The latest episode of Discovery’s popular series Man vs Wild, hosted by Bear Grylls, presented an altogether unseen facet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vivid personality. The nonchalant manner in which PM Modi enjoyed his adventurous trip sans any security cover, that too deep inside the world-famous Jim Corbett National Park, left millions of viewers of this superhit series in India — and across the world — spellbound.
But people who have had a personal acquaintance with Modi know well that the adventure show was not a regular television programme — some deep thought process must have gone behind its conceptualisation. Whatever Modi does is not without a purpose: His real plans behind this mega show will be revealed in the months to come. But one thing is obvious: When Modi decided to appear with Grylls, the idea must have been much beyond sharing his personal experiences and his brush with Mother Nature.
The timing of the show is itself significant, as the entire world today is trying to find a way to stop global warming, and save the earth’s species from extinction. And we have seen how our prime minister has led the world from the front in this realm during the Paris climate change summit in 2015.
Through Grylls’ show, he once again tried to underline how Indians are intertwined with nature, and are deeply in love with Mother Earth. He explained to the world the Indian philosophy of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the world is one family); and, how we believe in “sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niraamayaah, sarve bhadraanni pashyantu, maa kashchit dukhha bhagbhavet” (May all become happy, may all be free from illness/ May all see what is auspicious, may no one suffer). We all pray to Mother Nature.
Let’s not forget that when the Lok Sabha polls were coming to an end, PM Modi’s visit to Kedarnath, a place which is very close to his heart and which he has never missed a chance to visit year after year, was much talked about. When the holy shrine bore the brunt of devastating floods in 2013, he was shaken to the core. Since then he has made every effort to ensure that Kedarnath’s glory is restored. Today, the entire Kedarnath valley, particularly the shrine, has virtually risen from the ashes due to the determined efforts of Modi.
The regular visits Modi has made have not only speeded up the restoration and rebuilding of Kedarnath, but have also restored the faith of the masses. Gradually, the entire shrine complex has regained its grandeur under the guidance of the prime minister. This has also led to an influx of visitors to Kedarnath and other old shrines in Uttarakhand. This year a record 11 lakh visitors are likely to pay their obeisance at Kedarnath before the holy shrine closes for winter. This number — it used to be around seven lakh in earlier years — has seen a remarkable increase. Faith has prevailed against all odds.
One interesting aspect related to Modi’s visit to Kedarnath is about his stay at a stone cave where he meditated. Today, I am flooded with queries from across India, and also abroad, from people showing keen desire to stay in the “Modi cave” — the name it has got after the prime minister’s stay — for meditation. And all this is due to Modi’s charisma.
A similar effect is likely to be witnessed in Jim Corbett after the airing of the Man vs Wild episode. The transformation of Uttarakhand from the land of religious tourism into a haven for adventure and nature tourism is inevitable. Uttarakhand will soon become the most sought-after destination for adventure and wildlife. We will see, in the months to come, Jim Corbett National Park taking a big leap in the tourism sector in India and abroad.
Modi has a unique way of making things work. One of the shining examples of it is the world’s tallest statue, “Statue of Unity”, dedicated to the “Iron Man of India”, Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, which has come up at a remote location in Gujarat. Now, every month, lakhs of visitors are travelling to this place which has led to a complete transformation of the region: This has given a fillip to the local economy and created new avenues for jobs.
It is with this extraordinary vision that Modi works towards the development of society. So, when he set a target of developing all-weather roads in the difficult terrains of the Uttarakhand Himalayas in record time, and decided to invest Rs10,000 crore to construct 570 km of roads under the Bharatmala project connecting bordering and remote areas of Uttarakhand to the national mainstream, his vision to ensure speedy development of Uttarakhand was crystal clear. Today, the Uttarakhand hills are being connected through the rail network also.
Since I belong to Uttarakhand, I have been witness to the transformation that the state is undergoing under the direct supervision of Modi: You have to visit the state to experience these changes. For Uttarakhand and its people, Modi is a true “vikas purush”, a “karamyogi”. I firmly believe that what is true for Uttarakhand is true for the rest of the country. Since 2014, India has been undergoing social and economic transformation. Time and again Modi has broken myths, walked on the path his predecessors shunned, and taken decisions which were considered impossible. India, and the world, are fast realising the mettle Modi is made of.
This article first appeared in the August 14 print edition under the title ‘Call of the wild’. The writer is head, BJP media cell, and Rajya Sabha MP