As he completes six months as PM Narendra Modi World’s Most Sought After Leader
No political pundit could predict what Modi could do what he has. How could they? He was the most reviled and abused man, a mass murderer, abhorred and despised and an outcast belonging to a party deprecatingly called the right-wing Hindu nationalist party
Manusmriti’s oft-quoted verse “Triya charitram, Puru-shasya bhagyam, Devo Na Ja nati, Kuto Manushya…” could not be more apt than in the case of Narendra Modi. Anyone who bought tea from a young boy at the wadnagar Railway station could never have imagined that in years to come he will be India’s prime minister. But as the Vedic verse goes Devo Na Ja nati, Kuto Manushya…” how could mere humans foresee that the upward swing of the fortune of that boy, Narendra Modi, would secure him, despite fierce opposition all round and even in his own party, the highest executive position in the country.
Since then his fortune has continued climbing upwards. The world noticed what radical metamorphosis was taking place in India and today the man behind the emerging new India has become an ‘enigma’ everyone wants to understand. In fact the world noticed and appreciated his gesture when Modi invited leaders of all member countries of SAARC. Luckily all leaders, including Nawaz Sharif came.
But such interest in other countries, as mentioned above, was evoked only because of what Modi could do at home in his six months in office. In retrospect, one can see that once ensconced at South Block, his dynamism and determination—many misinterpret it as authoritativeness—in streamlining the self-indulgent and lethargic bureaucracy and even setting strict code of conduct and working ethos for his ministers changed overnight a paralysed and corruption-ridden administration into a working and efficient cohesive machinery for implementation of shaft of policies he initiated.
The usual suspects and cynics used to seeing everything from the prism of hatred for Modi kept shouting acche din kahan hain, but they did not realise that not only his core constituency of the young and middle class could perceive the changes that were taking place but even villagers had perked up and started to know and appreciate what Modi planned for them—Jan Dhan Yojana, development of villages adopted by every parliamentarian and urban facilities to be provided in villages and Swacch Bharat Yojana, under which over five lakh toilets have already been ordered. It indeed is stupefying that some innovative schemes he could even think of, what to say dare launching them—it has been like going into unchartered waters.
No political pundit could predict what Modi could do what he has. How could they? He was the most reviled and abused man, a mass murderer, abhorred and despised and an outcast belonging to a party deprecatingly called the right-wing Hindu nationalist party. The words like a Fascist or bigoted communal were freely bandied about to describe him not too long ago. It is a wonder he could even get elected.
But through 400 plus rallies and by connecting directly with the people he convinced them that he was eminently suited to bring in the changes they wanted.
Modi defied all conventional punditry about poll prospects by his “sheer pace and velocity” of campaigning, Arun Jaitley said, while referring to projections that BJP may fall short of majority and be politically isolated.
“I had said, the next election is not about arithmetic but about chemistry. The old arithmetic has changed and that is what happened. The chemistry of the ground had changed,” he added.
“He went over the heads of the media and communicated directly with the people”, laying down his roadmap and his agenda-the Gujarat development.”
The people having given a full mandate, Modi has shown in these six months that he has a strong mind and self-confidence because of which he could despite contrariness and doomsday predictions carried on with his policy initiatives. He could even withstand the consistent aggressive attack on him over 2002 riots by the assorted group of liberals, Left, intellectuals, writers and the media, apart from those who ran a lucrative small-scale industry churning out stories of alleged atrocities and spewing hatred and venom.
Where is this motley crowd of Modi-haters? A few who are still around are waiting for something to go awry. Maybe they are in for a long wait. The country and the world seem to have forgotten all about it. In 12 years the world has moved on and so have the people in India sans those who are stuck in time freeze. Modi has shown great ability to learn. This shows when in his speeches he mentions local history, culture and needs of the people. He has evolved because of this. “And now that he is having an opportunity to make an impact in diplomacy, you can see him gradually evolve literally within months from a Chief Minister to a Prime Minister to a powerful international leader… I don’t think there are many others in the political arena who could have done it so fast,” Jaitley puts it succinctly.
