NDA report card

One year on, Modi government has proved its critics wrong

Modi hasn't brought about the dramatic change his ardent supporters hoped he would. But he didn't commit the dark deeds many had predicted. For his voters, he's been a success.

It was said of Valery Giscard ‎d'Estaing that the idea of a European Union thrilled him but the details bored him.

‎Something similar may be said about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for India, assuming we can give his scattershot projects the grand title of vision.

Indeed, a lack of overall coherence informs his obsessions, which in military terms may be described as "shoot and scoot‎". Meaning that he lets off a volley here, a volley there and runs along to the next thing whose idea fascinates him but whose details bore him.

‎Take black money of which we heard much during the campaign from Modi himself and which fiasco is now left to be explained by his minions. Let us not go into the details of how much and how soon and so on (for danger of boring ourselves) but let us keep it in the back of our minds to locate him as a thinker.

On taking power, Modi has been quick to shoot off two magnificent projects: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Make in India.

A confusing plan

The first confused me when I heard it announced. Was he attempting to reform India's street culture, shaming us with his personal example, like Gandhi? This was what the visuals of him in the first days of the project seemed to suggest. Or was the goal more modest and was : Swachh Bharat Abhiyan merely an umbrella title for all the various toilet construction schemes funded by previous governments? This is what the newspaper adverts suggested. So which is it? What are the deliverables? Number of toilets constructed or number of uncivilised Indians converted? I am still unsure, which is remarkable given how much space has been given to it by us in the media. Of course it has failed because the bureaucratic apparatus is as confused as I am and therefore utterly clueless in execution.

If India could be cleaned up by prime ministerial tweets congratulating opportunist celebrities for holding a broom, our cities would be Singapore if not Tokyo. That they remain filthy is because the fault lies with us and not the government, yes, but who asked Modi to have a crack at social reform? Not his votaries, surely.

Make in India. What is it? How does it work? The governor of the Reserve Bank of India said it made little sense. Perhaps. But you must admit that it has a superb logo. And it sounds right. As Mukesh Ambani observed at the launch of the project - it's not made in India; it is make, giving it an active voice, an urgency.  It must be accepted by all, including Modi-baiters, haters and whatever other name is applied to such people, that the prime minister has a talent for nomenclature. The acronyms – AMRUT instead of JNURM for the urban renewal mission, the various crisp abbreviations – of this government are much better and nicer.

So what's happened to Make in India after that explosive start and all the full-page newspaper ads? I don’t know, really. And few will admit that they do. If manufacturing as a sector is still flailing, that is a function of the reality the RBI governor referred to.

One thing Modi has been universally praised for ‎has been his energetic foreign policy. He successfully closed a deal with the United States that his party prevented Manmohan Singh from closing, and then claimed it was the greatest diplomatic triumph since the Congress of Vienna. This is his privilege and his right as winner of a majority – his opponents should stop moaning.

Pakistan policy

But what is this grand foreign policy really? Let us look at his actions toward our most important and dangerous neighbour, Pakistan. Are we friends or foes? India invites Pakistan for a grand swearing in, sympathises with Pakistan for the Peshawar attack, congratulates Pakistan for sporting victories, sulks with Pakistan for gossiping with two Kashmiris, promises to break Pakistan's mouth by incessant border firing, whines about Pakistan not ceasing fire – and it's not even been a year. No consistency, no vision, no nothing. No thinking.

An awful and cruel piece by the data journalism website India Spend showed that in their first years the effete, corrupt, incompetent, soft and nepotistic Manmohan Singh government and the strong, tough and clean Modi government had achieved pretty much the same thing.

And here I will come to why I think the Modi government has done well. There are those who were terrified that he would bring some sort of fascist rule to India. They have been proved wrong. There are those who were hoping he would bring enormous change and rejuvenate India. They have been disappointed. Most people who voted for him likely expected something much more modest. A little less corruption at the centre, fewer stories of scandals, a continuation of the very gradual improvement in their middle class lives, a little more entertainment from their leader. They have not been disappointed.

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Getting the best from collaborations

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There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

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  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

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This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.