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Nripendra Misra writes: A birthday wishlist for PM Modi

Nripendra Misra writes: Through his conduct, he has become one with the masses

Nripendra Misra writes: PM Modi's personal life is extraordinarily simple and disciplined, almost ascetic-like. He has no personal wealth or kith and kin to bequeath his property to. Perhaps this is why the nation admires him and he stands taller than his global counterparts. (Express File)

Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India in 2014 after his uninterrupted innings as Chief Minister of Gujarat for over a dozen years. I had the good fortune of serving in a key position in his establishment.

A Mahatma from Porbandar had once galvanised a shackled India and forced the mighty British to leave our shores. It may be a coincidence that exactly a hundred years after Mahatma Gandhi returned to India to fulfil the true mission of his life, another Gujarati rose from the obscurity of poverty to become Prime Minister of democratic India. His reverence for the Mahatma manifested as Prime Minister Modi bowed his head, closed his eyes and folded his hands before the picture of Gandhiji when he first entered his room in South Block. His personal life is extraordinarily simple and disciplined, almost ascetic-like. He has no personal wealth or kith and kin to bequeath his property to. Perhaps this is why the nation admires him and he stands taller than his global counterparts. His hard work and sacrifices are seen as selfless.

Democracy was ushered in by Jawaharlal Nehru and institutions were developed with good intent. Subsequent prime ministers added their share of change and reform. But the roar of transformation came in 2014 when a tea seller captured the imagination of our vast land. He consolidated classes and masses through the call of patriotism and rejuvenated “Bharat Mata”. Toilets, roads, electricity, and simple words, which the common man (and especially the common woman) could relate to were spoken from the ramparts of Red Fort because the leader who stood in front of them was a common man himself. He was a humble man who had grown up in hardship. India learnt to live as Bharat. A Bharat exuding confidence, what the current generation may term as swag. The vestiges of colonial subservience were shrugged aside, and Raj was consumed by “kartavya”. A country of 1.4 billion showed clarity in commanding — and demanding — the world’s respect for its talent, culture, philosophies, and its economic might.

On Day One, when Modi entered Parliament, he knelt at the gate to convey his sincere belief that Parliament serves for the betterment of all. Seeing that parliamentary democracy in India has both withstood and posed many challenges, Modi saw the dire need for reform. Democracy was meant to enhance the people’s agenda, not defeat it by technicalities. Modi has been asking for enhanced legislative productivity. Deliberation from members, subject matter experts, and Parliamentary Committees must ultimately yield laws. It is obvious that the functioning of Parliament cries out for reform. From Article 370 to Triple Talaq, Modi has pushed through laws which we all knew needed to be passed. Amending the Navy Flag Code to allow a waving Tiranga in every hand has united India like no other campaign or initiative.

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PM Modi is the first Indian leader to recognise that India does not only live within its geographic boundary. Our intellectual might, beating strong in over 32 million people, has crossed every border of the globe. Besides astute diplomacy with carefully selected nations, Modi’s foreign policy has included winning the NRI to lend influence to India’s causes. Foreign policy is largely a reflection of the country’s strength and relevance in the global scenario. From day one after his oath, PM Modi was single-mindedly engaged in revamping India’s strength. The decision-making in defence acquired a new sense of urgency despite the delicate balance between indigenous self-reliance and procurement of strategic weapons from key foreign suppliers. The US accommodation for procurement by India of S-400 from Russia is a glowing tribute to PM Modi for navigating foreign policy in this highly polarised world.

Sardar Patel achieved political unification. PM Modi strives for “people unification”. This transformation is harder. It does not work on muscle power; it strikes at core beliefs. Addressing this change of attitude requires a fearless person who is not afraid to face intense criticism. PM Modi has realised that the root cause that is hitting India’s progress has been social disharmony and friction. Caste division and religious chasms cannot make India a superpower in 2050. He has rejected divide and rule in toto. He strives for common laws and justice. He has understood the quiet and seething emotions of the citizens, across generations. He has resurrected icons. George Pancham should never have been placed in a revered place. The statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was required and now finds its rightful place. This is Modi’s statement to resurrect heroes whose methods had made significant contributions to India.

He has influenced the thought process and analytical ability of all sections of the community. Modi has proven adept at the management of changes. His strength also lies in his unique communication skills. This level of social churning is the result of greater reliance and trust in the national leadership. PM Modi is encouraging social equality and transparent disbursal of economic gains. He has spoken about the nation of his dreams and the tenets of nationalism. He has successfully established a connection with the masses. This is possible only when decisions reflect the sensitivity to the common man’s immediate concern for essential needs and dreams for the future. In brief, the PM has enabled the masses to dream big and act big. This is a long journey but concrete milestones can be discerned.

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The stupendous challenge of the economic aspirations of modern India remains unfulfilled. It is genuinely a work-in-progress. Antodaya for Modi is uplifting the last person in the queue. His economic philosophy is not trapped by ideological rigidity as he feels that the growth of capital is key to investment and development. However, he abhors economic inequality. All his socio-economic programmes from Jan-Dhan, financial assistance to farmers to address the distortions in the food-grain market, massive empowerment of women, education and finally the swachhta abhiyan are just a few of his flagship programmes. He has moral confidence to empower the anonymous person who was kept at the margins or who deliberately chose to remain in the shadows, despite her highly substantive social contributions. The Padma Awards illustrate this. However, denial of social justice to those suppressed by class, caste, creed or gender raises its ugly head in our society. This is the challenge that PM Modi faces.

The ideal in politics aspires to a kind of leadership in which the masses repose their trust, acceptance and respect. In the psyche of India, the key is internalising this consciousness in both the physical and cultural sense. PM Modi, through his conduct, has become one with the masses. He has the vigour of nationalism and ambition. This sense has penetrated deep into the 1.4 billion population and the mutual identity and admiration between the people and Narendra Modi is real.

The writer is chairman of the temple construction committee of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust and was Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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This article first appeared in the print edition on September 19, 2022, under the title, ‘The People’s Leader’

First published on: 17-09-2022 at 10:28:39 am
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