This became apparent during his visit to Australia to attend G20 Summit. The calumny and abuses hurled at him only a year ago have been wiped out by likes of a laudatory sentence in an article in the Guardian “The Indian Prime Minister ‘is one of the most popular figures at this G20. A leader others want to see, and be seen with.”
Almost all Australian dailies front-paged reports on Modi. A paper, especially a foreign publication would not give space unless the news item interests a large segment of its readers. Saying he is the ultimate political showman, the Daily Telegraph wrote, ‘The country has not seen a Prime Minister like him before. He connects. He knows to how to reach out to the masses through technology. He knows how to pick his words carefully….”
This is so true. At the reception at the Allphones Hall, packed to capacity, he moved the audience so much that one of them shouted, “Mr Modi you are a Rockstar.” Among contemporary world leaders he indeed is. The kind of exuberance he causes in NRIs is simply unbelievable.
One Australian paper said while thanking people for the overwhelming response he received, Modi said, “Modi is not privileged to receive this welcome. More than hundred crore Indians are the rightful owners of this. I dedicate it to them.”
Quoting Swami Vivekananda he said “The day of India has come. This is our day under the sun.” This brought the house down. Earlier, during his maiden visit to the US Modi had one-to- one meetings with 20 top heads of major US companies. The Indian Americans, 20000 of them, packed Madison Square Garden to welcome him. It was the first time that a political figure could attract a full house where only Rockstars and Hollywood’s top stars normally perform. Modi connected with his audience immediately when he said to them, “governments can’t build a nation. Only the people can build a nation. I have full confidence in the ability of our citizens. Previous governments enjoyed making laws. I enjoy scrapping them.”
He told them of the initiatives like Swacch Bharat and also promised that he would soon scrap the difference between PIO and OIC. This was welcomed with cheers. Many of those who came out after listening to him said he has made Indian Americans proud of their origin. A few even said they might think of returning to India. The warmth of reception and the connect with the community was not lost on Washington. President Obama broke with protocol to personally take Modi to walk around the Memorial of Martin Luther King.
And then he accepted Modi’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade. And not only that, he would stay for two days for Indo-US Summit.
Normally it takes about a year to formalise state visits, but this time it took just two months to formalise the visit. What is more surprising is that administrations and diplomats of either country, it is said, had no inkling of the invitation and acceptance. It all was done directly between Modi and Obama. This is no less than a diplomatic coup.
Vladmir Putin who is coming in December is to address joint session of Parliament. Modi has learnt fast to balance relations at the international level. More recently Modi won over the Nepalese during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, when he said “If Nepal is not happy, India cannot smile.” He signed several bilateral agreements and announced a line of credit of NRS 10,000 crore (US $1 billion).
This helped wean away Nepal from demanding greater role for China in SAARC. Earlier at previous Summits Nepal and Sri Lanka supported Pakistan’ss demand for China’s entry. This time Pakistan was completely isolated—Modi effect.
India’s leadership in SAARC has been re-established. In another strategic move, Modi has already set a Summit of government leaders of South Pacific islands. This could go a long way in ensuring free movement and in curbing Chinese designs.
Does one need any more testimony to prove the stature of Modi in the world. In fact such transformation is far more bewildering, than Modi, a chaiwala becoming Prime Minister.
Many leaders in India and some in the west had humble beginning. Margaret Thatcher, daughter of a grocer, went on to become leader of the Tories, all blue-blooded conservative gentlemen and then ended up as one of the most famous and long-serving prime minister.
But no Indian political analyst, commentator or historian could imagine that after becoming Prime Minister he will be welcomed so warmly especially in the countries which had declared him persona non-grata and hung round his neck a medallion of being the collaborator in 2002 riots. The world’s leaders want to meet Modi to understand his almost magical dynamism and buccaneering manner in which he has been taking India forward, the NRIs want to welcome the man who has made them proud to be Indians and the corporate world wishes to personally assess him before investing in India. Modi is today one of the most sought after leaders wherever he goes. One in the audience at Allphones hall rightly shouted, “Mr Modi you are a Rockstar.” Among contemporary world leaders he indeed is. The kind of exuberance he causes in NRIs is simply unbelievable.
