Friday, February 3rd, 2023 02:49:32

Restoring Spiritual Pride : Modi Shows The Way

By Seshadri Satyanarayanan
Updated: December 23, 2021 6:47 am

By inaugurating the renovated Kashi Vishwanath corridor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a big stride in restoring “spiritual pride” of India

There is a famous dialogue of a Bolloywood film “ Mein jo bolta hun karta hun, aur mein jo nahin bolta, mein zaroor karta hun” (What I say I do it, but what I don’t say I definitely do).  This dialogue literally portrays the political acumen of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Here is a Prime Minister spearheading a government that, on the one hand, engaged in reforms for Good Governance and Ease of Living for all sections of India, on the other hand, not hesitating to take measures to meet the aspirations of the core Hindu constituency. In this journey of governance and politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has many a times outmaneuvered the opposition.

Looked from this perspective, the mega inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi signifies the Prime Minister as a person who not only commits but delivers too.  The political opponents of the BJP may try to dub this Varanasi Spectacle as a gimmick by the ruling party to influence the voters ahead of the crucial assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.  They may question the timing of the inauguration, but what they cannot question is the accomplishment of a mammoth task of the expansion of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Shrine from just 2700 square feet to the 5 lakh square feet Kashi Vishwanath Dham despite several challenges.  It really takes a strong will power and the resolve to go for this kind of a rejuvenation of the temple that holds a great significance for all Hindus.  Why no other government or politician could even think of it?  Who stopped them from doing so?

Narendra Modi is a strong believer in “Sankalp Sey Siddhi” as such whatever pledge he makes he tries to realise it without fail.  As a Member of Parliament from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, Narendra Modi had pledged to rejuvenate the entire Kashi Vishwanath Dham and in a time-bound manner ensured the completion of the first-phase of the Kashi Visahwanath Dham.

Redevelopment of Kashi Vishwanath Dham should not be looked from the prism of politics but from the perspective of a holistic approach of the  Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the “spiritual pride” of India.  Narendra Modi, who completed 20 years in office as head of a government recently, is known for practicing his faith publicly.  He believes that India’s spiritual awakening can come only when its religious and divine places are restored to their old glory. Therefore, all his endeavours in this field are singularly focused on restoring the glory of our established religious, cultural and spiritual centres.

During the last 20 years, PM Modi played a leading role in the rejuvenation and renovation of several temples across the country.  The scale and the scope of his civilizational repair initiatives expanded considerably after he moved from Gujarat to the Centre as Prime Minister in May 2014.  Several of his admirers say that in Narendra Modi, India has found a modern version of Hindu Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of 18th century, known for her pioneering temple building and restoration efforts.

Whether it is construction of a magnificent Ram Temple in Ayodhya or the expansion and rejuvenation of Kashi Vishwanath Temple or Beautification and face-lifing of Somnath Temple complex or redevelopment of Kedarnath Dham or Char Dham Pariyojana or  restoration of the Raghunath Temple in Kashmir, Narendra Modi, earlier as Chief Minister of Gujarat and now as Prime Minister of India has taken effective steps fully conscious of the need to match the country’s modernity and development with spiritual awakening.


Ram Mandir

Post Supreme Court verdict as the nation awaits completion of a grand and magnificient Shri Ram Temple, Narendra Modi Government has already put in place plans to establish the entire area as a major Hindu Dharma pilgrimage centre that will promote tourism vis-a-vis employment and economic activity.


Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, despite its divinity, was also know for its congested and dirty lanes, so much so that Mahatma Gandhi, spoke about it when he visited Kashi on February 4, 1916 to inaugurate Banaras Hindu University. After Narendra Modi became PM, he began working on giving Kashi – the oldest living city on earth – the infrastructure, befitting its stature and requirement.


Somnath Temple Complex

During his tenure as CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi started several projects for the beautification and face-lifting of the temple complex.  Recently, PM Modi inaugurated the seaside promenade, an exhibition centre at the Somnath temple complex.  Shri Somnath Trust, under the chairmanship of the PM Modi is working continuously for maintaining and improving the glory of the Somnath Temple that represents the dream of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and was executed by K M Munshi.


Kedarnath Dham

Modi Government also undertook the redevelopment of Kedarnath Dham which saw widespread destruction in the 2013 floods.  Not only the entire temple complex has been restored and completely transformed, but new precincts have also been added to restore the temple to its full glory.


Char Dham Pariyojana

The Modi Government also embarked on the Char Dham Pariyojana by sanctioning construction of a modern and expansive all-weather Char Dham road network connecting the four pilgrimage sites of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Temple restoration in Kashmir

Ever since Article 370 was repealed and Jammu and Kashmir became a Union Territory, government has started working on renovation of several religious sites in Srinagar, Kashmir.  There are a told of 1842 Hindu places of worship in Kashmir, including temples, shrines, holy-springs, caves and trees.  Of the 952 temples, 212 are running while 740 are in a dilapidated condition.  First temple being restored is the Raghunath temple, situated on the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar.  The temple dedicated to Lord Ram was first constructed by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1835.Although, this project is still in its infancy, it is, nevertheless a bold initiative.

The tactfulness with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi handled the redevelopment of Kashi Vishwanath Corridor speaks volumes about his strong leadership and his ability to take the stakeholders to ward off all hurdles in accomplishing the task.  He has turned out be a role model for other leaders to emulate when it comes to fulfilling the dream of billions.

The foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project was laid down on 8th March 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also represents Varanasi as an elected member of parliament.


Litigation Free Project

The divisional Commissioner and Chairman of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Special Area Development Board, Deepak Agrawal, has been quoted by a prominent English daily as saying “The start of negotiations for purchasing old buildings, demolishing them, removing the rubbles through the narrow lanes, rehabilitating the displaced while keeping the intrinsic culture and tradition of Kashi undisturbed seemed like an improbable job at hand.”

Approximately 1,111 persons were rehabilitated after convincing them through transparent negotiations.  Rs 390 crore was spent on purchase of buildings and almost Rs 100 crore was spent on rehabilitation.  Removing the debris after demolition through congested lanes and uneven ground while ensuring that sewage, water and power supply are not affected was also a challenging task.  All these achieved while ensuring that the entry of devotees at Kashi Vishwanath Temple was not disturbed.

These are testimony to the mammoth task the Prime Minister took it upon himself to deliver.  The ability of the Prime Minister to take all stakeholders along resulted in 400 families giving away their land for the project. Definitely this project will be a model to be emulated for implementation in other such renovation projects.


An eye for detail

If land acquisition was a primary challenge for the project, designing, development and execution of the project were also equally challenging.  However, the direct involvement of the Prime Minister from the designing stage to accomplishment it turned out to be a smooth sailing for those involved in the project. Several rounds of Video Conferencing were held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the project is not delayed.

The cynics may criticize Narendra Modi for his celebratory style, but what they can’t take away is the reverence he has earned from millions of Hindus within and outside the country.


By Seshadri Satyanarayanan

(The author is a senior journalist. The  views expressed in this  article are his personal.)

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