Stalwarts Say

Kanwal Sibal
Kanwal Sibal

To be a strong leader in a democracy is not easy as democracy represents people’s power and justifies itself by curbing that of the rulers.

How then to combine democracy and strong leadership? It can be done by an elected leader who is self-confident, has a vision of the future to offer to the public, comes across as self-less and incorruptible, has administrative capacity and the ability to communicate effectively.

He should be able to clearly define the goals to be achieved, give a sense of direction to the country, infuse the public with a sense of purpose, rouse their will to achieve and strengthen the resolve of the people at large to realise national aspirations.

He has to do this not by fiat but by carrying the people along, giving them hope and confidence in themselves, and generate a sense of optimism at the national level.

Shri Narendra Modi is such a leader, a strong leader that our democracy needs so that the country can achieve its unrealised potential. For him, a country that has played an extraordinary role in the development of human civilisation and possesses enormous intellectual resources, besides the progress it is making economically, should have its rightful place in the world.

He is dealing at the international level with self-assurance and self-confidence of a kind we have not seen for decades.

His ability to create empathetic relations with major world leaders shows his remarkable diplomatic skills.

Unlike most Indian Prime Ministers before him, he is one with real grass root understanding of the needs of India and its people. His personal background, travels across India in his early years, his political rise based not on heritage but performance, the experience gained as the political head of one of the most dynamic states of India has given him the necessary intellectual, political and administrative grounding to lead our vast and complex country.

The many national campaigns he has launched, with his unequalled rhetorical skills, are the products of his deep experience.

Kanwal Sibal, renowned diplomat and former Foreign Secretary

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Salim Khan
Salim Khan

Narendra Bhai Wishing you a very very Happy Birthday. May god give you courage, strength and divine wisdom to take morally and humanly correct decisions rather than politically convenient ones.

There is no power greater than love.

There is no religion greater than truth.

God Bless.

Salim Khan

Your friend and Countryman

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Venu Srinivasan
Venu Srinivasan

In the last (two) years under Prime Minister Modi, the most palpable change I have noticed is how we are claiming a much deserved space in the global economic order. The Make In India idea promises us this position. He has also positioned India on the high table of international diplomacy with his tireless efforts to reach out to the global community; and that too while maintaining our self-respect and our self-esteem. Our time is now and no one can lead India better!

The Prime Minister has been a spirited champion of things that are vital for economic growth -- higher employment, sustainable energy, smart infrastructure and skilling for our youth. He has, tirelessly and effectively, carried this message of makeover to the international community and to our people.

At the grassroots level, he has initiated a sweeping change in attitude - be that in the Swachh Bharat drive, equal opportunities for the girl child, or targeted subsidies on cooking gas. This requires each Indian to think of his or her contribution to nation building. PM Modi has introduced transparency in areas historically riddled with graft through digitization of subsidies and electronic auction of public resources.

The bureaucracy, whose efficiency is vital to our progress, is being held more accountable. All this is stoking a new sense of national pride -one that promises a generational change that is so vital to the India of the 21st century.

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Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami

As a journalist, I have had the opportunity of interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over 16 years now.

My interaction with him started in the years that he was based in New Delhi as BJP General Secretary and I was covering the party as a beat reporter.

Two things which struck me greatly were his accessibility and his simple lifestyle.

Always willing to chat with reporters sitting in the lawn in 11 Ashoka Road, Shri Modi’s entire personal belongings could probably be packed in a couple of suitcases.

In those years, he shared a room in the party headquarters where we were welcome for a clarification and a conversation.

Around that time, I got my first big break in anchoring when I was asked to anchor one episode of the Big Fight, a popular show in those days. The subject was Kashmir, and I called Shri Modi to ask if he would join in.

There were three panelists on that episode on Kashmir, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq of the Hurriyat, G Parthasarthy the seasoned diplomat and Shri Narendra Modi representing the perspective of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government.

The clarity with which Shri Modi challenged the Hurriyat’s perspective was remarkable. I got a massive response for that episode and recently, on a flight from Mumbai to Delhi, Mr Parthasarthy and I recollected the episode as a reflection of the depth and conviction of Shri Modi’s views on issues concerning national security.