When the correspondent of an Indian TV Channel asked a few young who came out of the Allphones Hall their comment on Salman Khurshid’s charge that persons attending reception for Modi are paid to participate to which responses were quite condemnatory.
One said it was a working day and he had lost a day’s salary apart from what he spent on meals. Another one retorted first ask Salman to pay back money given to his Trust before sitting on judgments.
BALANCE-SHEET OF PM MODI’S SIX MONTHS
- The invitation to leaders of the member countries of SAARC to attend the swearing-in ceremony by prime minister, an out of box idea was hailed as a grand gesture which would achieve regional cooperation, understanding and peace.
- The unexpected move to discipline bureaucracy–stress on coming to office in time, lunch breaks etc to be within the stipulated time and to complete whatever is to be done before leaving office. Suddenly work ethos gripped North and South Blocks .
- Code for work and for conduct laid down for Ministers. Work and Work directive!
- One-to-one meetings with secretaries: Asked to prepare presentations, detail new and pending proposals with noting on time schedule, cost and returns on the outlay.
- The increase in FDI for def-ence productions.
- Plans to have defence equipments, purchases of fighters and such likes negotiated with companies that are willing to set up plants to manuf-acture in India.
- No appointments of personal staff by ministers, no relative be chosen and PMO will do the appointments.
- Stress on economy: No meetings at five-stars, officers restrained from buying new cars, advice not to throw huge and lavish parties
- No minster to speak on subjects not in his ministry.
- Directive to senior ministers to allot work to the Minister of States
- Assurance to Secretaries of protection.
- Regular meetings with three Chiefs of Staff re-started
- Bullet Trains and improving train services
- Stopped the practise of taking media party on foreign trips.
- No interviews or contacts with the private media.
- Looks like absolute centralisation. Will it be good in democracy?
HITS AND MISSES
- Greatest success in foreign policy. India’s stature on upward climb – heads of all important countries came to India and Indian PM accorded unprecedented welcome in the US, Japan and Australia.
- Leadership of SAARC re-established.
- Make in India policy: It will bring in investments and create jobs. China’s biggest mobile company—third biggest in the world, likely to set-up plant in South with multi-million investment.
- Jan Dhan Yojana, an initiative to end financial and banking untouchability—75 million accounts opened, Rs 50,000 crore deposited—aim raised to100 million
- Swachch Bharat: A project to reach all sanitation facilities to villages. Difficult to achieve, but it is moving in right direction. 1.3 million toilets built and enough ordered to cover nearly six lakh villages
- Inflation and prices curbing: First no success but now inflation going down and prices of some items show downwards trend. Petrol and Gas prices slashed.
- Incursions by China in the Arunachal region has slowed down but not stopped.
- Relations with Pakistan in cold storage, with no thaw visible.
- China docked its submarine in Sri Lanka. China’s designs dangerous. Need to built up defence.
- Food inflation not down.
But all such popularity abroad, ostensibly had very little impact on the Modi-haters at home who have closed mind about him. The opposition leaders continue to be bitterly critical of him. Mamata Banerjee in a TV interview reiterated that Modi represents only 31 per cent of voters and thus cannot speak or has confidence of the rest of India. Arguments to the contrary do not affect her.
Mulayam Singh claims that free laptops which his son’s led government in Uttar Pradesh distributed to students helped Modi to win. The Gandhis claim that all initiatives like Clean India were planned by their governments. They are silent on why the plans were not implemented.
The intellectuals, Lutyen Club members and those whose sole purpose of life and occupation is to pull down Modi too remain unimpressed. They still refer to the Economist’s cover story urging Indians to vote against Modi. Letters written in the Sunday Times and the Independent by intellectuals and liberals also advised Indians not to vote for Modi.
