ceremony witnessed heads of states or their top most representatives. This brought Modi face to face with Nawaz Sharif in a manner that suits India. Most importantly the SAARC nations endorsed the new government acknowledging India as the leader they love and respect. Brand India indeed got a fillip.
Afforded the opportunity to have a maximum 81 ministers, Modi has the slimmest ministry in many years. At 46 the Modi council of ministers happens to be the lowest since Narasimaha Rao ushered in the concept of jumbo cabinet in 1991. This means the first big step towards the pledge of minimum government and maximum governance.
The maiden attempt to restructure the ministries too injects a lot of confidence. As portfolios get formalized, the picture will get clear but the indications are that about 30 to 40 percent redundancy has been executed.
Six out of 24 Cabinet ministers are women with Najma Heptullah being the oldest and Smriti Irani being the youngest at 38. On their menu are meaty portfolios ranging from external affairs to water resources.
The 75 year ceiling in cabinet is a political masterstroke. It keeps potential trouble away while sending out a signal that youth get premium value.
This is the youngest cabinet in terms of average age with just two ministers above 70 and two cabinet ministers under 50. The average age of Modi cabinet is much less than the earlier NDA as also the UPA1 and UPA2.
For the first time Pakistan television channels beamed live the proceedings in Delhi. So, did the world, pick up the signal? Modi used the opportunity to show case India to the world while allaying fears about him being a narrow minded politician focused inwards.
In the debate over merit and politics, there is a rare balance. Keen to project merit as the key driver, his Cabinet does present a political face blending caste, Brahmin and a lone Muslim face.
In terms of regional balance barring West Bengal, Himachal and Uttaranchal every state has a representation. Arunanchal gets its first seat in NDA government while Tamil Nadu gets BJP a seat leaving out an early ally.
Having got a dream start it is now time to get going and keep the momentum on. Remember the expectations are far too many and singles and doubles will not do. India expects some big ticket hitting even when the bowling power play is on.