At a personal level, I must share that each time I have had the privilege to interview the Prime Minister, his humility and warmth while interacting with my TV crew has been heart-warming.

He makes it a point to interact and thank each cameraperson, researcher, technician and producer. He obliges requests for pictures, and leaves a deep impression on the crew every time by thanking them for their effort.

On the occasion of his birthday, I would like to wish Prime Minister Narendra Modi health, happiness and many many more years in the service of our nation.

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Dr. Shashi Tharoor
Dr. Shashi Tharoor

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday last year, I tweeted: “Happy Birthday @narendramodi. May you continue to serve India with energy & commitment. Will continue to disagree with your politics, but with respect!” What surprised me was his response, barely a couple of hours later: “Thank you, Dr. Tharoor. And, what is our democracy without constructive criticism! Debate makes us stronger.”

It is this capacity to reach out across the political divide to opponents that struck me as the most unusual personal characteristic of our Prime Minister. I had, after all, used the occasion of his birthday to remind him again of our political differences; yet he had not only taken that in his stride, but turned it around into a positive message of conciliation and collegiality.

A similar thing had happened, in fact, on the day of his election victory in 2014. It was only in the evening, as the results poured in and the size of his majority became apparent, that I issued this somewhat grudging tweet: “Still touring my constituency to thank party workers, but before it's too late, congratulations @NarendraModi & BJP on an astonishing victory”. Within minutes this came back from him: “@ShashiTharoor Many thanks. Congratulations for your victory as well. Let’s work together to create a better India!”

This is the spirit in which I wish Narendra Modiji a happy birthday today in 2016. Let us, Government and Opposition, work together to create a better India. When your policies are manifestly in the national interest, let us support you; and when, in our view, they are not, let us take opposition constructively, respecting each other’s sincere faith in different paths to India’s betterment.

In that spirit, I wish Narendra Modiji a long, healthy and productive life in the service of our nation.

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Cyrus P Mistry
Cyrus P Mistry

One of the first meetings I had, along with Mr Ratan Tata, after assuming a new role in the Tata group in 2012, was with Mr. Narendra Modi.

I remember going into the meeting thinking that this would entail the standard exchange of pleasantries. To my surprise, the conversation dwelt on technology, particularly renewable energy, and I was deeply impressed by the ability of Mr. Modi to discuss a wide range of issues not only with breadth but also in depth, giving him the confidence and strength to challenge and test our perspectives.

That day, I came out of the meeting having learnt an important lesson in leadership.

As Prime Minister Modi executes his vision for a dynamic and progressive economy, on behalf of the Tata group, I extend my warmest greetings to him on his birthday, and wish him good health and every success in leading our nation forward.

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Sanjaya Baru
Sanjaya Baru

The only time I had a meaningful interaction with Shri Narendra Modiji was when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat and I was Editor, Business Standard. For close to an hour Shri Modi spoke at length about almost every aspect of Gujarat’s economy and society and his plans for the future. I was impressed by his grasp of facts and figures and his keen understanding of developmental priorities and challenges.

I welcomed the focus on development during the election campaign of 2014.

India is still a developing country with millions of poor, illiterate, disempowered citizens. It has been moving forward and will continue to do so. However, we cannot take the rise of India for granted. Development and the social, educational and economic empowerment of all will have to remain the focus of national policy for much of this Century if India has to regain the glory of its past, meet the expectations of the present and fulfil the promise of the future.

As a citizen of India I can only pray that Prime Minister Modi and all our national leaders remain focused on India’s developmental priorities and challenges and not allow any section of society or any enemy of the nation to divert our attention from what matters most for the well-being of our people. On the occasion of his birthday I wish Prime Minister Modi a long and healthy life dedicated to these goals.

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Uday Kotak
Uday Kotak

I wish our dear Prime Minister a wonderful birthday and years of good health. Having had the privilege of seeing him transform Gujarat, I admire his passion for development, which is the route to poverty alleviation. I am confident of India's transformation in the years to come. We are with you sir in this journey of growth and prosperity for all.

With respect

Uday

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