Despite such unsolicited advise, Modi remains quite popular on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter etc. He added about seven million new followers on Facebook to become the second most popular leader even as his Twitter following touched eight million. He is the third most followed on Twitter. Modi has now over 25 million fan base in just five months. He is second only to President Obama. In India he has overtaken Shashi Tharoor. This shows that the young are still with him and he cannot be troubled by a joint or divided opposition.
What is astonishing however is that he has got over 40000 (topic followers) on Quora. The Quora is respected far more than any other social media platforms. It is known for it’s quality content and people who answer here are subject experts in most of the cases. No other politician in India can ever have so much craze for a person on Quora.
Such a huge following clearly indicates that the young—comprising 65 per cent—and the middle class are still with him. The Indian media and a few TV Channels too have been highlighting Modi’s welcome during his foreign visits. Hindustan Times leader said, “Mr Modi visit provided a festive backdrop to confirming the direction of India-Australia ties.”
But nothing can persuade or convince the Modi—baiters that he is not divisive and a curse for India. Reports of his welcome during his foreign visits are possibly not even read by them. His initiatives or according to Congress imitations are scoffed at. Modi too on the other hand is equally dismissive of his critics. He iterates that one should be ready for criticisms if one floats new schemes. He has been criticised the most for Clean India project. One will see after a year was it a praiseworthy scheme but was meant for photo-ops, as Rahul Gandhi said.
The amazing welcome to him when he is on a visit to a foreign country like the US which buried its visa denial to him on the charge that he was complicit in 2002, riots cannot be judged from the prism of his critics. There has to be something in him.
When once asked what some have in them that people invariably feel happy when they are around Faiz Saheb immediately said that those whose presence exudes brightness, gives hope or optimism to overcome darkness, are those who attract “all of us.” The intellectuals and Lutyens crowd might not see any such trait in Modi but the young and middle class, and now after Swacch Bharat project and start of adoption of villages even villagers have begun to have hope!
But Modi cannot hope that all of 1.25 billion would accept him however much his policies might be good. He has as yet to live down the spectre of 2002 that makes a huge segment cringe. Legalese apart, in such matters he has to show by action and words that the past is past and the Modi today does not differentiate on the basis of caste, religion and views not in sync with his.
He has a strong mind, as Arun Jaitley said, Modi would surely think how to do it. Muslims have become as much aspirational as young of any other community and see hope of development under him, which will improve the quality of their lives as well. This is why they are tilting towards him.
In the first sign of a softening of stand in India’s most conservative and radical school of Islam towards the Gujarat Chief Minister, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madani has admitted there’s a change in the Muslim psyche towards Modi and a section of Muslims had voted for him.
“In Gujarat, Jamiat workers on the ground have told me that in several Assembly segments, Muslims voted for Modi. There is a perceptible change of heart and circumstances are different now. I agree the times are changing. Muslims in Gujarat are economically better off than in several states which have so-called secular governments in power,” Madani told Rahul Kanwal in an exclusive interview on Seedhi Baat.
“The way Kashmiri Muslims are expressing desire to listen to Modi is a manifestation of new thinking among people. I am getting calls from people seeking passes which shows Modi’s popularity”, Sofi Yousuf told the media. BJPs’ Vibodh Gupta responsible for the Modi rally held at MA Stadium Jammu said, “Youth in Jammu and Kashmir wants change. Particularly Muslim youth pin hope on Modi who is a dynamic leader to solve their problems.”
Modi said what Muslims wanted to hear. “We need rational and focused debate not only on Art 370 but other issues relating to J&K, including suffering of sections of J&K society.” Modi is now strategically becoming inclusive. A prime minister who wants to fulfil dreams of all
1.25 billion people. He has by now risen to such heights that roadblocks placed by his critics would not be able to obstruct him. He now carries the hope of almost all of 1.25 billion. And he knows it.
By Vijay dutt